A couple of months ago, you briefed me to write you some website copy. Optimised, for Google, but still charismatic. We had a blast working together, because you’re fun and your company does cool stuff and you knew what you wanted – and what you didn’t want. And when you weren’t sure of either, we worked it out together.
Your copy came out beautifully. There were a few tweaks here and there. And some extra changes. No charge for those. You’d given me a juicy job, and there’d be more. Your programmers placed the copy onto a test site, so we could look at it in situ. It looked amazing. But between my Version 5 and the test site upload, you guys made some changes on your side. A word here. A phrase there. A paragraph somewhere.
So I came in for a couple of hours to run through it all with you, online, and proof it. No charge. This was a goodwill visit. And anyway, I’d enjoyed the work so much. Aside from which, the copy felt like ‘mine’, and I wanted it to be 100% perfect.
Today you e-mailed me. You thanked me profusely for the copy, raved about the feedback you’d had and urged me to check it out, live, on the web. Which I did.
It looks glorious. Really. But I’m a bit choked up, to be honest. Because there are still errors in it. Somewhere in between the last set of on-screen changes I oversaw and this morning, someone added stuff in. Without Title Case to match the rest. With US spelling, when I’d used SA. With a couple of typos, spelling errors and poor grammar. It’s 90% mine, but it’s 10% wonky. Probably throughout; I can’t say…
And, I’m going to level with you here, I don’t have the energy to go through the 30-odd pages of your site to octuple-check it and list them all for you. Again. Because, like Garfield’s never-ending lasagne, there’s no resolution here. You know and love your business and you’ll be adding things forever. And I don’t want to be the evil writer-Nazi from hell who can’t enthuse about anything without pointing out its flaws.
I’m sorry, client. I’ll gladly work with you again, but my gimlet eye is watering. In an ideal world, you’d send me the changes/additions as you think of them, I’d run a time sheet in five- or ten-minute increments and, at the end of the month, I’d invoice for the hour or so of work require to keep things perfect. Or, I’d write off the hour or so of ad hoc changes on the back of other, regular, ongoing, juicy work in that month.
But the world isn’t ideal… So I’m writing this letter to make myself feel better. I’m taking a risk. I’m lowering my cards onto the table, with hordes of perfectionist freelance creatives at my shoulder (nodding sagely), and I’m hoping that the clients who are reading this have a look at them and hedge their bets a bit better next time.
This piece originally appeared on the Freelancentral website as ‘ Client, my gimlet eye is watering – A letter from your Freelancer’.