A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do some writing for a client who, for the purpose of this, we will refer to as Matthew. It wasn't anything special, nor was there much money on the line, but Matthew was desperate for it so I decided to help them out. It was also a job that needed to be done in 24 hours which I normally charge more for but, again, desperation taken into account, I waived the usual last minute fee. This was all despite the fact that throughout January I've had deadlines galore for far more important work.
All things considered, I produced a pretty stellar piece of work and Matthew expressed his appreciation, even more with the fast turnaround. He also asked me to make a few changes a couple days later, which I did without complaint.
Fast forward to some time last week Thursday. Take into account I had not (and still have not) been paid for this piece work, having made an allowance for the time frame I usually expect payment within, I am phoned by Matthew regarding another piece of work he needs doing. He sends me a lengthy email and, at a skim, I deuce that I can't commit the time required of the work he wants me to do, especially as, again, he wants the turnaround to be urgent. In his tone (it was an email) he was rather brazen and hasty. In addition to wanting an urgent turnaround, he requested a discount from the price I charged him for the first piece and this is where my annoyance arose.
Freelancing is not easy. Work is inconsistent and it comes when it comes and, therefore, the charge for services tends to reflect it. Like everybody else, we have expenses to account for.
When I initially did the work for Matthew, as it was I applied a discount by not charging him for a last minute piece of work. Having explained that I would be waiving the last minute fee the first time, why on Earth did he think it would be okay to request a discount on the original price I charged him, i.e. a discount on a discounted price? Ever since I began to freelance, with my pricing, I have always been somewhat flexible. Ultimately, I try to find a price that will work for both myself and the client (so don't be scared off by this post if you want to work with me!) but in this case, I'm sure I'm well within my rights to be irate.
People are so quick to try and short change the freelancer, even more so those in an artistic craft. I can only dream of rationale being applied: the services you come to us for would cost you far more if you were to go to a professional establishment/organisation so why try and short change us even more?
My wish is that people just wouldn't expect a discount on the craft. I read something last year which has made it's rounds through social media regarding the reason freelancers/artists/creatives charge so much for their services is not because it is arduous or time-consuming to apply. No, it is because of all the time, hours and hard work that we put into being able to provide a service that will be worth the money we expect of you.
And you know what else? All the sacrifices. Not working a normal job. Not having a fixed salary entering our bank accounts on a monthly basis. And, in my case, having to balance this around what I consider the real work, yet doesn't pay until contracts are signed: the scripts. This all with not forgetting the high expectations of us, to work unsociable hours, to work at short notice and, in all of this, to produce the same high results because we (or, at least, me) pride ourselves in our work and we want you to be a happy customer so you will come back again as well as, if we be so fortunate, you tell others of our good work.
One thing, however, that I will not facilitate in order to make way for your happiness is a discounted craft. I do not do half-jobs, I give you 100%. In return, all we request is 100% of the fee. And if you be so lucky to get a discount, something that tends to happen as a result of a good and continuous working relationship, be grateful, rather than expectant and demanding of it.
Currently listening to: Wretch 32 - The Darkest Light feat. Beverley Knight