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Getting Trapped: Phrases All Freelancers Should Look Out For

We’ve all heard the carefully worded, manipulative phrases designed by clients or pretty much any person that needs something done to take advantage of freelancers where they’re most vulnerable: places like job instability, risk management, and romanticizing of passion. If you have no sounding board to call foul, those phrases can start to sound convincing. So, today in the spirit of looking out for you, we share some of the phrases you should pay close attention to and call out as BS*

“We don’t have a budget now, but maybe for the next.”

I think every single person in the freelance sphere has dealt with this. This only admits that the work is worth more than is being offered for it, and that acknowledgment will come later if you prove yourself. That promise rarely comes back to you so as you try to look at the bigger picture, take time to stay woke!

‘’It won’t take too long.’’

Usually, these are less than rewarding experiences with nothing really as the pay-off and this is the catch: it always takes longer than anticipated. Much longer. And there is always more than one round of changes. So my advice is: Be polite and say a firm NO.

‘’Can we first review your concept?’’

Clients who ask for sample work or concepts usually rely on the fact that the artist either doesn’t know any better or is so desperate for the job. It’s easy to be wooed by the prospect of getting a big project, to the point where you may be willing to take the gamble. However, you deserve to be paid for the time you’re putting in, regardless of whether or not your work is ultimately used.

“It will be great exposure.’’

This is usually a set up. You are going to be taken advantage of Every. Single. Time. These types of people don’t see a problem in co-opting your time for their own benefit. Steer clear of anyone who assumes their vision is so great that you’d be lucky to work with them, even if they can’t pay you what you deserve.


People often try to compress their requests in ways that suggest there is less effort involved, so whenever you receive a design request prefaced with the word “just,” stay alert. In such incidents, they are belittling the effort entailed. Watch out..

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