Thursday, 24 July 2008

Live and Learn, no. 2

'Learning curve' is an overused phrase, so I'll put it in a box down the garden. Meanwhile, I've learned a great truth of freelancing.

Freelancers don't get paid on time.

Many clients are like clockwork, no problems, but even the best slip once in a while. I've coded invoices, and yes, I've put them off. I tell you what I've never done: handed in work late.

Thing is, if clients pay late, Parkbench freelancers get paid late, and that is not where we want to be, you'll doubtless agree. I'd be more straightforward than most when it comes to issues of money (though I know that we in the arts are supposed to be beyond such concerns!) but it's a good issue to highlight for all of us, I think.

Any tips?

Some people swear by terms of service agreements. Beyond the most basic good faith agreements regarding hiring and farming out work, I've found resistance to freelance contracts in the publishing world. Late fees for non-payment? If you've failed to get the fee you earned in on time, how do you intend to get in your interest?

Along similar lines, I've had some emails in from freelancers offering to do work for free by way of a test for me. Work for free? No, no, no. Let your experience and your references speak for themselves, hey? Have a little faith.

The same is true for students. As someone about to embark on an MPhil, are students of publishing and translation openly looking to build their portfolios for nothing? Sure, there's a baseline of experience you have to build, but beyond that, you have to wonder...

Sheesh. More positive post to follow. I'm thinking of a post on freelancers and food...