There’s a lot been said over the years about fair dealings and fair prices for freelance work. But rather than getting better it seems to be getting worse. For a variety of reasons, which I won’t go into here, prices offered for a lot of work have not changed in years. In fact, in some areas, prices offered fall way below those of five years ago, despite the rising cost of living.
Over the past few years I’ve occasionally had quotes rejected for being too high, and I’ve rejected work because of budgets being too low. Some work has even morphed once the budget has been realistically set, and I’ve ended up working for less than the minimum wage. I’ve routinely worked weekends to meet a client’s sliding deadline, I’ve even on the odd occasion worked 16 hour days to accommodate the same (believe me, this is NOT a good idea, the optimum daily input is a five-hour day) and I have also worked over the festive season and holidays, to the detriment of family life. Quite frankly the whole thing can be a monster – sometimes I’d be better off working in a supermarket (no, I’m not lying, and that is not to belittle to those who work in supermarkets, they do a very important job, but for low wages).
Freelancers understand the restraints put upon clients in the form of low budget allowances for a project, but somewhere along the line I think some clients may have also forgotten the training and time it takes to do a professional job.
It has to be understood that you get what you pay for, and clients will not get a full-on all-singing-all- dancing level of work unless they pay for it.
A low budget (but not too low) may get you a quick edit/proofread; checking for bad grammar, typos, and making sure the text is readable. It will be a quick run through, but it’s better than nothing.
A reasonable budget will get you a better edit; more time can be taken, language, form and clarity can be addressed and ambiguous text can be sorted out.
A great budget will get you great edit. Even more time can be used to sort out the text, working with the author in more detail to address issues.
An excellent budget… well, you get my drift!
This isn’t to say that a low budget won’t get you a professional service, but the client can’t expect a full-on sparkly get-everything-you-want edit if realistically they are only paying for an entry level edit.
It’s very difficult trying to explain to potential clients exactly what their budget will get them when their pockets are empty but they expect the best of the best edits. We do this for the love of the craft and hate to see someone disappointed, but at the end of the day we run a business. That has to be understood, both by ourselves and our clients.
I know this sounds harsh, but as freelancers we have to eat. Our time is valuable. In most cases a lot of training and expertise has led to a freelance career, and this all costs, both in years and in currency. In the traditional workplace many of us were managers and specialists, in the freelance area many of us are seen as little more than office juniors.
That’s not to say that those with a low budget won’t find someone to carry out their work, but there is a saying:
Pay peanuts and you’ll get a monkey.
This year I have purposely added some time off to my schedule. The festive season began for me on Monday and will flow through until the New Year, which means I will not be blogging for the next couple of weeks. Instead I will probably be drinking G&Ts in front of the telly with my feet up – Bliss.
If you are a freelancer I hope you have a stress-free and work-free holiday. If you are in a traditional work environment, try not to eat too many mince pies at the works party!
See you in 2015.