Working Jerks

I think things are going to be quiet through Christmas and possibly even through the end of the year and I'm looking forward to having some time off. More than that: I deserve some time off, dammit. I've been going pretty much non-stop for about three weeks, weekends included.

Part of the reason I've been so busy is that I made a mistake and underbid on a job. The company gave me the assignments I bid on plus about 30 more at the same price. That should have been a clue, right? But it's a fairly new client and I didn't dare tell them no. So I accepted the extra work. That's when I realized it was going to take me waaaay longer to do it than I expected. I spent two weeks doing research-based writing at minimum wage for a Fortune 500 company. And with no benefits, either. And don't get me started about self-employment taxes.

Luckily, I spent the third week working for a good employer. Someone who pays me a fair rate without being all squirrelly about it. Who puts my checks in on time and doesn't wait to approve my work the day after the close of the current billing cycle. (One time is a coincidence. Every time is a conspiracy, people.) This job isn't always easy and it doesn’t come with vacation time, health insurance, or even a Christmas bonus, but it includes the major fringe benefit of an editor who sends me occasional emails praising my work and thanking me for my professionalism. Who makes me feel like a valued member of the team.

As opposed to treating me like a supplier whose pricing mistake is an opportunity for profit.

Looking for freelance clients is kind of like dating. Everybody says there's plenty of fish in the sea but the truth is it's hard to meet someone. You want a nice guy--you really do want a nice guy--but somehow you end up with the jerk every time. And the funny thing is, the signs that he was a jerk were there from the start, had you only paid attention.

What I really need is to find more employers who are nice. And to learn how to recognize the jerks a little earlier in the process. I'm not saying I won't continue to work for jerks.

But from now on I'm charging them extra.

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