Part of succeeding in the freelance world is having partners you can depend on—most often, for me, that happens with good, solid graphic designers and web designers, and I am blessed to have several.
By nature, I’m a lone wolf when it comes to writing, but on occasion, I’ve been partnered with other freelance writers on a project. In cases where I’ve assembled the team, it’s been smooth sailing. More recently, I ran into a situation where my writing partner wasn’t someone I would have chosen. And it ended badly, as triangle situations often do.
Reader’s Digest version: I’d been the steady, go-to writer for a newsletter for about a year. The client wanted to add volume, and a little bit of extra industry acumen, so he hired a writer based on the recommendation of a colleague. My new writing partner, call him Larry, was a nice guy—very experienced, and honestly, he could run circles around me from the industry knowledge perspective.
But what Larry didn’t have was a sense of urgency or responsiveness, which was a chronic issue with the client. In numerous conversations, my client was expressing dissatisfaction to me, which I did my best to relay to Larry. But Larry didn’t change, and he basically blamed the miscommunications on the client.
They were both complaining to me about the other. I’d listen briefly and then change the subject. Then they started arguing over payment. Then one day, the client stopped answering Larry’s calls. When Larry started contacting me to find out what was up, it was…awkward. To me, it was clear what was going on, and that his client relationship could not be saved.
Like it or not, I needed to protect my own interests. It’s not my place to defend another creative to a client; it’s just that simple. I’m on excellent terms with the guy, who admittedly is a tough nut, and have worked hard to get there.
And Larry, if you’re out there and recognize yourself in this story, I’m sorry. But as they say in the Mafia movies, “It’s just business.”
And yes, my triangle man headline is a dorky reference to They Might Be Giants’ epic earworm, “Particle Man.”