A potential client contacted me online, through the form on my website.
It was an advertising firm that needed some short advertisements translate from Spanish to English.
I don’t even remember what the advertisements were for, but it was something food related.
I looked at the job and figured it was a pretty easy $200 that wouldn’t take me long at all, so I went ahead and told the company I’d do the job for them.
I thought to myself that I didn’t need a contract because the amount was so small.
So I translated the advertisements, sent them back to the company, and poof! They were gone after that.
No payment ever came.
I tried reaching out to them multiple times and in multiple ways but it was no use.
They had taken my translations, kept my money, and I had officially been screwed over the for the first time (and last) as a professional freelance translator.
If this hasn’t happened to you, let me outline what it feels like.
The Four Stages of Getting
Screwed Over in Business
Stage 1: Denial
Forget shock. I went straight to denial.
I figured that the company just forgot. Or maybe personnel were out for the week.
Or maybe the company was checking over the translation before paying me.
Nobody ever returned my messages.
Not even to say “give us some time.”
After two weeks I knew I had been had.
Stage 2: Anger
I don’t get angry much.
I’m just not a guy who wears his emotions on his sleeve.
But I was pretty pissed when this happened.
My thoughts all started with, “How could they….?”
I completely blamed the company for screwing me over and for being dishonest.
I had been honest and aboveboard.
I had lived up to my side of the agreement.
Why didn’t they live up to their end of the bargain?
Stage 3: Blame
Once I got my anger out and stepped back mentally from the situation, I realized that I was the person to blame for this fiasco.
Sure, the company screwed me over.
They didn’t do what they said they were going to do.
But I didn’t do my due diligence.
I should have done a few things to make sure that this didn’t happen.
I could have done any number of things to cover me in case something like this happened.
I could have:
- checked out the company more thoroughly
- wrote up a short contract
- asked for partial payment up front
- asked for payment before delivery
- delivered the translation in a password protected file
- put watermarks on the final translation
But I didn’t.
And so I only had myself to blame.
Step 4: Resolve
Once I accepted responsibility for screwing up, I took measures to make sure I didn’t let it happen again.
I decided I would only take jobs I felt comfortable with.
I do my due diligence as much as possible to make sure the potential client wasn’t a shit client.
And most importantly, I made a commitment to myself that I would be a freelance translator on my terms.
I was going to do what I wanted to do. Not what I felt was what I should be doing.
I decided my most important client was myself.
I was in it for me. Not for anyone else.
That’s not being selfish.
That’s being a business-minded realist.
Once you decide to take that approach, you won’t get screwed.
And you’ll be much happier in your business.
Until next time.