“We teach people how to treat us” is a popular quote frequently seen on Social Media posts.
As a freelancer, how have you taught your clients to treat you?
Are you respected for your skills, your work ethic, your qualifications, your experience and remunerated appropriately?
Do you have boundaries in place to protect your time?
Or are you at the mercy of demanding, ungrateful and disrespectful clients who do not value what you offer?
Very few freelancers enjoy the freedom that the name indicates. We work long hours and have little free time or resources to enjoy the lifestyle we imagined that would accompany working for ourselves.
It is time to change the term Freelancer to Contracted Professional Service Provider.
You don't hear Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Hairdressers, Plumber, Electricians etc call themselves Freelancers.
Traditionally professionals in the creative arts disciplines and solo-preneurs use the term freelancer when they are providing equivalent services.
Whether you are a journalist, graphic designer, writer, editor, media producer, artist, software developer, web designer, or social media manager, Coach, Trainer or solo business consultant, you are providing a professional service using your time and resources in order to earn an income. You have acquired education, skills and experience all of which have a financial cost.
I can hear the kickback in my head from the freelancing community as I write this article.
“If we don’t take on the project even with unsustainable rates, do product trade exchanges as payment, or, the traditional carrot of how much exposure we are promised, there are thousands of people who are willing to do this.”
“Clients don’t give us a proper brief and don’t want to pay us for the additional scope.”
“Deadlines are unrealistic due to the client being dis-organised. Content is not provided timeously, scheduled meetings are cancelled and it is a crazy panic at the last minute. This is why I have to pull so many all-nighters.”
“Payment for work is delayed due to “admin problems”.
“Constant phone calls, WhatsApp messages, e-mails from the client disrupt our working time. We are expected to be at their beck and call.”
Yes, Freelancers teach clients how to treat them as badly as possible. My hand shoots up. Guilty, guilty, guilty.
The rates we charge and how we provide our services should be equated to what we would earn if we were a full time employee. I have written an article where you can see what you should be including when calculating your rates and steps to take when engaging with a new client.
Compare the way your clients treat you to the way you are treated by your doctor, lawyer, accountant, plumber, electrician. Who is in charge?
- Try phoning your doctor without an appointment and picking their brain for 20 minutes at no cost or getting a script written. Make an appointment you are told. Ditto your dentist, hair dresser, nail tech.
- With your lawyer or accountant the clock starts as they greet you.
- Plumbers and electricians usually charge a call-out fee which may or may not be deducted from the final quote depending on their terms and conditions.
All of these professionals know and understand that time = money = food on the table,school fees paid, petrol in the car and the occasional holiday.
What are we freelancers so afraid of that we allow ourselves to be treated with such disrespect? Why do we choose poor paying work with delayed payment terms, instead of using that time to market ourselves professionally and finding clients who will treat us properly? Passion does not pay the bills.
We need to learn to value ourselves, what we do and stop letting clients walk all over us.
As of today I will no longer use the term “freelancer” to describe myself. I am a professional business consultant with more than 40 years of diverse business experience, a range of appropriate qualifications and a lifelong learner.
What about you?