No, I won’t write your metadata for free

Until last week it looked as though one of my 19 for 2019 goals was going particularly well. Then, I caught an unseasonable bout of flu. It started on Sunday, masquerading as an unusual white wine hangover. Then as my aches and pains continued into the middle of the week, I became increasingly grateful that a bout of bad weather was going to prevent me from flying.

Now that I am free from myalgia, malaise, and all the other Ms, I’m much perkier and slightly sunburned from yesterday’s blast of good weather. I’m also aware that I had an attitude akin to Medusa’s last week, which meant I felt irritated by a fair few events that wouldn’t otherwise bother me.

One that has remained firm, though, is the client who believed I should complete their metadata, for free. Their argument was the same as usual, “I only want 160 characters.” While that’s all fine and dandy when you’re writing a single article, that forced altruism feels less appealing when you’re churning out free doses of SEO for a dozen category descriptions.

As freelance copywriters, we should never work for free

I am a sucker for writing about the perception that, as freelance copywriters, we sort of have it easy. Although we do have it easy compared to some professions (my partner is a surgical doctor, so yes I do have it easier than him), that doesn’t mean we need to engage in a race to the bottom mentality that leaves us providing work for free.

All those freebies soon mount to significant chunks of income over time. I’m rarely a tight person when it comes to money, but I also recognise my worth. Let’s say there are 27 words in a 160-character meta description (give or take a few words either side). I may write at least one bunch of category descriptions each day, with around six categories in each bunch. So far, we’re looking at 810 words per week. For free.

Depending on your rate (I’ll use an average for mine, it varies between clients depending on the complexity of their project) that could reach up to £64 per week. Yikes, this is already 1/3 of a flying lesson for me.

Over the course of a year (assuming you take around four weeks for leave) that’s a lovely £3,072 you gave away for free.

Just learn to say no and stand your ground

If a client loves your work and recognises your worth, they will not push the issue. They’ll agree that the meta description they want is to be included in their original word count.

If they don’t agree? Just say no. I can assure you that the majority will see sense. Most of that majority will also continue to use your services. The ones that don’t fall into the first majority or the second aren’t worth keeping as clients, because you are a freelance copywriter who deserves to keep that extra £3,072 per year. You’re not someone who works for free.

Although (like me) you are working on a freelance basis, you are still running a business. It’s okay to chuck the occasional freebie someone’s way sometimes, but don’t enter into the habit of selling yourself short. Over the course of your working lifetime, you’ll stand to lose a lot as a result.

Are you looking for a freelance copywriter to write your content for you? While I may not work for free, I will exceed your expectations in every other way. Head here to start the hiring process. 


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