So yesterday, as part of my job as a freelancer, I did something that made me squirm, just a little bit.
I edited a blog post that contained information and opinions that were very distasteful to me. Nothing illegal mind you, and thankfully there was no words that would put someone in harm’s way. No, this was one of those situations where the author and I would have been forced to politely disagree in public while privately thinking each other completely void of sanity and common sense.
Of course, the temptation to correct, to counter the opinions was there- almost painfully so. At one time, before I understood what it meant to be a professional freelancer, I would have, slicing into the opinions and information, rendering it a spineless blubbering mess. However, a cooler mind prevailed and I merely corrected grammar mistakes, misspellings and vetted what factual information that the blog post- which was as accurate and correct as usual. I edited the portions that were unclear, and hopefully helped make the blog post a little bit better.
Did I want to write a scathing response to what they said? Did I want to point out where, in my opinion, fell short? Of course, I did. And, to be honest, if I was working on my own blog or my own website, I might have considered it. However, this particular situation I wasn’t only speaking for myself. I was also representing my client.
That is one of the many factors that I would submit that many freelancers don’t really consider. You may be your own boss, making your own schedule, but when your name is associated with a client’s website, you by the very nature of the work becomes a representative of that client.
It may be temporary, but as anyone who works closely with the Internet knows, how professionally you represent one client will be reflected in the eyes of all your future clients.
It is a balancing act, living the life as a freelancer. In one sense, you have a level of freedom that is completely unparalleled in other professions. At the same time, the freelancer must take into consideration that how a client is represented by her efforts will have a ripple effect far into the future.
So where is the line? Is there a situation where I won’t even indirectly support something through freelance work? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I decided from the beginning that if I ever had a client who I felt would place someone in harm’s way through their words or actions, I would walk away, and if legally and morally required I would seek out the counsel of the authorities. Beyond that, I will keep my opinions to myself and only voice them in private to those who asked and who had a need to know.
Thankfully I have not been faced with that situation yet, but I am prepared for it if it happens.
As a freelancer, there are many different legal and professional things to consider. Items of interest can include creating a viable freelance contract and dealing with taxes or clients. Above all, those considerations are the idea that you as a freelancer have a responsibility to try and make your readers’, your clients’ and your own life just a little bit better.
At least that’s the assumption that I’m working under.
© 2015 – 2017, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.