Why Freelancing may not be for you. The Essay that say it all.
I am writing this piece from a place of pain. I really hope people understand what they want going forward
Freelancing is an opportunity to work in ways you want, especially if you are not someone who admires working in a fixed circumstance. I am not sure who told people this, but this is what I hear from most people I have spoken with. Yes, freelancing offers you the opportunity to work with a flexible schedule.
However, it doesn’t mean it is easy, or that is how it is generally. Sometimes, you may have to work according to your clients’ schedules. In 2019, I met a man on Upwork when I was still finding my feet. The man needed a freelancer who could work well and deliver excellent articles on one knotty topic I can’t remember again. He agreed to pay $50 per article of 1000 words which would have fetched me at least $1000 at the end of the contract. A perfect one, right?
The only issue was the schedule and time zone. Imagine a client dropping incessant mails for you at 3 am when you are in dreamland and expecting a reply in 2o minutes. That happened for two days, and by the third day, I had to throw in the towel. This has happened as many times as possible in my short freelancing career.
I was speaking with a friend the other day, and he was telling me about his experience with a client who initiated a call on zoom, but they couldn’t proceed because of connectivity issues. The client rescheduled the call to the time that suited him without consulting him. Unfortunately, it was that particular time he was in the midst of a significant business with his wife in the nighttime. In this situation, usually, every other thing should wait but he attended to him 30 minutes after, but the call was off understandably.
Here are just a few instances where freelancing can become utterly difficult and won’t work with your schedule no matter how hard you try.
Some also believe that they just need to open a fiverr.com or upwork.com account, and boom, they will start making thousands of dollars on the second day. Sadly, these sets of people are paranoid and utterly frustrating when you try to show them the real freelancing.
In March 2022, I made a tweet about freelancing on my Twitter profile, and someone reached out through the dm that he would like to know more about freelancing on Upwork. I ignored it because I was tired honestly of people reaching out just for reaching out sake without taking action. For context, I have taught more than 500 people how to get started with freelancing on Fiverr and Upwork since 2020. However, less than 1% of the numbers have taken action. There are around 5 people who have made between $20-$500 in these statistics. Furthermore, more than 15 people have paid me to learn how freelancing works and how they can start making money with their skills. Sadly, less than half of these people have taken action, and only about 3 persons have made between $300-$1000.
I have noticed that our people only want to do something that brings instant gratification and something they can use to gain clout on social media. They love those who tell them to put 50k and get 100k in twenty minutes. That is the primary reason they keep falling for the scams of Ovioza, Chinmark, 86fb and the likes, all of whom play on the desperation of these unsuspecting people to collect their widow’s mite.
I was talking about the DM intruder before I digressed. He reached out to me that he wants to learn how to make his Upwork account productive. I knew it was soft work because I know what works on Upwork to a larger extent. I have been there. I mean it is the reason why I can now use my Payoneer account to request payment from clients all around the world. You may want to check the requirements to be able to do this.
So I told him the amount I would collect, and he paid. We agreed to run the class within 3 days for optimum productivity. Then, I saw his desperation too, and I had to put things right. He said that now that he has registered for the class, he expects to start making money almost immediately. Not that this is not possible, but many things need to happen. I told him it might not be possible and the only reason he can start making money is when he stops thinking short-term and think of it as a business and give his all.
To cut the story short, he got his first job within a week, and in the following weeks, he got more jobs than he could handle, and he’s now smiling to the bank to cash out dollars. I am sure he is seeing this and will send me salah money.
The above individual is a typical example of those who want to freelance. Let’s now talk about the second person.
Two weeks ago, someone reached out to me that he would like to learn how to make money through freelancing. After a few questions to know him, we agreed on a price he decided to pay twice. After making the payment, I asked if he had any experience with any freelance platform before and he answered no. Okay, what skill do you want to be selling as a freelancer? My guy said he doesn’t have any skills, and he expected me to teach him the skill in addition to freelancing. Lol. Okay, what skill will you like to learn, or what are the things that make you happy when you do or see them? He said writing!
Most times, writing as a skill is the go-to skill for most people who don’t have direction. I know this because I have been there before! Till today, I don’t understand why people feel writing is the whipping skill that everyone can do without prior experience. Most times, people learn the hard way about the might of writing except they are lucky to work with mediocre clients who don’t know what they want and accept any writing draft as delivery!
After the back and forth on the skill, I accepted writing as his skill, and I promised to create an account for him in that niche. Now, our guy doesn’t have any writing samples or portfolios, and he is not ready to write them. Expectedly, he wanted me to write his samples for him! Lol. So I refused, and he said he would find a way.
I finished approving the Upwork account, optimized the profile, and we had marathon calls and exchanged voice notes on sending proposals that work on Upwork. I was begging him to be available on our calls, and I was not surprised when he said he was busy. Guess what he was doing? Uploading memes to entertain his contact on Whatsapp! Now, that’s a tremendous skill he could have leveraged, but he is wasting the talent because he doesn’t know what he wants. For context, meme marketing is projected to be one of the biggest marketing skills in the next few years.
After the call, I expected him to ask me questions and tell me about the jobs he’s been bidding for. I didn’t see any message or call for almost a week, and I reached out. He said he would reach out when he had questions. That sums the whole process up! He’s not taking any action; he just wasted his money, wasted my time and wasted potential.
Both men who reached out wanted to increase their earning potential through freelancing. While both of them were desperate at first, the first one understood what he wanted, prepared to learn, and took action because he had a skill he was confident in. The second man just needed a fast and instant way to make money without having a skill and was not ready to learn one that aligns with what he loves to do.
Most people I have met are like the second person. Like James Clear said, “people follow incentives, not advice.” They don’t want to listen to what will make them work; they only want to make money.
Contrary to what many influencers and teachers want you to believe, freelancing is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and if you are not ready to improve your skill, give it time or pay for the right mentorship, you will not go anywhere.
Admittedly, freelancing can be a way to achieve or propel your dreams but to arrive at this desirable financial stage; you must put in years of hard work to build your expertise, establish the proper connection, and exit marketplaces to focus on your direct clients.