i have adventures (sometimes)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Freelancing Woes

Internet, I'm sad. And when I'm sad, I like to tell you about it.

Freelancing is turning out to be not a lot like stock photos would have you believe. It's not all happy skinny white ladies in well-organised home offices.

"Look at me! My room is so colour coded and I'm so fulfilled!" (Source)
"I'm not even pretending to work!" (Source)
"This isn't even a job!" (Source)
Right now it's more like this.

I've had a few freelance jobs that have gone pretty well. I proofread a document about vehicle import laws (so if you ever need to import a yacht to Australia, I can totally help you out there). I did some research for an infographic, and now I know dubiously accurate stats about relationships. Those were nice things.

But so far, the nice things are in the minority. I'm not even talking about the dozens of unanswered bids, the people who said they'd get back to me and never did, or that one person who "asked for a sample", said she'd use it, and then disappeared with my 700 word article about golf apparel. I'm not even complaining about the people paying $1 (including website fee) per 500 words. What's upsetting me most right now is working on a job that's gone horribly, horribly wrong.

THIS WRONG. No wait, maybe not quite this wrong. Actually, I feel slightly better now. (Source)
I won't give too many details, because that would be unprofessional. And even if I were totally unprofessional, right now I just can't afford it because no one will hire me again and I'll have to eat my board games. And then I'll have no board games either, and that will be even worse.

The short version of the saga making me sad and stressed today:


That was the very short version, but I wrote it bigger to make up for it. The slightly longer version is that it's turned out that this client and I have been on completely different pages about what I signed up to do and for how much, so essentially I've done 10-odd hours of very labour-intensive editing under the expectation that I would be, if not well-paid, then at least adequately paid, and instead I'm really not sure I'm going to get paid at all.

But it's not even the money that bothers me. Right now, if she decides not to pay me at all, cancels the job, and we never virtually-see each other again, I would be fine with that. Well, I wouldn't be fine, but I could at least stop flinching every time I get a notification email. What bothers me most is that she's pretty much flat out accused me of incompetence and trying to take her for a ride, neither of which is the case.

So here's the thing. I'm actually quite good at what I do. I know I'm blowing my own horn here, but I hope that even this here shouty feelingsy blog gives the vague impression that I know how to put words in a line with the right punctuation bits in between. I am also quite good at noticing when other people are not doing this right, and then fixing it for them.

So assuming that I'm bad at what I do because of a miscommunication (or several), makes me very sad and I would like to stop being shouted at now please. On the up side, we've agreed that it's best for both of us if we just end the contract. On the down side, in my all-battled-out state, I said that she should just pay me whatever she thinks is appropriate.

I guess this one's getting chalked up as a learning experience.

Lesson 1: Never make important decisions on Skype without later sending the minutes through to the person you're working with. Because one or both of you will get things horrendously wrong, and you'll be virtually shouted at when you're pretty sure you're doing exactly what you agreed upon.

Lesson 2: Ask why someone's previous editor quit.

Oh, fuck off. (Source)


  1. I'm so sorry, this sounds terrible! It's bad enough when things go wrong but to have your competence questioned just makes it so much worse. I hope you recover from this quickly and that this is but the smallest hiccup professionally! I also hope someone is feeding you delicious cupcakes in your hour of sadness...

  2. Oh no :( Without knowing any details at all it sounds to me like she's really over reacting. I mean firstly it shouldn't be only your responsibility to take down minutes, she should send you a complete outline of what she wants you to do if it's that specific. Secondly you're not taking her for a ride if you've actually done stuff and it was just the wrong stuff. It's still really crappy, but she has to admit to part of the problem being her. Thirdly I'm glad that you still realise you're very good at what you do and that her shoutyness doesn't mean you're not. We have someone like that at work (no names) and she just breaks people down by virtually (via email) yelling at them. You'd think it would feel less bad because it's written, but it totally doesn't. Your post made me think of this that I saw the other day. It's about creative work but think can apply to any freelance work http://www.infographicsarchive.com/business-economics/infographic-the-wonderful-world-of-difficult-clients/

    Apparently some clients just suck :(

  3. That's such a bummer! I've been reading your blog for a couple minutes and I kept thinking how articulate and funny you were, I don't think there's any chance someone might think you're unprofessional.

    I've been freelancing for a couple of years but only to supplement my steady income. It must be really stressful doing it fulltime!

  4. Thanks so much for commenting! I'm basically living on my savings (and my parents - cringe) for now, so at least the freelancing isn't a matter or life or death. Otherwise this would be even more stressful.

    This particular situation escalated to the point where she decided not to pay me at all because of my "attitude". Because THAT's a legitimate reason not to pay your editor. *eyeroll*

  5. Oh mannnn that's awful. Hope things improve!