Working for yourself, you sometimes realize that people are real jerks. I present to you the tale of two non-clients; tales of woe as relayed to me by two different Freelance friends. To protect the innocent idiots, I’ve redacted their names to be Jerkface A and Jerkface B and slightly altered my friends’ names.

Nate’s Story:
A friend requests my help for Jerkface A’s project. The project sounds fun and something I could rock for them, so I decide to help. Before I even get the chance to pitch a bid, Jerkface A asks for a demo that they can compare to another freelancer who is also working on this project. My friend had no idea about the other freelancer and thought it was a dumb move on Jerkface A’s part.

I really, really should have told them no at this point. I’ve read about this and it never once ends well. But, my friend was invested, and I wasn’t about to make him look bad.

Next time, I’m going to trust my instincts and bow out gracefully. Instead, I busted out a quick demo; probably quicker than I would have, if they hadn’t revealed that I was spending time on work that I might not get any dividends out of.

Note from Nick: in some places, they call this spec work and it’s met with blacklisting. The kind of blacklisting you’d get if you were a suspected communist in the 1950’s.

After busting out the demo, Jerkface A complained that their out-of-date software couldn’t render my work. I spent another 30 minutes creating a screen capture video for Jerkface A to see the work. After all that, they went with the other guy.

Jess’s Story:
Jerkface B requests my help while simultaneously getting some advice elsewhere. Somewhere around the first thirty minutes, I had this feeling that something wasn’t quite right.

Jerkface B then proceeds to ignore every one of my recommendations moving forward. Instead, they’ve got it in their heads this other person knows better than I do. A string of bad advice from this doofus leads them into catastrophic failure that I am requested to fix… along with a few other key things – all for the same project rate.

Weighing the two hours of meetings I’d put in so far against the hassle of fixing their bonehead move, I decided to refund their money and run like hell.

The Moral of the Story: when, in the course of being a freelancer, you encounter a client who gives you rocks in the pit of your stomach, run like hell before you regret it. The same is true for relationships, jobs, internships, volunteer work, group projects, whatever. They need you more than you need them and a client who realizes and appreciates that fact is just around the corner.

Love the clients who love you and trust your instincts – they’re finely-honed senses dedicated to protecting your ass from the tiger (or bad client) about to eat you.

(Header photo: Jerk by Gr8Matt)