As I mentioned in my last post, I was hired for my first job only a few days after landing on Upwork. My profile was bare bones, my portfolio was non-existent, my knowledge of the platform was laughable. Yet I managed to win a contract by writing a ‘test’ article and getting approved for ongoing work.
My first mistake? Not taking the time to study the market and figure out what I was worth. The client was friendly. Considerate. Understanding. And paying me $200 a month for what amounted to 40+ hours a week. I chalked it up to ‘gaining experience’ and kept on plugging away.
I continued applying for jobs, slowly realizing that my dream client wasn’t such a dream after all. The work became more demanding, the pay stayed the same. The contract also remained ‘unfunded.’ Even after I realized my mistake, I let it slide. I was only making a couple hundred a month and was gaining momentum with other, higher paying clients, so I let it lie rather than force the issue.
Then came the project that convinced me I should finally cut ties. A 30,000 word technical book. Due in 3 weeks. The ‘outline’ provided was nonsense. The client refused to fund the project or even tell me how much I would be paid. I very nicely explained that I would be happy to complete it once I received more information and proper funding.
Radio silence. That was the last I heard. I eventually closed the contract and the client refused to provide a feedback – a blow to new freelancers. I learned later that this client is referred to as a farmer – someone with an agency who acts as a middle-man between the actual clients and the freelancers who do the work. They target new freelancers and pay pennies.
Overall, I can appreciate the experience. It gave me confidence that I had something to contribute, taught me about which clients to avoid, and helped me understand the realities of the freelancing world. So thank you, Mr. Client, for teaching me lessons far more valuable than any payment you could have provided.
Whether you decide to join Upwork, another freelancing site, or even seek out business in your local market, remember the following:
- Do your research before you get started. Don’t let lack of preparation lead to a waste of time and money.
- Remain professional, but firm. The type of clients you want will value you when you value yourself.
- Perseverance is key. You will have moments of doubt and indecision. Acknowledge them, but don’t let them stop your progress.