Freelance gigs from hell: What they say and what they mean

When the definition of ‘professionalism’ keeps changing!

Now, by and large I’ve had the good fortune of working for fair and professional employers, but there are always some who seriously make you question whether the flexibility of the freelance life is worth the curl-into-a-ball-crying migraine of chasing people for (usually paltry) payment. Gaslighting, belittling , shaming… it’s all in the arsenal for some folks who really do not want to part with their cash, and are outraged, simply outraged, that you are motivated by anything other than the spirit of volunteership and charity. In my experience, there are some warning signs that a potential gig-granter will be more trouble that they’re worth.

“Why do you think this will take a month to complete? The work is really simple. It shouldn’t take more than a week.”

Translation: Your professional opinion doesn’t matter and I have no respect for what you do. I’m hiring you only because donkeys don’t know how to type, but what hey, science could change that in a few years. And when donkeys learn to type, they WILL be faster than you.

“More than salary and benefits, we give you the chance to grow.”

Translation: We give you the chance to grow anything but your bank balance! WHy don’t you start with your hair/beard?
“Uh, we know this may be below market rate, but we offer a constant stream of work to make up for that.”

Translation: Yes, we admit you’ll earn pennies, but hey you can do it for years and years and years… what’s not to like?

“Really good to see the links to all your published features and stories, but we still need a 1000-word sample from you.”

Translation: Freebies! Yay!

It’s an editing position, but we will also expect you to create brand materials, write video scripts, mentor trainees, and engage on social media for the business.”

Translation: Freebies! Yay!

“Our onboarding process is really easy. You can start work right away. Oh, payments, yes. Upon completion of the project, you need to e-mail an invoice to our finance department, courier a physical copy to our Mumbai office, and give us a scan of your passport for identity purposes. Checks are cleared in three months or so.”

Translation: Working for us is the reward, getting paid by us is the punishment.

“We can set freelance rates after you share your salary history.”

Translation: Imma looking for a reason to lowball you, sucker. If you were poorly paid you will STAY that way.

If any of your discussions go like this, have some self-respect and say no even if it means surviving on dried crusts of bread that are softened and salted only by your tears of desperation.

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