BREAKING NEWS: Freelancing Doesn't Mean You Get Work For Free
Oh hello, yes it’s me — a freelancer. I’ve been doing this for two years now. I’ve been working in the world of marketing, branding, and social media since 2010 and decided in 2017 to branch out on my own. It’s so nice to meet you, would you care to take a seat and listen to my rant?
No? Yes? Either way, sit down and listen up.
Freelancers are human beings with being hearts. Freelancers are human beings with emotions. Freelancers are human beings who offer services that simplify your life and make your business run better, more efficiently, and smarter. Freelancers are (mostly) outside of the box thinkers up for anything … adventure is our middle name. Freelancers are brave. Freelancers are smart. Freelancers hustle.
Yet despite all of this, over and over again — clients stop responding or fulfilling their end of the contract. Is it because the contract seems too small to take to small claims court? Is it because the client considers the freelancer an employee he or she is no longer interested in? I don’t know but I do know that the percentage of incredible freelancers I know that have been not paid, ghosted, or paid incredibly late is astonishing. Why are freelance relationships treated differently than any other contractual business agreement?
I constantly hear “I can’t pay my rent unless X client pays me” and I constantly hear “I’ve emailed X client 30 times in the last 3 weeks without as much as a single response.” Freelancers are not magicians. You can’t come to us one day with all your problems and then go “OK fix them” and come back three months later being like “Why is all of this work not done?” It’s not done because you didn’t hold up to your end of the deal. Freelance/contractor work is a partnership and it MUST be built around R-E-S-P-E-C-T (find out what it means to me).
The work is not done because YOU, the client, failed to deliver the deliverables for the project. The work is not done because YOU, the client, failed to approve what was presented in front of you. The work is not done because YOU, the client, has changed your mind so many times that the scope of work has gone from point A to point Who The Fuck Knows.
I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my short life. Good ones. Bad ones. Weird ones. But nothing — nothing compares to the wilderness that is known as freelancing because every day, every client, every minute is different. Is the money coming? Is the money not? Am I gonna become evicted or am I about to become rich? Nothing is clear and what I’ve learned after two full years of doing this is that nothing will ever be clear in this industry. It’s blurred lines. It’s a lack of boundaries. It’s messy. It’s falling into the mud, over and over again, no matter what system you have in place.
As more people become a part of the gig-economy, the more saturated the pool of candidates is. As more people call themselves a freelancer, the more the je ne said quo enters the equation. Who is the real deal and who is two months out of college being supported by mommy and daddy to call themselves a full fledged agency?
I’m writing this right now with $74 in my checking account despite being owned near $10k from clients. I’m a 31 year old woman and I work my ass off for my clients and here I sit wondering if I will pay my rent on time and have money to feed my dogs. I’m writing this now because I am a human being and this is my salary. I’m writing this now because freelancers deserve rights, respect, and regard like anyone else would in an office place.
Long story short — pay your freelancers (and do it on time) or do the work yourself. Taking advantage of someone you call a contractor or a freelancer is as bad as it gets in business and if you are one of these work vampires taking blood from the contractor you’re paying significantly less than someone you would in the office — stop. Just stop.
Enough is enough.