I’m Offended: The Case of Clients Asking For Free Work

In September 2017, I have decided to jump into the unknown and embrace the life living as a full-time freelancer. No, this is not a success story because I still haven’t made it — I still sleep in the same house as my parents and I have yet to travel, but I’m slowly getting the grasp of it after 6 months of fumbling around and sending hopeless job applications to random remote jobs. Today, I have a pretty steady gig, with side projects coming in here and there. I still don’t know how I manage not to get too broke, but I’m just thankful that the universe is helping me to slowly build my way up (whichever way up maybe…).

You see, after living as a corporate worker for almost five years, I found myself in a rut where I question my everyday existence. Is this all that there is to my life? I crave for freedom and for my own time, and I know that I will never achieve those if I stay in a regular 9-5. Some may say I’m crazy, this is unstable, this is a risky decision… but seriously, I couldn’t give a damn about all these issues. I have never been this content in my day-to-day life, and while I’m not the most successful among my peers, at least I have the guts to follow what I wanted. At least I wouldn’t find myself doubting if where I was was the right place for me to be in.

It’s not a walk in the park, though. I’ve been on this job hunt-fulfill project-job hunt cycle for way too long, and I’ve received some of the most ridiculous requests from clients that I cannot even comprehend how they think it’s fair — from people only willing to pay $3 for a 1,000-word article to requests to write a well-researched e-book for $0.001 per word (that’s $1 per 1,000 words if you do the math). However, just this morning, I’ve read one of the most outrageous offers that I’ve received so far. Here’s a part of that exact e-mail:

Being a start up we are initially looking for writers that will cooperate with us with the option to develop into a part time/full time job in future.

For now we cannot offer any money compensation, but on our website you will have your own profile where we will showcase all your articles along with your name, photo, bio and you can add links to your own site. This can be a way to boost your blog.

I am blown away by how wrong the grammar is… and how much they think they’re giving me a favor in exchange for FREE work. I mean, okay, I get it — bloggers need backlinks yadayada for SEO purposes, write-ups on publications can make you credible, but asking us to create FREE content that would be beneficial (not to mention, probably monetary) from their end is just unfair. I understand that startups don’t necessarily have the budget to hire people, but if that’s the case, then perhaps they should’ve put their project on hold for the meantime? Or maybe ask their internal staff or marketing team to come up with the content instead? (Quick background: they are asking for feature articles)

As stupid as this offer sounds, the start-up that has gotten in touch with me isn’t the only one who does this ‘scheming‘. There really are publications and companies who ask for free content even if they have the capacity to pay people to do it for them. And not surprisingly, many people fall into these not-so-tempting offers because they make it sound as if exposure would do you great things, that this is the way towards success. Spoiler alert: exposure wouldn’t get you anywhere unless you do a whole lot of extra work.

In this day and age when everyone can call themselves a “writer”, I feel like the craft has slowly been reduced into some skill that anyone can do. I’m not mad that people are writing — I am in support for everyone who loves to write — but what I’m mad at is how some people and businesses look at creatives and think that what we do is something that everyone can do. I hate how people would think that this skill is not worth spending at. I hate how people think that creative work is easy and that we are worthy of getting paid in peanuts.

I am offended because they make me feel like my hard work is NOT WORTH ANYTHING. Just imagine if someone goes to you, asked you to do an elaborate job, and tell you that all you’ll get is a credit on their website. How would you feel, working for hours and then just getting “credited” for all your efforts?

If your imagination isn’t working properly, then perhaps this brilliant short would help you take my point in:

If you’re a writer or a creator or anyone who works in the creative field, no matter how new you may be or how desperate you are, please, please, please… know your worth. I know it’s hard to be demanding when you don’t have much under your belt, but one less person agreeing to these ridiculous requests is one step forward towards getting the respect that we all need.

There are some things in life that are worth working on despite having zero income (passion projects, hobbies, advocacies, etc.) but there are also other things that should not be tolerated. If you plan to reach out to me to ask me to do free work or to do some job where you’ll pay me $2 for 1,000-words… then screw you. I’m sick and tired of people trying to take advantage of others. And I am utterly disgusted with people who think that writing is worthless and trivial (FYI, this sh*t is a hard job to do).

Now excuse me, I have some other projects to take on and some money to make.

8 thoughts on “I’m Offended: The Case of Clients Asking For Free Work

  1. Hi Jhanz. I also felt offended just by reading this lol. I’m glad you shared your experience, coz it’s really important for our fellow writers/bloggers to know their worth, like you said. For sure may mga tumanggap ng ganong offer in hopes of improving their portfolio, and sana they get to read your journal and finally find the courage to say NO to these schemes.

  2. I kinda wrote something similar before about how others seem to think that we’re not worth anything. And ang lala nung $1 per 1000 words!!! What, do they think we just put in some random words in there??? I don’t get how someone would fall for that scheme though. I hope there’s some standard fee or whatever that applies for a certain freelance/creative work so brands/companies won’t abuse us naman.

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