Here’s how (and why)
Hiya, I’m Megan, freelance copywriter and grump, and I’m here today to have a bit of a rant. We all deserve a rant from time to time, right? Especially when there’s a pandemic still going on, and even more so when clients are still making the process of hiring a freelancer way more complicated than it should be.
I can already tell that getting all this out is going to be good for my soul.
In case you haven’t guessed, this post is inspired by those clients who expect freelance copywriters to complete tests (or “just a quick task”s as some like to call them) before being hired. It’s mainly about that, at least.
Before the grumpiness really gets going…
I know this post will make me unpopular with some potential clients (and maybe even some freelancers), but if that’s you, it probably means we’re not a great fit for working together. I wish you well.
I also accept that there are exceptions to my (SPOILER ALERT) “don’t expect freelancers to do a test” rule. I did do the odd test when I was a shiny new copywriter who had no portfolio to prove that I could string words together into coherent sentences, let alone use those words to persuade anyone to do anything. And I get it, there are some pretty shoddy ‘copywriters’ out there. I’ve also done tests more recently when it’s been a case of converting just a couple of lines into a new tone of voice off the cuff, on a call. If a handful of words reassures you and it’s a project I like the sound of, that’s fine.
What I object to is…
Being expected to do a significant amount of work (more than half an hour max) for free. And also the expectation that I’ll put my all into that work when I’m not being paid. Whether you intend to publish or use the work or not, you still need to pay me for the time I spend on your brand.
As many people have pointed out before me, you don’t ask a plumber to fix the sink for free before starting on the rest of the bathroom to make sure he can fix it, do you? Oh God, I really hope you don’t.
What’s my problem?
Many things, probably. But let’s stick to the topic.
For starters, I’m a freelancer. That means you pay me for any work I do. That’s quite simply How. It. Works.
If you don’t pay me for these ‘quick tests’, who’s picking up the cost? After all, they add up when there are lots of brands asking for them.
The answer? Well, if I agreed to do them, I’d have to build that cost into what I charge other clients. Yes, people who aren’t your brand. And that means that if you like what I do in your test and decide to hire me, you’ll be totally OK with me charging you for work I do for other prospective clients (for free), right? Doesn’t sound quite so good that way, does it?
Another problem with freelancer tests…
If you don’t pay me for writing test copy, I promise you won’t get a fair idea of what I could do for your brand. I’ll be rushing it. I’ll be resenting it (I’m only human). And I’ll have all sorts of alarm bells going off in my head.
Because as I’ve said before, there are two types of freelance client. There are those who value you as a specialist, and there are those who see you as their skivvy. And if you’re asking for a free test, you’re placing yourself firmly in the second group (until proven otherwise).
Oh and before I move on to how we could make this all work SO much better, let’s just take a moment to talk about…
Your hiring process
Remind me why it is that you want to work with a freelancer? I’m guessing it’s something to do with flexibility, fewer overheads, less commitment, and so on? With that in mind, please don’t put me through a thinly-veiled recruitment process, which you might otherwise use for an employee who will be protected by all sorts of employment laws which mean you have to make 100% sure they’re the right person before you hire them.
With a freelancer, if we’re not a good fit, you just stop working with us. That’s it. It’s a simple payoff against the risk of hiring someone without a massive process first.
So, unless you’re offering to pay me for the time it takes me to fill out your forms, wrestle with uploading CVs and all the other gubbins that your hiring process involves, you can find everything you need to know on my website (and if you’re REALLY nosey, LinkedIn).
What’s the alternative to all these tests and forms?
I’m so glad you asked! I’d recommend these four simple steps…
- Look at my portfolio.
- Look the recommendations people have given me on LinkedIn.
- Have a chat with me to see how we get on.
- If you like what you see and hear, hire me for a small initial task and pay me for it (in full).
You could even hire me to do the work you were going to use as a test. And if you hate the work, you don’t have to ever work with me again. Simple. You could even block my number, once you’ve paid me.
That’s the joy of working with freelancers. We’re not employees, so the flexibility works both ways.
Hire me for one initial mini-project and see how it goes. You get to see my work at its best, I know you respect me, my time and my work, and it could be the start of a beautiful (working) relationship.
We’ll be skipping off into the sunset, arm-in-arm before you can say ‘50% deposit before work begins’ (but that’s another story).
Found this useful? Why not take a peek at…
- Repeat after me: My own business is at least as important as my clients’ businesses
- Copywriting: From A-Z
- The HOW TO series of blog posts