In the 14 years I’ve been freelancing, I’ve had all sorts of clients with all sorts of requests. For example, there was the client who wanted to do annual employee reviews even though I wasn’t an employee. (I passed.) There was also the client who wanted me to be on call during the entire 9 -5 business day but only wanted to pay me a small fee for the actual writing part. Each time, I apologized and let them know the difference between an independent contractor and an employee. Sometimes the gig ended, and sometimes it didn’t, but I’m always glad I spoke up.
It always hits me at some point after speaking up -.why am I apologizing? I didn’t do anything wrong.
No one should ever feel the need to apologize for wanting to be treated appropriately and fairly. Sometimes we’re so worried about losing clients, we let things go that we shouldn’t let go. In a way, freelancing is like high school. Sometimes we’re so desperate for acceptance we put up with certain things just so we fit in – or in this case, don’t lose our clients. The more you let clients treat you poorly, the worse it will get. Set clear ground rules from the very beginning and you’ll find your clients respect you more, and treat you better…and if they don’t you’re better off without them.
Freelancers should never have to apologize for:
1. Wanting to be paid on time
Unfortunately, some clients feel like the freelancers who work with them are the last priority when it comes to paying bills. Worse, too many freelancers feel as if they’re making waves or ruining a good business relationship by asking to get paid. If a client knows they can always put off paying you, they will. If you comply with your contract, so should they – and you should never feel bad about asking for what is due to you. Be firm if payment is late, and don’t apologize for expecting what you earned as promised.
2. Good communication
Many of us become independent contractors because we want to be able to work on our own without being micromanaged, having to drop everything to jump into meetings, or deal with office drama. Except in order to work independently and do a job to the best our ability, we also need to keep a good dialogue open with our clients. If clients aren’t readily available and don’t respond to our requests for information, we’re already set up to fail. This is especially true when it’s a remote relationship and we’re not regularly visiting our clients in their respective offices. It’s not unreasonable to expect our clients to respond and communicate.
3. Asking questions
No one should ever have to be made to feel like a pest for wanting to do their job properly. There are times freelancers need clarification. It’s understandable that clients don’t want to drop everything to continuously respond to the same types of questions over and over, but it’s also understandable there are times when instructions aren’t clear. We shouldn’t feel funny about asking the questions we need in order for a project to succeed, especially if the alternative means a job won’t be completed properly.
4. Expecting a professional business relationship
A freelancer-client relationship is a professional relationship where a professional transaction is being completed. Each party is expected to act as one would when conducting business. Though today’s world is a bit more relaxed, there’s no shame in acting in a professional manner. Never be sorry for presenting yourself in the best light possible, even when the client doesn’t.
Stop saying, “I’m sorry.”
Independent contractors are in the business of making money, it’s how we support ourselves and our families. It’s up to us to do a clean, professional job in exchange for that money. We should never be afraid or ashamed of “bothering” a client to seek the proper information, and wanting to get paid for our good work.