Living the dream

Let’s face it, every freelancer dreads their job on a daily basis.

You may believe we’re living the dream. It must be so relaxing to be your own boss, even if you do have to give almost a quarter of every one of your invoices to a third-party website you’re being forced to use because it’s almost impossible to start a business by yourself these days. We’re not living the dream.

Even though nine out of ten clients don’t read our requirements, they’re typically nice people. Happy to wait for work, not in any rush, glad they’ve found someone with some skill to do the work they don’t want to do themselves, or they’re being paid to find someone else to do.

And then there’s the 10%. Those clients who are just utterly awful. I’m being as nice as possible about this crowd, but I’m going to go into some solid detail about why I sometimes detest my job, despite the fact that I’m technically “living the dream” and doing the one thing I kind of went to university for four years to do.

Those absolute one-in-ten clients who pop up out of nowhere demand high amounts of work for very little pay, disregarding how long it takes to work on large projects, and then mess around for months wasting your time while you work with clients that don’t make you want to jump off of a cliff.

Back in March I was a little low on cash, hunting through the job boards of the freelancer website I get almost all of my work from, and willing to do almost anything to get some quick pay. I happened across a job that was offering $350 to rewrite 50 short articles. Yes, that’s $7 an article for the mathematically quick-minded among you. And yes, I sent across my proposal, because when you freelance for a living, sometimes you’re basically running yourself over with a fully loaded truck, begging for scraps and far too far into an overdraft you shouldn’t have.

Well, I had rent to pay and none of my usual clients had contacted me yet that month, so that’s where this story really starts.

The guy accepts, happy to have found an unwitting writer to rewrite thousands upon thousands of words for the kind of money people earn in a few hours doing jobs I’ve never understood. He replies a couple of days later, already odd, and gives me the lowdown.

I don’t hear anything else for months. The days pass, then the weeks, then the months, and – well, you get the idea. It’s July, basically. I’m saying it became July, four months later, and he finally got back to me.

To tell me that he’d been unwell and would have the articles to me in a few days. The articles that should have already been ready to go and sent to me four months prior.

Two more weeks pass. At this point, I’m getting a bit more than just uncertain, you know? I’ve passed through my “I’m broke again” stage, made some cash, my bills and rent are up to date, I’m just doing my usual month-to-month. He comes back, shoots me 26 of the 50 articles, and says the others will be ready by the weekend; three days away.

Again, remember those articles that were all ready to go? The ones that the job advert was for in the first place? Yeah, me too.

So I wait. I’m half playing ‘the game’ now; seeing what he’ll do, if he’ll contact me and when, what he’ll say. Guy seems either sketchy or like he doesn’t care/doesn’t know what he’s doing. The money is still sat in the escrow, but I’m not really focused on it any more and just wondering what will happen next.

A month passes. The download link for the articles is broken now, and I need it again, so I request it and he gets, as I thought, a bit snappy. Wondering if I can work faster because he needs the pieces soon.

Wait. He needs the pieces I got a few weeks ago after waiting for them for four months? Alright, but what about the other half of the pieces I didn’t receive? Well, I asked about them. Three times. Including in my direct reply to the message he sent me asking for me to work faster.

No reply. Nothing. Nada.

I wait, again. I’ve lost all trust and respect for this guy. The couple of messages I’ve had have been rude, snappy, demanding, and he’s still refusing to acknowledge that I don’t have all of the pieces yet.

When you’re mass rewriting articles that are all extremely similar, you want to have all of them so that you aren’t repeating yourself. And so you know how much work you’re actually doing for the amount you’re getting paid. Neither of these things I’ve been able to check because after what was, at that point, seven months, I still don’t have everything.

And then I get the most sarcastic, entitled message I’ve ever received: “Can I expect these any time by the end of the year?” I’ve paraphrased there, of course, because I’m not an idiot.

That was it for me. The huge gaps in communication, half of the work missing, and a demanding client paying less than pocket change for a project I got seven months ago? I’m out.

But it wasn’t that easy, and it took three days of sarcastic messages, the website’s support team getting involved, and me having to debunk anything this guy claimed I agreed to before the stream was shut down.

It was a beautiful day when that refund went through.

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