Rules to Follow with Freelancing

Craigslist and other popular freelancing sites are wonderful resources to find freelance work from but they are also ridden with less than great opportunities and free-loaders. Some of these listed are things I had to learn on my own while others are more from feedback of others. For myself, these are the rules I live by as I do freelance work. Some of these may be open to flexibility, depending on what kind of work you do, and some others may not even apply for your line of work. That is OK! Look through these and it is ultimately up to you to consider adding these as part of your golden rules to follow.

1.        This is probably my most valuable rule of them all: Have a set standard rate and NEVER accept less than. Know your work’s worth and stick to it, no matter how slow the opportunities are coming in. Accepting anything less opens up your space to what I call “bottom feeders” and these are those who try to take advantage of you – they are worse than scum. Keeping a set price will keep them at bay and will invite those who are more likely respectful of your requirements and boundaries. Why wouldn’t they? They’re paying a potentially higher rate and if you accept no less, they know not to fuck with you or your time. Don’t attract disloyal clients now. My only exception to this comes when there are perks or very valuable, verifiable opportunities; however, even then, I would not trust any promises so I would also try to get as close to my minimum as I can get paid. The truth is that many folks will come to you trying to get you to do more work for less pay and to those, you will want to refuse. Only if they insist or you’re inclined to say yes due to not having anything else to do, what I suggest at the very least is to offer only what you can offer at their rate. For example, if your normal rate is $200/hr for a fashion photo shoot and they can only give $150/hr, tell them you’ll do $150 for the hour in the condition that they provide their own make-up/clothes/etc or even just tell them $150 will give them a max of 30mins to work with you at that pay since your time is very valuable.

2.        Anything involving “deferred pay” or “passion projects” that do not pay upfront for your work, day of or earlier, are to be avoided. Some of these jobs will not pay as promised and you will be spending more time chasing after your money than actually working. It doesn’t matter how good the money looks, demand your pay sooner than later. Bills and other expenses do not wait.

3.        With #2, it is highly recommended to get some sort of deposit at the start of work. Usually with new clients for shoots, I require half upfront when I arrive and before I begin any work.  This is especially important for those who work remotely or all online. It is at your discretion how much you ask for at the beginning.

4.        Do not travel for an interview, please. There’s Skype, phone calls, facetime for that sort of stuff. Only time it is okay to travel is if they’re paying you or compensating you for your time.

5.        Big names or affiliation should mean nothing to you – at least give them that impression. Lines like “if it goes well, this will lead to more work” mean nothing. This is not even a promise so don’t fall for it. People who use that line are dishonest or at least very inexperienced. It is already an assumed fact that good work leads to more work so don’t go for it if they are expressing that line or using big names to attract your loyalty.

6.        Do not submit anything in order for them to consider you. Contests, try-outs, auditions (unless you’re looking for acting gigs). This is where your portfolio comes in and if you have that ready, it should speak for you already. If the client isn’t already sold by it and by their interactions with you, then you don’t want that job anyway. This is them trying to get more work from you for free.

7.        With #6 said, always watermark your projects. Watermark even the projects you have ready for clients and this will protect you from having them run with your work without properly paying you.

8.        It is highly suggested that you do not feed the trolls. It is very easy to get caught up with folks who are harassing you for whatever reason involving your work and the best thing to do when it comes to dealing with these type of correspondences is don’t bother. Anybody giving you a hard time or trying to negotiate NON-negotiable terms are not worth going back-and-forth with and this will keep you in the power. You don’t need to deal or invite more negativity so just let them know your terms in order for them to work with you and say “it’s this or nothing.” If they insist to fight it, just ignore/block. Best case scenario, they may come around accepting your terms.

9.        With freelance work, there’s no guarantee your career will start flying same day, month, or year that you begin. No matter how long it has been though, if you love the work you do, NEVER give up because of how slow it is. Do not give up because of anything other than just because you have found something better to do. Even then, I would keep at it but it is not good enough reason to give up just because there are not enough good work opportunities out there or because there are too many negative people trying to make your work/career difficult to shoot with. Always keep posting your ads and keep responding to those you seem interested in. There’s always a good chance that a great opportunity will come about just from having posted one ad.

10.     With all the above, I would like to leave you with one last suggested rule: never turn down a great opportunity just because you’re unfamiliar with it or because your work does not fall under the line. I have been offered gigs that are outside of modeling/writing, and because I knew I could do it, they have turned to great money-making and networking opportunities. One example of this: I’ve had one client reach out to me for Spanish speaking lessons and it’s been a great friendship, network option, and money-making opportunity all in one. However, it is important to always do assess the risks before meeting a client though, and if the pros outweigh the potential cons, try it out. I sure am glad I did.

With all the above said, I hope you are encouraged to post that ad, resume, or profile up for your work. Always stay safe while working and look out for my tips with staying safe as that will come in a future post. In the meantime, feel free to post more tips you may have or consider while freelancing or share this post with your friends to encourage discussion. We are all trying to make a living after all! Let’s help each other.

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If you care at all about customer service representatives, please read.

It is probably safe to say that there are many articles out there about how to give good customer service, what not to do when it comes to customer service, and how to manage difficult situations while still giving excellent customer service. It is all geared/catered towards the ‘customer is always right’ mentality and while that is not a bad policy to have, it generally doesn’t take into consideration the question “well what if they’re not? what about the representatives that come across really difficult customers who are unaware where the mishap is coming from, no matter how many different ways you try to explain it to them?”

As someone who has been in the field of customer service for quite some time now, I have had some time to think about a list of things folks can do that would be much appreciated by reps in most industries. Always feel free to add more in the comments section.

  1. Refer us by our names when you can. — Most of us have name tags on or we will mention our names to you when we are helping you so when you speak to us you know we’re actual people, not nameless company property.
  2. Express appreciation when you receive any kind of service or assistance. – A simple thank you will suffice and while we don’t necessarily need it to keep providing service, we may deal with mainly frustrated, upset customers so hearing a genuine thank you or expression of gratitude really is refreshing every once and a while.
  3. This doesn’t apply for every customer service related position but if a customer service representative is inviting you to review them and their service online, most often than not it is a way to receive extra income, provided that their company provides that incentive. In one example, a company of mine was offering $10 each recommended review we received and while it doesn’t seem like much, those $10 per review can be a nice addition to what we make. Often times, customer service related jobs is underpaid compared to the amount of work and stress representatives are expected to take on.
  4. Try, and I mean really TRY, not to rage on us. A policy, an expired coupon, a request we cannot overlook or supervise ourselves is beyond our control and while anger is often an effective catalyst to get somewhere when there’s issues, as customer service reps, we are often just pawns for the knights, kings, and queens of the chess board. We are often the first face you see and voice you first hear when you come in, call in to request attendance so we usually take the blow before our higher ups for something outside our control and with little to no warning. Not to say that you shouldn’t vent to us, we understand frustration and would want to know what’s the best way of helping you when you’re distressed, but when folks are yelling, shouting or calling us obscenities and threatening our job status over a policy we have to enforce or over something we do not have power or knowledge to change ourselves… let’s just say that it doesn’t help you, ourselves, and others who are either in the company willing to help or others who are waiting to be attended to.
  5. Please do not panic or get frustrated when we’re asking questions. We are likely asking questions to make sure we fully understand the situation and to make sure we are directing you to the appropriate venue to get where you’re trying to get to. Sometimes the questions can take a while but just like your time is valuable, our time is of the essence since there is many other also waiting to be helped.
  6. Also, try not to panic when you’re placed on hold or are left waiting for long periods. As customer service representatives, we can only do so much at times to expedite your process and sometimes while the appropriate situation or task is still pending, we still have to and are expected to attend to others. This is especially the case in receptionist offices where often times we are expected to help as many guests/customers coming in while being efficient as our position and resources allow us to be. I cannot count how many times folks have yelled over the phone or expressed excessive amounts of angry, hateful comments over being put on hold or made to wait too long when we were short staffed compared to the high number of calls and I had previously mentioned this to them ahead of time. Venting and expressing your dissatisfaction is understandable but yelling is a bit excessive considering how often multiple folks yell at the reps.
  7. Don’t be THAT person. The petty one. — While one rep may not have helped you well enough but the second one did, do not take it out on them by saying comments such as “well you weren’t very helpful” or “see, clearly you don’t know anything.” Anything along those lines would be better said to a supervisor so feel free to voice your concern or negative experience to a supervisor or management so that efforts are made to improve the service. There’s no need to get catty.
  8. DO tell us if we’re misunderstanding you! — Personally, I have no problem when someone tells me I’m not doing something right or understanding their point. Do not call us demeaning names or attack us verbally some way just because we are not understanding your situation right away or having issues communicating. Sometimes with that, we can ask a fellow coworker to come in and try clarifying things as a mediator.

Customers/guests who get rather rowdy should take into consideration how much harm that does for their case than good. It’s okay to be mad; we get the urgency of your situation then and there but when someone is yelling at a person, they should consider how hard it is for the representative to open up their ears to you when you’re yelling, literally and figuratively. I personally disassociate when being yelled at mainly because of an auto-defense mechanism so half of the stuff said, I probably won’t remember you said (it’s something I definitely have to figure out how to stop doing but it’s been that way due to previous traumatic experiences).

These are just some things I can think of that would be much appreciated from customers/guests while their seeking customer service. I saw an article somewhere that had generally the same idea with the title “How to get even better customer service” which made me laugh but generally, it’s sweet to think about. It’s all a cycle and while I like to think I enjoy dealing with challenging customers and that it helps me become a better CS provider, there’s only so much a rep can take before it gets draining and burnout becomes a possibility.

All in all, I wouldn’t leave the field for good just because of a couple bad-tasting experiences.

Stay mindful.