A Freelancer's tale

July 15, 2017

“Yes, that’s right, please.“ Hiba put her phone down and turned to look at me. She was cheerful and polite earlier as she led me into her office. She seemed outgoing and progressive judging by her clothes and her small office was minimalistic and functional.


“I don’t really have a budget for marketing or design.” She stared ahead considering the thought for a moment.

“Unfortunately, time and time again we have hired designers, agencies, photographers, and artists and I’m sorry to say we’ve been let down. My partners are dead set against spending money on people who have consistently failed to deliver and I had to fight tooth and nail to get them to agree to a freelancer for the catering brochure,” she said.  

The receptionist brought in tea.


I looked at the booklet lying in front of me. A bunch of other marketing material lay next to it and she was showing me their website on her laptop. If I wasn’t sitting in the same office as her I would have assumed each piece of promotional material belonged to a different company. From different industries. That were hopelessly clueless about how they came across.


What she meant was obvious and this was a true state of affairs for a lot of small businesses around town. Lack of a cohesive brand identity and innumerable marketing fails. Logos descended from an art director’s nightmare and websites that seemed to have not moved on from the boy band years. 


The issue appeared to partly be a lack of knowledge and partly a lack of funds.


It starts with trusting owners/managers picking the wrong candidate for the job. Following this bad experience, they make an attempt at working with an agency that can accommodate their budget. Does not take long for them to realize they have been dealt an enraging cookie cutter deal.


This is followed by giving up... Until it’s once again time to rehab the menu card or print a new POS and it’s back to square one. And through all this, the core issue remains, invisible to the management.


The figure she quoted for getting her 1997-esque website done blew me over and I wondered how important it was for businesses to make good hiring choices.


She gave me a skeptical once-over and I gave her what I hoped was my best “I’ve got this” look.  


It’s been a month now since the first meeting. The Dubai sun is shining high up outside the window as Alex, Hiba’s partner is grinning from ear to ear in his office. “This is the first time in history…” He pauses dramatically. “Hiba. has. approved. a. design. at. first. go.” he shakes his head as he laughs. Hiba nods her head with an amused smirk at him, agreeing. “That’s correct,” she says. 


Later on that day she sends me a cheery email expressing her pleasure at the outcome of the project. I can’t help but match Alex’s grin from earlier on. It’s always nice to be appreciated.




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