I client I never should have taken on sent me an email last weekend, not an usual occurrence, as she emails me just about daily and constantly wants to talk on Skype, but this latest correspondence really chapped my hide. This is the ninth (yes 9th) round of edits to some poorly written information that no one will pay attention to, but every feels like they have to leave their mark on. Thus:
Client: Hi, here are 1000 useless comments in the attached file, I even changed some things back that I changed the first time around. I included three paragraph explanations about the exact way I want the tables to look instead of actually demonstrating it for you. I also railed endlessly on why things should not be the way you outlined them but offered no indication of what I actually want. I also added a new topic, which will add to the scope of the project but I will just ignore that fact. Can I have all these changes by tomorrow?
Me: Tomorrow is Sunday, so no.
Client: I thought freelancers don’t have traditional work schedules, which is why they become freelancers.
Me: Yes, as you can see, I am replying to you on a Saturday. My schedule is non-traditional which allows me to be responsive like that. But you email me daily and I do choose to take a day away from the computer here and there for my sanity. You’ll have this Monday night.
ODesk is crap. It is the worst of the worst as far as project sites go for freelancers.
On the other hand, if you are a contractor with a project, it’s sort of great, because the third or fourth freelancer person you hire for the same job will turn out to be decent and they will ask a ridiculously low hourly rate or project fee. Which is exactly what you can expect to make as a freelancer.
In addition to making next to no money, Odesk will skim 10 percent of BOTH sides, meaning if you charge 40 bucks an hour, Odesk displays your fee as 44.00, the extra 4 bucks going to them. When you get a payout, Odesk will then rape you for another 10 percent. So your rate is really 36 an hour.
Your competition, no matter what line of service you are offering, will be offering rates of $5.55 an hour. (They will suck at whatever it is they do, but contracting companies haven’t realized that yet for the most part). So when they start to compare the average hourly or 11 dollars an hour against yours, you will either be
b) low-balled, or
c) otherwise swindled into a fixed rate project that will then take 22x the estimated amount of time to finish or it will actually never end.
Elance is only slightly better in terms of quality clients, projects and minimal ouch factor when it comes to taking your wage. The rest of them, especially the pay to access project sites, are total bullshit.
My advice: Stay away.
– bitter employee
Folks, listen. I’m giving you a list of phrases that if you hear during your negotiations with a potential client are giant red flags trying to tell you something.
That something is NO. Do not waste your time with this client, you will be so sorry that you did. No amount of desperation is worth the bullshit you will have to endure. The amount of time this asshole will waste will ultimately cost you money and anyway they might not even pay your or if they do, they will ask for their money back 6 months later for ridiculous reasons that have nothing to do with you.
The following phrases universally signify that these clients will be the shittiest clients you’ll ever have the pleasure of working for 100% of the time.
1. This is an easy job.
Oh really, motherfucker? If it is such an easy job then why don’t you do it yourself? Why are there 189 files of unsorted support material that need to be sifted through to identify relevant information, images, etc? How does 29 pages of a transcribed lecture fit into 10 minutes of material? Have you even looked at any of this stuff?
2. It should only take an experienced freelancer XXX amount of time.
An experienced freelancer….meaning someone experienced in producing shitty work? Or do you mean someone so experienced self loathing and desperation that will work for 40 hours even though you are only paying them for 10?
3. Other freelancers we are used to using only charge half that.
That’s great, you should hire them! Oh wait, I’m redoing this project because you didn’t like how it came out the first time? I see…
4. Those terms are higher than we have a budget for, but we can promise you 4 months (or 6, or 10) of following on work, so we can give you lots of hours!
You know what, my goal is actually not to work more hours for fewer dollars than what I am worth.
5. You’ll have to take on a test project for free first.
You’ve seen my portfolio, you know what I can do. I think I would rather be paid than complete half of your project for free.
You’ve been warned, kittens. Just remember, you have the right and even obligation to lose the losers. You have my permission.
I have a few clients that I do regular work for. One of my favorites is one I will call HR Lady.
I love HR Lady. She is disorganized and doesn’t know what the hell she is doing. Which means she hands everything challenging over to me and takes care of the administrative stuff. It’s like having and admin, expect she tells me the projects and manages the meetings with her employers/clients and I do the real work. It’s perfect!
Except her follow through is crap. And getting her to pay is a pain in the ass. Sometimes, fortunately not lately, her checks bounce. Most of the time she just doesn’t bother to send payment until the fourth or fifth time I ask her to. I always have to send the invoices two and three times, because she loses them. And I think she really does lose them.
It’s also tough to have a meeting with her. She gets sidetracked instantly during phone calls. She is employed full time and has no idea what she is doing, like I said, so she relies on contractors to do her work for her. But she can’t use technology, can’t articulate what she wants and doesn’t even know what she needs–which is great because I am good at defining what a client needs based on a few key words. With HR lady, I have to interrupt her to ask the questions and am constantly steering her back to the conversation at hand. In every phone call you will hear me say:
“In the interest of time, let me just ask you about this part of the project.”
“Sorry to interrupt, I just want to get back to the first question…”
“I know you need to hang up in 5 minutes so can you tell me if ________ has been developed already or do you need that too?”
But I’ll take scatterbrained HR Lady any day over the lying, manipulative morons who expect 40 hours of work to be done in 10!