I fired a bully

I fired a bully a few days ago. 

Gig-wise, the summer was a huge bust. Two major projects that I was hoping to win fell through due to budgetary constraints and nothing was happening on the job-hunt front. I was frustrated. So it was a very pleasant and welcome surprise when one evening I got an email from my site enquiring about my services and when we could chat. I googled the individual to make sure she was legit. She was. I emailed her back to indicate when I would be available to speak to her by phone the next day.

First Contact

When we spoke on the phone, we had great rapport. I was able to answer all her questions and give recommendations. I was confident that I had made a good impression and I genuinely liked her. She was ready to give me all her usernames and passwords for her site. I remember saying something along the lines of waiting to meet in person to talk further and to decide if we wanted to work together. She asked me my hourly rate and I told her… she thought it was very reasonable. We made plans to meet in person the following week.

Let the bullying begin!

At the meeting the following week was when the bullying started. After almost 2 hours of going through her site and her telling me all the things she wanted changed or updated she asked how long it would take for me to make the modifications. The work wouldn’t be difficult but it would be time consuming. I said about 20 to 30 hours. Her eyes went wide and she said, “How much would 20 hours cost?” I replied “$ABC” while she calculated a different rate. I said, “My rate is $X per hour”. She looked up at me and said, “No. You told me $Y per hour.” I said no, that my rate was indeed $X per hour. Again she said no and how she remembers these things and that I said $Y. I think I know my rate per hour. I really wanted the job but I knew what I had told her. Instead I said, “Ok… we’ll go with $Y per hour for 20 hours” thinking I was being flexible and client-focused. That was my first mistake and the first inkling that this process was going to be difficult. As we left the meeting, I told her that I would draw up a contract for $ABC detailing the work we had agreed upon. She agreed. Later that evening, I sent out the proposal/contract that we had discussed earlier that day.

By Sunday I had still not received a response so I sent a short email to confirm that she had received it. She got back to me on Monday saying she doesn’t understand how what we talked about would take 20 hours. I was a bit taken aback considering that up until this point she had taken up almost 4 hours of my time. She went on to say that her budget was only half of what the contract was. Why didn’t she tell me that on Friday when she hacked $5/hour off my rate and balked at the time estimate? Now I was feeling intimidated and put upon. I thought about what I could do with her new, much lower budget. Not a whole lot, but at this point I still wanted to work with her. To my own shame and horror, I said that I would do the work at the new budget amount. I thought that I was building relationships and working with my client to meet her needs. I didn’t clue in that I was being manipulated until she told me that she would only pay me when I finished the work. I pushed back saying that I would not start any work until a deposit and the signed contract were received. She said ok. I felt like a schmuck.

Things get nasty

I couldn’t bring myself to amend and re-send the contract. I felt used. I felt intimidated. I felt angry at myself!! It was bad enough that she didn’t value my expertise or the service but it was even worse when I did it to myself for a job I was pretty sure I didn’t want anymore. Instead, I decided to walk away from the project. The amount of work for so little money, the irritation that I already felt, plus the aggravation that would come with working with a bully was so not worth it. I sent a polite, professional “I’m not a good fit for this project” email and immediately felt relief. That, however, was short lived. She called me about 10 minutes after I sent the email. I didn’t answer because I didn’t want to talk to her. Then she sent me an email saying that she has a counter offer that would meet both our needs. As I had gotten my spine back, I thought to myself that the only counter offer I would even consider was my ACTUAL rate for 20-30 hours which was not going to happen. A few hours later I sent another polite, professional reply declining the not-yet-offered counter offer again citing that I was not a good fit. She replied with 2 consecutive nasty, condescending, passive-aggressive emails. 

Lessons Learned

At the first red flag, RUN! It will only get worse! Although I should have tapped out when she argued with me about my rate, I still dodged a massive pain-in-the-butt bullet!

I will never let a client pressure, intimidate or bully me again! No job is worth my self-respect.

It’s been a while!

It’s been about 5 months since I last wrote a blog post…I’m so sorry! When I started the blog, it was with the intention of posting on a regular basis. My goal is to do better going forward.

Here’s what I’ve been up to…

In May, I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. I responded to a post about a freelance position and got it. Things moved very quickly. Although I struggled, I did my best. I was quite relieved when after about 30 hours of work, the client asked me to invoice her. Thank god! It was over!! I generated an invoice and sent it to her. She asked for a breakdown, I sent that too. Then I waited. I waited for 2 weeks, then sent a friendly reminder email. No response. I waited another 2 weeks…nada. I called numerous times, got voicemail, left messages, sent more reminders, and still nothing.

I reached out to the person who had posted the position. I told her what was going on and asked if she had had the same experience. She said, “Sounds like they are not going to pay you.” Then she said that she had warned me about that. I can assure you that she had not. I would have definitely remembered someone telling me, “oh by the way, you may not get paid because this client has a problem with paying developers for work done.” I’m not insane, I would not have taken the gig. Anyway, she goes on about all the reasons why she doesn’t do work for them anymore. One of the reasons being that they still owed her money. I was shocked!! She didn’t tell me any of this! All she told me was that the database was a nightmare and that she wanted to do more web design work. To be fair, I did not ask about any issues. I was too green, too innocent. I naively assumed that no one would post a sketchy job within their own community. I was wrong. I appealed for help via a freelance group. One of my former instructors called the client directly and got me paid within 24 hours. When the email notification came through that the payment had been made, I literally cried from all the stress.

The lesson I learned? ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS! If someone is passing along a gig that they used to have, ask why they are giving it up. Ask about any quirks the client may have. Ask if the client still owes them money. Ask whatever questions you deem necessary. If any of the answers make you uncomfortable, re-evaluate if you really need or want that job. What one person may see as a potential issue, may not be a big deal to you but in order to make an informed decision, you need to ask the right questions.

I went on an application frenzy!! I applied to so many positions during the months of May and June. I had a few phone interviews, a few in-person interviews, but nothing panned out. I was also invited to attend a job fair by TD Bank. It was very intimidating but I mustered up the courage to go up to people and talk with them. I met a TD recruiter there who was so helpful. She advised me to email everyone with whom I made contact at the job fair. I did, the next day. I haven’t heard back from anyone.

I’ve added a few more projects to my portfolio. The downside is that they have been pro-bono. I must generate some paying jobs. The hustle is real.

As you know, I’ve mentored a few sessions with Ladies Learning Code earlier this year. On August 18 and 25, I will be the lead instructor for a two-part LLC course called Getting Started with WordPress & Blogging. I’m so excited.

My friend and I started a podcast! It’s called <Hair Code Soul/>. On it, we talk about natural hair, web development, and life. Episode 001 is up and Episode 002 should be posted this week. We’re having a blast doing it!

Speaking of natural hair, I finally coloured my hair to get rid of the grey! What a difference!!

This past weekend, I attended Wordcamp 2016 at Ryerson in Toronto. It was fun and informative!

Come September, I will be taking JavaScript and jQuery at Hacker You. I hope that it will help me to land some freelance or contract gigs! I can’t wait to continue my learning!


So that, in a nutshell, is what I’ve been up to over the past few months! As I said earlier, my goal is to do better so I will be posting on a more regular and consistent basis.

How has your summer been? Comment below!

First Blog Post…ever!

Hi! Welcome to my blog!

My goal for this blog is to share information about web development and design as well as my own adventures and experiences as a freelance front-end web developer.

When I learn something new, I’ll blog about it here. When I do something or go somewhere interesting related to web development (or not), I’ll blog about it.

I’m also an avid fan of natural hair care so I may blog about that too!

If there are any topics that you would like me to blog about, please put your suggestions in the comment section below!