Remember that song by the Georgia Satellites called, Keep Your Hands to Yourself? Here’s a few lines from the song to jog your memory:
“My honey, my baby, don’t put my love upon no shelf. She said, don’t’ gimme no lines and keep your hands to yourself! …that’s when she told me the story ‘bout free milk and a cow and said no huggy, no kissy until I get a weddin’ vow!”
Clients who ask freelancers to write for free are like the guy in the song who basically wants the object of his affections to agree to what amounts to a ‘booty call’.
Freelancers should follow the lead of the girl in the song who holds out for a ring and a wedding vow and hold out for a contract specifying the rate of pay the client will pay for satisfactory work, deadlines, number of revisions client may request, and other important details.
Kick Freeloader Clients to the Curb
The freeloader client wants something for nothing. They may promise to pay you ‘once their business launches and starts making big bucks’, but that won’t pay the bills now and there’s no guarantee the business will ever make any money.
Others will tout their high Alexa rankings and ‘massive number of daily page views’, saying that your freelance business will benefit by merely associating with their site. If they’re so big and popular, why do they need someone to take on their projects for free? Politely decline and offer to send them contact information to the local community college where they can find an eager intern.
What about taking it out in trade? If Darren Rowse of Problogger or Brian Clark of Copyblogger has given you a call to beg you to exchange blog posts with them, go for it! If the owner of a prestigious graphic design firm asks you to design a logo for them free of charge in exchange for a link to your website and design portfolio, don’t miss the opportunity. Otherwise, consider that these clients want to use your talent and skill for their direct benefit. Sure, they may have offered to do something for you in return, but do you really need it? What if they deliver substandard product? You can’t publish a poorly written post or a shoddy design graphic on your website.
The ‘free’ in freelancer doesn’t mean you work for free. Politely educate the freeloaders about this apparent misconception.
Is It Ever OK?
Yes. Freelancing means freedom to choose – choose where to work, when to work, how much to charge, and who to work for. Many freelance writers, designers, video editors, and others exchange work with one another. Frequently, writing a couple of posts at no charge for a favorite charity or a high authority website does pay off. The difference is that you approach them and offer to freely share your talents, time, and knowledge. You may actually end up getting new business because of your generosity, but you may not. If you choose to share your awesome talent free of charge, do it with a joyful heart, expecting nothing in return. That’s when the real payoff begins.
Cool popart graphic courtesy of Michel Balasis: Michel Balasis is a Pop Artist from Chicago. For artwork and information please visit www.mbpopart.com