As I pull in a rather lucrative ongoing client project, I wave goodbye to one I’m glad to see going. (I have amended some of the facts so as not to embarrass those who are guilty, though I don’t know why.) I took it with the promise from the client that related projects would pay much more than the main project. When the client began fussing a few weeks back about the already agreed-upon price of one of those related projects, I knew it was time to cut ties. I will not work for folks who change the rules as we’re playing. No thank you.
The main project (Project A) was small. It required research and for what I was being paid (a shamefully low amount), it wasn’t worth it. The only saving grace was the related project work (Project B), which I priced fairly and within standard market guidelines.
Here’s where things got ugly, however. Three or four Project Bs in, the client, who didn’t understand the intrinsic differences between projects, said he couldn’t understand why Project B cost more than Project A, actually devaluing in very abrasive terms the time and multiple edits I had to put into each Project B. In the same breath, he said we’d have to correct the difference in price. No discussion with me. Just “Change the pricing.”
Ignoring the contracted terms, in my opinion, is the instant death knell and the biggest no-no on the planet for any project. It made his next move – trying to disguise an obvious Project B as a Project A – almost expected. And I nearly laughed after seeing his posting for my replacement while I was still working on his latest project. Yes, work ended instantly. I don’t work for people who pretend to be big-time players while arguing every penny they pay me, nor will I work for people who behave in an underhanded fashion or ignore contract terms because they decide they don’t like them after all. If you don’t want to pay my rates, say so and move on. Don’t waste my time. You don’t pay me enough to even want to pretend to play these games.
I bring this up publicly because I think there’s a lesson to learn here. Taking on clients who don’t value your worth is taking on a constant struggle. You will always have to defend your prices. You will always have to assert contract terms. You will never get what you’re worth from someone who doesn’t value your services from the outset. Bad client behavior aside, this client didn’t want to pay what good writing is worth. He lost my writing (and he praised the Project A writing I did for him) and he’s now looking for someone who will give him the moon for the price of a stick of gum.
Clients – if you want talent, don’t be afraid to put money into that talent. This client will now search for someone who can write to his specialized niche audience, which will require an industry knowledge that some have, but that very few will be willing to utilize for such crap wages. I did it on the promise of other projects. The minute those project fees were called into question, I realized there was nothing more in it for me. The business relationship must benefit each person in that relationship. If your writer charged you $10,000 for a blog post, you’d feel cheated. Turn that around – if you pay $10 for a 10,000-word blog post, your writer would feel cheated. Act fairly and receive fairness in return.
Writers – just don’t take the job if the client won’t pay you what you’re worth. Even if they dangle the carrot, know that they’re going to rethink it later, for they’re too cheap now to pay you fair wages – why should any other project warrant better treatment?
What job have you waved goodbye to lately?