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3 Downsides of Freelancing Online

Earlier I wrote about how awesome it is to work online. You can work from anywhere in the world, you don’t have a boss, you can earn a healthy amount of money, and so on. That’s fantastic and I meant every word of it. There are downsides too though, and it’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve really started to notice them. If you work online, can you relate to any of these?

1. Lack of Client Communication

For me, this warrants spot number one. When I wrote about having clients (and not needing a resume) I was looking at as a major positive, and I still see it that way. However, the flip-side is that when you have lots of different clients, not all of them are going to treat you as you might like.

The best clients provide feedback and answer your questions in a timely manner. The worst don’t say anything and never return your emails. I’ve found that most clients fall somewhere in the middle. They’ll usually answer your questions, but not all the time. What I’ve found is the absolute worst though, is when a client stops giving you work for no apparent reason.

For example, I’ll turn in a few articles, the client will thank me (or not) and then I won’t hear back from them. That leaves me in a mental fog. Did I fuck up somehow, are the articles not what they wanted? Or is there just no more work right now?

Not only is this taxing mentally, it also makes it difficult to plan ahead. At the moment I have contracts with guaranteed work for the next month. Everything else is always on the chopping block. This is opposite of a traditional paycheck, which arrives week in and week out. I believe this is something that all self employed people experience, whether you work online or not.

2. The Need to Constantly Find New Work

I imagine that this will change in the future. As I continue to work online I hope to pick up steady clients and find more consistent, reliable work. However, at the moment I spend several hours a week looking for new work. There are two reasons for this.

As I mentioned above, sometimes clients leave me out in the rain. I deliver a product and then don’t hear from them again. Especially frustrating since I actually work really hard on every single article and I crave feedback. If they have a problem, I wish they would tell me! Every month a certain small percentage of my work disappears like this.

Sometimes it’s the other way around though, and I leave a client. The best example of this is a job I quit last week. I was working for Udemy, looking for email addresses of technology bloggers. It was stable work at $11 an hour. Comfortable, ridiculously easy, and I was good at it too, routinely beating their average time requirements for finding a certain number of addresses. However, the work wasn’t furthering my career. I could do it for 100 hours, earn $1,100 and still be in the same spot as when I started.

That’s different then writing articles. Every article brings me one step closer to achieving my long term goals. With every article I gain a sliver of new experience, I have something new to add to my portfolio and I learn a bit more about SEO. You don’t get any of that when you’re searching Google for Bloggers. That’s why sometimes I quit jobs, even good jobs, in order to find work that will bring me closer to achieving my goals. Giving up the short term to further the long term is great, but you still need to find new clients when you do it.

3. Explaining to People How I Earn Money

Seriously though, this gets old. Typical conversation goes like this (usually in Russian since I’m in Ukraine, but I’ll write it out in English).

“So what do you do for a living?”

“I write online.”

“You mean you’re a blogger?”

“Well, sort of. I write articles for different companies around the world.”

“You studied this in university?”

“No, I just started doing it four or five months ago”

“What do you write about?”

“Ummm, well I wrote about bedbugs today, but yesterday I wrote about a motel in Australia.”

“Wow. That sounds…. Cool!”

Eyes glazed, no comprehension. I’m fairly certain that half of the people I talk to think that I’m making this shit up. They probably think that every day I actually sneak off to go work in a factory or sell hot dogs on a street corner. It’s outside of most people’s reality that some guy from Australia who I’ve never met and will never meet is willing to pay me $20 an article to write about his motel.

A Freelancer’s Lifestyle

That, in a nutshell, is what I find difficult about working online. Number three isn’t really that bad though, just sort of annoying. I don’t think people take me seriously when I tell them how I earn money. They think I’m a fruit, or that I just don’t want to tell them what I really do.

All things considered I really like working online. I’ll take these downsides any day versus the drawbacks of previous jobs that I’ve held. If you want to find out how you can get started, read my post: How to Make Money Online. In the post I break down the procedure of finding work online into a series of easy steps. Anyone can do it, so long as you want it bad enough. Are you ready for something better?

Screw the Resume, Satisfy Your Clients

For an entrepreneur, having a satisfied client is the most important resume. You can’t fake it and you can’t pay for it. It takes a while to build up a list of satisfied clients. However, once you have it, it’s like holding onto gold. You’ll be able to use that list of clients to bring in new jobs and charge more for them while you’re at it. Here are three reasons why you should start creating a list of satisfied clients, and chuck the resume in the garbage can where it belongs.

1. Your History is Irrelevant

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re working for yourself, your history is irrelevant. A prospective client doesn’t care where you went to high school, what you studied in college, whether you graduated from college, or how many times you’ve visited Florida. He cares about one thing.

Can you help me to solve a problem, and make my company more money?

If that client can read feedback from people you’ve worked with, or talk to people you’ve worked with, that’s going to be a way more effective way to convince him of your value.

2. Good Communication is Crucial

When you’re working with a client it’s critical to be accessible and easy to contact. You’d be surprised by how many people screw up this simple idea. They answer their emails late, or not at all. This makes it harder for a client to work with you, and they’re less likely to hire you again. A resume doesn’t tell a perspective client anything about your communication habits. Feedback from past clients does.

3. A Resume is Too Commonplace

My dad has been a business owner for more than twenty years. When I was a kid I would occasionally see the pile of applications that formed on his desk. When you see twenty or thirty of them stacked on top of each other, they no longer seem to represent human potential. That’s just a small business. Imagine if you’re sending in an application for a company which will receive hundreds..

Imagine how much more attention you would receive if you mailed my father’s business a letter. Inside you wrote three lines about yourself, and included the name and phone number of three other people you had worked with who would recommend you. That would  stick out from the pile.

You wouldn’t have to mail many of these letters before you got a job.

How You Can Start Building a Satisfied Client List

Unlike a resume, you can’t fake a client satisfaction list. The only way to build it is to actually offer your clients a high quality product. Do that, have good communication, and add in a dash of going-over-the-top and you have the perfect recipe for building a great list.

You don’t have to always have phone numbers or emails either. If you’ve done a good job for a client, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. They’ll be happy to give it. You can then take that and put it on your website. This doesn’t have to be fancy, my own list of feedback from clients is very simple. It gets the job done though.

Today I got my highest paying job to date, and I got it because my new client from Hong Kong read what other clients wrote about me. Twice during the interview she mentioned my client feedback list. She never asked me where I went to college, what my last job was, or what my address is (which is great, because I couldn’t tell you my Ukrainian address to save my life).

If you’re an entrepreneur, having satisfied clients is the new resume. Start building your list today.

How to Make Money Online

I’m going to base this entire section on the assumption that you’ve never worked online before. A few months ago I was the same way. That all changed when I read this article. Chase gave me the idea to start working online, and I haven’t looked back since. The difference between Chase’s article and mine is that he focuses on getting a job as a copywriter, while I’ll be narrowing my focus to look exclusively how to start earning money on Upwork. Let’s get started.

1. Sign Up for Upwork

Go to www.Upwork.com and create a profile. When you create your profile you need to take it seriously. A real live human being will actually screen your application and if your profile is incomplete, they won’t let you sign up until you fix the problems. To get it right the first time follow this advice.

*Upload a professional looking picture of yourself.

*List any experience you have writing or doing other online work.

*List real world experience you have in any industries.

*List what skills you specialize in (or would like to specialize in). Some examples include: SEO content, copywriting, translation, creative writing, web design, content marketing, social media expert, graphic design, and so on.

*Look at the picture below, which will give you an idea about how to create a professional, to the point profile.

2. Begin the Application Process

Now that you have a profile it’s time to start applying for jobs. A good place to start is by simply typing in “creative writer” or “content writer” into the search bar. You’re going to find hundreds of jobs, of which you should apply to dozens. Play up any experience you have. If you got an A on a paper in high school for writing about a local event, say you have experience in journalism. If you wrote about about a your grandma who survived WWII, say your talented at crafting personal profiles. If you’ve never written anything in your life, say you’re enthusiastic about learning.

Spend anywhere from five to fifteen minutes on every application. The key here is volume. Every month you can apply to 30 jobs, and you want to apply to all 30 of them. Out of those jobs you’ll probably here back from three or four. Take this seriously, no matter what the wage is. Remember, you’re in this for the long run. In the beginning it’s way more important to get a positive review from a client then to earn a decent wage. For example, which one should you choose?

A – Work your first hundred hours on Upwork and receive an incredible $5,000 for your effort!

B – Work your first hundred hours on Upwork and receive$0 for your effort, but get amazing feedback from three clients.

If you picked B you’re correct. Feedback is going to make or break you. That’s why even if you’re earning $4 an hour you have to act like you’re earning $30 an hour. For me, even with extensive writing experience, I didn’t start earning more than $5 an hour till well after I had put in 50 hours. However, I got amazing feedback, and now I’m up to $10 an hour. That’s no coincidence.

3. Work Every Single Day

The more you write, the quicker you’ll gain experience, the sooner you’ll be able to start earning a decent living wage. If you fuck around and write two hours today, then two hours next Saturday, then a few hours in a month, you will get NOWHERE.

Since my first day on Upwork I’ve had a very simple rule: four hours a day no matter what. I’ve stuck to that rule like a nerd sticks to his girlfriend. The result is that not only have I doubled my hourly rate in two months, I’ve also gained a huge amount of experience in a short amount of time.

On Upwork, the more experience you have the more likely you are to get hired. For example, I’ve now written about the following topics: solar panels, renewable energy, water filters, web design, cloud faxing, healthy eating, losing weight, working out, dealing with peer pressure, Russian women, drinking water, and windows. That means that when I go look for a new job, I already have a huge bank of things I’ve already written about which means that I can ask for more money $$.

4. Apply for Higher Paying Jobs

After you have more experience, and some positive feedback, you can start applying for better jobs that actually pay you a decent wage. Once you reach this point, you want to change your application strategy a bit. Stop sending out applications in bulk, and start focusing on making several applications amazing.

I regularly spend in upwards of twenty to thirty minutes on a single application. Even though I get a response from only one person in five, it’s still worth it. Getting a high paying job is a really good feeling. But you’ll only get it if your application is one point. By the time you reach this point you’ll hardly need my advice. You’ll have enough experience to function on your own, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your income goals.

Bonus Tips

1. Write down your income goals. Not only that, but set dates to reach them by. That will really light a fire under your ass to get on the computer and get hustling. My personal goal is to be making $2,000 a month by my birthday in May, 2016. Also, read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.

2. Always update your profile to reflect new experience. As you learn new skills, be sure to make that obvious.

3. Go above and beyond for your first few clients. It doesn’t matter how much you’re getting paid, you have to have that positive feedback.

4. Consider creating a website in order to showcase your portfolio. You can check out my website here. I have a full portfolio of what I’ve written and I’m always updating it. I literally only get a few views a week, but it doesn’t matter. Those few views are from high paying clients which makes it all worth it in the end.

5. Move to a cheap country where your dollar goes far. When I was earning $600 a month I was living in Ukraine. Do you know what you can do with $600 a month? Live like a fucking king! Do you know what you can do with $600 a month in New York City? Beg for change during the afternoons. You’re starting to write online so you can travel right? Well you might as well travel to a country where the dollar goes a long ways.

How to Get a Volunteering Job at a Hostel

If you want to travel around the world on a budget, volunteering at a hostel is a great way to live for free. In exchange for a couple of hours a work a day, you’ll have a place to stay for free. I think that’s a pretty good deal, especially as the work load won’t be difficult.

I have some personal experience with this. At this very moment I’m sitting on a couch in my hostel in Kiev, Ukraine. I’m volunteering here in exchange for a bed. I think I’m getting a great deal!

Most of my work is doing laundry, and since we only have one machine, much of my job is actually waiting for the washing cycle to finish. Two hours of reading every four shift, check.

I’m also always meeting new, interesting people. Yesterday four cool Canadians came in. We all went to the bar last night and a couple of them ended up getting their heads lit on fire. Good times.

If this sounds like a good deal to you, let’s check out how you can make it a reality.

How to Find a Volunteer Job at a Hostel

1) Check out

www.WorkAway.info

You may get lucky and find a hostel volunteering opportunity there. Or maybe some different work you like even better. Simply search for you city and see what’s available.

2) Go to

www.HostelWorld.com

Find all the hostels in the city your interested in. Next, take the names of those hostels and find their websites. For example, the website for the hostel I’m volunteering at is;

www.KievCentralStation.com

Once you’ve found your hostels website, navigate to the Contact Us section. There you should find a contact email. Copy that email address and send them a message.

What should you say?

Well I don’t know if there is one correct message and one other one that’s not good. I think a good email will disclose a few sentences about yourself and why you want to volunteer. Next, briefly mention some related work experience if you have it. Or if you’ve already stayed in many hostels, mention that as well.

Finally, offer customize the message a bit. Check out pictures of the hostel your emailing and find something that looks cool. Maybe the location, or the common room, or an in-house cafe. Mention that you think the hostel is desirable because of that. Just don’t forget to change this part of the message for every hostel!

And that’s it. Send this message to a bunch of hostels and wait for some replies.

My Message

When I was doing this I sent out three emails, five days before I was ready to arrive. One hostel never replied, one hostel very nicely declined, and one said yes.

And that’s the story of how I’m here. Literally ten minutes of work and I found a place to live for free for a month.

So I’ll end this post with an exact copy of the email I used to secure this job. It’s awfully informal, rather short, and conversational. But it get’s the point across and worked for me.

Cheers from Kiev

Sam

P.S. In Russian, it’s very common to do smiley faces not like this 🙂 but like this )), in case you think I made a grammar error.

——————-

Hello, привет))

My name’s Sam and I’m living in Northern Ukraine right now. However, I’m coming into Kiev on Friday. What I’m looking for is a place to work / volunteer, and I think Kiev Central Station looks awesome, I love the layout of the common rooms and kitchen.

In exchange for a place to stay I’d be happy to help out with whatever you need. Registering guests, keeping the rooms tidy, or organizing events.

I’m American, 23 years old, and I almost speak intermediate Russian. Если удобно для вас, можно разговаривать по-русски.

If you think this sounds like a good deal, please send me an email back. I’m going to be in Kiev waiting for your reply.

Спасибо!