Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Freelance isn't free

The other day I was hanging out on one of my many designer forums, and a regular on the forum posted a rant about a potential client who had contacted him about his services, gushed over his portfolio, and said that they'd LOVE to work with him. Sounds pretty good, right?

The problem was the next sentence in the e-mail, which read:

"Just so you know, this is a freelance position, so it will not be paid. But after this is done, we will need other materials, such as brochures and websites and flyers, and if all goes well, we will be able to pay you for those.

Now, mind, I could have some strong words to say here, but I won't go there. What I will say is that this is one of the reasons that I personally, even when the zen kitchen was just me, have strategically avoided using the word "freelance" to describe what I do.

It's that word "free," you see. It has so many connotations to it - from the idea of a freelancer being someone who lacks commitment to your business (which anyone who knows me will tell you is not the case), to the idea of a freelancer being someone who will work - well - for free. Not all clients believe this, mind you - I have several clients that I occasionally do freelance for, and they respect my work and my time, and pay me well for it - but there are enough naive clients out there that do, in fact, believe that they can get work for free from designers (and enough poor unsuspecting designers who actually WILL work for free on the vague promise of more work down the road) that being a freelancer is a ticket to being taken less seriously.

So what do you call yourself, if not a freelancer? I'm an independent designer, or I run my own design studio, or I'm a zen warrior princess. You choose.

1 comment:

dan said...

I'm thinking we should change our title to 'Paidlancer' just so it's clear what we expect from our labours.

Increasingly now I tell the [crappier] companies that I would love to be altruistic and work for nothing, but like them I have rent to pay, bills to cover, food to buy etc..

Nice article and sadly all too true.