We’re all vastly familiar with the overused adage—“I’m still stuck at work.”

It can be used for anything pertaining to family and friends—dinners, parties, meetups, your 7-a-side midweek footy team where everyone in the Whatsapp group starts dropping like flies the closer it gets to kickoff...where you have a sneaking suspicion it’s all BS because they have decided they can’t simply be arsed playing in torrential rain.

Either way, it's a saying that resonates with us, and dare I say haunts us too. Everyone knows what it means. I’ve got an anxiety-provoking image right now of a by-the-clock employee chained to their cubicle as their superiors keep passing by and dumping more and more tasks on them…lying to their face that it really will be that “one last thing” before they go.

By 8pm…hell 9pm…they’re still at the office. The cat at home still awaits to get fed.

This is why we all fantasise about the freelance life

The four hour workweek, the financial fortitude, the pure unfathomable freedom. We call the shots, we run our own schedules, we don’t take no sh*t from nobody!


This silence is speaking volume, folks. C’mon, please tell me all of us have high paying clients who dance to our tune and would never consider messaging us after 5pm without sending an apology card, a box of chocolates, and a bottle of booze the day after? 

Right? Okay, ‘nuff patronising now. 

The truth is, the above scenario is an explicitly rare position to be in as a freelancer—and if you do find yourself in it, it is most definitely at the latter stages of your career when you have built up one hell of a reputation and CV…certainly not when starting out or even when half-decently established as sole-trader.

Client handling is your most important skill as a freelancer 

Yes, our core offerings and skillsets are obviously what allows us to earn a living being self-employed, but I’m gunna go one step further and I say our skills are futile unless we know how to protect them.

I can think of nothing worse than my work (which is a love and passion of mine—and I’m super grateful for that), becoming a job that I just have to slog through as I wait desperately for the clock to strike 5. 

To not have time in the day where I believe I am most valuable to my clients—researching and thinking for them—is of great concern to me, where instead I simply open my laptop, take a swig of my morning brew, and start bashing away at my keyboard like I’m hammering up some drywall. 

The above is not why I became a copywriter. Millions do this everyday around the world in every office imaginable—it’s called writing emails. 

Handling clients and protecting our values as creatives is a career-long skill we will always be honing. None of us will ever master it, because clients are human too

A dream client turned dreaded client…

Recently, I secured a dream client. 

I’m working as a writer for an online football computer game—writing in-game commentary both in text and voice form. Hearing the clips of their voiceover actors recording my words never stops thrilling me. I’m waking up to them at this point. It is awesome!

I went through a pretty arduous application process to get it, to show off not just my understanding of the job, brief, and coding, but also my writing chops and keen knowledge of footballing language. It’s a wonderful project for me in terms of a portfolio piece, and I’m sure it will lead to many other opportunities down the line in the gaming world. I’m genuinely buzzing….(well, I was). 

They are also a ‘great group of lads,’ as is the vernacular used by many managers in the game. Believe there are about 4-5 of them running their gaming startup based out of Krakow, and they are all about my age, have a great sense of humour, and are football daft. Plus, the wage is pretty decent and they pay so quickly through Paypal…even paying for the transaction fee so I’m never out of pocket. I just cannot commend them enough—and have told them this.

I’ve even been sent a lovely message from the boss himself about my work…about how my personality is beaming through the commentaries I’m writing and what I’m bringing to the English version of the game. The game is currently in 5 other languages, and the English launch is the mothership. They already have 600K users around the world. It’s a big deal for me. 


They are starting to take over my life. 

Every new task is dumped on my lap when I’m 90% finished with the prior one. Every task is more important than the last one. Every task is needed asap, or the latest, end of the week. They message me late at night and on weekends like they are my chummy mates checking in and asking questions about which pub we are meeting at before the concert on Saturday night. I’m actually waiting for one of them to text me an ultrasound pic of their firstborn soon. “Hey Al, look, what have I gone and done eh?”

It’s not okay.

A barrier has been crossed here between client and supplier and I’ve totally let it happen. This ain’t like any other job so the lines got a bit blurry, I must admit. 

And lastly, because of all this, the early novelty of the gig has very quickly worn off and it legitimately feels like an office job now. I’m just bashing out words, not even thinking about what I’m writing. My typing speed has definitely gone up a notch and there is definitely a chance I could be a court stenographer in the future. 

Is this my fault out of sheer naivety? Is this their fault out of sheer ignorance? Have I let them take advantage of just how nice I am, and, well, dare I say, just what a joy I am to work with? 

I take my friendliness with clients super seriously. I want them to have a blast working with me—it’s part of my personal mission statement if you will. It’s in my blood. Not only do you get my down-the-pub wit and charm, but you also get my talent of me being able to put all that down in words for your business. The way I charm my friends and family, is the way I charm my clients’ customers (or in this case…game players). People really like my work and my written humour is a skill I hold dearly. I even have a piss-take CV I use with the right client who works for a funky brand. It makes people laugh.

It’s almost like…because these guys take care of me so well—and they do—they feel they can be really demanding and know they are a rare client to a guy like me. They fell from the stars and landed right in my lap. They have me in the palm of their hand. 

Luckily for me, there’s been a break in work recently. They have gone back to the development team to work out more kinks and caveats in the gameplay, and will be getting back in touch soon when they’ve worked things out.

At that point, I’m ready to say something. I’m ready to put my foot down and get my diary back. I was working weekends for other clients when I was in deep with them before.

So, my question is, reader of this article…what would you do when they get back in touch? 

Remember, I gotta play it cool…I don’t want to lose them. 

Click below to get involved in the discussion. 

1st: Pavel Danilyuk
2nd: Andrea Piacquadio
3rd: Hitesh Choudary