Freelance Contracts: What To Do When Getting Horribly Shafted?
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    Question Freelance Contracts: What To Do When Getting Horribly Shafted?

    I am an art student who is about to graduate this May.

    Someone I trusted introduced me to a start-up company that offered me my very first freelance contract. I hate to say that I made the typical, dumb rookie mistake. I read and then signed the contract with stars in my eyes instead of waiting longer to review it with someone who knows this stuff far better then I do.

    Unfortunately, I realised not very long after that I'm seriously getting hosed in terms of payment. (As in, I could make more money working minimum wage at a retail store, kind of hosed.)

    I decided to suck it up, deal with the consequences of my mistake, but the lack of organisation on the part of the company is just giving me more work then I bargained for and less time to do it in which is making the lack of real pay all the more aggravating. I know I should probably just deal with it because its an awful idea to burn bridges at the very literal start of my freelance career, but is there at all a point at which it is okay for me to consider backing off from the whole thing? Or am I sort of screwed and should just take this as a lesson not to be an idiot in the future?

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    You signed a contract. The contract exists to protect you AND your employer. Unless they are somehow in breach of contract, you are stuck and subject to any legal repercussions stated therein in whichever jurisdiction that applies. The fact that you read the contract first and went on to sign it means that you have no-one to blame but yourself. Just do your best, like it was for high pay, and chalk it up as a life lesson on freelancing.

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    Augh. I figured that was probably the answer. Thank you, I'll just buy myself a nice pint of cookie dough ice cream and truck through it.

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    Ha.. OMG I'm in the EXACT situation as you.. except no contracts been written up, a business plan is moving forward and I have a deadline by Tuesday. I'm going to my higher connections in the field for advice.. tricky situation..

    Talent and Creativity are yours to use and keep

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    You didn't sign a contract? o_O Did they make you sign anything?

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    Hmm. If the amount of work and time was stated in the contract you already signed and agreed to, there may not be a way to bow out gracefully...

    But if they're now asking for more work/less time than what was specified in the contract, you could use that as an excuse to renegotiate, or to back out entirely, and as long as you explain your reasons for doing so it won't look too flaky. (They won't be happy no matter what, though.)

    I guess it depends on whether you hope to work with these people again, and whether they know people you might want to work with. If you want to stay on their good side, you might just have to do the job. But if these are people you never want to deal with again and they have no connections, you might be better off trying to get out of it.

    I got into a similar-ish situation as a new graduate, where I started a job with a client that was supposed to be a tiny design job, and they kept adding and changing things to the point where I was making negative profit, and I eventually had to stop the job, explaining that it was way over the original budget. But in that case the extra requests weren't in the contract, and it was a super-flaky client I wanted nothing to do with ever again anyway...

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    Yeah everythings pretty verbal/e mail about this project at this point. the thing is this individual has a lot of power from a BIG company.. media giant.. so I'm contemplating between opting out for my own reputation and sake or sticking to it with risks of having my work stolen.. its not good

    I am also a recent graduate. I finished college within 3 years and didnt have the opportunity for an internship/industry experience. so everythings 100x harder either way. gotta learn it all on my own.. plus I didnt go to an art school.. ALL self taught.. gonna be going through a lot of trials and tribulations being independent.

    Talent and Creativity are yours to use and keep

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    Interesting! I will keep that in mind and watch things carefully then.

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    I almost thought this thread was in reference to this cause.

    Not to Worry, I'm sure Noah or someone will probably post it sooner or later as it's own thread.



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    @Odayga: Before you do any real work, get a real contract. If they refuse to sign a contract, that's a BAD SIGN and you should not accept the job.

    Nobody ever has a good reason to refuse a contract, but there are many bad reasons. Usually if they don't want to sign a contract, it means they don't want to pay you.

    Or if you do opt for no contract for whatever bizarre reason, insist on payment in full, up front. And don't start work until the check clears.

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    Great thanks! I'll get on sending them an e mail right now : )

    Talent and Creativity are yours to use and keep

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odayga View Post
    Ha.. OMG I'm in the EXACT situation as you.. except no contracts been written up, a business plan is moving forward and I have a deadline by Tuesday. I'm going to my higher connections in the field for advice.. tricky situation..
    If you have to put an "EXCEPT" it's not exactly the same. (especially after the exception you put down).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeston View Post
    I almost thought this thread was in reference to this cause.

    Not to Worry, I'm sure Noah or someone will probably post it sooner or later as it's own thread.
    I saw that posted on Facebook, and I have to admit it sort of terrified me. Some of those numbers are insanely high.

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    why not discuss your concerns openly with you client.
    having bad clients is a pain but its rare that people are proper cunts.. it happens but most people are just scatty and overworked.
    bad clients can be disorganised, skint, evasive about money, work you too hard, but your free to raise these issues tactfuly with them. add up how long you imagine it takes them to do something and times it by three. many people have so much going on it takes weeks between work phases. sometimes stuff thats been on the bibble for 6 months youd fogtten about pick up again as the client catches up. ie they get investment.

    occasionally someone will take ages to pay and you have to email them every day for ages to get paid, and its only 77% what they owe, but fuck it. onward and up.
    its all training too, you never get worse, only faster and slicker.

    knowing that if it takes you 40 hours to do job x, and that works out at $6 an hour, find ways with practice to cut that time down to 15 hours and your making $16.
    in time youll gt projecs where its more like $30. And sometimes you get plum jobs that are super well paid and awesome.

    Some clients are just skint, and pay pennies, and some are proper and pay generously. poorly paid ones are often quite steady and provide a useufl source fof income, and act as training. and connections to more work.
    bigger projects take more intensive work but might pay several big chunks of money.

    its best to get several at any one time, which simply takes time, making connections. it takes about 2 years of sporadic freelance to really get going and get fast, so dont worry ifit seems hard, your doing well getting work in.

    what else... ask for money up front. this only works on people who youve worked with bfore or been referred to for obvious reason, but it ties them in emotionally to complete. contracts and stuff can be a bit heavy for small stuff. like a logo and some stationary or a 3d thing for someone dont need heavy contracts really, fuck it.

    NDAs are cool, they seem formal and important, and you can add you terms to your end if you tell them you are, which is as good as any other contract. the only dick thing is you cant show the work to anyone or talk abut it in anything but vague terms, which is lame, but ther you are. they end when theprojects complete and out there.

    randis did a really good post on freelancing about 2 months ago anyone remember where that was?

    Last edited by Velocity Kendall; April 26th, 2012 at 07:47 PM.
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    Thank you for the advice everyone! After thinking things over and talking with another of my teachers for advice, I ended up backing away from the project as diplomatically as possible. The start-up e-mailed me back a few times with messages tinged in desperation - even told me I could keep the check they gave me and take as long as I wanted to make the work for them - which struck me as bizaare.

    Then today, I heard from some other artists involved in the same project that all of their checks had bounced. The company mass-emailed them all apologising for the 'bad checks' and that they would be sending out 'good checks' to everyone as soon as possible.

    I'm just glad I got out while I still could.

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    This goes to show that sometimes you just have to follow your gut... Good Call!

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    I presented a contract to that client and it scared him away. Thank Goodness for street smart and not wanting to work for free. cant afford to jeopardize anything. wewt! :3 I'm glad I made the choice I did, have plenty of other opportunities.

    Talent and Creativity are yours to use and keep

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