Successful Subcontracting – It’s In The Details

by Anne Wayman

partnershipA writer friend of mine found himself with an over abundance of work and asked me if I’d be interested in subcontracting a portion of it. I had a bit of time and agreed.

The project was a 25 page workbook. I needed to complete the project in about a day and a half. Fortunately I am familiar with the subject matter.

On one hand, the project went well; on the other, we weren’t as clear on what we were doing as we’ve agreed to be in the future. Here’s what we did right:

  • He provided a working table of contents.
  • We agreed on a price.
  • We agreed on a deadline.
  • I wrote up a letter of agreement that spelled out what we thought we were doing.
  • The letter of agreement included a definition of the project, deadlines, sources of information, payment details and  one revision.
  • The letter of agreement also mentioned the fact we are close friends and that the friendship is more important than the work. This is a really squishy clause from a legal point of view, but both of us felt we wanted to acknowledge our friendship in the letter, so we did.

What was missing for me was an understanding of the context of these workbooks. I knew vaguely they were going to be part of a package that would be sold via the internet. I wasn’t clear about referring to outside websites or that the working table of contents was, at least for my purposes, darn close to rigid.

Because I didn’t understand, I did some rearranging. I also de emphasized a portion because I thought it was going to be covered in another workbook.

As a result I had to do some rewriting to make it conform to the outline.

Not a huge deal, but something that could have been avoided if we’d talked the project through more and if my friend had recognized the need to provide more context.

It also turned out that my friend usually doesn’t pay subcontractors when invoiced, but during the first two weeks of the next month. He made an exception on the first workbook and I agreed to that scheme on two more I’m doing. I also don’t have the same extremely tight deadline on the next two, which is a real relief.

If you’d like to read the letter of agreement you can.

Have you either subcontracted or hired subcontractors? Tell us about your experience.

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Image from http://www.sxc.hu

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