Never Jump Through Hoops For Freelance Clients
I was reading the other day about some freelancer who had to take “aptitude tests” in order to gain a freelance client and get in their pool for working.
This isn’t the only jumping through hoops exercise I’ve seen freelancers be expected to do.
- Send examples of your work on a theme
- Like us on Facebook (?!)
- Send us your details
- Send us a deposit (Seriously NEVER send money to a client ever)
- Attend training seminars
- Buy into our system
… And a million variations. They are almost always a scam to get you to work for free on the low end (so on freelance websites) and even on the mid-end of freelancing, they’re a sign of a bad client.
When you’re a freelancer, you’re providing a particular service that’ll deliver particular results. That’s worth a certain price, which you charge.
Now, wrapped within that is the assumption that you don’t have to jump through hoops in order to get the work, because the client either wants the result or they don’t.
If you say to a potential client, “On average my sales page converts at 4%,” and they say something like, “Can we run a test and see if it’s successful?” then the answer is no. If you are a web designer and the client wants you to do an aptitude test before you work on their site… say no.
Either they want your work or they don’t.
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Earlier on in my freelancing, I fell for these things a couple of times. Here’s the thing: even if you jump through the hoop, the client is almost universally a pain in the arse. If they’re willing to throw obstacles in your way before you start working for them when they need the work doing, how do you think they’ll behave when you’ve done the work and it’s their turn to pay you?
If you’re doing high-end freelance work, sometimes you’ll have to go through an editing process. Big publishing companies (and other industries; legal, medical, etc.) have legal teams and hoops to jump through.
So, as a real example, I wrote a letter for a law firm in Florida. This was encouraging people to sign up for a consultation because a law on car accidents was changing and people only had a certain amount of time to claim on certain accidents. (Or something… this was about eighteen months ago so the details are fuzzy.)
Now, when you write on legal or medical matters, you have to do your research. That’s all standard. What isn’t standard is the attention to detail some markets have to have with their wording.
For a generic protein powder that goes on sale on a nameless dropship store, very few details are legally checked and all sorts of shadiness occurs.
But when you’re working for a nine-figure supplement company or a legal company that is providing advice based on the law, you can guarantee that they aren’t just going to put:
- “You could be entitled to $5 billion dollars in this claim!”
- Or “This pill will cure your cancer”
This is just a cost of doing business – they’ll go over stuff with a red pen and make sure you’re not going to get them sued. This is a hoop and it’s necessary and unavoidable.
The key thing with big companies though is that you get paid in part before this happens. No billion dollar company is going to say, “We’ll pay you $10k + royalties” and withhold all of it until after their editing process is complete. They’ll pay you the advance or the advance in instalments and you’ll wait for royalties.
A key thing with the above exception is that it is open. When you talk to a freelance client – whether they pay you thousands of dollars or fifty pounds, you should be able to say, “What are the details about payment?” and get an honest response.
I see freelancers accepting ludicrous stuff all the time on what they say is a promise of payment or further work. When you look at what the “clients” are doing with an objective eye, you can see that the freelancer is being strung along on the hope that they’ll get paid someday.
This is not something you should ever have to feel. You should know exactly what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and what the payment is. Have respect for yourself and respect for your freelance profession. Don’t let scammers, cheapskates and idiots waste your time and steal your work.