No more freebies, enough is enough...
People always want something for nothing. I guess its human nature, but being a self employed horse trainer, I come across this a lot when it involves people putting their hands in their pockets and paying for something. I know other horse trainers have the same issues, but I find it amazing at how many people get in contact asking for advice with their horses, but when I mention hourly rates or mileage charges, very few people actually follow through with this and book a session.
The amount of time that goes into responding to enquiries from potential clients really adds up. There is a reason that people get in touch with recognised horse trainers to ask for help, and that in itself is a GOOD thing, but they should not expect this advice to come for free. Lets face it, there are plenty of ‘keyboard warriors’ on social media who are all willing (often too willing) to give FREE advice, but the quality of the advice can vary and from what I have seen, most of the advice should not be followed if you value your relationship with your horse?!
As I have discovered over the last few years, it’s not just potential clients that want free advice; very often, magazine editors expect the same. I love writing articles for magazines on a variety of equine topics; bringing together my theoretical knowledge and hands on experience working with clients and their horses, but until recently, I’ve never been offered a financial contribution for my efforts, and I accepted this as ‘normal’.
A few months ago I was in contact with an equine magazine who commissioned me to write an article. This wasn’t an unusual situation, as I have contributed to several magazines over the last few years, but this magazine was willing to PAY for my article. The financial contribution for this article wasn’t huge by any means, but it was nice to think that I was going to be rewarded for my contribution upon publication.
Now, don’t get me wrong, in the past I've been happy to write articles and not be paid for them, but as I keep being reminded, the time and effort that goes into researching, gathering suitable photos, writing and editing articles really adds up, and this shouldn’t go unpaid. Most magazine editors seem to think that some article contributors should be happy for the 'exposure' rather than monetary payment, so imagine my delight when a magazine offered to pay for my contribution. Would you spend a whole day at work and be happy to go home unpaid, knowing some of your colleagues and your boss are being paid but you aren't? Like every other magazine contributor, I have bills to pay, and as my other employer states, “Every little helps”. Surely, even a small financial contribution isnt too much to ask?
I have always been very generous with my time, (as my existing clients will agree) so being paid to put words on paper should be no different, surely?! Magazines are businesses, not charities, so why should contributors be expected to give their time, energy and experience for free? To cut a long (and disappointing) story short, I wrote the article for the magazine, submitted it weeks before the deadline along with photos, case studies, etc and had some fab feedback from the editor. Today, I find out that the magazine in question ceased publication this month, and my efforts have yet again resulted in not being payed, through no fault of the editor this time!
The only upside I can see to this situation is that I still own the rights to the article I wrote, along with all the images I supplied, but the downside is that I will struggle to find a magazine editor willing to PAY for my efforts. I have several other article ideas that will ALL remain unpublished, as editors refuse to pay for contributions.
I am no longer allowing myself to be used as a ‘free advice’ service.
There are countless times that I give my time and energy for free, but its taken its toll on me over the last year or so. If its free advice you are looking for, then there are plenty of other people sat behind their computer screens eagerly awaiting for your questions, but if you come to me specifically for advice or horsey help, I will continue to be extremely generous with my time and give you the benefit of my knowledge and experience, but only if you value my advice enough to pay for it. This may sound harsh, but unfortunately, that’s the way it will have to be from now on. I am NOT a charity, and I have responsibilities that require financial payment to take care of....
If you have an enquiry, and would like my 'hands on' assistance with a horse related issue in Cornwall or Devon, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you. L x