But I can’t so I’ll tell you… Here goes:
1. Quote numbers and invoice numbers are provided by me not for my health, as you may believe, but so I can track your payment/s. If you don’t use the reference number, choosing instead to use my name (I know my own name!) as reference for your payment, I will probably land up chasing you for money you’ve already paid me, and annoy us both.
2. You may be trying to help when you give guidelines like, ‘Writing this copy will only take an hour…’, but it’s just not helpful. I know how long these things will take, which is why I’m the one who gives you the quote, not the other way round. Please let me decide how much time I need.
3. Feedback is always welcome. But if you insist on handing my copy to your daughter – who’s exceptionally good at Grade 10 English – so she can print it out and make myriad unreadable hard copy changes to it, in Afrikaans, before scanning it in again so that I can ‘re-think’ it, it won’t be welcome next time. And, I speak English. The copy’s in English. Thanks.
4. Good writing, editing or proofing cannot be done overnight. At least, not by me. If you want the high quality you’re probably looking for, and that I pride myself on, I’ll need more than a day’s notice to produce a 30-page manual, to edit 100 pages or to come up with a shit-hot campaign.
5. If I have to chase you for payment for three months, for a job that you loved and signed off within seconds, I’m either going to a) pretend I’m too busy to work for you again, b) pad your next quote with an extra hour or two to cover the time I’ll need to spend chasing you and the lost interest when you take 90 days to pay, or c) bitch about you cryptically on Twitter.
6. When you give me a deadline, I break my back to meet it. If necessary, I put my personal life on hold, ignore my child, skip meals, abandon the gym and (sometimes) eliminate brushing my hair, to get it done. So, please don’t give false or random deadlines, and then sit on the copy for three weeks before giving feedback that ‘must be handled urgently’.
7. When your office is more than 30 kilometres (and at least an hour in Joburg traffic) from mine, I am never, ever going to be able to ‘pop in’ for a half-hour meeting without at least a week’s notice. What’s more, I’m not going to attend six short meetings at your office if the instructions, additions or guidelines in question can be emailed or phoned through. And if you absolutely love meetings, and nothing can ever be discussed over the phone or via email, be prepared to pay for them. Okay?
P.S I may seem grumpy. I’m not. Okay, not really. It’s just that, in the last 24 hours, I’ve contended with # 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7 above. So, I’m a bit gatvol. A bit sleep-deprived. And I have messy hair. But, as usual, it’s always the same small percentage of clients who drive me mad. The rest are divine. Promise.[This article originally appeared on Freelancentral, as the 13th issue of my Stable Door column, in June 2012.]