Freelancers Have Bills To Pay, Too.

May 10, 2017

photo credit: banks_blog | found on pinterest.


It's been a long while since I've actually sat down and written something for my own personal blog. Partially because I have too much to say but mostly because I've been spending a lot of time working on projects for other people.

As most of you know, I like to work for myself (to some degree) and I prefer to work out of the comfort of my own home. No, that doesn't mean I'm too lazy to get up and get a "real job." This is not some ploy to have the luxury of rolling out of bed at noon every day. Actually, many of my days have to start at 6 AM to actually get all the work done in the day. I live in my workplace. I have a constant visual reminder right inside my home of all the work I have to get done. Even when I'm not "working", I'm working.

That's the secret life of most freelancers. Our days are long and often we don't know when they're going to end. No, it's not a 9 to 5, it's more of a 6 am to whenever-the-hell-you're-done. Many Most of us aren't lucky enough to get paid per hour. We are paid per word, per project, etc. That being said, a project could take you a couple hours to a couple weeks. It could take you a few hours to write a couple thousand words on a regular day, but there's no guarantee that you won't have writer's block this morning. So that few hours can very easily turn into a few days... and your paycheck... well, it's the same regardless of how long it took you.

I have to say, I've been fortunate enough to turn my "talents" and "hobbies" into a way to put food in my mouth. From being a 'picture-taker' to a writer to a blogger and (occasionally) beating faces. (This is a makeup term, I'm not out here punching people.) From the tender age of 12, when I started babysitting (and continued doing so for about 6 years after) I realized that I liked to have the flexibility to work when and where I am comfortable.

From the time I was a babysitter, I realized that people had a hard time understanding the concept of paying for services. They had no problem asking me to provide said services, of course. However, it would often be weeks (or even months) before I would see a single sign of payment. Now, I was a shy kid, so when a parent wouldn't pay me for watching their bad ass kid, I was often too scared to ask for my money. I knew I deserved my money, I watched the kid (and usually cleaned their houses as well.) But for some reason, it used to always 'slip the mind' of these full-grown adults to pay their 12-year-old babysitter the $5/hour they owed. (For watching their $30/hour ass kid.)

This didn't change as I got older. If anything, it got worse. The worst part about starting out anything on your own is that the people in your life think they get a 100% discount just because they know you. "You should take pictures of me." "Wanna do my makeup?" As if your camera and editing software and makeup are free. It's an interesting concept because as friends and family, they should want to support you and help you grow. They wouldn't dare ask another photographer or makeup artist to provide their services free of charge, but that's okay with you because they know you? Nah.

It's probably even worse when they try to pretend they are doing you a favour by offering you "exposure." Yeah, because exposure pays the bills. Please tell me how telling your 15 Instagram followers that I took your photos helps me gain exposure? Girl, bye.

I started to be firm on the fact that I need to be paid for my services. And that's when they start to try and bargain with you. "Lashes are an extra $20." "How about $10?" Honey, these lashes cost $20. They are not my lashes. I'm not about to let you hold a 10 for lashes you want to wear. You're lucky I ain't charging your ass for application and glue. "I charge $75/hour." "How about $75 for 4 hours?" (Yes, this has really been said to me.)

What people don't understand is that there is more work put into freelancing than just showing up. Take photography, for example. For one, photography equipment is expensive as hell. So, you want me to show up to your event (which is anywhere from 5 minutes to 2-3 hours from where I live) and bring all my expensive ass equipment to take your photos for an hour or so. I will then haul my ass home to sit in front of my computer to edit. Convert the photos from RAW to JPEG, adjust the lighting and contrast because the weather wasn't as nice as we hoped, photoshop out the grass stain on your dress... to capture your day. This can take hours and more likely days.

Then you will have clients who will police you on your work, "I could've sworn we took more pictures than this, is that all of them?" No, Karen, that's not all of them - I took 200 pictures and yes, you are only going to get 25 because I hate to break it to you, but not every picture is perfect. Also, what do you need 200 different pictures of your 1-year-old for?

Now, I know there are some freelancers out there that will offer services for unbelievably low prices. However, the average freelancer will not charge you high prices for low quality work. (Portfolios exist, people.) Freelancers do not live off of 5-star Facebook reviews and exposure. Your pat on the back doesn't pay my internet bill. That "warm-fuzzy feeling" doesn't pay off our debt. While they are much appreciated, these things don't put gas in my vehicle or feed my family. And taking ten years to process a payment for services you requested and agreed to pay for is interfering with our livelihood.

And of course, there are many people who blame freelancers for this. "Well, maybe if you got a real job..." "You chose this lifestyle..." Wrong. First of all, kiss my very real ass. And second, the capitalist idea that if you don't work a "conventional" 9-5/desk job, you don't deserve to be paid is ludicrous. Demanding honest pay for honest work isn't wrong. Pay your photographers. Pay your writers. Pay your graphic designers. Pay your models. Pay your stylists. Pay your makeup artists. Pay your musicians and DJs. Pay your babysitters/child care providers. Pay your cleaners. Pay your dog-walkers. Pay your workers. Pay your freelancers. Pay people for the work they do for you. Don't make them have to "remind" you or ask/beg for the money they deserve. Don't make them quite literally chase paper that they earned. They have bills to pay too.

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