I use the word employer when I really mean client. I mostly do this because I’ve been rocking the thesaurus and I don’t want to use “client” every other word. There’s a difference, though. Clients and employers are two separate entities and each treat the people who work for them differently.
Before we get into that, I want to disclose my inspiration for this piece. Yesterday on Twitter, an angry content writer was looking for other writers to sign a position against a certain content site because it doesn’t offer job security. My response to her was that no freelance gig is 100% secure, and, really, no full time job is 100% secure either. However, if you’re looking for job security, it’s best not to become a freelance writer. This writer was looking for a client to become an employer. A client can offer regular work, but he can’t necessarily offer job security.
What’s the difference?
A client is not an employer. He’s not deducting health care and taxes from your weekly paycheck, nor does he have eight hours of guaranteed work for you each day. An employer provides steady full time or part time work and those who work for him (or his company) are considered members of the staff.
A freelancer is not a staff member. A freelancer is a contracted worker. We’re in charge of handling our own deductions and business matters and we’re not guaranteed work every day. We work independently and any support staff is our own.
When the work runs out
If I worked for an employer and I finished up my regular tasks for the day, I’d probably be assigned extra work or to help another salaried employee. If my client runs out of work for me, I’m done until he needs me again. This also means I’m done being paid. An employer has to pay me to show up, even if he doesn’t have enough for me to do that day.
Freelancers have steady clients, but nothing is certain. If they feel we’re not up to the task, they have the option of letting us go. They’re not obligated to have work for us every day, unless our contract says this must be so.
Employers pay their writers on a regular cycle, usually weekly or bi-weekly. There are separate terms for contractors and freelancers. Some pay once per month, others pay within 30 days of the completed project. The terms for each individual contractor are negotiated individually.
A freelance client is not an employer and we shouldn’t expect them to be. We’re freelancers because we enjoy our flexibility, even if that means we don’t receive the same perks as salaried employees. There’s a trade off, but it’s one that’s well worth it.