20/09/2012

Freelance Rant: Show Me the Money

Just one of those days.

One of those days when I sip my peppermint tea in front of my PC, barely able to concentrate on the exciting and fabulous piece I am writing, so I interrupt my work to rant my heart out on my blog. Lately a certain inconvenience has not only put a big, black, angry pollution cloud on my beautiful, bright-blue London sky, but also made me ask myself if it's time to a) go back to nine-to-five, or b) stop taking on a certain type of clients.

When I gave up my office job as a fashion web editor to be a freelance writer, not only did I knowingly choose to miss out on a monthly paycheck, benefits, paid holiday and Fashion Week, I also exposed myself to a  common offence among self-employed professionals: the Late Payment.






Freelancers out there are probably nodding knowingly while they read this. You know the drill: you send out an invoice with due date on it. In big, fat, black writing, so that it's harder to miss than that guy with the ten-inch hot-pink mohawk that just walked down the street. You tell your client that it's crucial that the invoice is paid on time. They smile sweetly and assure you that it will all be okay. They're a responsible company. They have worked with freelancers before. Don't you worry.

Forward to ten days after due date. You have to pay rent this week. You're eating old lentils with questionable sauce. You're working on new projects for that same "we're so serious about this" client. You lie to your friends that you're "busy" and can't go out, while the miserable, throw-something-at-the-wall-outrageous truth is that you can't afford to get a drink on a goddamn Friday night because you haven't yet received the money that you're entitled to, that you worked your H&M-jeans-clad behind off for.

This has happened to me so many times that I have learned to be cautious, to stash away money for "emergencies" (oddly, the only cash-related emergency to ever arise in my everyday life is not being paid on time by clients), to count in that if my invoice is due on the 12th, then the money will appear by the 25th if I'm lucky. And I've had enough of this.



I wonder if Carrie had these problems?


Now, luckily not all of my clients act this way. Quite the contrary, most of them are perfect with payments. But there's this one type of client (I won't tell you what kind because I do not want to generalise, even if it's hard not to) that makes me go through hell and back every time I work for them, just to give me the money they've agreed to pay me. And hint, hint: they're not small companies. They're not "start-ups". It's not about not being able to pay. I suspect it's simply about not taking freelance professionals seriously. It's about thinking we do nothing except "hang out" and drink frappuccinos at trendy cafés all day. Well, I haven't seen the inside of a Costa since I got here. I've been writing my butt off as usual, and that butt's currently parked on a plastic garden chair in my bedroom in my flatshare, as I'm waiting for a paycheck to come through so I can buy a proper office chair. And, by the way, while I absolutely love it, writing is a profession, as authentic as any other. It's not just a "passion". We're doing it to pay the bills, not just for the sheer joy of our hearts.

This, of course, is perfect breeding ground for doubts: what can I do about this, except being prepared for a payment to come in late? And is it right that I have to be prepared? Why should I be professional, handing in my assignments on time, if this is the level of respect and value that my client has for me and my work? Was there maybe something lovely to the whole notion of working in a context where my pay was in my account on the 30th of every month? Did the "free" in "freelance" get misinterpreted somwhere along the way?





And now, as I'm so irked I can't focus, I've just gone onto this pretty, popular fashion blogger's site, just to see her describe a fashion show she saw from the front row as "the shoes are very pretty", which made me question the whole sense of busting our butts to be good writers. I'm wondering if I should have followed my mum's advice and become an interpreter. I'm pretty sure the UN doesn't do late payments.


all pictures from Pinterest, clip from YouTube

7 comments:

  1. Viviamo in un momento storico complicato e chi ci va di sotto sono sempre le persone sbagliate. La disonestà è sempre esistita, ma oggi si unisce alle difficoltà economiche mondiali. E di certo non saranno i grandi colossi a fallire, ma i singoli individui, le singole famiglie.

    Scegliere di diventare freelance al giorno d'oggi è una scelta di coraggio: completamente sola affronti la quotidianità, facendoti forza con la passione e il talento. Ma c'è chi approfitta del tuo coraggio e della tua caparbietà per metterti i piedi in testa. "Tanto può affrontare qualunque cosa"; "ha scelto lei la strada più impervia".

    Sono situazioni che generano rabbia e privano della speranza. Ti logorano dentro e ti rendono rancorosa. Ti spezzano le gambe. Perché il merito, la volontà, la forza, le capacità, tutto ciò che giorno dopo giorno, pezzo dopo pezzo, metti in gioco nel tuo lavoro, viene sottovalutato e messo da parte. E non ti viene riconosciuto niente. Non dico "meno", ma niente.

    Continua ad arrabbiarti, perché almeno la rabbia genera movimento. L'apatia, l'attesa, rimanere fermi al proprio posto senza alzare un dito, tutto questo farà in modo che chi sta sopra di te possa continuare a credere di avere il diritto di metterti i piedi in testa, di schiavizzarti. E non è giusto. No che non è giusto!

    http://almenounmilionediscale.blogspot.it/

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    Replies
    1. Grazie mille Alessandra! Mi é piaciuto molto questo commento.

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    2. Io mi incazzerei da bestia se non vedessi i miei fottuti soldi arrivare tra il subito e l'immediatamente.

      Ed è anche per quello che ho smesso di fare qualsiasi tipo di lavoretto per chiunque. Sia che vada dal mettere a posto un pc, sia che si tratti di stilare una relazioncina per qualcuno.
      Anche perchè perdo tempo, pazienza e per di più mi tocca faticare. No, col cazzo. Piuttosto sto a casa a grattarmi le balle, rende uguale.

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    3. È proprio cosí che mi sono sentita! C'è sempre qualche scusa per non pagare, è assurdo!

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  2. Purtroppo non ho consigli da darti, dato che sono una dipendente di una multinazionale ma ho constatato anche io che certe volte le grandi aziende si comportano davvero male e poco professionalmente. Non penso che ti considerino poco seriamente perchè sei freelance, ma usano una certa arroganza nel gestire il rapporto con te perchè loro sono grandi aziende. Essendo grossi credono di avere ragione, sempre. Lo fanno con i dipendenti, lo fanno con gli esterni. Io ti dico: non mollare!

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  3. How frustrating! The down side to being freelance. But it shouldn't be like that! I live reading your blog, your such an amazing writer. I think you we're right to choose writin over interpreting! :) xo

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Alex! I love my job and I love the challenges it brings me. But sometimes it's just so frustrating to know that there's a difference in being taken seriously as an employee and as a freelancer. And I can't stand that. As you said, that's not how it should be!

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