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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Weekend Assignment: What a Rip Off!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Tell us of a time you've been ripped off - that is, stolen from or cheated in some way.

I'm a freelancer. Of course, I've been ripped off. I've blogged about this before, so I'll make it short. Early in my career when I didn't know what I know now (oops, there went the extra credit!) I got taken a few times.

My first job after I got married was with a small ad agency. Long story short, the guy was terribly clueless about how things worked. I kept with it because I didn't have any prospect of another job, and I kept hoping things would look up. They didn't. I never got paid, and every time I asked for money the boss would quote the Old Testament to me. It was a bad situation, and I finally had enough and left after he spent thousands on camera gear, but had no money to pay me.

One of my early freelancing gigs was for a magazine. I was promised a decent amount of money to write an article, which I did. One day I got a private message via a local bulletin board stating that they editor wasn't paying. Sure enough, I never got paid. He stopped answering the phone, never returned snail mail, and so on.

That's part of the risk of freelancing. Most people pay what they offer, and pay promptly. But it's hard early in the career to get taken.

Extra Credit: Is there anything you do differently now because of what happened?

I'm more careful to vet jobs. Back in the day, we had to rely on personal networking to keep up with industry news. Now with the Internet it's easy to vet potential clients. In addition, experience has taught me to look for certain red flags. Whether the person offering the work is just clueless about how things work, or is an outright scammer, the person doing the work suffers in the end.

Take a look at my next blog post, which talks about red flags.

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Filed under: Weekend Assignment            
10/17/2008 12:05:41 PM
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