Sneaky client tactic to avoid – more work without a raise

Here at Blogging For A Living we’re always saying, Don’t flipping work for free people! WHY would you? There are many jobs to be had that do pay (actual money). Thankfully it seems like many of you are listening. We see plenty of our readers out there, scoring gigs and getting paid and it makes us super happy.

That said, there’s another issue surrounding working for free that’s a little harder to catch. Not all writers plan on working for free, sometimes it just slowly happens. Here’s how…

You land a gig. Let’s say that gig includes writing five posts a week, each post needs an image and you’re also contracted to tweet said posts. That’s three tasks. Let’s pretend your pay for each week is oh, how about $25 per post (or $125 per week). You sit down and figure out that it’ll take you 35 minutes to write each post, 10 minutes total to find images, and about 5 minutes per week to tweet the posts.

In total, you’re working about 3 hours and 10 mins per week for this client. Your end wages per week actually turn out to be pretty darn excellent – about $41 per hour. That’s very decent pay for blogging.

Here’s where the sneaky stuff comes in…

You write for this client for a few months and all of a sudden the client starts saying stuff like…

  • “Could you also add each post to Facebook?”
  • “Make sure you’re stumbling and or using DIGG on each post!”
  • “I think each post needs two images instead of one. OH and each images needs to be exactly 500 x 350 AND if you can’t find an image that works with that size you’ll need to search the web until you find one.” Later… “Hmmm, maybe we should add galleries with 4 images each since people will click on them more; can you do that?”
  • “Can you go in and re-write this post because I wanted you to use such and such links instead.”
  • “I’ve installed a brand new SEO package – make sure you fill it out each time you write a post!”

This is a problem. While none of these tasks seem very large or tedious, they all do take time. Super strict image requirements by clients is actually my number one time drain. It’s very hard to find images that all meet strict size requirements and it limits what you can write about – especially at a product based blog. Plus you’ll be spending a ton of time using your image editor to edit said images.

When you add up all the tasks above you’re adding at least 30 minutes to each post you write. More if you have to re-write often. I’m not talking re-writing because you messed up either, I’m talking re-writing because some client changes their mind about what they wanted in the first place. Anyhow, if you add 30 minutes+ to each post you write for this client, your time spent flies up to about 5.5 hours a week and your wages plummet down to about $22 per post.

The job you thought you signed up for turns out to be more trouble for less pay than you originally calculated.

It may not be that the client is being sneaky – they might just have figured out how blogs work. Yes, images, galleries, SEO packs, and Facebook all  help boost traffic. Good for them for figuring that out. However, it’s not your fault they figured it out late. You already signed a contract for a specific set amount of tasks and you shouldn’t do more without a pay increase because all those traffic boosters the client wants you to do puts more money in the client’s pocket. If they don’t pay you to do it you are working for free.

How to avoid this:

DON’T sign impossible contracts – by impossible I mean contracts from clients who talk about high traffic numbers but don’t have the know-how to pull it off. For example, I’ve talked with potential clients who say things like, “Wow, once my blog launches it should take about three months to get to 100,000 visitors” and then they’ve got zero social networking in place. It won’t happen and in my experience guess who they’ll blame – you. It’ll be on you because they’ll think, “You’re not writing good enough posts!” No, they’re not networking. I don’t usually work with pie-in-the-sky dreamy clients OR I’ll tell them up front that they should work in some social networking.

If clients add too many tasks ask for a pay increase – If a client asks me to add a link to Facebook I might do it. It’s fast. If a client asks for more and more stuff I usually say, “Well, all these extra tasks add a lot of work time to my week so I can one, write fewer posts per week, write shorter posts per week, or you can up the pay rate.” This is reasonable. Time is money in freelancing. If you started out making $41 per hour, then that’s what you should continue to make.

Ask for a new position – If a client is continually asking you to do more and more social networking tell them a good idea would be to hire a social networking manager – someone to do all those little social networking tasks that add up. Then, offer to be that someone. Say, “For an extra $250 a month, I’ll spend 10-15 minutes a day networking my little heart out.

Look for another gig – if a client is becoming impossible start job hunting. Some clients don’t get that social networking, images, SEO, and so fourth take time. Many clients in fact, have less blog experience than you and no matter what you say, they just won’t ever get it. In this case it’s time to quit. Figure out if a gig is worth keeping.

Have you had clients who add on more and more tasks over time? How did you deal with the situation?


  1. says

    What do you do when YOU are the one who volunteers to go above and beyond on a “job”?

    Even though it wasn’t freelance, this same thing happened to me at work. 5 minutes a week adds up when you’ve suddenly got 50 things added to your to-do list. Sure they only take 1 minute a day but all the sudden you’re short an hour because you’re doing these 50 things.

    Which might explain why I ditched the day job for writing. :) Excellent article, thanks!
    .-= Jr Deputy Accountant´s last blog ..TLP: Sadly, Romances Never Really Get a Chance to Bloom =-.

  2. says

    Sounds like Corporate America. Especially with the layoffs. Workers are expected to do more for the same pay.

    Anyway, back to your post. I imagine this happens a lot in the freelance world. Clients think writing posts are easy and quick. Finding pictures can be time consuming too. Or maybe I’m just picky with pictures.

    I definitely need to work quicker if 35 mins is a good
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Which Diet Helps You Become Healthy? =-.

  3. says

    That happens all the time. And you start off doing it because you think, ok, well that’s just a few minutes more a day. Two months later, you realize you’re working for barely minimum wage. Sometimes sitting down and having an honest conversation with a client about pay can be really scary. But you’ve got to do it or you’re going to look up a year later and be working for peanuts!!


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