Hello everyone. I hope you are doing well and your family and everyone you know is safe.
I just wanted to catch up and update everyone with what I’ve been up to for the last couple of months by using a “series” of posts titled “Diary of a Freelancer”. I’ve always wanted to capture freelancing as I experience it. The goal is to help others who may have the same doubts or pitfalls that I’ve had and to hopefully, help them out of those situations. And to help me come to terms mentally through the tougher parts of this journey.
I have been busy behind the scenes, so-to-speak, trying out unfamiliar things which included writing for Medium and having curated success with my first post, and also using Upwork.
I wasn’t sure of anything when I started, and now that I have had time to work through those things, I can honestly say, if you’re a writer that respects what you do, please don’t use Upwork.
Let me explain…
Upwork can be great for getting paid gigs as a freelancer. However, if you’re new to Upwork, you will struggle to begin with as you bid for jobs. This is because most of the employers that use Upwork are primarily looking for someone cheap to hire. Forget whatever rates you were used to charging, that won’t work on Upwork if you’re new.
You could be in this “rut” for months before you gain the exposure you need to earn well-paid gigs, and even then it’s hit and miss. This was an entirely unfamiliar process for me as a writer. Employers and businesses have hired me as a freelance contractor, consultant and editor in my career, so I haven’t had to “bid” for jobs that paid next to nothing for the work. To give you an example, it’s common to be asked to write 1000 words for less than $5.00 NZD. Those rates are terrible. And if you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you’re probably already at breaking point financially or you’re close to it.
Upwork also charge (around) $20.00USD monthly to use their services, so take that into consideration too if you sign up.
So while those offers weren’t acceptable to me and my current situation, there are plenty of other freelancers who will get paid next to nothing for their work. You will compete with hundreds of other freelancers like this. It’s tough, and you need to be ready for a serious commitment if you want to go the distance on Upwork.
I’d also like to say that while I frown on that process, I do not feel this way about any freelancers who use Upwork to get work. You do what you have to do to make ends meet. I think that has a lot to do with whether writers will thrive or fail on Upwork. If you’re broke already, I wouldn’t consider it. But again, each to their own. I respect and admire anyone that can get this process to work for them.
I spent around two months of my time on Upwork and while I didn’t bid every single day; I was constantly checking for gigs that suited my experience level daily and bidding on those jobs I thought were a suitable fit for me as a writer. I was a lot pickier about the gigs I bid for. Most freelancers on Upwork are not.
As I mentioned earlier, this was a novel experience, but it helped to reiterate exactly why I love writing and why freelancing is so challenging. Without this challenging aspect present daily, there’d be no reason to try your best or to push yourself to succeed. It is every bit a blessing and a curse.
I know what I will absolutely not do for money. That is one key takeaway from this experience. However, if an opportunity presented itself that was in alignment with what I really want to do, all bets are off!
I’m chalking it up to a lesson learned and setting my sights on target for what I really want, and that is to continue being an entertainment freelance journalist.