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I’m always looking for more work, but I will never work for friends or family again. I suggest you do the same.

Don’t get me wrong; I will do writing/editing favors for friends and family, such as editing a school paper. I just won’t enter into a work relationship that involves compensation. That pretty much means no major projects that require tons of time.

Let me tell you why…

  • It Ruins Relationships
  • You May Never Get Paid
  • You Can’t Charge What You Want

How I Learned the Hard Way

My neighbor lost his job, which prompted him to take a break from the corporate grind and try something different. He decided to launch a coaching website where he would help people build their resume and find work. He wrote an entire motivational course about how to market your skills to employers and land an awesome job. The plan was to sell a subscription to the motivational course.

After writing the course, my neighbor needed an editor and solicited my services. I gave him a great deal since his wife was my friend ($0.01/ word). I edited the entire course and was compensated as we had agreed.

My neighbor loved my work and decided to pull me onto another one of his endeavors. It was another website, but service oriented instead of subscription based. I obliged since the first project went so well and I didn’t think there would be any problems with the second one… I was wrong.

I edited some website content for him and then never heard back. I sent follow-up emails for three consecutive weeks and he entirely ignored them. My phone calls were also being screened. My neighbor practically disappeared — he didn’t show up to church, I never saw him outside, and I lost all communication with him. Eventually, he ended up moving to another state, and I can’t help but wonder if it was partially because he was avoiding me.

I only ended up losing about $300 on the project, but that’s enough to make me upset.

The weird thing was that my neighbor’s wife still acted completely normal to me. I’m assuming she had no idea what was happening. I guess I could have been vocal to her in hopes of getting compensated, but I didn’t want to ruin that relationship, too. Plus, I knew her family was having a hard time financially while my neighbor was getting his business going. That’s what makes working for friends and family so hard — you feel bad about taking their money, but at the same time it hurts your business.

Have you had any bad experiences working for friends or family? Share them in the comments below.

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