Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Joys of Freelancing

In my real life, as far as I have one, I am a freelance copywriter. This means that I am lucky enough to make my living by writing. 'Lucky' is a tricky kind of a word, though. A slippery, dippery, wippery kind of a word. The reason for this is simple. Clients

There are many breeds of client. Most are nice, normal people with perfectly good manners, who lack the ability to write and recognise that, hence their need for me. Others are nice, normal people with perfectly good manners, who lack the ability to write and do not recognise that, hence the tinge of grumpiness when they call and say "the designer said I'd better call you before we printed any of this". I can usually pleasantly prove that I can write better than they can, while remaining friends, and these relationships usually end with professions of gratitude and a loving promise to call me next time they need a brochure. Others are pus-oozing monsters with no manners whatsoever who lack the ability to write, but deny that, and make my life a total misery to the point where I wonder why they even employ me. Silly me. It's to torture me, of course! And in one case, make me abandon my chosen career for six months while I recovered from his pus-oozing awfulness.

While I know you long to learn more about the monsters, today we have a short post about The I-Did-It-Myselfers. I-Did-It-Myselfers are always the loveliest people, often with a slightly frail quiver to their voice, which makes me be extra polite to them on the phone, in case I should accidentally break them. I-Did-It-Myselfers really, really want to help, which is, believe it or not, not always a good thing.

When I ask for 'a few bullet points', I-Did-It-Myselfers provide pages of close-typed text, which take hours of reading to pick out the three things I actually need to know. When I ask for 'a brief bio', I get an entire life story. When I ask for 'any existing literature', I get a postman's-back-breaking package consisting of every piece of paper the company has produced in the past fifty years; including copies of their order forms and invoice layout. Not really necessary for a DL flyer about their new widget.

I-Did-It-Myselfers are so lovely, and so fragile, however, that it's impossible to explain to them how to be more helpful, because all they want to do is be helpful, and if they tried to be any more helpful they would actually frazzle themselves into a tiny pile of ashes. All I can do is say 'thank you' and grit my teeth as I plough through the forest-slaying piles of info (these people always send paper), using hours of non-quoted working time, all so that I don't hurt their feelings.

Because, however troublesome I may find their efforts, they have gone to an effort. They have tried to make my life easier. They are nice people, who, any time I need anything, will always answer their phone and do their best to find it for me.

They are, at the end of the day, My Client.

*McKoala Family Health Update*

Considerable improvement in everybody's condition over the weekend. I can now walk almost normally, rather than shuffle, although I still can't sit for long. Grandma Koala is much stronger and may even be released from hospital in a day or so (although they've said that several times before).


JaneyV said...

I had a client who phoned my home at 3am to tell me that the Japanese supplier hadn't done his job properly but, not to worry, the client had sorted it all out and there was no need for me to do anything.

Not long afterwards I got pregnant and left the Live Events industry forever.

I do not take being woken at 3am lightly.

Glad everyone is on the mend!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Good to hear that progress is being made all round.

Freelancing is not one of my current gigs. I did contract work for awhile, but I looked like just another employee except I got my stuff done (well and in a timely manner).

I do have a good friend who freelances and he has called me with the most interesting stories. Like the one about the woman client from the UK who would call him at all hours of the day or night to discuss her personal issues. And her checks never seemed to be good. And do you know how much of a pain bouncing checks from another country is? Um, yeah. I'm not wishing that on my worst enemy.

ChrisEldin said...

You are a diplomatic and kind koala.

I might send you my harddrive and pay you to pull a saleable novel from it.
And for my bio, I'll send my kids to your house so they can tell you stuff in person.

fairyhedgehog said...

You're back! I'm so glad you're mending. (I'm not so worried about Grandma Koala except that her being ill impinges on you. Sorry, but it's the truth.)

Copywriting sounds interesting, as in the Chinese curse. You must be a very patient person to put up with some of those clients.

December/Stacia said...

Glad to hear everyone is doing better! :-)

McKoala said...

Janey, when we lived overseas most of our overnight calls came from Grandma Koala who never did quite sort out the time difference. Now she always calls at dinner time. I'm not sure which Mr Koala hates more.

Sarah, I had a client go bankrupt on me once, owing me a couple of thousand dollars. I'd been too nice about chasing invoices. Not any more!

Chris, no worries, and I'll be sure to charge you double time for every second your kids spend at my place, even the ones when they're asleep...

Thanks FH, but not patient at all...just poor!

Thanks December!