Sarah Henderson is a freelance copywriter and proofreader with 8 years’ experience. Having worked in PR and marketing on both the client and agency side, Sarah made the leap to being freelance at the start of 2016.
I was asked to work for free by a potential client, on the basis that it was a trial piece to see if they liked my style of writing.
Having joined a freelancing website as a newcomer to the industry, I began applying for copywriting jobs. When liaising with a potential client about creating content for their website, I informed them of my hourly rate, only to be told that this was a trial piece.
The client wanted the work for free, telling me that if they were happy with the piece, I would be paid for future work. Other freelancers had warned me about this practice; businesses ‘auditioning’ several copywriters to have their whole website written for free, so I was reluctant to work on the vague promise of securing a role.
I informed the prospect that they could find samples of my work in my portfolio, and that I would need to be paid for my time. As expected, I didn’t hear from the client after this, so I didn’t lose any sleep over the ‘opportunity’!
As working for free goes against the policy of the freelance platform I was using, I also reported the client to the site’s helpdesk, to ensure other freelancers don’t get exploited by the business in question.
This was an early reminder that not all clients are willing to pay, so you should feel confident talking about money upfront. It’s not bad manners, it’s sound business sense.
Knowing and stating our worth may go against our instincts as Brits, but it’s important to feel comfortable talking about your talent. Don’t undersell your services when negotiating with clients – even as a newcomer to the freelance world!