Re: Fair Cut

Subject: Re: Fair Cut
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2000 12:03:48 -0700 (PDT)

--- Berk/Devlin <armadill -at- earthlink -dot- net> wrote:

> >...If you let people take advantage of you time and time again then the
> >only person to blame is you.
>
> I have not been taken advantage of time and again. I learn from my
> mistakes. And I would like to see fewer people taken advantage of time and
> again. I am in this business to write technical documents. I don't want
> to spend my time negotiating contracts, arguing over invoices and fees,
> demanding payment. If I were interested in that kind of work, I'd have
> become a lawyer or a collections person.

So basically, you want the freedom to contract with companies directly but you
want somebody else to handle all the business aspects for free.

Yeah, sure.

Freelancing requires you to be both a good tech writer and a good business
person. If you are do not want to negotiate contracts, argue over invoices, and
demand payments then you should quit freelancing and get a full-time job.

Your only other alternative is to turn over these functions to a agency. Which
you don't want to do. You can't have it both ways. You can't expect people to
work for you for free.

Furthermore, I don't think you realize what a good agency does for you.

While you're lazily cashing that weekly paycheck and debating which FrameMaker
template to use, somebody at your agency is probably on the phone all day
beating your clients to pay. I don't know why, but Accounts Payable, as a
profession, seems to attract some of the world's stupidest and least helpful
humans on the planet.

I have clients right now that are 60, 90, as much as 200 days overdue to me.
And these are large, respectable companies with billions in assets.

Guess who has to bear that burden? The put-upon contractor? Hell no. The
agency. That means loans, interest, and other nonsense you can't even imagine.
You should hear some of the lame excuses clients have given me to pay.

Now, how did you like it when your agency "lost" 160 hours? Pissed you off,
right? Well this is an average day on the agency side. You have to haggle over
every hour with the clients. And you can't short the contractor. I have to pay
my contractors on the dot every Monday. But my clients sure don't pay me on
time.

Second, have you ever filled out a quarterly tax report? Have you ever had to
deal with the morons at the IRS? Don't even get me started on California. I
think California imports people without brains to work in their government
agencies. I swear to God, I have never met people so stupid. You tell them one
thing and they just ignore you.

Insurance, FICA, rent, reading contracts - the list is endless. My company paid
thousands in legal fees last year just to have a lawyer review contracts from
my clients to make sure my contractors weren't getting screwed. Most agencies
have the same problems I do.

So while you are meandering in to work and whining how the agency is taking 25%
- trust me, you are avoiding more frustration that you can possibly imagine.

I encourage all of you who hate agencies to start your own agency. You try
staffing some jobs and dealing with contractors for a few months. I would
gleefully bet anybody on this board that you would go insane in less than six
months. It is not an easy business to run. And the money is not that great.
Contracting is a VERY competitive business. I am not some millionare with a
yacht and an estate.

I have been on both sides. I contracted too. And I can tell you, you have it
very easy. Just showing up each day and writing documents is a breeze compared
to running an agency.

> They understand that WRITERS are NOT recruiters. That writers have needs
> other than recruiters. Of course the NWU is not a group you would support
> Mr. Plato. They absolutely do not have your best interests in mind.


The NWU is just another agency with a differnt spin. They just sell you a
different line of bullshit. Agency A tells you "they care". Agency B tells you
"we have the hot jobs" the NWU tells you "we understand writers - please pay
$210."

If they care so darn much about us writers - they should do it all for free.

>Furthermore, how is the NWU taking 10% any different than a recruiter taking
> >15%.
>
> Because the NWU's 10% is a finder's fee for services rendered truly,
> dependable and well. Because the NWU's finder's fee ends after 4 months
> with each client. Because the NWU's finders fee doesn't come out of my pay
> check before I see my pay check. Because the NWU's finder's fee is an
> honor system and when I ended up totally depressed and not paid for months
> after the episode I described earlier, they did not even ask for the money
> I owed them until I had it in the bank.

Its just a margin with a softer edge. Call it a "finder's fee" a "margin" or a
"goohunkle fuz wipenshanker." They are taking a cut, just a smaller one with
more hugs associated with it.

I realize your anger with agencies. Many of them are pretty bad. But you're
allowing a few bad incidents to sour you. You are also just being greedy. If
you don't want an agency to take a cut - go get your own clients who will work
with you independently.

Moreover, go try running your own agency. You have no comprehension of how
difficult and stressful it is to bear the legal and financial burden of
contracting people.

You can either play the game, or the game will play you. Either way, whining
how those that are winning are cheaters never got anybody ahead.

Andrew Plato






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