Although this website is ostensibly about writing, the following article should resonate with all freelancers irrespective of their vocation. When you decide you don’t want to be one of a million Dilbert’s in cubicle hell, it’s easy to get carried away and have a sense of smug self-satisfaction only beaten by a George Clooney acceptance speech.
The trouble is, you are not out on your own in a world of liars, cheats and charlatans that wouldn’t look out of place in the Mad Max series of movies. Obviously, I’m pretty fortunate to work with some great clients but in the past I wasn't so lucky. Suffice to say, I wish penury, bankruptcy and suffering on those that screwed me over though it is important to note I am not bitter!
The Tight Ass
I am of course referring to cheapskate clients as opposed to ultra-conservatives who have confined non-believers to Hades and oppose same-sex marriages. The Tight Ass frequents those low-grade freelancing sites where ‘bargains’ can be had for $5 an hour because we are of course ‘items’ on sale rather than employees.
These individuals think nothing of offering $1 per 1,000 words and believe paying any more is an affront to their very nature. Sadly, these vermin are about as prevalent as sewer rats and lice and expect a discount rate on top of an already cheap quote. You could have $50 an hour as your base rate on your profile and these idiots pop up with ‘job opportunities’ where you get to write 20,000 words for about $20. Do I look like Data from Star Trek TNG where I can type 50,000 words an hour?
A common trait of The Tight Ass is the ‘promise’ of extra work, improved pay, more exposure etc. In reality, these prats walk away at the end of the project and will at best offer you a similarly gloomy project at a derisory rate. Your choices here are to ignore their overtures or tell them to go play in traffic. One is more satisfying than the other and I’ll let you guess which one.
I’ll Have Your Soul
As a newbie, I ran into a few scumbags that ended up getting work for nothing. I tried to console myself through research which suggested this was a common occurrence. This failed miserably as I still felt like a fool and was no nearer to finding these individuals and kicking several layers of crap out of them.
Now I am in the position to give advice on this matter, I would urge you to follow your instinct. If a contract or client seems ‘too good to be true’ or else something doesn’t seem right, it’s best to ask questions, receive upfront payment or walk away. In recent times, I have turned down dozens of contracts with ‘new’ clients because of their unwillingness to pay upfront. I have a portfolio, hundreds of instances of positive feedback and an online footprint and if that isn’t enough for a client, I’m not interested in working with them.
It may seem melodramatic or hyperbolic but being scammed can really be soul destroying. You wonder why you bother and it takes a lot of energy and self-encouragement to get back after it. When in doubt, ask for a contract or cash; I find that reputable clients are happy to do either or both.
Above all you should research these individuals/companies to see if you can find out more about them. If you are the victim of a freelance scam, do all of us a favour and report it online. The more exposure these pieces of excrement are subjected to, the better.
In summation, don’t allow The Tight Ass or a scumbag to deter you; they are the colostomy bags of humanity and should not be allowed to ruin your day or your career. Be vigilant, do what you love and for heaven’s sake enjoy yourself!