Episode 2: Give them what they want.
My last post was about those unbearable overachieving PMs, which we've all been if we started our careers working in communication agencies before working for them.
In the same vein, working for middle people instead of end clients can be frustrating when you have to provide more than what you've been asked because you need the work.
This is also a major freelancing issue when you work with direct clients, except for end clients you set the pace (and what you invoice for the time and energy spent), not the agency that outsources the work to you.
This is problematic for three reasons:
1. Mission and budget:
The freelance content provider has been assigned a specific job. If you are asked to deliver a reread translation, it's not a translation AND a revision, which is more expensive and takes more time. The revision should be taken care of by the agency. It is therefore NORMAL and not unsatisfactory to deliver a translation that still needs some editing. However, nowadays most agencies expect translators to deliver (auto)revised translations that don't need any amending at the price of a simple translation.
Usually, the end clients need everything for yesterday, so the agencies expect freelancers to deliver perfect work for the day before yesterday. This is not fair, especially when the timeframe is too short to deliver quality work. Agencies shouldn't expect the highest level of creativity and quality control when there's already not enough time to deliver a good quality draft. We are not superhumans and we have other clients.
Absolutely everything we do is constantly assessed and evaluated. This is fine, except when it’s not. The client is the one who decides whether what you submit is good quality. As a copywriter, I write for the end client. Problems arise when the middle person, who is often not a professional copywriter or transcreator, has something to say about my text, or actually amends it before delivering it to the client.
When the client objects to what has been changed without telling me, I end up defending choices I didn't make because I don't want to hurt my relationship with the people who put food on my table by throwing them under the bus.
Of course, any work should be revised and, if needed, edited, but it should be a dialogue. Since discussion takes time, the time spent should also be taken into account in the budget.
Except it's almost never the case.
Don't misunderstand me: working for agencies can be great.
There're always pros and cons to any work, especially when you're a freelancer.
In fact, my next post will be dedicated to those heroes who provide freelancers with great projects while paying us fairly and managing admin tasks and being great to work with.