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Free work AFTER contract?

Community Leader
David D Member Since: Jun 8, 2016
21 of 21

A couple of things.


1. Don't get caught up in the fear of receiving negative feedback. It's happened to all of us, and one bad review (even if you don't have many now) isn't going to end your freelance career. If you're a slave to the rankings, you'll let clients dictate unfair terms all day long and you'll make yourself miserable in the process.


2. The fact that it's only a little bit of work is not beside the point. It IS the point. Be wary of any client that says "oh it'll only take you 5 minutes" - I call BS on that and any time a client wants to tell me how long something should take me, I consider it a red flag. 


A job takes as long as it takes. I can write a 500-word article in roughly an hour if I don't need to do in-depth research. I know freelancers who would take 3 hours for the same project. It takes as long as it takes.


If any job REALLY took 5-10 minutes, people would do it themselves. They really would. Most of them, anyhow. "It won't take long" is the Freelancer/Client equivalent of "what's the worst that could happen?" Well, the worst that could happen is the client lied or didn't know enough to tell me the real scope of the work, I wind up working for 3 hours on this 5 minutes freebie and not getting paid for my time. And to top it off- I have no recourse to now ask for payment because I agreed to do some "quick" work for free.


3. Even re-writes and revisions are dubious. Who's dictating what needs to be rewritten? Who's fault is it that it wasn't done right in the first place? Believe me, clients can sometimes be horrible at communicating what they're looking for. They'll tell you they want an article on apples and then come back and ask why there's no mention of oranges since this is a fruit article. It happens. 


I generally don't have a problem providing revisions either, and I'm not saying you shouldn't, but it can be a slippery slope. I have a term sheet that I show to all of my clients that lets them know what my policy on revisions is. I would strongly suggest you consider doing the same. It helps to put things out there so that everyone is on the same page. 


In the end, I would politely tell the client that you appreciate the work and that you would be happy to work with them in the future, but that Upwork's TOS strictly prohibits you from providing work without an active contract, and that it wouldn't be in anyone's best interest for you to do so. It's for everyone's protection and peace of mind, after all. If they push back, cut 'em loose.


Will they give you a bad review? Maybe. But take the hit and move on, content that you've done the right thing. Remember, you get to leave reviews as well. And if this client continues to behave this way, it won't be the only negative review in their future.


Good clients will find the good freelancers. They'll also not judge you based on one poor review. If you do good work and find good clients, your feedback will turn out just fine. 


But if you start on a bad path now, it can REALLY be a pain down the line.