A few weeks ago, a read an article about freelancers and how some industries treat freelancers. I decided to write something about it today.
I’m not going to talk about the discipline needed to do this type of job, because, since I have already addressed that in my previous article. I would like to talk about other aspects of being a freelancer.
In the article, I read that in some industries you are expected to do “test jobs” and produce work for free. Although I have never done it for free, I know some agencies require translators to do “test” translations, when they start working with them. I also know, that some want these jobs to be done for free or at a highly discounted price. Others pay the fair price for these jobs. I have done a test translation to an agency once, and it was paid at my normal rate. In fact, this particular client never asked me to do the job for free nor even at discounted price, promptly accepted my quote and paid for the service at the agreed time. It was a very good experience, but I’m aware some colleagues may have different stories to tell.
I think it is something that shows disrespect for the freelancer and for their work. If we don’t go to a doctor and ask for a “test” consultation for free or at a discounted price before deciding to be their patient, why would we think is acceptable to do it to a freelancer?
This may be due to the perception people may have of our work. In my particular case, I had people telling me this is not a job, is a hobby, I’m at home and this is a hobby to pass my time, and even other more unsavory comments that I prefer not to mention here. So if it’s a hobby, I suppose it’s acceptable to ask for some work for free, it’s just to pass the time right? Well, it isn’t. Being a freelancer is a job like any other, we work for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we don’t work very hard or that we are just passing our time.
When we are not working on paid projects, we still need to work. There’s all sorts of things we need to do in background, in order to make ourselves and our businesses known. These can be networking events with other colleagues in the industry, or webinars and courses, as a part of our professional development, writing articles, so people know who we are and what we do. These are unpaid jobs, some are even expenses we incur, like professional development events, but they are all very important for us, and more importantly, they are all work.
What I find remarkable is that in the 21th century, where a lot of people work from home and we are moving towards home offices, so companies cut costs in rent and others expenses, people still have these ideas of freelancers.