Freelancing: the Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

This leap has barely begun, and already, I’m learning that nothing is certain with freelancing. One month, I can have more work than I can handle, and the next month, there may be crickets. It’s an exercise in managing emotions. Don’t let yourself go crazy and spend lots of money when you’re working; don’t despair and panic when you’re not. One offer can change the month in an instant. But even with the fun of working for yourself, there are some tricky areas to navigate.

Scammers (The Criminally Ugly)

The most frustrating thing about freelancing is scammers. Once you learn their habits, they’re easy to spot — often, they didn’t verify their method of payment. However, they’ve evolved as the freelancers learned to avoid them. Now, they will verify a method of payment, but if you look at other details, you begin to see a pattern. It’s always the first time they’ve posted an ad and have never spent a dime on the site. It’s always entry-level work for more than others are paying. Another tell-tale sign is a similar list of job responsibilities or requirement bullet points in the ad.

What is infuriating is that these scammers target people simply trying to earn a living. None of us are likely wealthy, and none of us can afford to lose what little we have, yet that is exactly who these criminals go after.

Exploiters (The Legally Ugly)

But in some ways, they are not the biggest criminals on the site. That falls to the people who want you to edit their 100K word manuscript for $70. When you break that down to the number of hours you would have to put in on a project that size, you would make pennies an hour. Would the writer/publisher of this book be willing to work for so little? Then why ask others to do that for you. It should be a crime.

Shifting Sands (The Bad)

There are other frustrations. For a while, the recommendation was to always use AI to write your cover letters, as they would stand out and have all the keywords from the application. I’ve been doing that, with heavy editing, of course, until I got rejected from an application because it was written with AI. Things are always shifting, and they never seem to favor the freelancer.

Growing Creativity and Opportunity (The Good)

While working in the freelance world, I came up with a business idea that won’t let go. It’s a mobile phone app for something useful and needed, and there is nothing like it on the market at the moment.

I researched and found that apps can be costly to develop and launch. Many times in my life, I have had an idea but no way to get there, then watched someone with more resources reap the rewards and accolades for the thing I could not do. Once again, it seemed a way forward might be impossible, but there’s a part of me that isn’t going to let that happen this time. I found a developer on Upwork that is still financially out of reach for me but is closer to my reality. I have invested some money into developing the app, will create a business plan, and hope to find a couple of investors who might want to make a little money while also allowing me to find some financial freedom. Once the investors are in place, I will complete the app development and get it on the market.

As ugly as freelancing can feel at times, I’m still loving it. My work in June got me a Top Seller badge, which should help with getting hired in the future. My creativity is flourishing. I have time for personal development. I have time to enjoy life. And even with occasional moments of terror where I’m not sure I will make this work, for the most part, there is joy. It’s nice to finally be in a place where things are happening. While crashing at the bottom of the canyon is still a very real possibility, the excitement that I may not, seems to be winning.

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