Free – lance


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Being a freelancer here is Singapore is interesting in many ways. The range of magazines, websites and companies I can work for is more varied and my work is more global – both in feel and reach.

However – and I’m well aware I could be shooting myself in the foot here – there’s one thing I’m not so keen on.

If you were to visit a doctor and gave him your symptoms and he prescribed something to help, would you expect to walk away without paying (obviously talking non public health countries here)? No?

How about if you went in to a shop looking for an outfit? Would you ask to ‘try it out’ before deciding and expect to take it home without paying for it? No?

So how come some publishers/editors think it’s ok to ask freelance writers to submit work – and we’re talking full articles here, not just ideas or a synopsis of a proposed feature – and not pay for them? I’d understand it if I was a fledgling journo without any experience or published work to show. But I’m not. So to be asked to work and not be paid is quite insulting.

It’s often disguised as wanting to see if your work ‘fits’ with the style of the mag/website/company. But if that’s the case, I’ll direct you to a feature I’ve already written that would reflect that. Even worst there’s the suggestion that seeing your work published in certain magazines should be payment enough.

Maybe it’s about the glut of talent here and the fact that for many, being an expat means time to explore a new path. There are a lot of would-be writers out there looking for a break. A free published article gives them just that.

But to ask someone who’s clearly experienced to work for nothing is not, in my opinion, fair or professional. Sadly it reflects in the finished product too. Having worked as an Editor myself I can see that. Personally I always look to pay my freelancers a rate that reflects their work and talent.

As my husband says – who’s a good barometer for all things business – if you pay peanuts…

Remember freelance is not free – lance.