R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Freelance Your Skill, Not Your Sanity

Regardless of where you are in your writing career, freelance copywriting is a great way to gain attribution, build your portfolio and, yes, pay some bills. Unfortunately, many businesses are wise to the knowledge that in this day and age good writers can be obtained for very little. Through that lens, it’s easy for them to take advantage of, or disrespect - even unintentionally - those in a contracted or freelance position.

A simple copywriting job that takes a bad turn can end up leaving a writer drained, disheartened and with a genuine hate for the alphabet. So, how can copywriters avoid losing their minds while honing their skills?

To start, always conduct an initial consultation with the entity you’ll be writing copy for and be ready with a list of detailed questions that require detailed answers regarding their desired aim. Whether it’s via phone, e-mail, or in person - and regardless whether you decide to charge or not - really pull as much information as you can from them. This will go a long way in saving you time and energy in the long run.

Next, set boundaries. You are a contracted employee and unless it’s an intense contract, you don’t need to be on call in a nine-to-five, five days a week manner. Creating a specific schedule for work and correspondence is essential; it gives them the illusion that you are in demand (even if you aren’t), and when you do answer that call or e-mail during dinner it will show them that you have a great work ethic and value the job.

Remember: Don’t be afraid to charge for re-writes. Ideas and directions change - it’s normal. Not charging for a few tweaks here and there is a great way to earn a good reputation and show your dedication. However, if the changes they request end up taking you hours, and they’ve deviated drastically from the initial direction, you are in no way wrong if you charge them. Make it clear, from the beginning, that it’s their job to correctly relay information and communicate effectively during your contracted time.

Finally, even if the business relationship ends on a negative tone, resist the urge to burn bridges. You never know who may know whom. Ending on a positive, professional note can boost your credentials and lead to better opportunities down the road.

Writers tend to get taken advantage of professionally because we are a creative, passionate bunch. You don’t get into this field unless you’re willing to make sacrifices. That’s not a bad thing, as long as you keep aware of the line where your passion ends and the demand for respect begins.