11 Dec

In defence of freelancers: a rant

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but … one or two things have crept in, in the last two months, that I noticed in my early days as That Writing Chap, but hadn’t seen for a while, so I’m going to have a bit of a rant.

This post is in defence of other freelancers, who I know come across similar client issues, but I will only refer to myself/copywriting – no need to get others into trouble.

A couple of points:

*The things I mention are not typical of most clients, who are – in the main – a joy to work with.

*This post is risky and may put some clients off working with me, but I make no apologies for that. If you’re put off by the points I make, below (particularly 2, 4, and 5), then it’s likely that we wouldn’t work well together.


1. My rates are my rates: simple. They don’t change – they are what they are: £30 p/h, £200 p/d.
Calling me ‘expensive’ or sucking air over your teeth will not make a blind bit of difference to my rates.
You wouldn’t go to the till at B & Q with an £11.99 tin of paint and ask if you could have it for £10.99, would you? Same rules apply to my rates.
I didn’t pluck them out of thin air, they’re based on an industry standard.
In fact, the hourly rates for a freelance copywriter are between £30 – £100p/h, so I’m actually quite ‘cheap’.
I’d politely suggest that if you can’t afford the lower end of the ladder, then perhaps you’re not in a position to hire a copywriter yet.
You can, of course, take your chances on websites like Elance or People Per Hour, but you could either get lucky and find a mid-weight copywriter at a good price, or be unlucky and get someone who ‘once wrote a good essay’ and is pretending to be a copywriter.

2. In my Ts & Cs, and on my initial emails, I ask for clients to come back to me about changes to first draft, within seven days of receiving it.
I don’t mind if it’s a few days over this, however… you cannot come back to me in several weeks’ (or, in one case, three months’) time and expect me to have no other clients, and just hop to your amends immediately.
Think about it: imagine being in a sandwich shop, in a line of people waiting to order, and someone comes in who bought a sandwich two months ago, and now wants to change it immediately, skipping the whole queue – how happy are the rest of the people in the queue going to be?

3. Same applies to ‘it’s a small job, can’t you just squeeze it in?’
If I have other clients to service first, then the answer is ‘no’.
I work on clients in chronological order: if they came to me before you, and expect first draft on Wednesday, that’s when they’ll get it. I will not be calling them up to break my promise and to ask ‘can we move that deadline to Thursday morning?’ just because you would like me to ‘squeeze in’ a ‘small job’.
You wouldn’t like it if I did that to you, so I won’t do it to other clients.

4. My invoices are not opt-in schemes. I do what I do for a living, not a hobby. This has only happened to me twice, but you cannot just run away or try to offer a weak reason not to pay the full balance, having previously been happy with all of my work.
I vigorously pursue people who do this – within the bounds of the law – to the point where it would’ve been easier, and cost them less money, to just pay the invoice in the first place.
You wouldn’t go into Tesco, take a bite out of a sandwich (not sure why I’ve reverted to sandwich analogies again…), change your mind, then try to run out without paying, would you? Same rules apply to working with me, or any other freelancer.

5. I did not pop out of the womb with the ability to write copy. I invested time and money; getting a relevant degree, studying a relevant course (copywriting and art direction), going on ‘placements’ at ad agencies, working in agencies, learning about how to write across different media channels/tone of voice/optimisation, making mistakes on live client briefs (to learn never to make them again).
You are paying for that – my experience – not my ability to simply type.

6. Things outside of the writing itself, cannot just ‘be done quickly’. Research (into your field/sector, your competitors, your target audience) is not a case of ‘just Google it’, unless you would like bland, generic copy written about your company, based on my general knowledge of what you do.
Research, optimising your copy, writing captions and image tags (if you have many images on your website), takes time. I charge for this time. It is time in which I cannot work with other clients. I too, have bills to pay, food to eat, clothing etc.
If you think copywriting is just about typing, and I can just ‘rattle stuff out’, then you possibly haven’t hired a copywriter before, or you should just hire a typist.

7. Lastly, please try to understand that I do the best I can for every brief you – the client – present me with, for reasons well outside of just ‘you’re paying me’.
Copywriting is a very fussy thing to do (as with most creative services). Not only do I want to do a good job for my clients, but I also want to do a good job for myself. I don’t want anything out there, with my name to it, that’s substandard. I want to be proud of every piece of work I produce. I want to, if possible, put that work in my portfolio and show it to other clients. I also don’t want unhappy clients who will complain about me to others – who wants that?
I want to do the very best job for everyone I work with. Please work with me, and any freelancer you use, in the same vein.


That Writing Chap

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *