There’s nothing so terrifying as a giant leap into the unknown, unless it’s a push over the precipice. On November 30, 2015, I lost my job.
I saw it coming. My client—the company’s second largest—announced their intention of moving to another management company. In all honesty, I didn’t blame the client. Company policy restricted employees to the point of ineffectual passivity and crushed morale. Knowing of the client’s imminent departure, I embarked upon an intense job hunt.
To no avail.
Management, for all their many faults, read the writing on the wall, too. They shoved me out the door without ceremony. Although prepared, I was still shocked and hurt, especially when I learned they’d already hired my replacement (who quit less than six months later). The client association’s president called me at home and expressed her displeasure over the termination of my employment and a glowing letter of recommendation. That offered small comfort.
Following my husband’s kind advice, I took a week to relax and emotionally decompress before applying for unemployment compensation and renewing the job hunt. Over the next several months I managed to snag some interviews, but nothing panned out. Instead, I solicited my service as a freelance writer and editor. Slowly, slowly, the work began to trickle in—-enough to give hope, not enough to pay for weekly groceries. I cannot over-emphasize how supportive he has been; I am blessed in that man.
The job hunt gave way to a part-time gig that I still hold, although I now consider myself a full-time freelancer…er…content consultant.
That shove off the edge of a regular salary proved frightening, even though my husband’s steady employment offered a generous parachute to soften the landing. I’ve been able to ease my way into a freelance career, because my husband’s employment (and six months of unemployment compensation) allowed me to land softly rather than splatter and shatter on the sharp rocks of financial ruin.
So, now I fly. Okay, I hop, skip, and jump with occasional moments of glorious suspension. But those moments make the long hours of unpaid and poorly paid work worth the time and effort. I learn as I go. I find myself grateful for the good clients. The not-so-good clients get the same competent and prompt service, but without the willingness to go over and above the contractual obligations.
I leaped because I was pushed and I’ve never been happier with my career. Too bad it took almost 30 years to get here.
So, to my last employer: Thanks for the shove out the door. I needed that.
I wasn't really sure what to write this week, but the topic dropped into my lap this morning.
A freelancer contacted me (no, I didn't respond to an RFP) asking what I could do to help her improve her proposals. Well, that was vague, so I asked for more information, such as what services, exactly, did she want? Did she want someone to edit existing content or write (or rewrite) content? They're distinct and separate services.
She replied with even more information, explaining that her proposals to provide proposal writing services weren't generating her anticipated response from potential clients. She admitted that her boilerplate content might need a total revamping.
OK, I replied. Are you submitting privately or through a platform? That's important, because bidding on RFPs through a platform is 1) convenient and 2) fiercely competitive. It often boils down to whoever quotes the cheapest fee. If using a platform, what's the maximum character or word count permitted? I asked that because it's best to know what we have to work with; limits on response length can and do restrict detail.
Again, I received a prompt reply. This was looking promising. She attached a sample proposal and asked for my opinion. Well, I wrote back, it's generic. I offered to rewrite her proposal boilerplate, provided she supply the necessary information and posted my fee for the project. The fee I quoted her was about 20 percent of my normal fee for writing a business proposal--a courtesy extended to a fellow freelancer.
And...you guessed it. She declined. I didn't think my fee exorbitant in the least, considering that this project would take about a week to complete, considering all the back-and-forth we'd need to go through to ensure that it satisfied her requirements and fit within the average limitations for document length.
What she did want was for me to point out just what needed to be fixed and to tell her precisely how to fix them. In other words, she wanted free consulting service.
It's bad enough that people hiring "content consultants" don't value the time, effort, and skill that go into crafting their documents; but, having a fellow freelancer try to take advantage of me really stings. I'm sure she'll manage to sucker someone else into providing her with free consultant work.
Sometimes it's hard to take the high road.