Every now and then we need a reminder to not sell ourselves short.

As pointed out in a piece in The Washington Post Magazine, a reader submitted a query indicating he or she wrote two promotional booklets for a retirement facility, the same one where the reader actually lives. When the bill was a submitted, the facility director pushed back. She said, “We can’t pay you for this.”

“The term ‘freelance’ originally referred to mercenary soldiers: ‘free’ meaning unaffiliated, and ‘lance’ referring to their pointy weapons,” explained Karla L. Miller.

The work columnist added, “Apparently your facility’s director has reinterpreted it as someone you can stick it to without paying.”

Her advice per the piece? “Do no unpaid work. Never start a project without a contract spelling out payment, deadlines and milestones, for your protection and the client’s. Without a contract, the client may well assume you’re volunteering — which is why plumbers, paperhangers and other professionals have you sign something up front.” Read more