Remember back in school when you were learning those spelling words or learning those math equations? If you went to a school like I did, you were expected to spell those words out five, ten times in order to remember. With math, you had to complete a bunch of similar equations in order to understand the concept. Same thing later in school if you were learning a language or memorizing historical facts or dates. It worked, didn’t it? Let’s apply that logic to some of the advice I’ve tossed around here on occasion, more specifically places and employers you should not be working for.
Here are some of the places/employers you need to forget about:
Startup companies. They may have a great idea or a great new service, but nine times out of ten they have no organization or cash. Good luck getting paid. I’ve been on the edge of that cliff more than once, which has made me swear to avoid them altogether. How can you tell it’s a startup? They’ll use language like “ground-floor opportunity” (synonomous with “low pay” anyway), or they’ll say they’re a new company or startup.
Foreign employers. To date, I’ve not come across anyone who’s had any positive experience with a person in another country. Seriously, if they default, how are you going to collect? There are enough employers domestically to go around. Work with people who are subject to the same laws you are.
People with posses. This one isn’t easy to spot at the outset, if at all. But nervous clients can tend to want to run their copy past friends, family, coworkers, etc. That’s death to you and your check. No writer or editor can survive the onslaught of several, differing opinions and still serve the paying client’s needs. No one. And it’s totally uncool of your client to expect it. Do what I do – put a clause in your contract now that states no third-party involvement without both parties agreeing to such in writing. It’s because I’ve had such experiences more than three times that I’ve started putting that into contracts. Make it a deal breaker so you have an out should it happen.
Job/client listing sites that charge fees. This one’s never an easy sell. Others have had success getting jobs through these places, but they also have had more than their share of headaches as sites like eLance change the rules so that it costs a writer more to secure clients. I object to sites that charge writers for job listings as much as I object to sites that act as a clearinghouse for clients and writers. You never needed a third party to intervene before – why now? If you feel that strongly about representation for those connections, hire an agent.
The same goes for membership sites. There are some sites out there that expect you to pay for your memberships. Look, maybe you get some value out of rubbing elbows with other people who pay 20 bucks a month or more. If so, don’t expect it to be anything more than an online country club. If you decide to join (and some may be fun – I can’t say), do so on the assumption that it’s more of a club and not so much a place to find work.
Anyone who posts an ad using the words “It’s an easy job for the right person.” In nearly every case this phrase is included, the “employer” expects you to work your arse off for much less than you should be paid for the job. This is a person who doesn’t understand the scope of the project or worse, does understand and wants it for next-to-nothing. I guarantee any job with that phrase attached is going to pay crap wages.
Clients who won’t sign a contract. Yea, I dropped a job once because the client wouldn’t sign a standard contract. Anyone who avoids a written commitment is someone whose integrity should be reconsidered. I had one dude go ballistic on me when I refused to finish a project after he’d said he won’t sign. He’d assured me he was a stand-up sort and that he’s much more relaxed than that. How very cool for you, but I’m uptight when a client refuses the most basic arrangement protecting both of us.
There are so many more, but these are my biggies. How about you? What work or employers are you avoiding?