• Sarah Margaret Henry

The Tale of How I Made $3 For 6 Hours of Work (And Lost it All and More)

Freelancing is great. You make your own hours, work for yourself, empowered by your own sense of creation.


Most people don't realize that directly translates to:


1. You work unendingly.

2. You do all the work yourself (even the gross weird stuff like accounting. Yuck).

3. And your sense of worth is tied directly to whether or not you can make enough money to feed yourself that week.


While I've been working freelancing gigs for the past two years, I'm a novice at making this work full-time. I've been at it for about two weeks so far and it has been both beautiful and excruciating.


As my fiance would say, "beacruciating." You can tell why I'm the wordsmith in this partnership.


So anyway, I've been hacking away at all the freelancing sites, such as Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru, beefing up my profiles and submitting all the proposals I can before I hit the number of free submissions for the month.


They all have different rules and regulations and how much they yank out of your paycheck. Who can blame them? They're here to make money too, and I can't fault them for that.


However, what is rather irksome at best and unbelievably frustrating at worst is that Freelancer.com charges you as soon as someone accepts your proposal for a project: $5, or 10% of the project's earnings, whichever is higher.


This is all fine and well, except for the fact that when you bid $12 for a project and the client changes his mind and he instead wants an 800 word article for $3 instead of a 750 word article for $12 and Freelancer has already taken $5 from you, you're already $2 in the hole before you even put in the work hours.


And personally, I do believe that an hour of writing, which turns into five additional hours of back and forth messaging and navigation of the site that neither of you completely know how to use is not exactly worth my paying $5 for the privilege of not getting paid.


Exasperation. Confusion. #exhasperusion

But, unfortunately, like that dead end customer service job you swore you would never go back to (I still have nightmares about explaining to a customer that you can't dip a wafer cone with hard ice cream upside down in hot chocolate because it will fall off the cone and make a gigantic mess), the customer is always right. And unfortunately, unlike the customer service job where you just shrug into the void and acknowledge that customers are not always experts in ice cream physics, one unhappy customer and a bad review can ruin your entire reputation on a site that is already impossible to compete for clients on.


So what do you do? Well, fortunately it's all done electronically, so you don't have to do it with a smile on your face, but you communicate effectively, apologize for the inconvenience, and you make some damn good work.


Because that's all you can do.


But maybe, just maybe, someday you'll make it big enough where you won't have to pay to do your job. Someday.


UPDATE: Still have not gotten paid. I'm just going to make like Elsa and Let It Go.

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