Friends and Family Anonymous
by Jake Poinier
As a general rule, I don’t do paid work for friends and family. My experience is that they expect too much for too little, and emotions play too much of a role – i.e., they’re generally lousy clients.
A while back, I was reminded why. As a favor to a family friend, I took on a referral for writing the content for a small website. The owner seemed nice enough, her website was ghastly, and she needed a few business letters written, too. I offered a modest bid, which she promptly accepted.
I heavily rewrote the letters, and she signed off on them after a round or two of revisions. So far, so good. I commenced on the website copy, and she seemed to be happy with the initial two pages. Then things got sticky. There really wasn’t any source information for her website other than what already existed. I gave it the old college try, but she wanted more and fresher information while refusing my offer to do so interview style. She just seemed more inclined to grumble than to help me help her.
At this point she wanted to know exactly how much her tally was, so I sent her a summary of work completed and an invoice. Long story short, she didn’t want to pay it. She informed me that she had had to heavily rewrite the letters I’d given her (which was news to me, since she’d approved them), and that she had shown my invoice to another writer she knows (!) who thought that it was too high. (Unsurprising, given that the other writer charges her about half my hourly rate).
After a bit of back-and-forth, I simply said, “You know what, Sandy [not her real name], clearly we’re not getting anywhere here. I think it’s best if you just send me a check for what you believe you owe me.”
I’d already wasted the time; no sense in wasting further mental energy. Tattoo it on my butt and carve it on my tombstone: No more friends and family clients.
A freelance corporate copywriter and editor since 1999, Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier is the author of The Science, Art and Voodoo of Freelance Pricing and Getting Paid and Help! My Freelancers Are Driving Me Crazy, available in print and ebook versions on Amazon. He can be reached at advice@DearDrFreelance.com.