5 Golden Rules So You Don’t Get Screwed

2Don’t trust anyone. Even your friends, family, and pets are subject to this new clause.

Basically, this week I realized that I am not going to be seeing an ROI on a job I’ve been doing over the last month. I did not ask the person for a contract, because we had a verbal one, and I know him. I considered him a friend; you know, one of those friends who isn’t your blood brother or whatev, but a vague sort of friend. I charged him an unbelievably low rate, because I’m that nice.

And now I’m assuming he’s on crack, because there is no other excuse for his dramatic, MIA behavior.

In the future, some 5 Golden Rules to Not Get Screwed:

  • Demand half of the payment in advance, and the second half upon completion of the project. This way, at least it isn’t a total loss if they walk out on me. It’s also an assurance that they’re serious about getting the work done. If they argue with this, it separates the wishy washy clients from the professionals. As a professional myself, it is my right to demand this. It shows that I am also serious.
  • Get them to sign a contract. Not only does this clarify what specific job I am doing, it also defines me as a professional. If I don’t issue a contract, it’s like a giant hole missing from my fence where my dogs can get out, and evil money vampires can get in to abuse me, and leech me dry of all my hard earned work.
  • Tell them how much, and in what way, I will be invoicing them upon completion of the project. They now know exactly what to expect. If there are any splitting hairs over financials once the project is done, I can refer to that communication, and the case should be closed.
  • Be clear to clients that they are clients, and not my buddy, bffe, or whatever. In other words, work is work; be professional! I took this job from someone I considered a friend, and did not create a clear enough line of separation for him to understand that I was really working, and deserved to be compensated.
  • Run away when job postings ask for a sample specifically written for their request. This one is a bit of a gimme, but lately two job postings I applied for accepted my samples and said they would pay for them. That kind of astonished me. I was grimacing at the computer screen, squinting to see if that’s what my e-mail was actually telling me. “But, um, that wasn’t IT. That was just, like, a taste … wtf …” My PayPal has still not been graced with the 11 and 14 dollars for each sample, and they have vanished e-mail-wise. I have a feeling they suckered me for content.

I learned this lesson the hard way. But it is good and learned. I vow to behave more professionally, so that it is harder to break through my defenses and abandon me without reward for my splendid work.

Can anyone offer any other helpful tips? Save your fellow freelance