As an independent/freelancer, I’ve known different kinds of people and, unfortunately there are a lot of scammers out there, or people that try to take advantage of you.
I think there’s something you must always keep in mind: remember how much you are worth.
A while ago, I was in conversations with someone who wanted to get some work done. The work sounded easy enough, but the pay was cheap. However, I figured it would only take me around one week or so, I took the job.
We have a saying in my country that goes something like “cheap clients are usually the harder to please.” Unfortunately, that was exactly the case. The job ended up taking around two months, so clearly the math didn’t work in my favor anymore.
There was a similar situation a few years prior, but this time it was worse because, after the project took so long (not because of me), the client decided to pay less “as a compensation for the delays”.
If I had known the kind of client that one was, I wouldn’t have taken the jobs, specially because at the end, I was not even able to use the projects as portfolio (although, in retrospective, they were not really that good so it doesn’t matter that much).
of course, sometimes you are in big need of money, so you will be tempted to take a bad project with a bad client, just because you need the money. The problem is, in the long run it will be worse than not taking the job because the amount of time you spend is not compensated by the amount of money you receive. You should always try to find alternatives and see if there’s another way to get the money before you go with a bad client.
This is also the case when it comes to jobs, unfortunately. I’ve also had my fair share of experiences with bad job offers, where they expect you to be in par with Weta Digital, but without the Weta Digital-level of compensation.
Luckily, there are ways to recognize them. The most obvious one is to walk away as soon as you hear a cheap compensation (or no compensation at all!). Another thing is to read between lines to see if they hint that your work can be done by anyone. Things like “but what you’re doing is very easily done in X or Y app!” are a big hint that they believe you’re replaceable or that they can do stuff themselves. You should also check how many corrections are allowed before you are allowed to charge extra. It’s not fun to spend hours working on a model just to be told the eyelid needs correction, and after more hours correcting it, you’re told “on second thought, the previous one was good”.
In the end, remember there are different ways to make money. The best you can do is try to diversify your income as much as you can, by freelancing and also creating different kind of content that can be sold in asset stores, so you can get extra cash. Also, find a way to monetize your own projects, if possible. There are a lot of resources on YouTube that can give you ideas on how to make extra money with your skills.
And that’s it, I hope you find this useful.