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Freelancers – Personal Integrity

Earlier today I was approached by someone to create a cartoon that would drive people to their website. Fair enough. On further investigation, they thought this was “quite a project“, and that before writing the script and creating the “presentation”, I had to learn everything about their business.

I explained that eLearning, (which this had now become) was a partnership between me and them, the subject matter expert, (as explained here). I also explained that I thought doing this would require a considerable reduction in their “words”, as his website (one of my points of reference) was very long on words, yet short on meaning (I put it nicer than that).

He did not seem to like this approach, explaining that he had been very successful for many years. I accepted that he was successful, as was I in my niche, and suggested we part company, which he accepted.

As a freelancer starting out, I may have taken that job, however, I feel completely happy with my decision tonight. As you grow in expertise, you learn what feels right, and this did not, from the get-go. I think this project was ill-defined on his part, and that I would have been blamed for any and every failure. I think this is someone who wanted to abdicate responsibility, and after all…he contacted me, so he must, somewhere need some help and guidance, just on his terms.

Stay true to your beliefs, and do not be afraid to explain these to clients as and when needed. In 99% of cases I end up having a great and productive relationship with clients who I advise, I just can’t help feeling he’s going to be confused when he gets the same advice, over and over from the line of people he now contacts.

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  1. May 18, 2014 at 2:24 am

    Amen to that, Bruce! When someone says they want me to do work for them I take it as a nice compliment, but it has nothing to do with whether or not I’ll actually work with them. As you describe, you’ve got to vet your prospects and make sure it’s a good fit. Life is way too short to not be thrilled with your clients, and vice versa.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May 18, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    Yes! I feel fortunate at this point of my career that I generally have enough work that I can just turn down jobs that don’t feel right. I made a big blunder first starting out taking a client who I never felt comfortable with. I didn’t know any better though, and it was my first real opportunity to freelance. It was a good learning moment for me, and eventually I got to use that story in a blog post about my worst ID experience.

    Sometimes when I get a client who I can tell will be more challenging to work with I quote a higher rate rather than turn it down outright. That higher rate is what I figure it’s worth to me personally to have to deal with someone who has a very ill-defined project or will need extra hand holding or whatever. Usually they turn me down, and I don’t mind pricing myself out of it.

    Some of those clients just aren’t worth any amount of money though. It’s best to walk away, as you did.

    Very early in my career I agreed to take on a volunteer project to build my portfolio. This is a client I would absolutely turn down now that I know better, but I was naive then. He wouldn’t let me edit any of his text, even to fix grammatical errors. He’d published several books, so he said he didn’t need an editor.

    He sent me a course introduction that claimed this was the only “accredited” course in his field. I emailed him and asked him what body was accrediting the course, as I needed to know what set of standards to adhere to so the course could be awarded credit. He sent me a revised intro saying he personally was the “accrediting” institution. After several explanations of the definitions of “accredited” and “accrediting,” I decided I wasn’t willing to help him make fraudulent claims and bowed out of the project. He told me I was a “problemed person”…and then asked for a referral for another ID to work with him.

    It was a great experience to give me confidence in turning down those sorts of projects in the future. :)

    Like

  3. May 20, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Not something I hope to have to do often, but a good experience overall.

    Like

  4. May 21, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    …and just to make my week so far complete, I just had a client who INSISTED that I use a copyrighted song on a cartoon video, “…as there will only be a few people in the room at a time, and I will take the risk”. Another client gone, (not a huge loss), and another clause to make sure goes in the contract to be agreed BEFORE any work is started, or certainly in the email explaining what I’ll do, and not do.

    Liked by 2 people

  1. May 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

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