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Ah, the freelancer’s first conundrum. You’ve announced to friends and family that you’re going freelance. Hidden among the congratulations is the start of “Oh great, you can help me with…” 

You might feel guilty about the sudden sigh. Friends should be able to help each other out after all, right? Just remember that it goes both ways. You’re providing a service that, for any other client, you know what to charge for, and what you will tolerate. But, it’s not all bad, as long as you’re firm and fair.

Use it to expand your portfolio

This is the almost-hilarious freelancer staple. “It will be great exposure”. The truth is though, if you’re just starting out then you may well need to dish out some freebies in order to boost your portfolio.

You can help your friend out, while they help you. If you just need to increase the work on your portfolio then freebie away! Be warned though, if you don’t make it clear it is a one-off you might struggle in the future.

On a similar note, if you’re not completely established as a freelancer, you’ll need some sparkling testimonials to big you up in the independent working circles. Once you’ve completed a piece of work for a friend for free, the least they can do is give you a cracking recommendation and tell all their friends about your services!

 

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Mates Rates

After you’ve begun working, you could be tempted to charge friends at a lower rate, in a ‘mates rates’ type of contract. You might be judging who gets freebies based on the closeness of your relationship with them. Not only is this particularly dodgy territory for any rational person who hopes to keep all their friends, but it also means you’re not valuing your work.

If you were valuing your work, you wouldn’t be charging based on your relationships. Instead you’d be charging on the quality of work you’ve done, or on the amount of time the work took out of your schedule.

That said, you might make the occasional exception, just be clear as to why.

 

Don’t Mix Work With Pleasure

If you’ve decided to work with one of your friends, and they’re happy to pay for your services, the next step is keeping your working relationship and your friendship separate. Don’t let the two bleed into one.

If you’ve got a work query, make sure you bring it up in a work setting, rather than when you’re drinking in a bar on the weekend (this will also help you avoid drunken work promises).

Other ways you can avoid an argument with your friend over work is by only doing work for friends you believe you can treat as another client, and who you think will benefit from (and appreciate!) your work.

It might be tough to say no to people when you’re so desperate for work, but it will be even tougher three months down the line when they’re taking up hours of your time.

Saving a friendship

There are plenty of ways to keep your friendships remaining professional when you need them to. Unfortunately though, there are times when it’s just too late.

You might have had trouble negotiating a price, or they might not be happy with the quality of work. Whatever the problem, you need to avoid your friendship turning sour.

The answer? Handle a problem-friend the same way you would a problem-client. You might get annoyed because your friends should know better – but don’t be the one to instigate a shouting match.

Instead, apologise and treat them just like you would treat a tricky client. You’re much more likely to come through the other side with your friendship still intact.

Pricing can be difficult. Use our the reporting features of our very own free bookkeeping software to help you keep an eye on your prices and profits.

About The Author

Christopher Jones

Forensics graduate-turned copywriter and blogger. I love turning complex topics into easy to understand, yet engaging pieces of content.

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