For someone who counts pennies, you'd think I'd be more aware of my income--or lack of it.
Hi. I'm Maria, and I'm doing my taxes today. :cue groan:
In 2014, I had no fewer than four clients who either skipped out on the bill, or consumed way more time than what was reasonable.
Two of them were cases of micromanagement. By the time it was over, I lost money--big time. At the end, all I wanted was to part company with them. For those of you who don't know, I charge a flat rate, rather than by the hour.
The other two were friendly and earnest new clients who emailed me for several days in lengthy conversation. I tossed out a few ideas and some rough thumbnails since they seemed ready to sign on the dotted line. When I emailed them their respective contracts, all I got back were cricket sounds. Never heard from them again.
I should be more rigid in my business practices but I always assume people will do the right thing. It's foolish on my part, or maybe old-fashioned. The world is different from the one I grew up in.
When you freelance, people don't realize that time is indeed money. Hours spent on a project that went nowhere could've been used on a job that paid my grocery bill.
I think part of the problem is that we're accustomed to getting many things free so we don't realize that the poor schmo at the other end of that internet connection is trying to make a living.
Authors have it the worst because it's hard to know if your marketing efforts are paying off. But this applies to anyone who freelances and who gives away tangible and intangible goods and services.
Free books. Free art. Free advice. In essence, none of these are free. Not really.
We give away free books to entice people to buy the rest of our back list.
Stock art companies let you "borrow" art for the chance to advertise on your web site.
Free advice from a professional is always given on the premise that his expertise will encourage you to pay for the rest of his services.
All companies, big and small that offer coupons, discounts, or freebies do it with the hope you'll buy their products or services for full price the next time.
Anecdote from the old days: Many years ago we raised rhea and emu. We had a phenomenal track record for hatching and raising healthy chicks. We became respected experts in our field, and people called us from all over the US and Europe asking for advice on chick rearing.
|Mail we received after my first rhea article was published.|
One day, we got a frantic call from someone who had visited our farm for many weeks, asking countless questions and picking our brains for information.
In the end, he bought from someone else who was "cheaper". Lo and behold, his chicks started dying, and the seller stopped taking the buyer's calls. He was desperate.
From what he described, we figured out the problem and helped him as best we could. We could've turned our backs on him--after all--he chose the other breeder, but we didn't. No matter how we felt about this guy and all the time he took from us, we couldn't allow his animals to suffer needlessly.
Flash forward. I still help people when they ask, but since there aren't any lives at stake, I only give what I can when I can.
Luckily, my good clients far outnumber the bad ones. If it hadn't been for doing taxes today I probably wouldn't have remembered the bad ones at all.
Authors: It's difficult to know whether a freebie book has netted you any solid sales. How do you decide when to give something away and for how long?
Have you ever been stiffed with the bill?
In other news, it is full-on Spring here. The homestead has been buzzing with activity. More on Wednesday!