Monday, June 1, 2009

Naming Names

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about bad clients? Well, I'm ready to name names now.

The Elance client that is screwing me over (to put it delicately) is BLM Technologies of Florida. They contracted with me to re-write one page of a tri-fold brochure that they would distribute at trade shows.

(First of all, who uses tri-fold brochures anymore? That is so 1970s. I tried to talk them out of it, but they appear to get their marketing advice from a misogynist named Frank who has one foot in the 70s and one foot in dogshit.)

They sent me the existing brochure, which was absolutely awful. I think my first mistake with this company was being too blunt about their current marketing piece. You could tell that someone had cut and pasted--in a different font--the new marketing name of the company (BLM Now) over the old name throughout the brochure. Tacky.

Also, the piece was so crammed with information that no white space remained except a thin margin along the outside edge. Anyone who knows anything about graphic design will tell you that white space (also called "negative space") is an important element of graphic design, and the last thing you want to do is fill all your space with copy. People just won't read it--and plus, it's unattractive. It makes every piece of information have the same value, instead of directing the reader's attention to the most important words, phrases and images.

A big chunk of the brochure space was taken up with the logos of the companies whose products BLM is licensed to service. Why spend your money to advertise the products of other companies? I wondered.

I advised the client to cut the content and produce a smaller piece--perhaps a two-sided card--
with the purpose of driving prospects to their web site for more information. They wanted a fast turnaround, so I delivered the first draft of a tight, punchy text less than 40 hours later.

As I mentioned previously, they hated it. I didn't proof it carefully enough, and I made a minor typo (left off an "s") and a major content error: I put "BMI" instead of "BLM" about halfway through the draft. Yeeks. Embarrassing. But is it enough to justify the client ditching our contract and hiring another writer to write the brochure?

Misogynist Frank thought so. He also picked a fight with me over a so-called grammatical error: he did not approve of the phrase "no matter your," as in "No matter your IT needs, ..." I pointed out to him that the phrase shows up half a million times if you google "no matter your," and even the New York Times approves of it.

In his complaints to me, M. Frank became uncivil, saying, "If you had half a clue, you would..." Seriously. This is probably the guy responsible for the crappy existing brochure, and when I criticized it, I became his enemy.

I am confident that if the client had called me with his instructions for the second draft, he would have received a brochure text that would have more than satisfied him. Instead, my emails and phone calls went unanswered. At one point, the primary contact (NotFrank) agreed to send me his comments and edits so that I could produce a second draft that they could use for another piece--but he never followed through.

I could go through the dispute resolution process on Elance, but it would take time and cost money for an arbitrator--and for a hundred and fifty bucks, less the Elance fees of 7-9%, it's just not worth it. I emailed the client directly, side-stepping M. Frank, and asked him to pay me $90 for the first draft. I am not optimistic.

The moral of the story is: avoid Elance, which is a marketplace for buyers who do not value the services they are seeking. M. Frank said two telling things to me. He said, We're hiring you even though you weren't the lowest bidder. (As I mentioned, I bid $150 on a project that I would normally quote three or four times higher. The other bidders were coming in at $50 and $75.) Then he said, We're paying you "a lot of money." Yes. A lot of money. $150 for five or six hours of work.

It's just not worth it.


Attilla The Mum said...

You want we should make a little accident befall Frank? Fuggedaboutit.


BLM's website is no great shakes, either. What's with the header photo of the chick with the broken arm?

I feel for you, Mrs. Peevie. You couldn't have known they would let you down like this.

E. Peevie said...

HA! You belong here in Chicago, talking smack like that! Thanks for your support.