Freelance Doesn’t Mean Always Free

, , , , | Right | March 11, 2021

I don’t miss being a freelancer. The worst client for me was one who started out as one of the best. They used my services — mostly running classes but also some software development — so frequently that they had me on a retainer. I’d get paid a certain amount every month whether they used me or not, and then more on top if I exceeded a certain number of days, etc.

This was great until they had a few quiet months and decided it didn’t make sense any longer. That was fine by me, as it freed me up to take on more clients.

As time went by, the client used me less and less, eventually drying up completely such that I’d had nothing from them for more than six months. Then, I got this phone call.

Client: “We’d like you to run some classes for us on [dates].”

Me: “Ah, sorry, I would love to, but I’ve just signed a three-month contract to do some software development work so I won’t be free until after New Year.”

Client: *Angry tone* “What? No, you have to give us priority. We need you for these classes.”

Me: “Um, well, as I said, I’m committed to something else on those dates so I won’t be available, sorry.”

Client: *Starting to raise his voice* “No, no, this is unacceptable. We need you to run these classes.”

Me: “Um… well, as I said, sorry, I cannot. If you can move them until after the New Year, then—”

Client: *Shouting* “No, no! Now listen! You will run our classes. We’ve been good to you and you owe us!”

Me: “Whoa, whoa, there. I’m no longer on a retainer. I don’t owe you anything. You’ve given me nothing for more than six months. Did you expect me to keep my diary free forever just in case you called?”


Me: “Tell you what. How about you stop shouting, put the phone down, sit yourself down comfortably, and have a think about what you’re saying here? Nice talking to you. Bye.”

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