by Magnus Shaw
Freelancing - it's a tough old game, eh? You don't know if you're coming or going half the time. Working in your jim-jams one day, sipping a latte in a la-di-da marketing agency the next. Occasionally you even miss "Cash In The Attic." Then there's all that paperwork and tax return malarkey (for freelances unfamiliar with "paperwork" there's a full explanation here: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/paperwork).
Well, all that is about to change. The finest legal brains have slaved through the night with nothing more than a bottle of Tizer and some coloured pencils to sustain them. And the result is the new freelance/client contract. Part of our commitment to efficiency and the national work ethic, we are convinced the introduction of this ground-breaking document will transform the creative industry and restore our reputation as honourable, fastidious men and women (a bit like MPs).
Here it is:
The New Freelance / Client Contract 2012 AD
I, the undersigned freelance creative type, undertake to follow the following guidelines without deviation, hesitation or grumpy sighing:
1. I will not continually go off on one about my rates remaining the same for decades without doing anything to change them.
2. I will not repeatedly tell my staff colleagues I don't get paid when I'm ill. I accept they really have got the message now.
3. I will not invoice for the sandwich and Wispa I bought on the way to the client's office.
4. I understand "My broadband went down" is a highly unlikely reason for the work arriving late.
5. Having a nap is no longer chargeable at an hourly rate.
6. I will at least attempt to get dressed properly before visiting a client's offices.
7. I will try not to spend the day with my iPod earphones stuffed in my head when working in-house.
8. I probably shouldn't just disappear at 5.00pm without asking if anything else is needed of me.
9. Not answering the phone when working at home on a day rate is a bit of a giveaway, I acknowledge.
10. I will not triple book myself, try to do all three jobs at once and bill all three clients for the same hours.
11. I will not sit on my invoices for months and months then submit a bill for ten thousand pounds.
12. I will not take up hours of a Creative Director's time showing my portfolio of milk carton designs.
13. Angling for an invite to a client's Christmas party is bad form. Particularly if you don't turn up.
14. Returning to the studio after lunch, reeking of ale is a staff privilege. Ill-advised for the freelance.
15. I can see that nattering about football / X-Factor / Family Guy is not the best use of a client's budget. Especially if it's to a mate on the phone.
16. Equally, I probably shouldn't spend too much time fixing up other bookings when I'm on an hourly rate in a client's studio.
17. I'll try to look a little less bored.
18. When working remotely, I will attempt to start my day before 3.30pm.
19. Check my email. Check my email. Check my email.
20. £500 a day (plus expenses) may be appropriate for a nuclear physicist, for a middleweight DM copywriter, it's pushing things a bit.
We, the undersigned clienty persons, undertake to follow the following guidelines without prevarication, shrugging or eye-rolling and tutting:
1. While opening an office in a forest, miles from civilisation saved us a bit of cash, we understand it may take a freelance a little while to get here.
2. Phoning a freelance at 10.30pm to execute some arbitrary, off-brief amends is frankly beyond the pale.
3. We can see that booking a person for a day's work, then cancelling at 8.00am on the day may not endear us to that person.
4. Not providing the brief until a couple of hours before deadline does make it rather difficult to get a job done. Accepted.
5. We acknowledge that stressing the urgency of a job then quibbling about the fee is a bit of a contradiction.
6. We promise not to send a PDF and an email that says 'Something like this' and call it a brief.
7. If an invoice requires a purchase order, we'll actually provide one once in a while.
8. We'll try not to drag the freelance from one end of the country to the other in order to make some simple adjustments. Then change our minds.
9. We understand that constant telephone calls do have the tendency to slow the progress of a project.
10. When a freelance is working in our studio, we promise to at least talk to them now and again.
11. If a freelance is unavailable, we'll try not to tag them as "unreliable".
12. We'll tell the freelance where to direct his or her invoice rather than expecting them to guess.
13. We now know a tea or coffee isn't too much to ask.
14. We can see why working through the night / weekend might cost a little more.
15. We promise not to "pencil some time" in a freelance's diary without ever confirming it as a firm booking.
16. Returning calls about a job, brief or invoice? Yes, I guess we could do that.
17. We will do our best to actually remember the freelance's name.
18. When a freelance is working in-house, we will no longer spend the first hour trying to find them somewhere to sit.
19. The freelance is not psychic. The freelance is not psychic. The freelance is not psychic.
20. We are prepared to pay the freelance's invoice within a reasonable period of time. And we apologise to the ones who previously starved to death. Sorry about that.
Magnus Shaw is a copywriter, blogger and consultant.
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