This one job was, for all appearances, a simple print job -- just a quick photo shoot. Only they ended up using the stills in a local commercial that, though I've never seen, apparently continues to run all the damned time somewhere on TV locally. All for probably a tenth of what I should have earned on the job.
I blame no one but myself. You feel clever and take a short-cut, thinking you'll get quick and easy money by avoiding all the middlemen -- talent agents and casting agencies that all take a share of the dough. And you don't do your homework (or aren't equipped to ask all the right questions) and you rightly get burned.
But I'm done with that. I've backed away from a couple of offers this year, and recently was approached by a company that wants to do an industrial for their client. I talked to them and soon realized that, while things like day-rates and half-day rates for sessions are pretty standard and easy to figure, when you get into the usage it becomes pretty complicated.
B2B or consumer? Web only or not? One year, two years or unlimited? Etc.
So I turned it over to my agent, which I think is the way to go, whether I end up getting it or not. I think it's all just part of doing this thing professionally if you're going to do it at all.