My time as a freelancer was short. Very short. About 1 year, in fact. And for good reason.
In that very short year, I ended up in 3 very bizzare scenarios. So much so that I feel it's worthy of it's own writeup.
Freelancing can be fantastic. You get a lot of benefits, namely,
- You are your own boss.
- You can make your own schedule.
- You can work from anywhere.
But wait... this sounds great! What could POSSIBLY go wr-
Let's meet our first client. Since popular freelance sites like UpWork were, and still probably are, out of my league, I had to resort to finding listings on Craigslist and Kijiji. The bowels of internet classified.
After 15 minutes of searching, I stumbled across a suitable posting and reached out. The job was to do some simple web and mobile design for a small business.
We hop on the phone, talk about requirements, and a week later I sent over the final revision. I get paid the day after, and all is well! My first client, what a great feeling!
I know, wholesome, right? Just wait.
Fast forward 6 months. I have a small break from school, and reach out to Client #1 to see if they have any work I can pick up. You know, 🌈 building relationships and whatnot.
Soon enough, I get a response.
Uh, okay. Gotta cut the numbers in half. Maybe their company is having a sale? You know, how retailers say that the clothes are 50% off, but really they just doubled the original price? Yeah, that's probably it.
I open the picture, and see...
... a paystub. A paystub for an employee of Client #1's business. And I'm supposed to cut all the numbers in half?
Now, I'm no accountant, but... does Client #1 want me to help them commit TAX FRAUD?
Turns out pay stub fraud is actually quite common - and most definitely illegal.
At this point, I'm in a tough situation. Do I refuse to do this work and lose a client, which don't come easy for a freelancer just starting out? I definitely wasn't prepared to be an accomplice, that's for sure.
I didn't know what to do. Am I obliged to report this? I had plans the following week, and jail would make attending a bit complicated. So, the next day, I went to Derek Rayside's office in confusion.
After about 30 minutes of wondering and researching the IEEE Code of Ethics, we came to the conclusion that I should probably just stop working with this client.
And that was the last of Client #1. My first freelancing experience. Surely, it can only go up from here?
Ah, Client #2. Fresh off the disappointment of Client #1, I was excited to work with Client #2. The posting seemed right up my alley.
After some initial exchanges, I get a really long email. I've removed the uninteresting parts.
Clearly, this person did not realize that I was a student. But, the more interesting thing happened when I clicked on the Google Drive link.
I kid you not, there was a document in the
Mockups folder called
Passwords. Naturally, I opened it (with no malicious intent, right Client #1?).
Sure enough, every single password you could dream of was in this document. Bank accounts, passport information, their SSN, social media passwords - the whole lot.
Why was this in a public mockups folder? How many people has Client #2 shared this with? Why is their Twitter password
mypassword? And why did they need to write that down to remember it?
To whomever is reading this, please use a password manager. Don't be Client #2.
Yes, I did let them know about the password document. No, I didn't end up being the CTO of the next Uber. I stopped getting responses after letting them know about the passwords document, which made sense. I wouldn't want to work with someone who now knows literally everything needed to destroy my life.
That was the last of Client #2. A true classic.
My personal favourite. I found the posting from this client deep in the depths of Craigslist.
I sent over my resume, and got a response. Backend work for a "popular website". Finally, a normal client! And for a high-traffic website - this would be a great experience.
Then, I saw their email.
Sigh. What now? Have I not been through enough?
I couldn't find anything particular online when I searched for Vodka Casino, so I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. I got another email with project details.
instructions.pdf. The first line caught me by surprise:
When I type [CENSORED]🔞 in the search bar, it should...
Wait, what? Why would someone search for [CENSORED]🔞 ? Unless...
I open the website, and yup. Sure enough, I had been hired to work on an adult film website.
At this point I had decided I could not work on this. But, curiosity did strike me... how much does this industry even pay? I might as well get some information for my troubles, after all.
I tried to get a quote, but was met with a request to talk over the phone. I wasn't willing to have my phone number out in the adult film industry. Besides, how would I even address this person?
Hi Vodka, how are you?
Good afternoon, Mr. Casino.
Clearly, a phone call wasn't going to happen. That was the last of Client #3, and is the story of my brief career in the adult film industry.
My freelancing experience was eventful to say the least. Freelancing can really be great - I did end up having some successful clients in the end. It was a great way to build my skills, resume, and make some money on the side.
Yet somehow, in one year, I almost:
- Helped someone commit tax fraud
- Became the CTO of the next Uber
- Worked on an adult film website
Moral of the story, if you're searching the depths of Craigslist for your gigs, just be careful out there. 😅