Wondering how to be local, ethical and support fair trade? Hire freelancers!
People are becoming increasingly aware it seems on the impact on their environment. People are attending dinners based around the premise of 100 mile dinners aimed at reducing petrol usage and highlighting local goods. Sourcing uncaged chicken eggs and free range produce is increasing in popularity and people are thinking ethically about their purchases from overseas. In Sydney, where the cost of living keeps jetting through the roof and onto the stratosphere, it is particularly popular to consume fair trade coffee, live local and reduce your carbon footprint. Yet increasingly I see more and more people picking up the phone or trawling the internet for freelancer auction sites, bursting with vivid excitement at the prospect of getting a job done for 10% of the cost of getting it done in Australia. Its hip, vogue and trendy to be local, choose ethically and actively seek out fair trade. Why don’t the same sensibilities extend to business decisions? Where is the live local, be ethical and fair trade in that?
The reality is yes, there are agency’s who charge like wounded bulls who go off on flights of fancy, adding bells and whistles to your projects along the way you didn’t want, need or even mention who will give you the bill for their little jaunt at the end and expect it paid for. And yes, there are agency’s who do not know how to budget for time or money or both who will derail your projects because they are afraid to work it out properly at the initial quotation stage, have a junior member of staff doing the forecast or really wouldn’t know how to run a sock-hop for sock puppets that somehow stay in business. The agency world is full of giant egos just wanted to be pandered to, people who really don’t give a rat’s arse about anything other than the balance sheets and quarterly bonuses, wannabe film makers who just want their off the wall takes on life plastered about with your money or who have ended up in a position to influence and run your account when really, the only thing they should be in charge of is sorting the mail.
It’s so well known in agency land they even have the gumption on occasion make fun of it in their client’s ads.
Or so consuming they think the customers speak their language of concepts and brands…
On the other side of the coin are the auction sites. You can save a few bucks here without a doubt. Especially with jobs starting for a few of loose tenners and averaging what some people see as the budget for a good night out for websites, iPad application builds, entire marketing and business plans or reams and reams of copy. It may seem like a bargain way to get something done, but seriously, haven’t you ever heard the adage “you get what you pay for”? I recently had the uncomfortable pleasure of letting a client know the “custom” website he bought off an auction site was actually a customised free WordPress template. I do business with an online firm who probably help Panadol shares stay buoyant through absorbing the headache of mopping up after ‘renter coders’ have worked on existing and new websites. I’ve had to re-write a complete SEO campaign of website, articles, blogs and advertorial copy in a weekend after the copy auction winner they gave the job to didn’t follow their SEO keyword report, used an automated word weaving package to do the job and then edited the results without abiding by grammar or in some instances, spelling. Not all experiences are like this, but many of them are.
Beyond this, making use of sites that have people bid against each other for jobs is like asking a five year old to be your designated driver to a Charlie Sheen house party- it’s wrong on so many levels no one knows where to begin when trying to explain why it’s such a bad idea. How is getting people to outbid each other on a job to the point where they could potentially earn only cents an hour for their work anything other than exploitation? Why would you give fees to a company that can afford outdoor advertising and yet run a situation that makes sure people are paid barely anything for their work? How much do you actually save if the project has to be done again and you add the cost of the time you have wasted for the privilege?
So what’s the happy medium between paying for some Creative Director’s trip through la-la land or paying peanuts and being just another exploiter of poverty through what is in reality an online sweat shop?
There are a bucket load of freelancers and smaller operations who do quality work for a fraction of the cost of the hundreds of dollars you currently pay ad-land for their top shelf Friday drinks and “no freaking idea” policies in Australia who are professional and ethical who you can engage knowing you are supporting fair trade and local business. People who have professional experience, knowledge and work hard to ensure your projects and campaigns work out the way you want them to. The thing is with a freelancer or owner/operator, you are working with someone who has your best interests and satisfaction firmly in mind at all times- we have to in order to survive! Hungry for work but striking out for themselves, freelancers are looking for businesses that share their passion for online, marketing, events, copywriting, photography and more. And chances are the freelancers you find can introduce you to even more creative and passionate people who you can call upon to make your endeavours a success. If you would like to see where doing business with a freelancer can take you (and your budget), email Rebekah@unashamedlycreative.com.au
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