Tag Archives: best practices

Please Bear This In Mind When Submitting Your Bid

© Kineticimagery | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Kineticimagery | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The other day I was cruising one-off writing gig listings and came across an ad that hacked me off to no end. Here’s the part that got me riled up:

“This job should be easy for a professional writer, please bear this in mind when submitting your bid.”

I’m going to try this the next time I walk into my dentist. “This root canal should be easy for a professional dentist, please bear this in mind when sending your bill. Now that’s out of the way, dose me up on that laughing gas!” Bet we’ll both have a good giggle, don’t you think?

The prospective client who posted this ad either doesn’t care about quality content, or – I very much hope – is unintentionally doing themselves a great disservice.

Professional writers are professional for a reason. They’ve put thousands of hours into perfecting their craft, and they are the ones who are qualified to determine what their time is worth. They’re also the ones who are qualified to decide how “easy” a job is, and how much skill and time it will take to complete. For a client to assume they know the full extent of the effort a copywriting  job will take tells a writer they’re likely to be difficult to work with and overly demanding, and may even try to evade payment once the job is complete – under the cover of belittling the professional work and effort put forth in good faith. Not what any professional, in any field, looks for in a client.

If a client is sure that a job is so “easy,” surely they have a sister or niece or an unpaid intern happy to do it? Whatever the content, writing even a few hundred words takes time, and that’s time a professional writer is using to give their client the best possible chance at making a splash with potential customers. It’s also time during which they are not getting paid more by another client, or time that comes out of the non-work portion of their schedule. Does any genuinely professional small business want to come off as hackneyed and corner-cutting when it comes time to make an impression on their customers?

Furthermore, do they want their customers to walk in and insist that if their business is “professional,” they’ll give a cut rate for their services?

Businesses who imply that they’re entitled to the best professional efforts of others without fair payment give the impression that aren’t looking to provide quality, they’re looking to increase their bottom line. At any expense. By (intentionally or unintentionally) insulting the professional integrity of the best writers out there, these businesses shrink the pool of people who will even consider submitting a bid.

Which brings me to my next question: why even bother putting this requirement on an open job? For those unfamiliar with services like oDesk and Elance, these online clearinghouses allow clients to post the equivalent of a classified ad, outlining a writing job and opening it to bids. If a client doesn’t want to accept a high bid, all they need to do is skip it in favor of a bid by a writer working at a lower rate. No explanation or justification is required for turning down jobs that don’t fit a project’s budget. So why alienate writers who might pick up the job to fill time between other commitments instead of just letting the open market work its magic? And if, upon receiving all the bids, there are none that fit a client’s planned budgetary specifications…maybe it’s time to reevaluate the plan.

The moral of the story? Don’t expect to get the best writers to compete for your job by rolling out a condescending advertisement. If you really don’t want to deal with bids from professional writers whose time is worth more than your company can afford, be direct and place a ceiling on what you’ll accept – a simple “due to budget constraints, bids over $15/hr will not be considered” does the job nicely, and without the not-so-subtle implication that anyone asking for more than that is trying to pull a fast one or is less than professional. Meanwhile, writers who charge rates more in line with professional standards will still steer clear, but without the bad will. Instead, you’ll wind up with writers happy to work for what you’re willing to pay, whether that’s their usual rate or they’ve decided upon review of your advertisement that the job really is simple enough to warrant charging less. If their work isn’t up to snuff…it’s another indication that maybe your plan needs to be modified. (Moreover, since the economics of these sites often require newly-registered writers to build a portfolio of reviews to get higher-paying jobs, you may still get a bargain.)

I’d love to hear from those who’ve used these services as clients, regarding how they list jobs and what sort of rates they feel are reasonable, how they select their writers, and what might prompt a well-meaning business owner to post this kind of ad. Is it simply a case of a non-writer being unable to convey their intentions clearly? Or do you think it’s an intentional effort to belittle and bully a writer into accepting an otherwise unacceptable rate?

Similarly, copywriters – what’s your reaction to this sort of ad? Do you submit a bid anyways and see what happens, or scroll past the listing in favor of jobs without implied pay restrictions?

Looking forward to hearing what people think.

When you give away my money, don’t put that back on me. #HSBC #fraud #banking #howisthisonme

I woke up this morning (12/18/2010) and checked my bank balance, and found something curious and worrying – two checks had been cashed the night before, both for significant sums of money…but only one was signed by me. The other featured unfamiliar handwriting – and my roommate’s signature (of her own name)!

I woke up my roommate and showed her the check images, and she checked her own bank balance – which was unchanged – and we realized that she must have grabbed one of my checks by mistake. Both had been drawn on my account – though filled out in totally separate handwriting and with completely different signatures for different names – AND HSBC CASHED BOTH THE CHECKS!

Now, my roommate and I have already sorted out the financial side of this – but my attempts to get some kind of explanation from HSBC about how this could have happened have so far been met with total refusal to accept responsibility for what happened.

After spending 45 minutes on the phone with HSBC Customer Suckfest this morning (perhaps three minutes of which was actually spent on the line with an agent), I was flat-out told there was nothing the people on the phone could do to help me. (Although it took threatening to march into a local branch waving printouts of the two checks and complaining very loudly to get them to admit that much.) They implied that in order to get any kind of explanation, I’m going to have to file fraud charges against my roommate. Which I’m not going to do – obviously – although I think they’ve missed out on a serious point here regardless. She signed her own name – that’s not fraud, fraud is her signing my name. She’s not an authorized signatory on my account – so surely, HSBC, it shouldn’t matter whether she’s signed it, or Barack Obama, or Angelina Jolie signs their name on my check – NONE OF THEM ARE AUTHORIZED TO BE TAKING MONEY OUT OF MY ACCOUNT.

Am I wrong?

And here’s the thing, HSBC. You and I have a business relationship. We’ve entered into a contract that provides that you will protect certain aspects of my life. There is absolutely no excuse for providing funds and deducting them from my account based on the signature of someone who we both agree I did not authorize to withdraw funds from my account. Your Customer Service rep tried to say that this was something to do with the funds being deposited into a Citibank account – are you kidding me? Do you really think it matters if the request is coming from outside an HSBC branch? In fact, shouldn’t that make you even more cautious, in your own interest? Because guess what – now that money is outside of HSBC’s accounts, and I have a hard copy record of a check signed by someone in their own name on an account that we agreed should only be withdrawn from by me. You broke our contract.

Am I wrong?

So don’t tell me I have to file fraud paperwork, and don’t try to make this my responsibility or my roommate’s. Somebody on your payroll looked at that check, saw that the name printed on it, the name on the account, did not match the name – let alone the handwriting – that had been signed on the bottom corner, and said, “Yes, pay this out.”

I think I’m entitled to know who that was and how it happened, and I think you owe me some kind of explanation of how you’ll make sure this never happens – to anyone – again.

Am I wrong?