Guest Post: I’m sorry you think it’s okay to screw me over.

In response to yesterday’s post about paying for creatives, and as a creative with a small business, Claire tells us what it’s like to be on the receiving end of non-paying clients.

value creative payment freelance isnt free

Hi, I am Claire, illustrator and designer of Aloha Lola Cards. Next week will mark my business’s 1st birthday. Wow. A year. This is not crazy information to you but it’s certainly crazy to me! Let me firstly say (don’t worry I will keep this speech short!) that it’s been an honour and a pleasure to get to know so many of you. To those who have supported me – thank you. To those who have ordered from me – thank you. For those who have made me smile everyday, my little ickle sunshine rays – an abundance of thank yous are being sent your way.

To those who have ordered a design from me and ignored me – or even blocked me – when it came to payment…

Well, there’s no thank yous for you. I will leave another response to your imagination.

For any of you who follow me on twitter, you may have noticed I have had a very public spat in the last few weeks over an overdue payment. It wasn’t professional of me. It wasn’t polite. So I hold my hands up in the air and apologise for that. But it came from a place of frustration – a retaliation for an action I believed to be far more condemning.

This was soon to be followed by another paygate scenario where I had to chase a customer for an overdue payment. Ironically, this woman was an owner of a little business, but unfortunately she failed to treat another business owner how she would like to be treated herself. After a month of polite messages asking for my required payment I was reduced to phoning this woman’s business number, where she sheepishly said she had ‘changed her mind’ about the design. I remained as friendly and as lovely as my voice could possibly muster, and said if she could pay me for the design I had done (which she said she liked and asked for numerous alterations on) then that’d be great. Needless to say she hasn’t. Because screw that little artist who you’ve never met before, right?

Now a huge chunk of this problem is my gullibility and soft nature. I trusted people to pay me. I believed that people would. I didn’t put any rules and regulations in place to protect me or my business. So I accept this responsibility of mine and believe me, things will change.

However there’s still an overwhelming sadness in me in regards to this situation. I am prone to attack myself before the person who did me wrong. Was my art not good enough? Is that why these people failed to respect me or value my work? Did I deserve to be ghosted on after I poured hours into their design – with unlimited alterations – just for a rate that falls well under minimum wage?

For the past two years I’ve been very unwell. I just thought I would throw that out there. No, not really… there’s a reason… About two years ago I lost my career in journalism and I also lost the point to my existence. Woah, heavy stuff there Claire! Why mention this? Because somehow I managed to build something beautiful out of a bad situation. I built Aloha Lola Cards. Through this business I won pieces of my personality back. The reason I am mentioning this is to show I am living, breathing person just like you. I am not a typing puppet crazily enough. I am not some virtual fabrication who works for free. I need this business to work so one day maybe I could move out. One day maybe I could afford a car. Start my life again. I have dreams and ambitions but unfortunately, a lot of it right now relies on a paycheck.

I shouldn’t need an X Factor sob story to be paid though. It’s common courtesy to pay someone for a product which you have required them to provide. And when you disrespect that understanding you are not only financially screwing them over – you could be having a detrimental impact on their emotional wellbeing too.

So if you’re a creative who is sick of being screwed over… RT this. If you’re someone who does the screwing over. Learn from this. We need to respect each other in this life and this isn’t just about your friends and family. It’s about people you hold a responsibility to – for whatever reason that may be.

Click the first picture to read this comic created by Claire:

Do you relate to this? Have you had trouble with clients in your line of work too?

Thank you, Claire, for perfectly describing what it’s like on the other side.

Don’t forget to check out yesterday’s post about paying for creatives.