To be fair, this article has nothing to do with Amway – please don’t come after me. Okay, now that’s out of the way, I’ll share something that happened to me recently (or at least recently when I wrote this). I hired a contractor, much like a client would hire you as a freelancer, to do a particular job. The guy had great reviews on Yelp, so I figured I’d give him a shot. He gave me a briefing of what he’d be doing (which is good), afterwards he casually mentioned that, “We’d better take care of business first.”
“Oh, this means he wants to get paid,” is what I gathered, “That’s cool, it’s important that all contractors (freelancers included) make sure they get paid.” But to my surprise, instead of starting off with an invoice, he hands me an offer coupon for discounts on products and services that had nothing to do with his business. The offer/coupon required me to log on to a website and enter in personal information and a passcode. The contractor must have worked out some deal with this company (that I’d never heard of) in that he would get a kickback if someone used his passcode to buy something.
“Uhh, what the hell is this?” I thought to myself. I hired this guy to do contract work and the first thing he does is try to get me to buy some crappy merchandise from some fly-by-night company so he can earn a few extra bucks on the side. I hired this guy to do a job, not sell me crap. Fortunately, while these thoughts ran through my mind, my mouth didn’t blurt out anything offensive. I took the coupon in stride, as most people probably would. However, just because I didn’t say something doesn’t mean that I wasn’t offended or that the contractor’s credibility didn’t take a major hit. I was mildly offended, and I wondered if I’d hired the guy by mistake. Well, to wrap this story up, the contractor didn’t mention the coupon again, which was wise. And, I have to say, he did a nice job. Having such an anti-climactic ending must have you thinking, “Who cares? The guy offended you but did a good job – so you were fine with it.” The truth is, I was fine with it: I paid the guy and was happy for his service, but because he felt it appropriate to hawk other products/services that were not related to his service, I did not feel comfortable referring him to friends or family. Yep, this guy probably lost out on two-five referrals because he thought it more important to try to make a few measly dollars by hawking cheesy merchandise from a company that couldn’t care less if he dropped dead.
Takeaway lesson for freelancers: while you might think introducing your clients to other business ventures that you’ve gotten involved in: Amway, Avon, Juice Plus or some other venture, carefully consider that making a couple of measly dollars on commission might be costing you more than your credibility. Yeah, I know, some of these products and services might actually help your client – that’s not the point. Remember that your clients hire you for a specific reason: design. They don’t hire you to be their therapist, nutritional advisor, home organizer or anything else. If your good at design, and I bet you are – just stick to doing it.