Monday, February 24, 2014

Keeping Good Records

So, when you are freelancing, it is very important for you to keep all your records: in addition to simple financial records, you should also record and save all correspondence whether through email or project message boards such as those found on freelancer websites. You should keep copies of all the drafts and revisions you submit. With technology what it is, making a copy of these documents and putting them on a CD so you can file them with the year should be easy. I never enter into an agreement that requires me to destroy all my work after submitting it. I want evidence if something goes sour.

I posted this because I recently was hired to write the terms of service for a new website. I generally stay away from website content, but I thought it would be a quick easy job. After all, most terms of service that are hired out to freelancers are just rewrites of existing website TOS. I ran the TOS on one website through a plagiarism checker and discovered that 70% had been pulled off of one website or another.

Now this person gave me two websites as examples of what her website would be like and told me to refer to the terms of service for them. Then I asked a list of detailed questions about her specific business, which she answered. However, she frequently responded by saying "put a placeholder in for it because I'm not sure yet."

Now, when a website is being developed, it frequently goes through many changes. I could accept that she may change her mind about offering certain services, and I left it open for her to do so. I sent her a terms of service with several areas highlighted and a note saying she could remove the highlighted areas now and then add it back in later if they decided to offer those things.

Then, she got "busy". The contract she agreed to said she had 5 business days to return the content to me for a rewrite. However, she kept asking for more time. I was fine with this. I am pretty easy going (hard to believe I know), but today (several weeks later)- out of the blue she sent me a list of things to do.

Okay, so I would have made the corrections and sent them back without comment, but of course something went wrong. Instead of a list telling me what she would like me to change, she sent me a list and also accused me of not listening to her directions and not following them. She asked for things on her list that she had never mentioned and then got angry with me because she said she told me to take all those placeholders out. I literally felt like I was living out a scene from "The Devil Wears Prada."

I went back and checked all our correspondence, and she had not mentioned any of it. When I sent her the list of questions she answered showing I did just as she said, she told me she knew she gave me other directions and to stop wasting her time arguing because she was very busy. She concluded by telling me to get the job done. Excuse me! I am not a slave! (Well, maybe I am, but I certainly am a slave who can pick and choose her masters.)

What is truly incomprehensible to me is that I was fully expecting to make adjustments for her. I completely understand if the nature of the website has become less fuzzy over the last two weeks. I designed the terms of service to be easy to adjust. So why in the world would she accuse me of not listening to her instructions?

The terms of service I wrote were fifteen pages long. When the rude accusing language was removed from her list, the only changes she wanted me to make were to add one sentence to the beginning, one sentence to the payment terms, delete all the highlighted material except one section (which makes no sense with the rest of the highlighted areas deleted but hey whatever she wants), and add her customer service number (which she had not told me before), and then put website's address into it. These changes took me less than a half hour. It seems if I had not listened and done such a poor job, it should have been a lot harder than that to fix.

Normally, I do two rewrites if necessary, but I sent her these changes and told her that I was done working for her since she did not find my work acceptable.

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