When you get into freelancing as a full-time gig, you are able to eliminate a lot of traditional pet peeves that we associate with work – gone are your hours wasted in gridlocked traffic, the co-worker who plays Kenny G’s “Songbird” infinitely on his desktop stereo, and the extra five pounds you’re gaining every month from the endless supply of doughnuts, kolaches, and cupcakes that people keep bringing in to munch on every day.
But freelancing has its own collection of pet peeves, some of which are avoidable with some organizational and planning skills, while others we merely have to shrug our shoulders at and realize it’s all part of the job. Here’s a look at 10 pet peeves that really make most freelancers wince in pain when they rear their ugly heads.
- Being called a ninja or a rock star. I was talking to a potential client on Skype one day and his first message was, “Let me ask you this; do you consider yourself an editing ninja?” No, I don’t. I’m about 20 years too old and 100 pounds too heavy to be a ninja of any sort, and I’d rather not reduce my editorial skill set and decades of experience into a comparison with something little kids dress up for Halloween as.
- Being asked for extra work, without extra payment: You’ve been there. You do a great job and deliver the good on time. The client is perfectly happy, and you’ve been paid, and then they come back with “Oh, hey, do you mind writing like 1o more lines of code right quick for this one specific circumstance?” Heck yes, you mind! You don’t got to a restaurant and order a steak, then when you’re done as the waiter to go back to the kitchen and get you a baked potato for free. It always puts us in a prickly position – do we do the task and work for free or ask for payment and risk alienating a client?
- The never-ending interview process: You apply for the job, the client responds favorably, you give the thumbs-up on your availability, and await the offer. But first they want to see some samples; and then they’re curious about your work process; and then want to see what you think about the work they’ve already done; then they decide to do the project an entirely different way and want to know if you have skills in marketing and design and half a dozen other areas. These people are professional procrastinators. Even when they’ve committed the time and energy to creating a job listing, they still aren’t ready to pull the trigger. Give them a week, then pull the plug.
- The Socially-Awkward Client: I once had a client who needed both editing and writing, but despised email exchanges and wouldn’t even consider using instant messenger services – it was phone calls or bust. That was all well and good until the client got it in his head that he had carte blanche to call me anytime he had an idea. Like dinner time. Or 7:30 a.m. Or when I told him I was going to be unavailable. Or on a holiday. I finally spoke to him about it when he called on the 4th of July, but even that was prickly. Make sure you’re professional as possible lest you anger the person paying your bills.
- The Never Satisfied Client: You build someone a website, they give feedback, and 12 iterations later it’s ready to go. You deliver the final design and all seems well, until they write back to see if you can make the text “float more” on the About Us page. You do it, and they come back asking if you can make some funny versions of their masthead like the ones that Google has from time to time. You work a couple up and send them along. Next is the request for a funny animated gif of a walrus dancing to the company’s theme music. And on and on and on.
- Waiting on payment: Freelancing is all about deadlines, but plenty of clients forget that it’s a two-way street. You have a deadline to deliver their work to them, and they have a deadline for delivering payment back to you. If you’re working multiple jobs for multiple clients, it’s easy to forget who has paid and who hasn’t, which is why a service like ANDCO can be so valuable – keeping track of the status of your invoices and helping remind you when to give the gentle prod to clients that they need to pay up.
- Fees: Fees, fees, infuriating fees! Unless clients are paying us by check, in cash, or direct deposit, we’re having to pay fees to get our money from clients. Domestically, Paypal only takes out around 2-3%, but platforms like Upwork recently pumped their take up to a whopping 20% of jobs less than $500. The fee drops to 10% once you hit $501 for a client, but only drops down to 5% when you get above $10,000 in earnings, which happens almost never.
- Undercutters: Say you’re a translator and you charge $25/hour. You’re a finalist for an intensive job and it’s looking good until someone from overseas bids $4/hour to do the same work. You know your quality of work is better, but for the client, the opportunity to save hundreds of dollars on the project is too much to pass up. They get the job and you’re back to Square One looking for work. Now look, I didn’t mind making $3.65/hour when I worked at TCBYogurt, but that was 26 years ago and my main bills at the time were unleaded gas for a VW Bug and chocolate shakes from Jack in the Box.
What are your top pet peeves as a freelancer? Tweet them to ANDCO.