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Maybe Freelancing Isn't For Me

I have a day job that's more than a 40-hour-a-week gig.  I manage this blog (which really doesn't count, but takes a good chunk of my time) and I freelance.

I wear a lot of hats.

But I'm getting a little tired of this freelancing thing.  I help small businesses with marketing strategies, promotional design, and sometimes digital marketing (websites, social media campaigns, etc).  It's a fun way to do business and really makes a difference.

But when you put a lot of effort into projects and only get empty promises from your clients (I'll pay you soon, can you wait a few more weeks?) it really puts a damper on what you do.

I'm at the point where I want to quit.  One freelancing gig I'm working on involves a new pet food company.  They're just getting their legs under them and learning to walk, but things are going slowly.  There could be a job waiting for me in the future, but for now, I've been feeding them ideas and designs for the better part of 3 months now with no paycheck in sight.

Soon.  Just a few more weeks.  It's going to happen.

You can only hear this so much before you stop believing it.

It's now Christmas season, and I put a couple of other projects on the back-burner to pursue this one.  I was expecting to be paid by now.

I had a trip planned this weekend to go visit my boys.  I can't go now, because finances are too thin.  I'd be getting there and back by the skin of my teeth, with no money for fun (or Christmas presents).

I was going to bring my girlfriend with me.  We were going to stop in Vegas on the way home.  I was going to propose.  Now, that's not going to happen.  (not yet, at least, but still...)

Am I overreacting?  Most clients don't burn me, but this one is stinging.  Shame on me for counting my chickens before they hatched, but shame on companies that want you to work for them but don't/can't pay you.

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9 witty retorts:

Utah L said...

Take their A$$ to small claims court, then they know you're serious.
It is a hassle thought so tack on some cash for the trouble.
Been there done that!

Tracie Breaux said...

You should ask for a deposit and work up a contract if you continue doing the freelance thing. Hope they have a change of heart and pay you or you win the Powerball and don't give them any...just me.

Random Girl said...

This situations sucks. You have the best of intentions and expect that the other end of the partnership will uphold it's agreement and then they choose not to. I did an extensive amount of work a company and ended up not ever seeing a dime for it. Shame on me for not putting a fast and hard contract in line prior to starting the work but I, like you, took them at their word. Never again. I hope you keep doing your work, only with set contracts as Amy suggested. Great ideas!

Thank, Q said...

It's a shame. I agree with Amy. You almost have to force people into a contract before you do anything for them. There's no honor any more. People feel as if they can pay when they want to pay you rather than when you've completed the work.

Amy L. Hayden said...

Suggestions (learned the hard way):

1. Don't start work on anything until a contract is signed that clearly outlines the payment process and deadlines (including invoice submission process, payment processing times, dates checks will be mailed, and late fees for delayed payments) and/or

2. Ask for a deposit (I ask for 30% of the project total up front, an additional 50% at the halfway point, and the remaining 20% when the project is done -- or other percentages that work for you). If there isn't a set dollar amount, I ask for a retainer: $500 that I deduct from as I bill; when it runs out, the client needs to replenish the amount before I'll do any more work.

Also: you are the only one who can defend yourself as a freelancer. Yes, you might feel like a pest calling your clients daily trying to find out where your payment is, but letting the situation continue *without* doing that sends a message that they *can* treat you however they like. Imagine you are paying bills and there's one that has ZERO penalties for paying late -- what's your incentive going to be (other than personal integrity) for paying it upon receipt? Now imagine you're tight for money -- what's your incentive for paying it at all?

It's unfortunate that you're in this situation, but as a freelancer you learn pretty quickly how to protect yourself. Before you quit, how about protecting yourself and seeing if you enjoy it more?

Chubby Chatterbox said...

I went through a similar situation when I was a freelance illustrator. You can't pay the rent on promises and eventually I had to become a cash and carry business. You can bet this start up pet food company has the money to pay everyone else, just not you. I've learned the hard way that if you give something away cheaply or for free it isn't valued very highly. People only respect what they pay for.

Julie said...

I have been there and feel your frustration. Nothing pisses me off more than people who won't pay you for a job you did for them when you improved their business. This does not happen to me anymore..... live and learn!

Brandon from said...

It hurts a lot when they see results, they thank you and tell you how invaluable you are...


...then they don't pay you. Tax season is winding down, I wonder if I can write this off as a charitable contribution??

Ash said...

Call me 832-289-1641. I can help.

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