Hey, I just gave your number to a friend of mine. He needs a website for his business, but he asked a web agency and they threw a huge price at him. Obviously, I thought of you. I told him since you’re a freelancer, you’ll do the website for next-to-free. When I told him that, he seemed very interested in working with you. No thanks necessary.
I was helping a friend with a (free) design on a save-the-date mailer. After a variety of changes including one complete do-over, my friend was standing over my shoulder watching me make changes.
Client: I appreciate this. I can’t do what you do.
Me: Thanks man, that -
Client: Because I don’t have that software.
My friend was looking for a video editor. Since I make a living as one, she turned to me.
Client: I’m looking for an online editor that can do a short video in a couple of days. All the offline editing will be done by the director and you’ll just do the effects and clean-ups.
Me: Do you have exactly what needs to be done? And how many days, exactly? I can give you my answer if I know more of the details.
Client: It’s just basic effects and clean ups. Probably five or so days. The payment will be x since we’re already almost over budget. I hope that’s okay with you.
Me: Can we meet up and discuss the project?
Client: I’ll text you.
A couple of hours later, I get a call.
Client: Turns out you’ll be doing both the offline and online editing. You’ll get the footage on Saturday (the video was due Sunday). Pay is still the same.
Me: I’m sorry. I’m not available to do all that work in that amount of time.
Client: How about you find someone to help you and you split the work and the money?
Me: Honestly, this won’t be enough money to get a real professional.
Client: Don’t use a real professional then! Use a friend, that’s what I would do.
Me: Yes, I know.
I usually don’t do work-related favors for family, but last Christmas, I agreed to design a holiday card for my uncle. After five revisions and numerous options, my uncle was satisfied and sent out the cards. I found $10 in my PayPal.
Me: Hey, what’s this for?
Client: A tip for that card.
It was seemingly thoughtful, but when the whole family got together for the annual gift exchange, it became apparent that I was somehow forgotten. The card I created was to inform each family member who they were the secret Santa for. And apparently, my uncle was supposed to be mine.
Client: We urgently need a website!
Me: O-okay. Do you have something in mind?
Client: Yes, we want our website just like this [example site].
Me: It’s a relief you have a good idea of what you want if there’s a rush to get this made. Do you have a rough estimate of how much you want to spend.
Client: We like to work like a family here.
Me: That’s a great way to work.
Client: So we don’t pay out money as wages are so low.
Me: How does that work?
Client: If you are as good as you say you are, you’ll be willing to work on a commission-basis. If we feel our website’s getting enough sales, we are willing to pay you your commission.
Me: That won’t be possible for me, I need money to live.
Client: This is how we work. Take it or leave it.
Me: Since there is nothing to leave, I’m going to have to say no.
Client: It takes a real *professional to work with us. I suspected you wouldn’t be up to the task.
*Editor’s note: From the Wikipedia page for ‘professional,’ first sentence: A professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and to complete them for a fee.
I was at a party when a client’s business partner approached me.
Client: Hey, [Client] tells me you could answer a computer question for me.
Me: Depends. What’s the question?
Client: My computer stopped working the other day. The light comes on but nothing happens.
Me: Well, it’s hard to say what might be the problem from just that. It could be something simple, it could be that something needs replacing.
Client: Pfft! That’s the best you can come up with? What a waste of my time.
Client: My sister-in-law saw the visuals, and she wasn’t happy.
Me: What didn’t she like about them?
Client: She said they were shit and not worth the money.
Me: Do you think that?
Client: I haven’t looked at any of them yet.
A friend of mine asked if I could help out with a shoot for an acquaintance who was starting up a new company. After a lot of begging from my friend, I eventually said I’d do the shoot for free.
I had a meeting with my new “clients” and showed them my portfolio. They were happy with the quality of my work. During this meeting I told them that if any paying work came along, I’d put the editing of their shoot aside to complete the paid work first. Otherwise, we stipulated they’d get all their images after two weeks (as long as I received no other work). They agreed with this.
After getting half of the photos to them within the first week, I ended up with a paid job and had to put their work aside. Week two I get a e-mail from them demanding the rest of the images. I reminded them that they’d have to wait while I took care of my paying clients.
The third week I delivered the majority of their images. I then got an invoice from them charging me R500.
(R = South African Rand, which is roughly 0.12 USD)
Client: You have cost the company money by not delivering the images on time, therefore we’re charging you.
Me: You’re charging me for providing you with a free shoot?
Client: You claimed you could provide a service and we set our time scale to that promise. You’ve failed to deliver and you’re costing us money, therefore we’ve sent you the invoice.
I decided to invoice them in return, including photographic rate, editing, etc. and sent them an invoice of about R20,000, with the R500 subtracted from the amount. By this time, the images I had supplied were already on their website.
Client: You just invoiced us? Is this a sick joke?
Me: I’ll be happy to make sure you get your remaining photos with in two days and pay you your R500, if you pay for my time and images.
Client: You’ll be hearing from our legal advisor soon!
Me: I look forward to hearing what your legal advisor says about you using my images for commercial gain, displaying them on your website and providing me with no credit while attempting to charge me, all while I was still operating within the conditions of our contract AND maintaining a copyright on all the images previously mentioned.
Oddly, I never heard back from them or from the legal advisor. Since then, my images have remained on the site and I’ve even found a few of them in magazines featuring their product.
Editor’s Note: I originally stated that 1R=1USD. I’m not sure how I got the conversion so wrong. Apologies.
A friend wanted to help me out by offering me work that her company usually gave to an agency.
Client: Here is a copy of the brochure. We normally pay the agency about $500 to redo the brochure every year - but we’ve already spent $350, so I have $150 to pay you.
Attached was a cell-phone picture of a brochure.
Me: Oh, okay. That’s well below my usual rates, but it should be okay if you’re giving me the original assets for minor alterations.
Client: Yes, I already attached it - didn’t you see it on the email? No wonder you haven’t been getting much work - your attention to detail isn’t great is it?“
The client was referring to the cell-phone picture of their brochure. Needless to say, I thanked my friend for the opportunity before suggesting that their old agency might be in a better position to make the changes.
I made a small website for an acquaintance. A year and a half later, we ran into each other on the street.
Client: I’m not satisfied.
Me: Sorry, with what? What’s wrong?
Client: I don’t know. People don’t use the website. I want my money back. People tell me I’ve paid too much and I don’t use it.
Me: It’s been way too long for a refund. I’m sorry you don’t use it, but I did everything you paid me to do.
Client: Can we settle on half the money, then?