You have the right to know your worth. You have the right to say no, and to set limits. You have the right to say, “hey, I learned something from this and I’d like to share that knowledge with you.” Remember that the way people react is a reflection of where they are in life– it has nothing to do with you and if you are met with hostility or passive aggressive Facebook posts, that is where their respect for you ends.
So, today’s post will be more of a rant wrapped into quite a few hard-learned lessons. My thunderstorm is about to roll, so if rant’s aren’t your thing, you’ve been warned.
I am a writer. I have been writing since 2007 on various projects. Usually cover letters and resumes for friends. Some ghost writing for bloggers, yes–even the really famous ones, and lots and lots of advertising for various companies. Technical writing? That is a whole new field for me. I was approached right after the Astros won the world series around 11PM on a weeknight by someone who had a job for me to do. Here is that dialogue in summary– I have it actually in Writing. I keep my receipts.
“S, will you do ABC for my business?”
“That is so kind of you to think of me, but I have never done ABC before, I think that would be a disservice to your company to have such a novice on this particular project.”- me
“I think you would be great at it. Think about it and let me know. We will show you what we need. You would earn ___% of the award.”
So, there I was practically hyperventilating. I had never seen numbers like that before. The person speaking with me was so casual about the numbers. I was shaking like a leaf, thrilled at the prospect and also nervous as a clam. Could I do this?
But I did do this. I completed the project writing one month in advance of the deadline. I kept my side of the bargain in full. I had requested the numbers and various things and was repeatedly told that I would be given that information at a later date. The night the deadline was due, everything went belly up. Here I was with my completed project but I couldn’t send it in because there was a step in the registration that I unknowingly missed. I was kicking myself, hard. Bawling my eyes out I kept apologizing and I was told that it was no one’s fault and we would move on. The following morning I was told to complete the registration. I did the best I could do but a lot of the registration questions were ones about the business that I couldn’t answer (because I don’t own the business and I had only been working with them for TWO months….) , so I asked for help. I said that these questions were outside of my scope because I was hired to do ABC and I had done ABC.
Then, I got the response, “ABC is doing the work in it’s entirety. Think of what you are saying, now is not the time to go rogue.”
I calmly stated that I wasn’t going rogue, I just needed the help that I was verbally promised during the one and only meeting we had. Frustrated, they responded that they needed information that they had provided to me the previous day. I looked it up and sent it over. I did a few more things they asked me to do and then enjoyed my weekend.
On Monday, I spoke with my mother who owns her own business. She advised me that in the future I ask for hourly pay due to the extensive work that ABC requires me to do. We worked out some numbers and I wrote a very long, but kind e-mail opening up the discussion about future pay. Never once did I mention getting paid for the past project. It was a learning experience for everyone involved, why would I want pay? What my e-mail was referring to were the future projects and discussions revolving how they want the business to be run while having me work for them.
A quick e-mail response, “I will get back to you.”
Then the Facebook war started. Passive aggressive isn’t usually my game, but I’m wrenching the scissors out of my back and cutting myself off. Posts were made by the very person who approached me stating, “Free speech ceases to be just that when you write for profit. Then it becomes bought speech.” and my personal favorite, an anecdote about how if you read books you still have no experience and so you shouldn’t, “demand to be hired as an expert”
The irony of this is, I said no initially. I admitted from day one that I had no experience. I continued to ask for help and was given quick answers with people speaking fast or texting me. The one day I was paid any attention was the day prior to the project deadline. I opened a discussion about Future Pay (which my numbers are about 95% LESS than what they were willing to pay if the project was successful) and not only were these people openly hostile about how they feel in regards to paying someone “based on experience,” they gave me the cold shoulder and took to Facebook Land to rant about it. I don’t know what their motive was, but I was stunned at the level of hostility and full blown disrespect that I was given simply because I asked to Discuss An Hourly Wage.
Here’s what I know: I don’t feel bad in the least bit. I have zero regrets because I did every single thing in my capacity to do my job and to do it well. That is honestly all I can do. If these people won’t recognize my value, that’s fine. I wish them the very best of luck in the world finding someone who will work under their terms, because we do not see eye to eye and that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s just a bad mix. Usually, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. I rest my head on my pillow every night knowing that I did the best I fucking could every single day. The world does not owe me anything, neither does this business (though if they had an ounce of integrity, they would pay something for the hard work and time that I put in.) An interesting twist to all of this is that I got an e-mail today from a previous client and they are willing to pay me for the work that I do on a weekly basis. They applauded my hard work over the past year of doing business with them and asked me if I would come back and work for them again (I took a leave of absence indefinitely for ABC project). I’m going to do just that. I’m going to continue to work on my craft and grow. Most importantly, I am going to continue to surround myself with people who value me as much as I value them. Anyone who knows me knows that my immense gratitude knows no bounds. I have a dark soul with a bright light, and sometimes things get complicated, but I will not be taken advantage of.
I wish nothing but the very best for this business. I hope that they are able to find someone who is willing to work on a case-by-case basis with the off chance that they will make big money or none at all. That just isn’t a good fit for me. It’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
Keep shining bright,
Remember to be kind to yourself and if you or someone close to you is in serious distress or simply needs to talk to someone, please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741.