A couple of days ago, I got the heads up- courtesy of another client of mine who works for the company- that this is likely the last month I’ll have my most lucrative contract. For over a year, I’ve been paid $500 a month, like clockwork, to post on a company’s Facebook page. I occasionally respond to messages sent to the page as well, but mostly it’s just posting, every day or so, to keep the page active.
I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week, staring down my one-way ticket out of the country and the $1,740 I owe in taxes (due mostly to money earned on this very contract!), so I need to give myself a talking to about why I really am ready to let this contract end. I’d like to think that during a different week, I’d have shrugged this off in seconds, but this week, as I freak out about everything, it has sparked a lot of thought.
In many ways, this was a dream assignment. It was a predictable, consistent chunk of change every month. It was a fair price for my time and effort. It feels, at this point, like a habit that magically causes money to happen at me, because it’s that easy and that consistent. If I’m being brutally honest, the client ignores the whole thing, and that means fairly low expectations and standards. And that brings me to why I am more pleased than anything else to let it go.
Why I’m okay with this contract dying:
-The client does not communicate or cooperate with me. The second I got this contract, I told them they had to put a “Like” button on the website. I asked for this about a hundred times. I’d say it had to be done, and they would respond that they understood it was important and that they’d “Look into it.” It never happened. This is how most requests for changes, no matter how small, go with this company.
-They want social media to work for them by magic rather than by effort, cooperation, and yes, more money. I’ve been doing this for over a year and kept their Facebook page active, a reliable source of information for customers, and an intuitive place to post updates in the event of weather delays, website downtime, or any other inconvenience that does not prompt the company to update the website or send out an email, and that’s the best I can do. They aren’t willing to spend money on ads or do something as simple as add a “Like” button to their site, so they are never going to be impressed with my work, they are never going to see results, and I will never be able to stand behind it.
-The client has a history of disputes with other contractors. Knowing this has kept me on my toes. I have always wondered if this contract might end when I send my usual invoice at the end of the month, carry on as usual, then suddenly realize weeks later that I haven’t been paid. Yes, I really think they’d just stop paying me rather than telling me, plainly, that they’d like to terminate the contract.
So as good as that $500 a month was, this is, in short, a crappy job. The client does not, pardon my French, have their shit together at all.
I’m letting this one go. I’m not going to fight for it. In addition to the above-mentioned problems, there are plenty of reasons I should feel that letting this contract go is a step toward actively advancing my career.
Why it’s a good thing to lose this contract:
-It’s not the type of work I really want to do. I have clients who use me for social media management, and I’m sure more will come my way in the future, but it’s not a line of work I want to pursue.
-No paycheck is worth a nightmare client. A good client is one who behaves professionally, pays up, and with whom I can have a cooperative, collaborative relationship. This client had a high potential to become a nightmare, and they were never going to be a good client.
-This was a dead-end contract. I was not learning anything and it was not going to lead to anything else.
-It was easy, but to do it well, I needed to be at my computer every day. I could schedule posts in advance, but found I was getting better results when I posted on trending subjects ASAP, so to partially make up for the client’s unwillingness to pay for ads or boosted posts or put in any effort or money whatsoever, I tried to do that as often as possible. I do not want to rely on work that requires me to be looking for content online every single day.
-Complacency is bad. I needed a crack of the whip to remind me to pursue the things I actively want rather than falling back on this mediocre cash-cow.
Since that call, I’ve spent some long-overdue time sprucing up my Upwork.com profile and getting comfortable- happy, even- with losing this job and this comfortable, consistent money. I’m happy that I’m going to leave for Ireland with only the contracts I really value. I feel motivated to find work that matters to me and is more in line with what I want to be doing long-term. I was, in truth, dreading managing this embarrassing, dead-end contract while traveling. Farewell, social media contract. You served your purpose, but it’s time for us to move on from each other.