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This is Such a Weird Situation

melaniekhenson
Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
1 of 12

**Warning: LONG. Either grab a tub of popcorn and settle in, or do a hard pass and move on to the next post for your own sake. Smiley Happy **

 

Okay: first of all, I am not criticizing my client, but I'm worried and not sure where to go from here, and I was hoping for a little input.

 

I started a project which was hourly, at an hourly rate (obviously). I had made a few comments to my client about his site - it's such a cool site, and I had some quick ideas on how he could make it look "grabbier" as he kept expressing, in our communications, frustrations with not getting conversions. Right away I saw a few obvious things. I've worked these types of projects before (though not on Upwork). He just seemed so frustrated and aggravated and he couldn't understand why the sales weren't happening so I gave him some pointers as to the obvious marketing stuff and making things a little clearer for his shoppers.

 

He kept picking my brain and I kept giving him more ideas. This was all informal (though all is recorded as it's in our Upwork Conversations) and obviously I wasn't charging him for it. Then he told me I should be a website consultant and charge $100/hour for that and that I had given him superior advice to anyone he'd paid thousands for to this point. I thought that was flattering and wonderful but it wasn't part of our contract/the project. However, after a video chat about the project which again extened to basic thoughts on perking up the site and changing things, he pressed the idea of my being suited to consulting. I told him another client told me that previously and I had thought about it for the future but I am not comfortable claiming it right now as a skill, since I have no formal/recored experience in it.

 

He insisted I had given him amazing advice and he was already implementing changes, and I told him at that point since I was spending a lot of time on this (not paid, LOL) that if he did want me to formally do consulting for him at some point, he could feel free to open a project and invite me to it, and meanwhile I would just continue to work the project we were already working.

 

At that point he sent me a message saying he was pausing our contract and sending me a new one at the $100/hour rate. I was floored and flattered but we hadn't really officially discussed stopping the first project so I was a little confused. Since then I have been back and forth with him just asking him what I'm supposed to DO. He kept saying he was helping my career and I just had to keep doing what I'd been doing before but only put 3/4 of an hour per week on the clock. I told him I'd go ahead then and do the descriptions but only for 3/4 of an hour a week and he should let me know when to start as he had insisted I NOT start until he gave me the go-ahead although he'd already sent the offer and I'd accepted. OMG, just tell me what to DO, LOL. 

 

And at that point he has now sent me a message to "just finish the project" (which had no official end amount of words and no end date or end number of hours...it was open...uh......????) but only log the 45 minutes per week.

 

I am so confused and frustrated and I feel like I'm bothering him continuing to ask him what on earth I'm supposed to be doing but...what...the...what...I...uh. (Yes. All that.) Am I being asked to do an open-ended number of hours per week but only log less than an hour of it per week...but at this amazing rate...?

 

I messaged him asking him to just have our consultation for this new project, cap that at maybe half an hour (we can video chat or whatever), close that one, it's now on my skills set as he said he wanted to do for me (remember, this was his idea), and un-pause the other contract and I could keep working those hours on the clock.

 

I realize this is an encyclopedia-length post. I just...what the...? What happened here? I am absolutely confused. I don't want to get a negative review for just not "getting it" so is it just me or is this all strange? As I said, NOT criticizing my client. I am just so confused and frustrated right now and I feel like a complete idiot. I want to be professional, I don't want to be dogging my client begging for clear instructions if there's something I'm missing here.

yitwail
Community Guru
John K Member Since: Feb 17, 2015
2 of 12

Melanie, there's an obvious problem with this plan. Upwork time tracking, either manual or using time tracker, only works in 10 minute chunks so literally you cannot log 3/4 of an hour = 45 minutes per week. So you'd have to do something like log 40 minutes and have the client pay you an additional $8.33 bonus, or log 40 minutes and 50 minutes in alternate weeks.

__________________________________________________
"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
melaniekhenson
Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
3 of 12

Thanks, John. Five minutes either way don't bother me. That part wouldn't be a problem. But that is good info so I appreciate it.

cupidmedia
Community Guru
Jennifer D Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
4 of 12

Were you costing this client $75/week before on your old contract? It sounds to me like the client wants you to do the same amount of work you were doing before (e.g. 3 hours at $25/hour) for the same total cost but at a different hourly rate (e.g. .75 hours at $100/hour), so your profile gets the "boost" of having a $100/hour contract, but you don't cost *them* $100/hour.

 

Perhaps you can politely explain to the client that you have an existing contract at an existing rate to do an existing task, which you are happy to continue to do on that contract. If they want you to do additional, out of scope consulting work on the second contract at the $100/hour rate, you are flattered and happy to do that from time to time while you continue to work on your other contract doing the original job you were hired to do.

 

You *did* kind of get yourself into this mess a little by basically giving the client free consulting work. If you are having discussions of any sort with a client, you should be billing them for your time. You shouldn't be working for free.

melaniekhenson
Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
5 of 12

You're right about all of this, Jennifer, and that is almost exactly what I just suggested to him, so I will see how he replies. I agree that I don't want to be doing work for free, which is why I suggested a second contract if he wished for me to do consulting...then all this weirdness happened. I would actually be making less the suggested way...the original contract was lower hourly but more hours weekly, so, $125/week, v. now, $75/week. I am so uncomfortable with this and can and will not do it if this is really the deal but I fear a negative review...I mean I am so new and only have a few reviews so far.

jcullinan
Community Guru
Jess C Member Since: Feb 18, 2015
BEST ANSWER
6 of 12

@Melanie H wrote:

You're right about all of this, Jennifer, and that is almost exactly what I just suggested to him, so I will see how he replies. I agree that I don't want to be doing work for free, which is why I suggested a second contract if he wished for me to do consulting...then all this weirdness happened. I would actually be making less the suggested way...the original contract was lower hourly but more hours weekly, so, $125/week, v. now, $75/week. I am so uncomfortable with this and can and will not do it if this is really the deal but I fear a negative review...I mean I am so new and only have a few reviews so far.


Don't react from fear of a negative review. Be a pro and treat your client accordingly, and it should all work out. If the client is trying to get away with paying you less after all of this, then that's not someone you want to be working with.

 

Letting a client walk all over you for a good review isn't a good way to build a positive profile, because where will it end? Do good work, communicate clearly, keep on keeping on. You'll be fine.

View solution in original post

cupidmedia
Community Guru
Jennifer D Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
7 of 12

Jess is right, and it seems like it would be unlikely they would give you a negative review if they think you are worth $100/hour. More likely, what might happen now is that they cancel that new contract with no money paid and one of the "bad" reasons for ending the contract selected (i.e. something other than "job completed successfully"). That "bad" empty contract would potentially affect your JSS.

melaniekhenson
Community Guru
Melanie H Member Since: Nov 2, 2017
8 of 12

@Jennifer D wrote:

Jess is right, and it seems like it would be unlikely they would give you a negative review if they think you are worth $100/hour. More likely, what might happen now is that they cancel that new contract with no money paid and one of the "bad" reasons for ending the contract selected (i.e. something other than "job completed successfully). That "bad" empty contract would potentially affect your JSS.


 

What I suggested was that we do a 30 minute consultation for the second project, close that one, and unpause the initial contract and I will continue to work on that, at that project's rate.

 

I actually never requested the higher rate at all and didn't officially ask for the consulting project; it was more of an "if you want to do this at some point in the future..." kind of thing. The immediate pausing of the first contract and opening of the second was a big surprise to me.

 

And yes, I'd be nervous of negatives against my JSS, whichever way they happened. 

afifield
Community Guru
Amanda F Member Since: Aug 8, 2015
9 of 12

Jennifer, you sound like an amazing client! Smiley Happy 

 

I agree with Jennifer that you did get yourself into a little too much by offering the advice. It's a strange situation but it is better to be honest in my opinion with the client than to have the contract where you are not sure what he wants you to do. I'm sure there is a professional way you can talk to him about it. Perhaps you could do so by gently telling him the original task was more of what you do, and even though you appreciate that he was very happy with your web consultation, it isn't something you want to do on a regular basis? If you do want to continue to help with the web consultation at the 100/hr rate, you could ask about the original contract and see if he wants to complete it with you or continue, and if he no longer wants it you could ask if it would be possible to close. I wouldn't be afraid to ask why he paused it either. Smiley Happy He seems impressed by you so I doubt he would bite when you ask if he wants the original contract complete or continued. 

gilbert-phyllis
Community Guru
Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
10 of 12

I agree with everything Jennifer said. 

 

Virtually every time I get into a murky place with a client, it's because I let my head be turned by flattery. Sometimes they are deliberately playing me, other times they are overcome by enthusiasm and don't realize they're sowing encouragement and chaos in equal measures.

 

The good news here is that you are more ready than you thought you were, to move into a deeper part of the pool and call yourself a consultant. This guy thinks your experience and expertise are worth $100/hour. If you think he is on the ball himself, then take his encouragement at face value and go with it. But if you like him (and his money) but think he might be a little inexperienced himself, then bank the suggestion and watch for opportunities to confirm it with other clients--opportunities to offer consulting services, maybe not at $100/hour if that feels like too big a leap...figure out what the range is for that type of consulting and put yourself low enough to feel comfortable but high enough to show you know your worth.

 

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