Friday, July 15, 2011

Ending Freelancing Contracts

Doing so gracefully might be impossible, but I do try to be as nice as possible when I decide to end a contract with an employer. I've ended four or so contracts over my career as a writer. Generally, I try to let the employer do it, and many times the employer will end a contract when the job is completed. For example, I was hired to write ten articles, and I did. So, the employer ends my contract. I like this the best. I don't have to worry about contacting the employer because I haven't heard from him in two weeks.

I ended two contracts because I hadn’t heard from my employer in some months. I sent them messages which they did not respond to, so I ended the contracts myself. This really only applies when I’m working through a freelancing website. Otherwise I can just let the employer go on his way without any problems.

Two other contracts, however, ended much less unobtrusively. One was last year with a man from Romania, and the other is still in the process of ending. My Romanian client was one of my very first clients, and he loved me. I wrote great articles, and I wrote them quickly. However, he was irritating. In every email or chat conversation, he would call me baby, sweetie, or darling. I told him numerous times to quit, but he kept on doing it.

What’s worse, he paid roughly a dollar or two for a 500 word article. I was working like crazy and making $10 a day, which just wasn’t cutting it. I tried, more than once, to ask for a pay raise. As I recall, he did go up slightly, but would never go up to $5 for a 500 word article, which is my base price. After over a hundred articles, I decided that I couldn’t work for so little anymore. I think it took nearly an hour talking over chat to get him to leave me alone.

This time it’s a client located in Bangladesh. I’ve noticed a trend with clients and location. As a rule the best ones are located in North America and Western Europe, and the worst ones are located in Eastern Europe and Asia. Granted, I have a repeat client from Japan who is great. Anyhow, this client is very similar. Now I’ve learned to avoid low rate clients, but this one posted higher rate than I ended up getting. I hadn’t worked full-time in a while, so I thought twenty 450 word articles would be a good way to get back into the swing of things. For $2.50 an article, the rate was a bit low, but I needed the work and the practice.

Once I had already accepted the contract on oDesk, where I’ve been working lately, he told me that $2.50 wasn’t his rate; it was $1.50 per article. Additionally, he wanted to keep giving me articles indefinitely. I was not happy about this, but I agreed to work for a while and discuss a raise in the near future. I wrote some easy articles for him, and he was very pleased.

One day, about a week into this, he decided to give me a set of much more complex articles. I told him, bluntly, that he wasn’t paying enough for me to write articles of that caliber. After about five emails in which he argued that they really weren’t that hard, and he couldn’t raise his rate, I told him that I would no longer work for him. Trying to be professional, I told him I’d finish the last set of articles, but then he would have to end the contract.

After I finished them, he started sending me emails asking, “[w]hat is the problem of you?” Finally, a short while later, he ended up signing off Skype without saying anything else after he had offered me two small pay raises, all the way up to $2.5 per 500 words, and some time off. He still hasn’t paid for the last set of articles or ended the contract. I gave him until Monday, so there’s still hope.

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