Things That Make My Head Explode, Part Six

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Didn’t get a ton done yesterday. I worked until about 1:30, then took off to try catching a bird. Yes, a bird. Seems there’s this pink-footed goose in town – all the way from Norway – and he wanted to see it. We didn’t, but we did see some nice country. This is why I enjoy freelancing – just hop in the car and go look for birds.

Because it’s Friday and because I’ve had a busy, somewhat stressful week, I’m resurrecting my occasional rant on all things odd and frustrating. This week’s contenders for top pains:

Outsourcing production, then what? I see what they’re saying – it’s cheaper to handle magazine production elsewhere, but is it? Really? And how long before these geniuses try outsourcing the writing to another country?

Top blog lists. I appreciate very much that I was nominated (and seconded) on a list contest recently. It means you guys are getting something useful out of me, and that means I’m doing what I’d intended. You’re the reason I’m doing this, after all. What I don’t like is the nature of these “contests” – the feeding frenzy as writers beg to be put on the lists and the blog owners probably choose arbitrarily and not based on any criteria other than the nomination and what they’d rather list. There. I’ve said it. I probably won’t win because of it, but you sign up for honesty when you come to this blog.

Client posses. A writer friend sent me a note yesterday about a current client who’s decided to run her work past a few friends. Only he didn’t read his contract, for she had taken my advice and had put a no-third-party clause in the very contract he’d signed. She’s about to spring on him the fact that Joe’s and Fred’s input will cost him. Hourly. Just trust your writer to do the job correctly or state at the outset who has editorial input. We’re fine with either. Otherwise, you’re paying extra.

Article spinning. Like I said two days ago, it’s just another form of theft. It’s wrong, and writers who think it isn’t shouldn’t be writing.

Article skimming. Here’s what I hate about this. If you take an excerpt of my blog and put it on your conglomerate “newsletter” or website with a direct link back to my entire article, fine. If you take the entire page – or more – and wrap your URL around it along with all those ads you get ad revenue from, well, now you’re making a profit from my work. I don’t care how you paint it or try browbeating or condescending to me about how it’s not copyright infringement, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not your work and you’re earning money by taking it without permission.

The 24/7 client. I dropped a client a while ago who thought it was my duty to be available at all hours. Her words: “I need to reach you at a moment’s notice, so be on IM from 7 am to 9 pm.” I had some words for her, too. They remain unprintable. But the story emphasizes the point that clients who push the boundaries do exist, and we need to understand it’s okay to enforce those boundaries. That’s one client you shouldn’t be afraid to lose.

What has you going kaboom this week?

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  • Damaria Senne December 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    It wasn't this week, but I recently had a client who emailed me in the morning to say she needed XYZ done. Only:
    1. The deadline was the same day, at noon.
    2. I needed to let her know in an hour if I could take on the assignment.
    3. By her estimation, the assignment would only take 3 hours, so I had enough time to meet her deadline deadline.
    4. The assignment was worth $30. I kid you not.

    What went through my mind was, do you really think I sit at home each morning, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for you to send me work??? I turned the work down. I also made it clear that I was not available to take on work from her in the forseeable future because honestly, I plan for weeks in advance. And yes, I do have leeway to take on more projects each week, but not with that kind of notice or deadline. And the offered fee was way below my scale.

  • Lori December 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Wow, thirty bucks? Is she out of her mind?

    I think I would have come back to her with this: "Here's my rate for that – $575. That's $125 per hour plus my usual $200 rush fee. And it if goes over three hours, I'll be billing at my hourly rate of $125."

    Thirty dollars. And with all those demands. Good for you for setting her straight!

  • Wendy December 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    See Wendy. See Brick Wall. Watch Wendy smack her head against brick wall over and over and …

    Have you ever tried to land a new client that turned out to be one that liked to negotiate to death? Oy, it’s getting on my nerves and taking up too much time. Maybe I don’t want them after all.

  • Lori December 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    See Wendy stab at a doll in the form of the client. See Wendy waving buh-bye to client. See Wendy smile because she's not foolish enough to put up with their crap. 🙂

    Having that very same issue, Wendy. I'm about to pull the plug on their ever-lengthening list of requirements.

  • Amanda Brandon December 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Things that make my head explode this week.
    1. People who don't pick up the phone and clarify the issue. I had a debate with someone over ONE LINE of copy this week that lasted for 16 emails. Seriously, enough already.

    2. Major outlets not wanting to pay writers, editors and other professionals.

  • Ashley December 2, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I had to read your client's demand that you be on IM for 14 hours several times to believe that's actually what you wrote. WOW. Unbelievable.

    My gripe right now is very similar to that and Damaria's complaint: clients who think they are the only person we work with and we're just begging for work. That I don't have standards and I'll just bend over backwards to work with them. I had a client recently want me to finish a project the same week he called me and seemed surprised to hear that I already had a full plate of work, but that I would be able to start on his project the next week.

  • Lori December 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Sixteen? Jeezuz, that's nuts, Amanda! Like you, I'm prone to pick up the phone and solve it already!

    Ridiculous that they'd fire professionals because hey, we can get amateurs for nothing! And you get what you pay for….

    She was a little whacko, Ashley. I'd told her I was out of the office for three days (my family was in and my daughter was graduating). She had the nerve to call four times and leave lengthy messages. Why? Because the project I'd sent her a week and a half prior was due that coming Monday and she'd just gotten off her arse to look at it. That was the last thing I worked on with her, but oddly it wasn't her behavior that did it. It was her boss's behavior – he wanted me to work without a contract and he'd "round down" the rate based on what he felt like publishing. And when I insisted on the contract, he became beligerent and added the "how dare you doubt me" tone to his emails. Buh-bye.

    Good for you not dropping everything to meet ridiculous demands. We aim to please, but that doesn't mean we aim to kill ourselves and ignore other clients as a result.

  • Paula December 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    If someone expects me to be available at their beck and call, the only way it would happen is with a very hefty monthly retainer, paid up front.

    Whether it's Lori's client, the person expecting Damaria to drop everything and work for $10/hour, or major outlets choosing free content over professional content, it seems as if they're all pushing to see what happens.

    Each person who gives in to those kinds of demands helps those cheapskates set a dangerous precedent that harms us all. (It even harms the people who demand perfection and refuse to pay for it.)

    Nothing in particular is making my head explode right now, other than knowing I have two days to put up the tree (a one-day project in an of itself), the holiday village (about a 6 hour project) and decorate the rest of the house – and put all the boxes back in the basement. Thankfully I put the outdoor decorations up last weekend!

  • Lori December 2, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Pushing to see what happens – excellent way to put it, Paula. That's exactly what they're doing. In my mind, that's game playing and I don't have time for it.

    Two days? Good luck with that!

  • J December 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm


    I just had one who wanted a website rewritten in a few days!

    I told him 2 weeks (minimum, with rush rates, and 40 hours of work).

    Then he couldn't make the decision to go ahead (had to ask daddy).

    Funny thing though, he never asked the actual price!

    Buh, bye!

  • Lori December 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Precisely how I would have handled it, J. If he comes back, the price is still the price and now he waits in line until other, more decisive clients get their projects done.

  • Amelia Ramstead December 4, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I'm really frustrated with my apartment complex manager. To market to people in my own city, I have to have a separate city business license. To get that, I have to have permission from the apartment manager to operate a business from my apartment. Yes, I need permission to sit at my desk and type. Sigh.
    I've been bugging her about this for weeks and every time I call she "just stepped out." I just got word that she's actually in the office (on a Sunday, of course), so I'm taking down a letter I wrote so all she has to do is slap her signature on it. I really need to get this done!

  • Jennifer Mattern December 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    Have to second all of those in your list Lori (especially the idiotic top blog lists).

    Amanda — It makes me wonder what they're going to do when all of those amateurs who are just doing it for "experience" suddenly feel experienced enough to get paid. The point is to get exposure or experience so you can get a paying job with the bigger players. If those amateurs feel like they'll never move up or never be compensated, eventually they'll tell these greedy execs where to stick their no-pay policies. It sucks for others in the meantime. But hey. At least we're finding out who respects us as professionals and who to stay away from (even if they come begging with pay later).

  • Lori December 5, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Amelia, how did it go? Do you really have to get permission to market? That's nuts. Would a PO box avoid that nonsense?

    Jenn, I agree with you there. If they're not paying now, they're not getting a word out of me later.

    I suspect there will always be wanna-be writers there to fill the vacancies. Dabblers don't quite know yet that their skills are marketable to a better client. Some may never know or care. That's fine, but don't call yourself a professional if you're not going to bother learning the business and going about it professionally.

  • Amelia Ramstead December 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    Yup — I actually called the business licensing office to find out what was needed. As far as the P.O. Box goes, I'm not sure, it didn't occur to me to check. My state license is already at my own address though, so I might not have been able to pull that one off!

    I do have letter in hand, though, so application will be filled out and sent in TODAY! So glad — I've got a list a mile long!!

  • Lori December 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Amen! Good to hear, Amelia!