Freelancing Dilema

I recently got a call from a local design firm, with whom I worked with a couple times before, asking me to jump right on a project the very next day. It had a quick deadline and rush jobs are not uncommon when freelancing for design firms, so I didn't ask for my usual 50% deposit up front. About an hour later I got an email from a second design firm asking if I was available the next day. I politely declined explaining that I was already booked. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

The next day the first firm wouldn't return my calls or emails. By mid morning I emailed the second firm to say my schedule had changed and, if they still needed me, I was available. As you can guess, they had already found someone else. An entire day later, the first firm emailed to say the project had been rescheduled. A few days later they emailed again to say they would be doing the work in-house and wouldn't require me.

Now let me state clearly that I honestly like the people at the first firm. They're nice friendly people and I understand that deadlines and deliverables change. My intention is not to sully their reputation. However, in this instance, their poor communications cost me a day's income from another opportunity I declined on their behalf.

My questions are:

A) At the risk of losing out on future work they may steer my way, should I send them a polite email explaining that their failure to return my emails/calls caused me to miss out on another opportunity and then present solutions to avoid this happening again in the future?

B) Would it be improper when called for rush jobs to require firms to sign and email back some sort of letter of intent that guarantees they will pay for a full day whether they use me or not?

C) Would this label me as a difficult freelancer to work with?

D) Does anyone have any other suggestion or advise to avoid this in the future?

E) Should I just grin and bare it and except it as an unfortunate part of being a freelancer?



It happens, just brush your self off and be ready for the next job opportunity.


what he said. with freelance comes more freedom...and less security.

Successful freelancers find that sweet-spot on the tightrope between da Vinci on one end, and a cyborg on the other. Use a few tricks to maintain the balance. When you get a pronto request but you're super busy, send a funny email with a silly cartoon - like one with someone hanging that says, "I'm a little tied up right now!" Then follow-up when you're done and ask how the project went, send them a sample of the work you were busy with and ask them to keep you in mind.

On the other hand, you could just transform into a machine and crank out their job and finish your own too. You could kind of milk it too, by either asking for more money, or using it as a way to show off your freelance "superpowers!" Whichever position you take, just support it by emphasizing your strengths.

Calling out the firm that supplies you with work is a sure fire way of not getting any work from them again, even if it was their fault. If you aren't having signed contracts or proposals for the work you're doing that outlines the projects and the deadlines then you're setting yourself up to be taken advantage of or swindled in the future. Regardless of the time frame or how quickly your client needs something done, there shouldn't be any reason why they can't outline the project or give you a contract.

At some point in your freelance career you're going to get burned and loose out on money or opportunities. I'd be very surprised if there was a freelancer that hasn't. Let this unfortunate circumstance be a lesson as to how important it is to protect your valuable time with a signed contract, especially when there are other opportunities to be had.

Best of luck with your endeavors

- Kevin

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