One of my Ad Rants, Life Stories

The Freelancer I Will Never Hire Again (aka Never Burn Bridges).

3 min read

Jeremy Carson is an Associate Creative Director, working in the design and advertising industries for over 15 years.

In a thinly-veiled threat, his first LinkedIn message read, “It’s a small world out there. You won’t be happy to see me again.”

The irony of his statement was not lost on me.

The tale of Bobby Butthurt.

While I was at another agency, we hired a freelancer. His name was not Bobby Butthurt. Though, it should have been.

I was a Senior Art Director working on a pitch. He had worked with us before, so we brought him back as support.

But this time, the quality of his work wasn’t great, so we cut his contract a week short. He blamed me. So, that night, he hunted me down on LinkedIn to do some Internet trash-talking.

Yes. A freelancer, whose livelihood is dependant upon people liking him and his work enough to hire and/or recommend him, decided it was not only a good idea to insult me and my work, but to put it in writing. On the internet. So I could show everyone.

Obvious Tip: If your job relies on recommendations, don’t burn bridges with...well, anyone.

So, let’s learn from Bobby Butthurt’s very dumb move.

Bad Idea #1 - Put Your Bad Choices in Writing

Sure, Bobby was mad when he messaged me. He was also stupid. Oh, any other day, he was probably plenty smart. But not that day. He made a big mistake by actually typing out his thoughts and sending them to me. Because now I could show them to anyone I wanted, like other potential employers.

Think about what you send before you send it.

Bad Idea #2 - Insult the Creative that Hired You

“It's hard to Art Direct another art directors idea, especially when the ideas is less then good.” - Bobby Butthurt

(Excuse the typos. That’s a quote from our hero. Let me’s important to check what you send before you send it.)

He’d been freelancing a while, but apparently didn’t realize that executing upon another’s idea is 90% of what a freelancer does. Now, think what you want to yourself. However, if you openly insult that creative’s idea, to that creative, then that reputation will follow you.

Your reputation is important. Agencies always ask around about you before hiring.

Bad Idea #3 - Threatened to Spread Rumors

Mr. Butthurt made it known to me that he would tell anyone with ears what he thought about me. Think what you want, but go back to “Bad Idea #1.” I made sure every word I wrote back was clear about what happened, not some anger-fueled tantrum.

A good reputation will fight your battles when you’re not around.

So, if it ever came down to his word against mine...guess who had proof.

Don’t spread rumors. It will absolutely bite you in the ass.

So many bad decisions.

I haven’t crossed Bobby Butthurt’s path since then. But, like he said, it’s a small world out there. The chances of us seeing each other again, or working with someone who has worked with the other person, are pretty damn high.

Burning bridges is a bad idea. Call it karma. Call it The Golden Rule. Good things may pay off, but bad things will absolutely come back to haunt you.

Put good out into the world. It can’t hurt.

Thanks for reading!

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Also published on Medium.