Most of my friends think I wake up at noon, tinker on the laptop for an hour before sauntering down to my local cafe for a Skinny Cappuccino. They are of the mind that the most stressful part of my day is when a splash of Almond milk finds its way onto my copy of Stylist magazine. When I tell them I clocked in over 80 hours this week and haven’t had a weekend since last year, I am met with a raised eyebrow.

I work hard. My freelance friends work hard. It’s not easy earning respect from my 9 to 5 friends let alone clients who seem to think a creative person is a hobbyist with too much free time. Here are some of the worst things people have said to me about my freelance life.

“We’ll aim to get you paid by the end of the week.”

Ok. But the work has been completed - hence the invoice! It is extremely frustrating when a freelancer has spent time and effort on a project, only to be told that the client is ‘aiming’ to pay it at the end of the week. I am not an afterthought to be paid if you happen to stumble across my invoice in a couple of weeks!

Stressed at work

“This is a performance-based role.”

There is no such thing as a ‘performance bad role’. Clients often assume that because a freelancer works for multiple clients they can survive without being paid on time. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Just like any other job on the planet, you can’t just ‘wait and see’ how things turn out before you pay the employee, and like everything else in the working world, risks are involved when hiring someone new.

“We don’t currently have a budget for this project but it will look great on your portfolio!”

Well, then you don’t currently have the means to work with someone who is self-employed. This audacious statement is damaging regardless if it is coming from a start-up or a huge international fashion publication - you know who you are! If you don’t have the budget for a project, you can either do it yourself or apply for funding.

Man with laptop

"This project isn’t paid but, do a good job, and the next one might be."

Oh, thank you. Now that I’m super motivated, I can’t wait to find out if you plan on paying me for further exploitation down the road. We have bills. Pay us!

“You’re asking for too much money.”

As freelancers we run our own businesses, meaning that we have to account for all of our own expenses, holidays, sick pay and medical fees. We also have to spend time and money to complete a project that you probably don’t realise such as research, location scouting, extra kit or post-production. In addition, most freelancers have specialised skills that they have been developing for years and are well worth what they are asking for. In addition, a lot of clients only see the end result. It is important to remember that negotiation is part of the game but that not all jobs are worth saying ‘yes’ to.

Self employed

“You’re living the dream!”

Thank you but no. I really am not. Just like those in full-time employment, sometimes I love my job, other times I hate it. Sometimes I can start work at 11a.m and meet friends for dinner in the evenings, other times I work from the crack of dawn to midnight, trying to meet multiple deadlines. We work really hard to run our business - that’s right, we run a business. Not a Fortune 500 with 100s of employees but a business with multiple clients, accounts, taxes, admin, marketing tasks, customer service issues, a need for constant new business and everything else it takes to be a success in business.

Although a massive perk of freelancing is the work-life balance, it’s rare we get any life for the first couple of years! Not to mention, most of the time we are looking for work, promoting our service, doing admin or stressing out. We do lots of work that we don’t want to do but have to do to keep afloat. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but recognise it’s not all sweetness and light. Am I in control? Yes. Can I always choose when to work? No.

“Could you edit this part of your work? In fact, let’s just change the whole thing.”

Freelancers are not at your disposal and shouldn’t be expected to heavily edit their work for no extra cost - remember, they are running their own business and therefore their time is highly valuable. Not everything can be fixed in editing and we don’t like rushing work just to save you time. It costs us more in the edit and you’re probably not paying me for it! Before hiring a freelancer, clients should have a clear vision and brief for the project as well as an agreed amount of editing time.

freelancer worker

“It’s entirely up to you!”

Although freelancers come with their own creative ideas and pitches, it can be frustrating when a client gives us ‘free rein’ over a project. This makes me super uncertain as to what is expected of me and good clients should know their own brands well enough to create a clear brief.

Freelancers are incredible but mind readers we are not. A clearly outlined brief with as much info as possible please! Even if you show us an example of what you like and what you don’t, it’s better than nothing. Feedback such as ‘I just don’t like it. Just make it better’ is useless. Be constructive, provide direction and we’ll deliver. It’s almost, but not quite, as frustrating as the response ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’

“This should be a quick job.”

Some freelancers take much longer to complete a project than expected which is understandably frustrating. However, as we do what we do for a living, we have a much clearer idea of how long a project will take. We also have to fit new work in with our existing work.