As a freelance writer, I am oftentimes asked to take on other responsibilities beyond the actual writing of blog posts and product reviews. Many potential freelance writing clients seem to make the assumption that I am not only available for these additional non-writing duties, but they fully expect me to include the extra work as part of the complete package. In my mind, I am going beyond the call of duty by taking on the extra tasks; in their minds, they’re just getting what they are paying for.
This phenomenon is not restricted to the world of freelance writing by any means. Another area where this is particularly prevalent is in the industry of web design. When a customer approaches a freelance graphic artist, there is a good chance that he assumes the artist is also able to code the design into a workable website.
On the flip side, it is often assumed that people who specialize in coding websites are also able to create world class designs. As you can imagine, while some people are able to handle both sides of the equation equally, a designer is not necessarily the best coder and a web coder is not necessarily the best designer.
Over the course of my freelance writing career, I’ve been asked to do several things that a writer may or may not do. Some of these I have taken in stride, some I learned on the fly, and some I outright refused. Here are a few examples.
1. Image Editing
People say that a picture is worth a thousand words and that’s part of the reason why so many articles are inevitably accompanied by a photograph or a graphic of some kind. When I write my tech news blog posts for Mobile Magazine, I am required to edit in a couple of pictures to accompany them. These are easy enough, because if I’m writing about the LG enV2, I’ll include a picture of — you guessed it — the LG enV2. I’m no photography or PhotoShop expert, but I know enough to be able to do this kind of image editing.
When I provide a price quote for a potential freelance client who requires an accompanying image, I include that cost as part of my quote. Image editing does not come free, even if I’m no expert.
2. Posting in a Content Management System
This may not sound like extra work to some people, but it is indeed an additional task that goes beyond the call of duty and goes beyond the job description of a freelance writer. If it was just writing, I would simply send the completed work via email to the client and be done with it. However, because most of my work is online, many of my customers require that I post up the finished product in the back-end of a content management system like WordPress.
When I write a review on John Chow dot Com, I not only edit the embedded images, but I also go through the process of uploading the images to his server and posting the article in the WordPress administration panel. This doesn’t take a huge amount of time, but it does go beyond the actual writing of the review.
3. Setting Up a Blog
Going even further, I’ve had people request that I set up a WordPress blog for them before I actually get down to writing the blog posts. This service is not free and it is not part of my usual line of services. The first time I was asked to set up a WordPress blog for someone, I had to learn the ins and outs of the installation process as I went along. The process was further complicated by the nature of the client’s chosen web host. I don’t foresee myself offering this service in the future, because it’s more headache than what it’s worth.
4. Research and Testing
When it comes to writing a product review, I necessarily have to get involved with the product and run it through its paces. I can’t possibly review a cell phone without actually using it myself. This much is clear. There are also instances where I may have to do a fair bit of research before being able to produce an article, as is the case with some of my articles on LoveToKnow Cell Phones. I may or may not be particularly familiar with the subject matter of these keyword-based articles, so research (mostly online) may be required.
5. Editing and Site Management
Although I market myself as a freelance writer, I have also been known to edit the works of others. Going back to the LoveToKnow family of websites, I am currently the site editor of both the Cell Phones and Video Games sections. As part of my site editor duties, I not only write articles of my own, but I also maintain the homepage, edit other writers’ submissions, and answer questions posed through the comment forms. Naturally, I am compensated accordingly for these additional duties.
Going Above and Beyond
It depends on the nature of the extra tasks, but I typically do not have a huge problem with taking on additional responsibilities that go above and beyond the actual freelance writing. So long as I am compensated accordingly for my time, I find that providing these extra services helps me to stand out as a freelancer. If you choose to take this path as well, going beyond the call of duty, just make it clear to your clients that the additional work takes time and, thus, will cost them.