Vox Daily The Official Voices.com Blog

Safe Business Practices For Freelancers

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

September 17, 2009

Comments (13)

Smiling baby in a car seatEver get an RFQ (request for quote) for a job that is paying way too much for what you would have to do?

Came upon any leads that made you nervous?

If something looks to good to be true, it probably is...

Your business is your baby and you've got to put its best interests ahead of those of someone else with a completely different set of priorities.

Discover 5 ways you can investigate opportunities to protect both yourself and your business.

Critical Thinking in Today's Business World

One of the top priorities in your business should be making enough money to operate and then some.

In order to honor this priority, you will need to think critically and work smarter... not harder.

Energy is finite as are the hours in a day and it's imperative that every opportunity you receive is evaluated and accepted or rejected with relative efficiency.

If you've ever gone to lengths professionally to please someone, for example a client who in the end failed to pay you, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's time, energy, and money out the window, and perhaps, the unfortunate circumstances could have been prevented from the start if the opportunity was put under a microscope before committing to the work.

Never had this happen to you? Consider yourself blessed! This is your wake up call.

I've jotted down 5 questions that you can ask yourself before getting involved with a client hiring you for your services that will protect you and conserve your time, energy, and save your money.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself:

1. Is this client a first-time job poster? Have you worked with them before?

2. Can you read about their previous history with other service providers?

3. Does the job look too good to be true? Is it paying more than it usually should for the work?

4. Does this person have any public profiles online or a business website to confirm their authenticity?

5. Are there any details that don't jive that would make you question the client's professionalism? For instance, different names on credit cards versus emails, inconsistencies, generic email addresses (i.e. generic hotmail, gmail accounts instead of their corporate website), insists on payment methods you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with, and so on.

Taking measures in advance to educate and protect yourself makes a great deal of sense and it is worth the time it takes when you consider what may happen if you don't.

Make Sense?

The tips I've included are meant to help you conduct your own investigations regardless of the circumstances or lead source.

I hope you've found them to be helpful, and if you have a tip you'd like to add to this list, please add it as a comment :)

Best wishes,

Stephanie

©iStockphoto.com/Bela Tibor Kozma

Related Topics: business, freelancers, practices, protection, safe, tips


Comments


    All valid points. Even once a client passes the sniff test, I still don't send voiceover files before I'm paid. Clients preview the audio first by way of a non-downloadable link. Once it's approved and paid for the voiceover is then delivered.

    Posted by:
    • David Kersten
    • September 17, 2009 11:07 AM

      Another great article Stephanie. Thank you, for helping us protect our babies. You are a terrific babysitter. ;D

      Posted by:

        Great article with practical ways to protect yourself. Alas...I was a victim once upon a time, but I was able to get over it quickly and use it to my advantage! Checking the website is probably the fastest way to help you decide yea or nay.
        Thanks again, Stephanie.

        Posted by:

          Excellent recommendations, Stephanie!

          Actually, I've never worried so much about getting paid too much, as I have worried about not getting paid enough... As talents it's our first responsibility to do our homework, and find out as much information about the voice-seeker as we can. I have a feeling that a lot of people skip this step, because they want to send their demo out asap, in order to be one of the first in line.

          Yesterday's article mentioned how voices.com reviews a client and conducts an online search. You also wrote: "from start to finish, each job typically takes about 5 minutes to be reviewed and approved."

          Since there are at least 8 steps in your job approval process, I can't imagine that this leaves a lot of time for thorough research. The bad apples aren't always the easiest to spot.

          When any temp agency sends one of their registered job-seekers out on a job, they make sure that this person is going to a reputable business, a safe workplace, and that this business will pay the agreed wage on time. That's something they have in place in return for the money they make from being the middle man. Services like voices.com are in a similar position and have a similar responsibility.

          It's a well-known fact that unscrupulous individuals often change location after they've been exposed, and continue to do the same thing over and over again. It would be terrific to have an early warning system in place; a database that can be consulted by registered users that blacklists scammers, frauds and con-artists. Can it be done?

          In my most recent blog, I mentioned that such a system is already in place at www.translatorscafe.com. It's called the "Hall of Fame and Shame" (http://nethervoice.com/nethervoice/2009/09/15/nail-em-to-the-wall/).

          It's by no means a perfect solution for a less-than-perfect world, but it has saved me from getting burned a number of times. It's also a clear signal to those who are out there to rip us off: be warned. You will be exposed!

          Posted by:

            I'd like to send a comment to Paul regarding "Yesterday's article mentioned how voices.com reviews a client and conducts an online search. You also wrote: "from start to finish, each job typically takes about 5 minutes to be reviewed and approved." "

            The majority of our clients are re-posters which means very little time is needed to review and approve their jobs. Clients who provide more detail at the time of registration also require less time to investigate. It is only clients who provide little information, have generic email addresses and no web presence that require more time for investigation and these are few in number.

            Posted by:

              Hi Paul,

              Thank you for your comment and for sharing your thoughts.

              I want to clarify that 5 minutes per job posting is for jobs that meet all of the guidelines and do not require additional information or investigation. The steps taken to confirm that a job posting and the company posting their jobs are legitimate are extensive and done meticulously. When all of the pieces are in place, 5 minutes is a reasonable period of time to review and approve a job that meets all of our posting requirements.

              In situations where there is information missing, our team follows up and the receipt of that information is dependent on when the client gets back to us.

              Two follow up requests are sent from Voices.com for more information, and if there is no response, the job is denied. This typically takes about three days.

              With regard to your suggestion about blacklisting, this is another reason why it is so important to think critically and also use an escrow service. If a talent reports a truant client or someone who has been difficult to work with, we take their suggestion into consideration and close out a job and or ban the client from using the site if necessary.

              I hope that what I've shared helps!

              Best wishes,

              Stephanie

              Posted by:

                Today's message hit home because I investigated a company last night before replying to a job and was unable to locate them online or hoovers.com. Since they were an online company I watermarked my sample though I was unable to load it. Maybe it was a sign since I have been able to load recordings onto voices.com. These articles help me to grow in this industry.

                Thanks,
                KMarie

                Posted by:

                  Great article Stephanie....I like how you include a little history of the client on auditions IE: posted before, paid talent with sure pay...I encourage all my clients to use the Sure Pay system...once they understand it...they love it...if they shy away from it, I use that as a red flag that something may be up....Thanks again....

                  Posted by:
                  • Randy Anderson
                  • September 18, 2009 12:16 PM

                    Best way to handle this situation is

                    1) Use Surepay (even clients you get on your own can join voices.com for free then pay you though Surepay)

                    2) Accept VISA or Mastercard.

                    DON'T ACCEPT CHECKS...especially from international clients, even if bank says they're good. People have been burned doing this. And if they want to send you money for the whole job and have you send some back... RUN!

                    Posted by:

                      Thanks...Great tips, Stephanie!

                      Posted by:

                        I think this is a good example. I am not sure about not accepting clients with Gmail, since it is commonly used in the business world - but I agree to be extra careful with first time posters.

                        I recently uploaded a file for a client, the job was done, and I was paid with the escrow. Then, Voices.com told me the client charged back and that I wouldn't be paid. So, Escrow might not be the safest way since it sure burned me, but some of your ideas like not to depend on making a living out of it and that it hurts to waste time and not get paid really stood out and I agree with it.

                        Posted by:
                        • InventSource
                        • September 28, 2009 9:12 PM

                          Thanks for this post, a good read.

                          Posted by:

                            Hi Ian (InventSource),

                            Thank you for commenting and for sharing your perspective.

                            I took moment to investigate what had happened with regard to what you are talking about and discovered that the job in question was something you were awarded over a weekend when our staff could not intervene.

                            An email was sent to you first thing Monday morning strongly discouraging you from uploading the audio as the name on the credit card did not match the client name in the user's profile.

                            We did follow up with you expressing our concern and learned that you had gone ahead and uploaded the audio already.

                            Escrow is safer than not using escrow. This particular circumstance is unfortunate, however, once we were able to investigate the transaction before processing it, it was discovered to be fraudulent.

                            Our CEO David Ciccarelli also offered to speak with you directly regarding this incident. Did you take him up on his offer?

                            Best wishes,

                            Stephanie

                            Posted by:

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