One of the reasons I was able to go freelance was because even before I resigned I was fairly confident I’d be able to get regular work through my boss. And, upon talking to him as I was leaving, he assigned me a regular column. Currently, the work I’m doing for him is my most regular work; in addition to the column, he gives me other pieces as often as he is able.
He knows he can count on me to deliver the quality he needs and to understand the publication’s audience and tone. So it just makes sense to him to give me the work, rather than assigning it to another freelancer. As my most regular client by far at this point, when he emailed me recently asking me if I had time to take on an emergency assignment, it was really hard to say no.
Why I Accepted the Assignment
First of all, the piece would mean another $250 added to my bank account; and since I’m still new enough that the future feels uncertain, that made for serious temptation. Second, I didn’t want to tell him no, because it might mean he wouldn’t come to me with similar pieces in the future. Third, it didn’t seem like a time consuming assignment; it was just a company profile, so it only required doing one interview and writing the piece up based on that information.
What I didn’t count on was how difficult it would be to reach someone at the company who could set me up with someone to interview on such short notice; I only had 3 days to turn around the assignment.
Where Things Went Wrong
The piece might only require one interview, but I had a lot of difficulty getting someone at the company on the phone to do that interview. They were all at an industry event, and weren’t available. I kept the editor in the loop, and he pushed back my deadline from Friday to first thing Monday. Finally, after trying since Tuesday, I got someone on the phone on Friday evening.
That was the same weekend that I spent 4 hours at the vet while on deadline for another assignment. So I didn’t get to do anything with that interview until Sunday. On Sunday I worked all day on the piece; I transcribed the interview and pieced it together any additional information I needed from their website and a special anniversary site they had created for their 50th anniversary last year.
I finally finished the profile just in time for the extended deadline, and sent it out at 2:21 AM Monday morning. In the end, it was an extra $250. And once I got the interview, the piece didn’t take that long to put together. But not being able to get ahold of someone at the company almost made me miss the deadline (if I didn’t know the editor so well, it might have been a huge issue—fortunately, by communicating what was going on, I managed to get an extension instead) and an unexpected emergency threw things even more out of order. While I would probably still accept the assignment if placed in the same situation today, I’d definitely have more to think about…
What about you? Ever not thought out accepting an assignment? Had something crazy go wrong? Or maybe just bit off more than you could chew…? Tell me about it.
P.S. Check out my guest post from last week over at Diary of a Mad Freelancer. I share some secrets I learned while working behind the scenes as a business to business magazine editor.
[Photo Credit: Klynslis]