V is for Vending Machine Mentality

V - Vending Machine
Illustration by Ramiro Roman

You are not a vending machine.

People can’t just thrust money at you and expect something to pop out.

I once recommended that writers think of themselves as a product in order to sell themselves objectively. Which is good advice. However, don’t think of yourself as a product, or as a business, to the point that you forget your humanity.

You are a person.

You deserve respect.

Freelance Writers and Abusive Clients

“I just on your site. Your rate are insultive, Anyway you have no skill nor knowledge just looking to make few cash.. And if you continue I will report you..!”

“Right off the bat: I have content that needs to be rewritten. I’m going to send you a sample and if you can turn it into something I can use, I’ll start paying you at your hourly rate.”

“I need expert articles for my site. Not blogging. Blogging isn’t real writing. Are you capable of doing anything more? If so write to me at ____________ so I can hear more.”

“How much content can you handle per day? I will pay you $1 per article. I will start you immediately. Reply to get your first assignment.”

“Hi. Do you write? I pay twice a month. When can you get started?”

Those are a few opening lines from e-mails I’ve gotten recently.

Opening. Lines.

As in, that’s how those particular people started their e-mails to me. That’s what they deemed an appropriate greeting. How they introduced themselves to someone they supposedly wanted to work with!

The first was someone attempting to frighten me(?) into lowering my rates. She went on to say that she would “consider” working with me–rather than reporting me–if I lowered my rates (which, according to the Writer’s Market rate guide, are already too low) and stopped being such a “frustrated person.”


The others were all under the (false) impression that if they offered me money–any amount of money–I’d jump on the chance to write for them.

They thought they could shove a crumpled up dollar bill in my writer “slot,” push a button, and an article would pop out.

They assumed I was a vending machine.

And, honestly, as a newbie, I would have been tempted by (some) of their offers. When I first started out, I suffered from “Vending Machine Mentality.”

Money was money was money.

I was willing to write for anyone who was willing to pay me. Mainly because I felt I had to. I didn’t realize that I could say no.

I was thinking of everyone who e-mailed me as my new boss. And I had had plenty of terrible bosses when I was doing minimum wage work. I was used to taking orders from cruel incompetent people. That’s just how it was.

I figured every job was like that. Even this one.

I was wrong.

As a freelancer, YOU are your boss now. You’re no longer forced to accept abuse for the sake of a paycheck.

According to fellow freelance writer, Samar Owais:

“As freelancers, we’re willing to put up with a lot. But one thing a freelancer should never put up with is disrespect. Not only does it blow a mental fuse, you lose all respect for the client.

Whether it’s the client telling you that his children could do the work better than you, using foul language, questioning your ethics or anything that you personally find offending and disrespectful,do not, under any circumstances put up with it. If you do, not only will your morale go down, you’ll lose confidence and your self-respect.”

Don’t risk losing your self-respect by accepting work from any and every client that e-mails you!

Final Thoughts

While it may be tempting to give these people the what for and virtually kick their respective behinds: Don’t.

Jerks usually don’t realize they’re jerks. They also tend to talk a lot.

You don’t want them telling others how terribly you treated them–even if they were the ones who started it.

Be polite. Be professional.


And if you truly can’t bring yourself to say anything nice…say nothing.

There’s no law that says you have to answer every e-mail you receive.

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