Yes! You read right! This is one topic no one really talks about and I’ve discovered from my experience that this is where it starts! Your first freelance job has a way of determining how it happens from there on; it has a way of shaping everything that follows – how you view Freelance, your opinion of clients, how you charge and most importantly, what you perceive as necessary and unnecessary in Freelance.
So what am I trying to say in essence?
In essence, there’s nothing as exciting as landing one’s very first Freelance job/client. There is this rush of emotions like at last; someone is interested in paying for your services and not seeking volunteer. The reality is, sometimes we get carried away by the excitement that comes with landing our first paying Freelance job that we don’t pay attention to what needs our attention and this could be due to a lot of reasons like number one, we are unprepared for the paying job because we probably didn’t expect that it would come suddenly so we run out of time to prepare for what is necessary or ask what should be necessary, we just jump on the project, try to make sure that we charge right, get the dough and get the job done but there is so much more to be done than all these things.
How does excitement play a harmful role in our Freelance Career?
Excitement can in a way be harmful by not allowing us to take into consideration things that are important like drafting and signing a contract. A little illustration – when I got my first freelance paying client/job, it was a screenplay and just like everyone probably would feel, I was so excited knowing someone wants to give me a job and also pay for it. It was a feature film of 90 pages and he offered to pay what looked like a first-start big sum to me and he said he was going to pay thrice; at the delivery of the first 45 pages, at the delivery of the last 45 pages and the last after the film is made and it felt like a good plan until I realized it wasn’t such a good plan because I never thought paying the balance and having to receive it would be such a big deal because it looked like 80% of the pay had been paid the first two times so I wouldn’t bother myself so much about the balance even if it didn’t work but the truth was that it became such a big deal knowing that letting go of the balance meant I wrote a screenplay for a ridiculous price no one could have written it for. The point is, two years after, the guy is yet to pay because he’s yet to make the film still and what do I think? I think that money went into bad debt a year ago, so I stopped checking with him, I stopped mailing, I took it as a responsibility on my part to learn and of course, won’t fall for that kind of plan again and it became a part of me that I wouldn’t just start writing a script without the client paying anything first.
So, your first freelance job can make you fall in love or hate freelance and it all depends on your reaction to whatever comes out of it but to avoid certain reactions that can blur your mind about Freelance, it is better to take precautions. Be very sure of what you are agreeing to, don’t let a client make you be in a hurry to decide anything and above all, draw a contract. Their emails or text messages aren’t enough neither is the word of your mouth accepting what has been said to you. It is okay to be excited but while the excitement last, it is okay to drop it and be business oriented, contract-conscious and value inclined.
Finally, another mistake you should never make in Freelance especially when it comes to writing of any sort is don’t let someone tell you to start writing and when you are done, you’d give it to them and when they are satisfied that the content is good, then you have a deal. . . Girl! That’s outright scamming! People do it a lot especially in Screenplays and other writing jobs like ghostwriting and all; you’d lose on every side – no one to pay for the mental stress and no deal at the end of the day if they aren’t satisfied and you never can tell, some people are so without conscience that the same material they condemned as not good would still be used without your permission.
Conclusively, there is one thing I always say, never use a prospective job as samples! If they need samples, you can provide samples from your archives. They wanna know how good you are, fair enough! But let any prospective client play on your intelligence with taking this job and let’s see what you can do with it! If they want to see what you can do, show them what you have done!