I recently created a vendor account on Guru, a freelance platform that resembles Upwork and Fiverr a little too much. I submitted a few bids. Then I got a response on this one:

I addressed the items requested for the application, directed the potential client to my portfolio of writing samples, and clearly stated my rates.

​This person contacted me: had I written gay romance before?

No, I had not. Of course, I assumed the prospective client actually read my bid.

Would I be willing to write a short sample of 200 – 300 words?

I took a chance. I’m an idiot.

The prospective client liked my sample, but would I expand upon it, take the burgeoning relationship from attraction to sizzle? I expanded upon the scene, but didn’t go “all the way.” The second request made me suspicious.

I allowed myself to be duped. The prospective client asked if I would accept $100 for the 15,000-word novella. Um … no. (Actually, that’s hell no. Would you put in approximately 50 hours of work for only $100?) I stated my rates clearly in the bid. He replied that my rate was beyond what he was willing to pay. So, why did he ask for writing samples? Why carry on the conversation? Why not just proceed to the next quote from a low-bid writer?

We know why: he wanted to take advantage of free content of a higher quality that a low-bid writer hasn’t the skill to produce. I attempted to reply, but he closed the conversation. Guru will not allow me to respond.

I am angry with him and myself. He’s an asshole and I’m an idiot.

Another client for whom I wrote two blogs (for which he did pay) has dropped off the face of the planet with a draft of a third blog in his hot little hands. I’m not happy about that, either, especially as I felt we’d established that he could trust me and I could trust him.

To quote Charlie Brown: “ARGH!” I prefer to begin professional relationships from a position of trust. It generally works out and both the client and I are happy. But that’s twice this month someone unscrupulous has taken advantage of my good nature. It’s enough to make me change. I hate that. I don’t want to be that mistrustful, cynical, manipulative businessperson who plays hardball and is always looking for an angle to fill my pockets and to serve my advantage regardless of whom I trample.

I hope a client comes along who will restore my faith in the basic decency of humankind again.