Think about that for a moment or two. There’s an important difference.
When you have a regular job, even if it’s a dream job and you’re writing full time for an organization you love and with ample pay, you are working for that employer as an employee.
Generally there’s a boss, aka manager or some other title, who tells you:
- when to come to work and when to leave
- what days you work
- where you do your writing
- what equipment to use
- when you take breaks
- when we eat lunch… and even how you should approach the work you do.
In other words, you’re working for that employer.
When, however, we become freelance writers we make the decisions on all of that, and much more. That’s part of what freelance actually means.
We are our own boss, manager, chief evangelist, leader of the band… whatever title(s) we’d like to use.
With a regular job you’re used to deferring to the boss, when you freelance you’re the boss.
The power of the paycheck
With a regular job, it was clear who held the power of the paycheck – the boss did. When you freelance it’s not the same.
As a freelance writer you’re responsible for your own paycheck, or more likely, a series of paychecks from several clients. You’re in charge. Sure, you answer to the clients but not in the same way you probably answered to a boss. It’s not the same, because the power has shifted in your direction.
At first glance, since the client has, more or less, has the power to hire, fire, pay or not pay you, it can seem like they are an employer or boss. They aren’t!
Who’s in charge?
The quickest way to see the difference is to ask yourself:
“Who is in charge of me and my business?”
That’s right, you are.
Client’s aren’t employers because they aren’t in charge of you and how you work. Do you see what I mean?
When you really know that you’re in charge as a freelancer, you’ll find yourself relating to clients much more like a true equal, because that’s what you are – equal. You’re a professional who’s bringing the rather esoteric skill of writing to another professional – the one who wants the writing done.
You are actually working with the client rather than for the client. It’s closer to a partnership rather than an employee/employer relationship.
Are you working with or for your writing clients?
How do you tell if you are you working with or for your writing clients?
Mostly it’s a feeling, a feeling of comfort, mutual respect, and solidarity but there are also some specific signs.
You’re working with your client if:
- You know you don’t have to jump to answer or return their phone calls; you can take time to breathe.
- You feel comfortable making alternate suggestions about content, process, etc.
- You have the solid sense that they respect you both as a person and as the professional you are.
- You know that if you find yourself in trouble with a particular piece of work the client will help you sort it out.
- You enjoy working with the client, at least most of the time.
- You can have a rational reasonable discussion with the client about money.
These are the kind of clients you want to work with, and as you learn to be confident in your own ability to write and run your own freelance writing business, you’ll discover achieving this kind of client relationship actually gets easier.
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Write well and often,