The cost of being a freelancer.

You spend weeks juggling dates, turn down other significant jobs to work with an important client to keep them happy. Book flights, pay out lots on advanced expenses for a 10 day job and all is set. Then at the last minute the 10 day job becomes a 4 day job, new flights have to be booked etc and all your planning goes out the window. I don’t think some clients realise how much it can cost a freelancer to have work cut or cancelled. It’s not just the loss of earnings from the cut job but also the loss of business with other clients and other additional costs. It takes time to re-book flights and hotels etc.

Earlier in the year the plan had been: Fly long haul from London to Singapore (client A), fly from Singapore to LA for a job for client B, then while in the US go storm chasing, fly home. One round trip ticket, 6 days for client A, 4 days for client B no dead time. Cost of ticket split between clients. Everyone happy.

But client A decides they can get better value for money by extending my trip, so I work with client A to make that happen, but this means I have to cancel client B. So now I’m all set to fly to Singapore for 9 days for client A. Then fly home. Then fly to USA for storm chasing a few days later. This involves the expense of two round trip long haul tickets. Client A happy, client B not so happy (but understands the situation). Everything is confirmed, set in stone. Flights are booked, hotels booked. Dates blocked out in my diary so when people try to book me on those dates I have to turn them away. June is always very busy for me.

But now last minute, client A has decided they no longer want to extend the trip, so I will fly home 5 days earlier than booked (IF I can get flights). There is now dead time in between Singapore and Storm chasing that I cannot fill, time when I could have been working for client B or client C, D and E who were turned away because I thought I was going to be busy.

What’s really annoying is that Client A KNEW that I was going to have to cancel another important job to help them with the extra days in Singapore.

So all in all I’ve gone from 10 days of work to 4, I’m having to pay out for long haul flights that I could have got covered by Client B, all because I decided to work with client A to help them out. When I quoted client A for the 10 day job I gave them a 10 day discounted rate. Now they have asked me to send in a new quote for the job and have indicated they are expecting the same 10 day rate when now the job is only 4 days!

Not only all that but I used an upgrade voucher that took a year to earn on the original Singapore flight bookings, but as it’s so late in the day now I will loose that voucher when I re-book, and there is still the big question as to whether I can actually get seats and how much extra they will cost booking just two weeks ahead instead of two months ahead.

Pissed off. Glad I got that off my chest.

2 thoughts on “The cost of being a freelancer.”

  1. Contingencies!
    Work them in right from day one. If a client is worth their salt they will understand. All too often freelancers bend over backwards to get that work, sometimes not knowing where the next job is coming from (guilty of it myself!)
    Best advice that was ever given was “Learn how to create and then provide a scoping document.” Everything you have talked about can be covered by the scope. Once agreed and signed you are on a level playing field. This is a double edged sword, however, but then both the client and the freelancer understand their responsibilities.
    Live and learn, eh?

  2. Totally agree.. the funny thing is I was always taught not to double book,you cant cancel a one day shoot for a 2 month shoot etc.. its a one way street.. over 20yrs I know play my cards to suit myself.. if i have conflicts I,ll contact the original job,and they must confirm 100% .. I refuse to be treated like an itinerate fruit picker or day laborer .. I cancel them now too..

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