‘Hi Dee, we’re getting in touch with you because we’ve got a great opportunity to work on a content project and we’d love to have you on board. It starts on Monday, here are the details…’
Freelancers everywhere will be familiar with this email, or some variation on it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s FANTASTIC when a new opportunity lands in your inbox, especially when it’s an exciting project or a brand new client.
So, why did I say ‘no’ to this email that landed in my inbox? Because I’m booked up solidly for the next few weeks. I’m gutted, because it’s a project that I’d love to work on. But I’m already fully committed to projects and I intend to honour those promises.
Talking to my lovely freelance friends in the Female Copywriters Alliance today, I’ve quickly realised that I’m not alone. And this year especially there seems to have been a tsunami of late requests to freelancers, and specifically freelance copywriters, to start on imminent projects with little to no notice at all.
Unfortunately, there have also been some snippy comments from clients and agencies when they are a little put out that we just aren’t able to accommodate timescales that are tighter than a pair of jeans that you’ve accidentally put through the tumble drier.
I’m fully booked for the next 3 weeks and here’s why.
You see the thing with being freelance is quite simply this – if we don’t work, we don’t get paid. Every day that we’re ‘between projects’ might be handy for us to catch up on our own marketing or admin tasks, but sadly we can’t invoice ourselves for these.
For this reason, I and many other freelancers like me nearly always work to a full schedule. Whatever hours we have to work each week, whether part-time or full time (which can change too BTW, that’s one of the beautiful things about freelancing – we can amend our working hours to suit whatever is happening in our lives), we fill with paid client work to the best of our ability.
What this means is that we are often booked up for weeks and sometimes even months in advance.
What does this mean for clients? Well, really that you need to try and treat booking your freelancers like you would booking a doctor’s appointment – you need to know you are going to need one at least a few weeks in advance.
Granted, you can’t plan illness so that gammy big toe or unexplained rash is probably going to have to wait. But in the vast majority of cases, agencies and clients CAN plan projects that they may need a freelancer for in advance.
Or they can usually be pushed back a few days or weeks if it means the difference between nailing them properly the first time around or falling short of the mark.
But surely some freelancers are available immediately?
Of course, all this isn’t to say that you won’t necessarily be able to find a freelancer to fulfil your needs at short notice. Projects do get postponed or cancelled from time to time.
But, in my experience, it’s far better to wait for the right professional who has the specialisms, skills, or experience that you need, than to just take whoever may be available at that moment in time.
Chances are, the ones who aren’t booked up aren’t necessarily in high demand for their services.
You’ve also got to factor in how long your onboarding process is going to take. A project with an ‘immediate start’ nearly never starts immediately. Finding a freelancer, onboarding them, creating NDAs and contracts, paying deposits and more all take time too.
I’ve lost count of the times a client or agency wants a project to begin ‘right away’ and is unable to get the freelancer they want because of their insistence on this. But then spends 10 days finding a replacement, creating NDAs and filling paperwork and onboarding them – by which time their original freelancer was available anyway!
The advice? Get in there as early as possible – or consider a retainer!
Know you’ve got a project coming up that you will need freelance support with? Find your preferred professional and scope out their availability as soon as possible. Book your space as soon as you can and get the peace of mind that their services are secured early on.
If you regularly require freelance support, consider investing in a retainer where you are guaranteed a set number of days with your freelance support every single month, meaning that your business is never left floundering.
I’m now fully booked until mid-September, but if you’d like to talk to me about content/copywriting projects starting after then, I’d be happy to hear from you! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
First published on wickedcreative.co.uk