My Biggest Freelance Disasters! Embarrassing Moments Inside | Lindsay Marsh | Skillshare

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My Biggest Freelance Disasters! Embarrassing Moments Inside

teacher avatar Lindsay Marsh, Over 500,000 Design Students & Counting!

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Class Preview


    • 2.

      Sued for $1400 for Copyright Infringement


    • 3.

      Major Spelling Disaster!


    • 4.

      Lost $1,000 worth of work by not getting a deposit upfront


    • 5.

      Hit with a $10,000+ tax bill!


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About This Class

After 12+ years in the freelance business, I have run into my fair share of disasters! They are bound to happen, but let me tell you my most embarrassing moments in my career and give you tips on how to avoid my mistakes! I will tell you about the time when...

1.) I got sued for $1,400 for photo copyright infringement. We will then review when you need to purchase a photo, what is standard and extended licensing on photos and when you need them.

2.) The story of how I misspelled a states name on a state wide campaign. We will then review a tactic to prevent this from happening to you! 

3.) How I got scammed out of 30-40 hours of freelance work because I did not have a contract. Learn where to create one and why they are so important. 

4.) Got a nasty $10,000 tax bill surprise! Learn all about quarterly taxes, when and how to pay them.

This is a very open class for me to teach as it opens me up to being human and making big mistakes (normal!). I hope you enjoy watching these videos, I tried to keep them short and fun. I am glad I can look back on these mistakes and learn from them! and hopefully you can too. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Lindsay Marsh

Over 500,000 Design Students & Counting!


I have had many self-made titles over the years: Brand Manager, Digital Architect, Interactive Designer, Graphic Designer, Web Developer and Social Media Expert, to name a few. My name is Lindsay Marsh and I have been creating brand experiences for my clients for over 12 years. I have worked on a wide variety of projects both digital and print. During those 12 years, I have been a full-time freelancer who made many mistakes along the way, but also realized that there is nothing in the world like being your own boss.

I have had the wonderful opportunity to be able to take classes at some of the top design schools in the world, Parsons at The New School, The Pratt Institute and NYU. I am currently transitioning to coaching and teaching.

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1. Class Preview: I've been a freelance graphic designer for over 12 years, and this is a catalogue of my worst freelance disasters. All the details on how I got sued for copyright infringement on how to prevent this from ever happening to you. I also share about the time I misspell a word on statewide ad campaign. Embarrassing, but true. Clients construct, especially the ones that never pay. Learn about contracts and how to protect yourself and how I got scammed. A good $1000 worth of work. Learn how I got stuck with a $10,000 tax bill because it did not know about totally taxes. I show you how to prevent this from ever happening to you. 2. Sued for $1400 for Copyright Infringement: So I think this is my top disaster in my freelance career. It's incredibly embarrassing, but you get to hear all about it so you don't make the same mistake. I got sued for copyright Frenchman. Yes, Copyright Frenchman. Sounds serious. It is. I did a stupid thing and I was building a website for a client. They were in the orthodontics industry, and I decided as a filler for one other categories on the website. I wanted to go to Google and find a photo on their on. Put us a temporary placeholder even though the website is live. So I thought nothing of it. I figured I'd replace the photo with a professionally purchased photo at some point in the future. So we launched the website. It was fantastic. The client was happy. I was happy. He sent me final payment for the website and then one month passes and my client frantically called him on the phone and says, Have a letter from this ABC company and they say that we, uh, have copyright infringement on one of their photos. I thought, No big deal. I'll take it down. So responded back to the company and said I will take down the photo immediately. My apologies. But that wasn't enough. They were actually going to press charges and send us to court over this for the amount of $1400 for this one small little photo I found on Google and use for one month on a website . Yes, it was very serious. I ended up calling him and I talked to their legal department and I was able to negotiate it down to $900. Oh, my goodness, that's a lot of money. They were actually suing my client than not me, because I thought my clients the one who did it. So I felt like I needed to pony up the $900 give it to my client instead just because I feel like that was the right thing to do. But that was $900 $900 freeze in the small photo that could have cost $12 on a stock photo site to purchase, that was a major mistake. A great way to avoid this in the future is to make sure when you're on a website, especially a free stock photo website, to make sure you have the proper copyright usage for that website. If it's free, you want to look for something that says CC zero license. Usually that is open for personal and commercial use. All the photography and the videos you see in this very video it has the cease easier license that means you don't have toe. You will not get in trouble for using that because it's open to the public for use. Ah, great website that I use is called pixels P e x e l s. And they have some free stock photography that she can use for your blogger business when you're first getting started so you don't have to purchase stock voters right away. If you're ready. Teoh spend a little money on stock photos. Definitely recommend. You know there's so many out there. Istock Photo Getty Images, shutter stock, All those air Great options if you're wanting to purchase a stock photo, so when you're ready to purchase a stock photo one of these stock photo sites There's two different kinds of licensing you need to know about their standard and extended licence. Which one do you need to get well with the standard license thes usually good for limited print runs. It's great for putting on a log on a website. You can use it for YouTube. You can use a non advertisement newspaper ads online, limited print runs. So if you're printing 1000 of these things, that's okay. Um, one person, a new company could be using this photo at any times. We have a BRAC. Designers who's using the photo and these air, usually the cheapest to purchase so you can get a photo is cheap is 12 bucks and be able to use another ad, which is viewable by 100,000 people. So when do you need the extended licence? Extended licenses are much more expensive. Standard license. A lot of photos start in the 203 $100 range, and they go up to thousands. They cost a lot more money, but you're able to use them for selling products. So for a standard license, a lot of times you cannot put a stock photo onto ah tea sugar mug and sell it. You have to buy the extended license to be able to use that stock photo to sell products and items, and if you have anything that has mass production, so get a print on a 1,000,000 copies of something. Usually an extended licence is needed. None of this is a Zach science. You have to go to the individual stock photo site you're going to purchase from to make sure you view their rules. And each photo has different options for the standard and extended licenses. But this is just kind of a quick start guide to kind of help you not make the mistakes that I did. 3. Major Spelling Disaster!: spelling disaster. I am a horrible speller. Everybody knows that. But this was taken to another degree. I was in charge of designing an ad for a statewide promotion. They was gonna be distributed in 20 to 30 different magazine ads all across the state. Eso I was very happy with the ad. I got everything designed. The client approved it. Um, and so since it was approved, I was ready to send it to the printer toe all the different magazines and publications. So this convey distributed statewide. Everything was going really well, excited about seeing my work in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Perhaps more than 1/2 a 1,000,000 people might be able to see my ad. This is high profile. This was great. So I got an email back from the client first ad. They was shown in the newspaper and looked great, but there was one major error. I misspelled the state's name. Virginia has three eyes not to Oh, my gosh. How could it do this? How can in this spill my own state? And it was major in the headline. This was not good. So the client asked if I can contact all the publications to make sure I make changes. So the newspaper was the only instance of the misspelling, but it was too late. It's already a couple of weeks have already passed, and the the newspapers and the magazines and the ad placements have already ran. It's too late. It was only a matter of time before disaster would strike the whole state. I was a little bit lucky. And the this misspelling is common and actually was able to convince the client to give me a second chance. And they also admitted they also approved the project without reviewing the spelling as well. They didn't see it as well, so and they ended in that being both of our faults. And, uh, they agreed toe, let me continue to do work for them, which was a relief. Nothing really changed. I was really embarrassed, but I now know what I need to do in the future to prevent this from ever happening again. So how do you prevent this disaster from happening again? Always have a proof reader on your side. Never depend on the clients do any kind of proof reading for you. My husband happens to be a spelling and Gramma Wis. So I always run anything by him, especially. It's gonna be on social media for large print projects. I don't want embarrass myself like that again. And it's amazing if you look to the project there so long you missed the spelling mistakes . You have to pass it all to another set of eyes so they can take a fresh look at it. Do you? And one last thing. Virginia has three eyes, you know. 4. Lost $1,000 worth of work by not getting a deposit upfront: now, this is the time where I didn't get paid for $1000 of work. So I started my freelance career about 12 years ago, and when I first started, I was only charging $10 for Logo's $50 for websites. It was actually absolutely insane. Um, so one day I could get one of my new clients. I'm really excited. I don't want to lose him. And they agreed to do about $1000 for a website. This was way more money than I was used to making when it first started, so I didn't want anything to go wrong. I didn't know anything about contracts, so that wasn't even an issue. At that point, I went ahead and started work right away. In the end, the client was happy and satisfied, so I happily sent my invoice via email and waited to collect my money. But I was kind of surprised when she emailed me back and said she wasn't happy with it. All of a sudden, she wasn't willing to pay. Oh no, I just put 30 to 40 hours of hard labor into this website. The images live, the websites live, the images air created. How could you not pay? Especially when you already said you were satisfied. This happens often. Freelance careers. It's It happens more often than it should. So what did I do? Well, I just said I'm sorry, and I never got paid. I never asked her to pay because we had no contract. She had every right to just say I wasn't happy. Couldn't take her to court. I had no contract. I had no say and it sucked. So what can you do in this situation So that this never happens to you? Well, first of all, have a contract, have a contract, have a contract. And in that contract state that refunds cannot happen once the project is past a certain level and that the 1st 50% down payment is due before any work starts. Trust me, I've had clients get me started on work, and they all of a sudden disappear after I already started never to be found again. And they lost a couple hours of work each time that happened. If you get 50% upfront before the project starts, you're guaranteed to at least have that money. And if you have signed a contract. You can make sure that's not refundable unless there certain circumstances. Obviously, if you don't satisfy, um, everything you and the client agree upon. So contracts are so vital, and getting that 50% down payment before any big project starts is very important. So how do I go about creating the contract? There's a fantastic website called legal contracts dot com, where you can go on and you put in certain specifications and what your hourly rate will be and all these other specifications, whether you want a down payment or not and will actually create a contract for you. You could do that. Or you can there several websites of graphic designers of illustrators where they had created contracts for you to download an attack. Um, so I am not a legal expert. But this is just kind of a general starting point to go ahead and get that contract and to go ahead and prepare future clients that you will require some kind of upfront payment. 25 to 50% would be standard, but just know whatever you don't get, it could disappear forever. You just I never know if you don't have a relationship with the client. What will happen by the end? And you want to protect yourself and make sure you get that money up. 5. Hit with a $10,000+ tax bill!: spring has sprung, and I was happy because my first whole year of being a freelancer was successful. I have replaced all my income and made more income than I've made than a full time job. This waas exciting. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, it was April 15th and taxes were do so already did a majority of my taxes that I was putting in the final figures and the tax software I was using with saying I owed a $1000 that doesn't make any sense doesn't sound like the right share of taxes for me. So I talked to a professional account and he verified that that is the amount that I owe and he goes, That's okay. That's why you make quarterly tax payments so that you'll be able tow cover that liability . And I looked at him and I go quarterly payments. I've heard of that, but I don't make enough to have to do that. And he shook his head for a while, So that was it. I had to pay $8000 at one time, and I also needed to make my first quarterly payment for the New Year, all in April 15th. That was a big load of money. How can I prevent that from happening in the future? Well, first of all, you need to make sure you pay quarterly taxes in the United States to avoid penalties. If you expect to. Oh, about $1000 in taxes for the entire year for your freelance business were combined businesses than it's probably wise to go ahead. Make quarterly payments. So anyone who makes perhaps more than 8 to 10,000 year falls into this category and you get penalized if you don't pay, um, enough before your taxes or do so. When do I pay quarterly taxes? Will you pay once for each quarter? That's gonna be April 18th which is when taxes are due June 15th September 15th and January 16th. Um, how do I figure out my estimated quarterly payments where there's this handy form called the 10 40 Yes, which you can download on iris dot Go where you can calculate how much you think you might . Oh, it's not an exact science. It could be off by a few dollars as long as you're not dramatically off when it's time to do taxes So how can I pay? You can pay on Iris, not go. The easiest way is do the direct pay where you just make a direct payment. And when you select the reason, just make sure you select estimate attacks and then you can apply the payment for that quarter. Just let you let them know what you're you could apply to and just click. Continue and keep going, and you can pay the credit card if you want to.