When you’re Freelance, nothing’s sacred — you know this, don’t you? If not, you need to buck up to the reality you’re entering. In the same vein, though, those of you hiring Freelance writers need to wise up to the fact that Freelancers are people, not robots. I know, this is a crazy thought for both groups, but it is what it is. We’re human, too, and we get sick, we get down, we fail sometimes.
A good friend of mine who was also a Freelancer disappeared back in April, and no one could find her (her family later notified us — she had died of pneumonia). As tragic a loss as this was for so many of us in the community, it also got me to thinking about how being a freelancer isn’t like being an office worker or a teacher or whatever you might be. In fact, we’re a very, very different kind of employee and that’s what makes being human so difficult.
When you hire a Freelance Writer, you’re doing it for the special thing they’ve got between their ears and the magic way that they can pull it out and show it to the world. You might think you can replace Freelance Bob, but when you hire Freelance Sue it’ll become readily apparent that her heart and soul beat differently from Bob’s. And that’s why you can’t simply sub a writer or swap them out on a whim… we each have a different voice and a special rhythm to our writing.
For Freelancers, it’s kind of a raw deal, honestly. We can’t be swapped out — we can’t hire a substitute because they simply can’t be us. When we’re sick or have an emergency or lose a dear friend and just want to ball up in the corner and cry for a month, we can’t. You can’t, Little Freelancers. You have a responsibility to your clients. They need you.
Long ago I was looking into opening a bakery (really). My father was trying to discourage me, telling me it was just like running a dairy farm — there’s simply no rest for the wicked. If no one has told you this yet about Freelancing, let me be the one to do it: THIS JOB ISN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. You won’t get breaks, you don’t always get weekends, you never get to be sick for more than a few hours at very best.
We write through the pain and sorrow and holidays because we must. Because people are counting on us. Because we can’t fail. I’m sorry, Freelancers, but there’s no out. There’s no excuse. You go missing and everyone you work with gets their lives turned upside down.
That being said, Clients, you need to listen up, too. Sometimes we *DO* get sick, and sometimes very bad things happen in our lives that we simply have no control over. I know you think your project will belly-up if you give us a day or two to breathe, but I promise, it won’t. Treat your Freelancers like you’d treat your kids or friends, that tough love is fine, but man, cut us a break when it’s clear we need it.