In all of the years that I’ve had this blog, I’m sure I’ve brought up mistakes at one point or another. We all make them. It’s how a lot of us learn. Even though I’ve been working freelance for several years now, I still make mistakes. I wish I was immune, but I’m not.
I saw an image the other day. It was a meme. On it was a picture of the actor from the Dos Equis commercials, the “most interesting man in the world”. If you know him, you can say the following words in his voice. The words were, “I don’t always learn something, but when I do, you better bet I did it the hard way”
Those words have been on my mind a lot lately. For one, they reminded me of several people, myself especially. I can be warned time and time again about something, but it never really sticks until I experience it myself. Then, and only then, I learn.
This applies heavily to freelance work because you can make really big mistakes there. When you’re just starting out, you can make mistakes that can cost you money. You can make mistakes that affect you for a while afterward.
During one of my first freelance jobs, I let the client have the finished product before I was fully paid. The result of that has been almost three years of them using the product for only a fraction of the price, and my crew is still owed over $3,000. They continue to dodge our phone calls to this day.
*cough* Laboratory Technologies, Inc. *cough*
Even though this has put a damper on my outlook as a freelance media producer for the past few years, I have definitely learned from it. You better bet my clients aren’t getting full access to my finished work until I’m fully compensated. On top of that, I’m still getting the hang of writing and having clients sign release forms that detail the specifics about what they can do with the product with my permission. You have to protect yourself.
I say this to the people I know who are starting out in freelance all the time, but I still slip up sometimes. It can be hard if you’re familiar with the client, when the business lines blur with the personal ones. Just this past week, I had a small panic attack because I had everything planned out with a release and all, but plans changed, and I had a client in possession of my photos without payment or a signed release. It’s all settled now, but at the time, I felt like I was making the same mistake again.
It happens. No matter how much you prepare, things can always go wrong. Mistakes can always be made. In the end, it’s how you handle it, how you learn from it, that matters.