At least then I wouldn’t feel like such a goober.
So, I am a few weeks out from my choice to pursue Freelancing with gusto. Things are going well. In spite of very little marketing, I have already landed a couple of small clients and managed to get my feet wet. My work has been well received and my clients are pleased with it. Two have already requested more work.
Then there’s the third one. Whether through their own deviousness, my trusting naivety, or both, these people have managed to make a fool of me three times with very little effort. Let me explain;
The first problem came when I agreed to take the job. I received an email from a small company that I was familiar with, it went something like this -
Them: “We have a need for data to place on an infographic regarding childhood anxiety. We need it in two days, can you do it?”
Me: “Absolutely, send me the parameters and I can get right on it.”
I hit send on the email and immediately dove onto Google. I had just agreed to write copy for an infographic and I had no idea what that meant. I feverishly wondered what I had just gotten myself into? I was relieved when I saw that the assignment was a simple, one page job that I could knock out quickly. I was saved - sort of.
This email represented three huge blunders on my part in one tidy package - I took a job on short notice without knowing what I was getting in to, I didn’t have a contract (how was I going to get paid?), and I hadn’t verified my contact within the company. I was so eager to prove myself that I dropped the ball hard. Right on my foot.
As I was deciding whether to have “Newbie” or “Dork” tattooed onto my forehead, my contact sent me an email with the information. I responded, politely, with a request for a definite financial contract. He didn’t get back until the next day, it was brief and professional:
“Standard contract terms apply.”
Ummm, what does that even mean? I have a standard contract? Why didn’t anyone tell me this? Not wanting to feel like a much larger idiot than I already did, I got to work. OK, maybe this case represents four massive blunders.
2 hours later, I had the information, numbered and bulleted as requested and I shot it off to my contact. I emailed him daily for two weeks before I received a reply:
“**** is no longer with the company. Any business dealings you may have had will be conducted through the office of *****.”
Ah, crap. I contacted *****, only to learn that she had no idea what I was talking about. My initial contact had gone to work for another company, using my data to showcase his skills. Apparently they liked my work, because they hired the little fraud who stole it.
She was very kind and apologetic, but without a contract, she couldn’t help me. I was stuck. Lesson learned. I comforted myself with the knowledge that I probably wouldn’t have earned much for such a project under any terms, but the knowledge and experience I had just been handed were worth their weight in gold. It isn’t a mistake I will make twice.
And so for you, dear reader, I offer this piece of advice - always, ALWAYS get it in writing. And make sure you know who you are dealing with.