When Friends and Family Expect Writing or Editing for Free

Perhaps you’ve experienced this scenario as well – a friend or family member ask you to “revise” something for them. In my case, no one asks me if I’d be willing or have the time, requests just show up in my Inbox. Friends tend to ask me to look at their résumés, going on the assumption that because I taught a college course on this I have special expertise. Except, this was twenty years ago, and things have drastically changed.

What they want is free writing and editing. The last time someone sent me their résumé for revisions after they had unexpectedly left their job, it was a holiday weekend. I had company and wouldn’t get to it until my guest was gone. My guest convinced me to just do it to get the friend out of my hair. I made revisions and suggestions, planning to never address this again. Wrong move. They kept peppering me with questions and six revisions and several days later, I was told their spouse knew more about résumés than I did. I will not do this again. Next time, when someone asks me to edit/revise, they will have to pay for my services. Those unexpected requests will either cease, or people will get the message. 

If friends and family compensate you, that changes everything. But if they are not, feel free to say, “Not interested.” Paying for writing services says you take your craft, and the time you’ve invested in helping make their piece shine, seriously. Don’t be taken for granted. Like any business, you expect to be paid.

If you feel uneasy about charging friends or family, remember that if they hire an outsider to review their work, it’s going to cost them. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way about free editing and writing advice, and while it may cause some initial hurt feelings, I’m prepared to take the risk.

Leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions!

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