First of all this is neither a rant nor a complaint, it is just an observation and I would like to get opinions from my fellow freelancers. Although I live in India, I am an Indian, it is very rarely that I end up doing assignments from Asian as well as Indian clients. It’s not that I don’t accept the work. First of all there are very few clients who really appreciate experienced writers because here whoever can write, thinks that he or she can also write for his or her website or, brochure, so why pay a writer? And even if they hire, they don’t want to pay you much because after all you are just writing, you are not doing any work.
Among the ones who understand the importance of good writing, never seem to understand my need to charge an advance. They think I am going to disappear after taking the advance or I am not going to put enough effort after I have got money from them.
95% of my work comes from Europe and America and clients from these countries almost always pay an advance and they even pay for the sample if they ask for one. So I was just wondering, after a recent incident, why clients generally from Asia and particularly from India, are not eager to pay an advance and why there is so much mistrust. Instead of repeatedly saying Asia I will simply refer to Indian clients.
Indians are really hard-working and they love to follow rules, only when they are in some other country. In India they work hard only when lots of personal interest is at stake and given a chance, they’d rather while away the time, even if they have been paid to work at that time. If nobody is there to supervise them or monitor their activities, they leave the office early, they spend hours having tea, surfing the net, having lunch, gossiping, and doing everything under the sun accept for the activity for which they are being paid. And this is not confined to a particular section of the society; from top executives to the laborer breaking rocks by the side of the road, everybody skips work given a chance. People work hard not to grow, they work hard when they have no choice.
Since they spend their lives like this, they suspect everybody does that, and this is the reason why they don’t like paying an advance, especially to an Indian freelancer, because they think one only works when one is trapped. They think that to get small amount of money without having to do any work is much better than getting lots of money by working hard. That’s why almost 100% clients detest paying an advance.
There is also this problem of control. I have no problem sharing this observation with you, and I’m sure many people from India will agree, an average Indian is a typical school bully. He or she cowers in front of the strong and harasses the one at a disadvantage. When they hire you they are immediately condescending. They think they are doing you a big favor by giving you work because they very conveniently assume that you are desperate to get some work and your life hinges upon their acceptance. So when they are talking to you they already have this funny, childish, haughty tone, and on top of that, if you commit the chutzpah of asking an advance, they are totally offended and consider you an ungrateful chap. Most of them all of a sudden realize that they don’t actually require a writer, especially an ungrateful writer who doesn’t trust them. These are not the dangerous ones.
There are those who know that they need a writer, who despise the thought of paying you an advance, and eventually, they don’t intend to pay you even long after you have completed the work. These are the dangerous types and you should avoid them if you’re not desperate; you’d rather do the work for free (but don’t tell them because this will offend them because they can easily afford to pay 10 writers like you 🙂 ). They feel good that you are stuck with them for a long time. You have worked hard, you have worked for many days, and now your payment depends on their whim. They will make you feel ashamed of yourself for calling again and again for such a small amount. Fortunately I haven’t worked for such clients for many years.
Jokes apart, this is primarily the reason why people here don’t believe in paying an advance. They don’t respect their own time and commitment and therefore they don’t respect yours too.