by Pip Harry
01 April 2016
Some editors and clients are golden. They send fleshed out briefs, give judicious, constructive feedback and have a thorough understanding of the sacred and time-honoured client-contractor relationship. Others, however, will treat you like a full-time employee, with none of the associated holiday pay and Christmas bonuses.
When your editor or client thinks you’re at their 24/7 disposal, has zero boundaries and texts you at 10.44pm on a Sunday to make a few alts and adds to your work, then you really have to get out your own red pen and draw the line at behaviours that are getting in the way of happily ever after. Some would say it’s flattering that they consider you part of their in-house family. And, yes, they’re helping to pay your mortgage/phone bills/holiday to Mauritius, but in order to keep your rockstar freelance lifestyle ticking along smoothly, it’s time to push back on your turf.
Here’s some ‘I’ statements to help establish your professional role.
No decent freelancer minds doing minor re-writes and tweaks to ensure a story is hitting the mark. That’s part of our job. We do object to being asked to completely re-write a feature because the editor decided to change the angle, deviate wildly from the brief or add more experts, interviews and breakouts at the last minute. This is especially true if the finished work was sent to and approved by them personally three months ago, and they’re only just getting around to reading it now.
If freelancers wanted to sign lengthy, legally-binding employment contracts with companies, they’d be on permanent staff, right? Being freelance should mean we have some control over our work and where it ends up being used.
Many freelancers include the odd photo collect as part of the deal. It’s no biggie when it’s a couple of shots and you’re talking to the talent anyway. But when you’re asked to do the job of a photo editor and research, collate, select and send dozens of high res shots (for free) then you’re eating into valuable pitching or writing time. Same goes for coming into the office to help the team brainstorm feature ideas, coughing up contact lists and sending full 60 minute transcripts for 300 word stories.
Yes, we wrote a newsworthy article for you, that everyone now wants to talk about in the media, but that doesn’t mean we’re also available to conduct a live late night webchat, pre-record regional radio interviews on the weekend or make a perky appearance on breakfast television. Unless, you plan to pay us in more than exposure…? Didn’t think so.
I’m working in my snoopy PJ’s on the couch, and juggling several other deadlines, so I’m not available for daily project updates via Skype, weekly WIP updates and regular face-to-face meetings to ‘touch base.’ I love our close relationship, but I don’t want to feel your breath on the back of my neck. I escaped the office for a reason: personal space.
Have you been in this position where an editor or a client crossed the line and treated you more like a full-time employee? How did you handle it?