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.
Anne Wayman says
lol, it’s not as if a job with a corporation is exactly secure… I’ve been fired and I’ve also had companies just disappear out from under me.
Glad I missed that round of unhappy content providers – you and me? We’re writers.
Anyway, this is also a good article… there’s a huge difference between a client and an employer, thank goodness. I do often arrange my contracts so the pay is monthly, but that’s on big, multi-month contracts.
Thanks, Anne. Freelancers can make sure they have a steady stream of income throughout the month, but there’s always the chance a client will bail. It happens to every single freelancer at one time or another. Even content writing sites go under – it’s happened in the past.
You’re right though, no job is 100% secure.
I’ve had regular clients fold after several years in business. But I also have a friend who’s been out of work five times in 20 years. Clients — even large ones — can only fire/lay you off a percentage (the percentage of your business they represent) at a time.
And, as you point out, certain payments by an employer (taxes, et al) are paid by contractors, which many in several service businesses seem to forget when figuring what is a legitimate income — revenue minus expenses, not straight revenue.
I also feel that freelancing is more secure, as you can always move on to someone else/some other source (and if you’re smart, you’ve got other “eggs” like Deb teaches).
I call my clients my bosses to my children- it’s a concept they understand a little better.
I call them bosses as well, Allena. It’s hard for my son to grasp the concept of freelancing but he starting to get responsibility.
I was recently offered a proper job with a company that I write for and I turned them down because, while the regular paycheck might be nice, I value the freedom of being a freelancer. Not to mention, I hate to put all my eggs in one basket!
I took off a year from freelancing to accept a full time job and it just wasn’t for me. I missed the freedom and flexibility and also being able to handle multiple projects. It would have to be an amazing offer for me to go back to a full time job.
Kurt Evans says
I think that if writing is in your blood as it is in mine that client or employer doesn’t really matter as long as you get to write.
Yes and no, Kurt. I do agree we should write for who we want without being criticized, I also thing we should always aspire to bigger and better things, and, also, not take projects that go against personal beliefs.