Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bubbles and Bursts

Last week was a very mixed week in my freelancing world. On the bright side, I was invited to write a guest post for On the Money, and I enjoyed doing that. I don't know if I've done a guest post under my name before. I do a lot of ghost blogging, but a guest post was nice to do.

On the dark side, well, there was a lot of it. I write quite a bit for a large content company, though I'm careful not to be tempted into making it too much of my income. I think perhaps that I've gotten too dependent on it, though. The company is infamous for its editors who send small things back for edit requests. Usually those edits come back with, "Can you add X?" or "Can you change this part to X?" I'm used to it, and even though it's a pain, it pays ok and the work is plentiful. Occasionally, though, the dark side shows itself and that annoyance turns to something else entirely.

Instead of the usual "We'd like you to change X," last week's edits came back as "This sucks and you should pretty much just die." It was actually so bad that the head of the editorial department contacted me personally to apologize. However, the damage was done. Being dependent on freelancing is a lot like laying on a big bubble. As long as you have the confidence that the bubble is strong and sound, you don't worry about it bursting. You can move around as much as you like, confident that the bubble will be there. But, every once in a while, someone will come along with a needle and remind you of how vulnerable it really is. Once you remember how thin the bubble is and how vulnerable you are, you become too scared to move around for fear of bursting it. I haven't had the confidence to write a single word for them since and I'm not sure that I will again. I spent a lot of time starting at the screen and wondering if I had any idea what I was doing.

Relying on content companies for a lot of your income seems safer to a lot of freelancers. Unlike private clients, a content company won't run off with the merchandise. A company won't stall payments, and it won't be hard to contact. I know of many people who feel much safer when working for them. And on the whole, they do feel safe. They're not. Sometimes they can hit you a lot harder than the clients who run off. At least those guys only take your money.


Bailey said...

Unfortunatly anyone can be rude and unprofessional regardless of their status. It tends to be about power. Those who have it in any situation can abuse it.

My goal is to get a thicker skin and realize that most of the content stuff I am writing is not a personal statement about me and therefore I have to learn not to take the comments personally. One hit home this morning but if I don't get better at this side of it, I will end up finding alternate employment.

Best wishes.

Russell at On the Money said...

Thanks for the guest post you wrote - here is the URL for the actual page: http://russellcavanagh.com/2/?p=336

I'd have thought the editor who was horrible to you has probably been carpeted, given that you later received an apology.

I've had the legs taken from under me by clients in the past and my self-employed friends and colleagues have similar tales.

Don't let it get you down. You've got real talent.