How to respond to this cheeky request(43 Posts)
So a friend (new friend, don't know well but part of a budding friendship group) is a garden designer. We needed our garden sorted. We asked him if he wanted to take a look for us and do some designs. He duly did and we paid him for them. He then sent us a cost estimate to have the work done by a builder friend of his. It was expensive. I replied saying that we were going to get our own builder to cost it up.
He replied saying that he was happy to talk to our builder to give more details on the designs. So he is being helpful. But then came the corker.
I write for a living. He asked me if I could do him a favour. He asked if he could send over the copy he'd written for his new website so that I could 'look at it with my professional eye and could I edit it for him. No rush.'
So - he does garden design for a living. He creates some designs for us. We pay him.
I write for a living. I must read his copy and edit it for him. For free.
I don't know how to respond to him. It's the principle of it. Why should he get a freebie when I have to pay? I wouldn't mind helping a friend out but surely it's quid pro quo? Incidentally, the price charged if I was being paid would probably be similar to what he charged us.
I would say just that - handily enough the price I would charge for my writing just about cancels out your quote for our garden so if you are happy with that...
Send him a quote for your work - ask him to confirm (in writing) he is happy with the price before you do anything else..
What kind of writing do you do for a living? He's basically asking you to read something and possibly tweak it though, isn't he, rather than write it?
I agree with Edward.
You could spend 5 mins spell and grammar checking and send it back to him, he would probably be none the wiser if you had spent 2 hours on it. Any further requests would need to be quoted for.
Say sure " I can do it for mates rates of £???" Just make sure mates rates is your usual fee.
I think you go back to him along the lines of ...
'thanks for asking me to do this. Before I proceed, I just wanted to clarify that my hourly rate for this type of work is £x, and I estimate it will take x hours to complete. Are you happy to proceed on this basis?
Ps - did you get the cheque for the garden design ok?"
Ok so the last bit is a bit cheeky, but I'd just treat it as any other request for work.
I'd get back to him with a quote and wait for his response.
I've had this request before and the above has always worked.
Are you sure that your editorial/subbing job on his already-written copy is worth the same as a brand new garden design?
If so, that surprises me.
minty - he did four drawings for us, each a tweak of the design to give us ideas. They're not full technical specs. I don't know how long it will take me to edit his copy or how big the site is. If it is not much, then no, it won't be the same price, but if it is several hours worth of work, it won't be dissimilar.
To be honest, I have spent years in marketing, PR and copywriting which is why he has asked me to do this. I have actually recently stopped doing this so that I can get on with writing a novel, which I am doing. This isn't something I want to do so the money isn't an issue. I don't want the distraction of it. I don't want to be rude, but I also think why should he get something for free off a mate when he charges.
I agree with teamedward about the not mixing business and pleasure. Lesson learned.
Why don't you go with a variation on Piffpaffpoff's answer and say you're happy to look over it, your hourly rate is £x and you can give him an estimate for the total cost once you have an idea of how much work it's going to be.
"I can look it over and edit it if you wish; however I would have to charge you for my time as I don't have much of it and you sound like you want a professional job done"
Or... say you can do a quick look at it (eg couple of hours in an evening) and give him general pointers... eg, "you need to get these key-words into that paragraph"; or "this section should be about half the words" etc
but that if you were to actually DO the re-writing on it, that would be at least a days work and you would have to charge. Or say, Sorry, you don't have time to do the re-writing bit of it, you can only read it over and give pointers for how he, or someone else, should rewrite it.
Its similar to my work (fundraising) - I'm happy to spend an hour or two reading someone's draft application and saying (in general terms) how they need to improve various bits; or commenting on a fundraising strategy: all that is fine as a free favour if I like them.
Writing a application form or actually writing the changes required or researching a list of potential funders - that would be paid work, and I'm quite comfortable with clearly saying that I don't have time to do it.
Are you totally sure he's not expecting to pay, though?
At what point has he said he isn't expecting to pay for your services?
I really would be sure you're right in assuming he's asking for a favour before you say anything. It does sound to me as though he may well be expecting to pay. I'd probably do it, though say you've got a lot of work on etc etc so new jobs are taking a while to get to. If he doesn't pay or offer to, chalk it up, I reckon.
I disagree that any of this should be considered so trivial as to be free. The OP is a professional writer and 'a quick look at it' is all potential income for her, same as the garden design is for him.
However, if he hasn't said straight out that he wants a freebie, then don't refer to that possibility when you reply. I would say you are very busy at the moment but if he definitely wants to go ahead, it would cost X. Then if he asks outright if you will do it for free, say you're afraid you can't prioritise freebies over paid work and you are sure he feels the same about his own business.
the reason I think he wants it for free is that his email subject line was 'Favour please' and then in the email he said....'And now onto the favour, can you look at.....'
If he wanted to pay for it, he would say something like: As you write, could you let me know what you'd charge to edit my website.
A favour to me = something for free
I like peeriebear's idea
I would be blunt. Sorry, I can't do you this favour. You know how it is when you are self employed. Every penny counts. That's why you charged me £X for the work you did instead of doing it as a 'favour'.
I don't have time to take on this work right now, but if you are looking for a copywriter, I recommend X or Y.
Good luck with the website.
I would say, we'll ill have a quick half hour read of it and email some thoughts but if you actually want an edit job that will take far longer and I can do it for £x or recommend somebody to do if for about the same price.
He might just be expecting a comment or two on the tone which will take no time at all (I edit exhibition text so have a good idea).
"I'm really sorry but I'm snowed under at the moment. I just don't have the time."
Sounds like he sees his gardening work as "real" work but doesnt see your work the same. "Oh its only reading over something."
You should email back and set out your costs. Be blunt. Favours work both ways and your work requires paying for the same as his.
I agree with wannabe - you've trained and aimed valuable experience over a long career to make your skills valuable. Don't give them away!
Lots of people don't understand the difference you can make to copy if you have a trained eye. You're busy - and he charged you for his skills!
Be firm but polite.
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