As someone whose worked as a freelance writer for almost 15 years and a social media consultant for almost 8 years, I like to think I’ve met all types of clients. There are those who truly value your time and input and will pay you accordingly, and there are those who think hiring a freelancer means they’re bringing in the cheapest labor possible.
Though we freelancers do our best to set rates that work for both us and our clients, it’s important to have conversations with potential clients from time to time as to what it’s like on this end of the job. Especially since so many people who haven’t worked with freelancers in the past are hiring.
Here are some things I’d like people who hire freelancers to know
Test articles and designs are free work. I don’t do free work.
When I applied for your job, I sent you several published samples of my work. Because I want you to hire me, the samples I sent are best representation of my writing style and areas of expertise. So why are you writing back to me asking for a free “test” article? You don’t need to test me, my samples show you what I know. If you’re looking for work in a particular subject, or want to know if I can talk in a particular voice, by all means ask if I have samples in a particular subject or area. If I don’t, then I am probably not a good fit. If I do, we can continue the conversation. However, there is never any reason for you to ask me for a “test” article. This goes for designers too. Samples from a designer’s portfolio should be enough to indicate style.
You should know if we have the potential to work together from my resume, cover letter, and samples. If my experience – and the proof of that experience – doesn’t tell you enough you probably don’t know what you’re looking for anyway.
If you don’t have the budget to hire a freelancer, you shouldn’t try to hire a freelancer
Don’t you love seeing advertisements from people looking to hire freelances but tell you their budget is really low? I mean, it would never occur to me to go into my dentist’s office and say “Hi, I’m looking for root canal but I have a low budget so I’m only going to pay you $XX” but that’s how many potential clients approach freelancing. If I don’t have the budget for the dentist or a new pair of shoes, I don’t go dentists and I especially don’t go shopping. Don’t advertise for work if you don’t have the budget to pay for the work. Do it yourself, or put it off until you can afford it.
Interns need to receive something of value in return (Hint: And it’s not experience)
“Internship” doesn’t mean free labor. I see countless ads for freelancers and independent contractors that claim to be an internship and what it really means is that you’re doing grunt work for free. It’s illegal to hire an intern and not offer something of value in return. And by something of value I don’t mean experience. By “some form of compensation” I mean scholarships, college credits, pay, classes, the promise of a job when school is over, and other perks that encourage experience, learning and productivity. An intern isn’t an unpaid virtual assistant who is there to answer your emails and make your appointments. An intern is a person who enters into a job place to learn more about working in a particular field, while learning to be the best he or she can be. They are not free labor.
What the hell does “perfect for moms” even mean?
When you advertise a job that’s “perfect for moms,” what exactly are you looking for? If it means you’re looking for someone who can juggle many tasks, prioritize and organize, I can accept that. But if it means you’re looking for someone who will be happy to do some menial labor for little money simply because she gave birth, well, you are an ass. When you label something as “perfect” for moms, college students, or retirees, what you’re saying is that you don’t value them as someone who knows who to do a “more important” job for more money. If you have an entry level job, call it that. If you have a low paying job, list the pay and describe the task. Be honest what you need in a work, but don’t be insulting.
It’s not an honor to work for you
Please don’t come across as if I should be doing more than my share or earning less than I should because you are famous on the Internet or work for a well known brand. Your fame does nothing for my mortgage. Show me what a wonderful opportunity it is to work with you by paying me well and treating me with respect. Otherwise your name doesn’t mean squat.
Freelancers are professionals just like you
If you want us to work hard for you and give you something of value, please treat us as someone to be valued. Pay us a rate deserving of our experience and the project, and don’t try to get a whole lot of something for a whole lot of nothing. We are professionals and deserve being treated as such.