If you happened upon a free lance in days of yore, you would be hiring a mercenary or running away from him and I don’t suppose either way you’d mess with him and his big pointy stick. These days a freelancer is still self-employed but the pointy stick has been replaced by gentler tools of the trade, and perhaps that big pointy stick should have been held in reserve.
Freelance is becoming a dirty word, and all because of the “free” bit.
When you are self-employed it’s not all about sitting around waiting for the work to arrive, sometimes you have to go out there to find the commissions. After all, you have the experience, the qualifications and have put in the hours honing your craft, but your potential clients won’t know that unless you let them know you exist. And occasionally this involves having a peek around to see what’s available.
Pootling around the internet it’s amazing how many “job adverts” there are, often on reputable sites. You see a fantastic freelance post, click to the description page and then get all excited by the prospect of something that you know you would love to get your teeth into… you see the requirements…
subject knowledge √
… a job description as long as your arm √
… then the kicker word…voluntary!
Now if I came up to you as your manager (yes, I was a manager once) and said you were doing a great job… oh, by the way, there’s a job you’d be brilliant for… but btw you wont get paid. Would you do it? Hell no!
If you went to work tomorrow, completed your job to the best of your ability then didn’t get paid a decent wage would you be hacked off… hell yes.
If you didn’t get paid for three months would you be annoyed? Uh-huh.
Strange isn’t it, but being asked to work for free regularly happens when you’re freelance.
I’m very fortunate; all my clients so far have been wonderful. Occasionally there’s been a slight blip in cash-flow but this has usually been down to interdepartmental lack of communication. But for many freelancers this is not the case.
Most freelancers don’t mind the odd bit of voluntary work (or giving a freebie now and then), in fact I regularly create an e-zine for an Association I’m a member of, and until a few months ago produced their monthly newsletter (after five years I decided that someone else would benefit from the experience) but… and it’s a big BUT… these voluntary posts don’t eat away much of my time. Voluntary work can be a form of professional and personal development if it’s a subject you love, however most voluntary roles are less time intensive than the freelancer’s day job and should probably be seen as recreational. If the voluntary post being advertised has a job description long enough for an Andrex puppy to happily play with (other toilet rolls are available), or hours that mention part-time or full-time, this is not acceptable for the majority of qualified, professional freelancers.
By hiring a freelancer you are hiring someone with expertise, qualifications, and knowledge, more often than not gained from numerous self-funded courses and a degree or two. Most importantly you are hiring a professional, who pays their own way.
So a few tips…
When coming into contact with a freelancer…
Above all remember that what you ask the freelancer to do is usually their day job, they need to eat and pay their bills the same as anyone else.
If you are a freelancer…
So… Freelance or…
Self-employed, pen-for-hire, consultant, independent adviser, temporary colleague, independent professional, professional without portfolio?
I like the medieval picture, it was said the pen was mightier than the sword, but a prod every now and then in the right direction can be good for the soul… and the bank balance.