Monday, April 26, 2010...8:30 am

Top tips for media freelancers #5

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[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

The last in our series of tips for media freelancers is from freelance production editor David Powning, who follows his first rule and goes the extra mile to give us half a dozen pieces of excellent – if hardcore – freelance advice.

  1. Go the extra mile
    Don’t start crying if you’re asked to stay a bit late, or work during the lunch hour, especially on press day. It counts for a lot, especially in these times of cutbacks and skeleton staff, and the next time the publication needs a freelancer I guarantee you’ll be near the front of the queue, a long way ahead of the clock watchers. Yes, you have rights, but don’t get all French about it and start waving your Book of Working Conditions in people’s faces. They’re under pressure, they don’t want to hear it – they just want your help. You enjoy the work; get on with it.
  2. You’re a lone wolf
    So accept that some people don’t like you. The phrase “f***ing freelancers” is common currency because we’re not part of the gang, and we perhaps don’t have the brand loyalty that full-timers cling to until a better job comes up. So when someone lays into freelancers in your presence, and it’s as if you’re not actually in the room, just keep your head down and imagine them on the toilet.
  3. Keeping that head down
    When you’re working somewhere for the first time, don’t go in guns-a-blazing, trying to dazzle them with the force of your exciting personality. Take the time to see how the land lies, and work out the “dynamics” of the office before you start to contribute. This usually helps prevent making verbal gaffes that some sensitive doily will find offensive, and will enable you to fit seamlessly into the team. Working environments all have their own gentle rhythms; don’t barge in banging your own drum. If you do they will start emailing each other behind your back, and you will never see them again.
  4. Don’t ever be late
    Unless it’s one of your regular gigs and genuine tragedy has befallen you. It’s a curious thing, but when full-timers are a bit late getting to the office and trawl out their excuses about the transport system, despite the fact that they reek of booze and are partially blind, everyone shrugs or makes light of it. If, however, as a freelancer you make the same mistake, you are a feckless waster who clearly doesn’t appreciate the gilded opportunities that life is affording you. You won’t be able to laugh it off, so unless you’re bleeding heavily and/or missing a limb, get there on time. And even if you are bleeding, still make the effort.
  5. Turn work down
    You heard me. Value yourself. If you get the call saying “You’ve been recommended, but we don’t have a very big budget, so the daily rate is below the norm,” politely explain that you’re good at your job (hence the recommendation) and will a) go the extra mile b) keep your head down and c) turn up on time, even if bleeding. Working for cut-rates is pointless – it doesn’t help you or freelancers in general, and you might as well go and do something else if people think they can get you on the cheap. Let them work their way through all those freelancers who will work for peanuts, and see what kind of standard they get. Then later you’ll receive another phone call and, hey presto, the daily rate just went back up to where it should have been in the first place.
  6. Finally, take pride in what you do – above everything.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed. Any other suggestions and comments are welcome…

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

1 Comment

  • NW Sheffield NewsNo Gravatar
    April 26th, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Good commonsense advice. All are valuable and point #4 can’t be stressed enough, even in these difficult times. thanks for the post!

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