31.03.2005 03:25 - A Refusal Often Offends, so Don't Ask
Right now, I'm extraordinarily happy with being a programmer, and sitting in front of a computer not having to talk to people. OK, computers can be dumb and irritating, but in the end, all they are doing is reflecting your own stupidity back at you. (or the stupidity of some other programmer, which is why open-source is nice, because you can at least attempt to fix it.)
I used to be a freelance programmer, and the big problem with being a freelance programmer is that not only do you have to program a lot, you have to do a lot of business development, and a lot of meetings with customers. This means getting dressed up and going out to all sorts of meetings, pressing the flesh and generally being nice to a load of utter sharks. Names will not be named, but certain companies I worked for had a terrible habit of making nice promises, but not actually coughing up the dough until threatened with court.
Customers, the saying goes, are always right. Well, I disagree. Customers are not right in asking for something, then denying they ever did and refusing to pay, even when it's sitting on their servers processing thousands of orders a day. Customers are not right in demanding extensions to the spec for no extra money by using the considerable amount that they already owe you as leverage. Customers are not right when they refuse to give you a written spec, or agree on one you have prepared, so that you can agree on what the job is and when it is finished. Customers, it turns out, are a right shower of devious bastards who think you're some sort of charity and expect you to give them an interest-free loan for the privilege of working for them.
This is why I am no longer freelance. Which is a shame, as I worked with some really nice companies who paid on time and with whom their word was good as their bond.
To any of you who are considering going freelance, I give the following advice. Get everything in writing, refuse to do business on a handshake, and demand a portion of the money up-front. It'll save a lot of tears later on.