A life of love

A life of love
Everyone should have a Great Pyrenees

Monday, May 8, 2017

More learning...

My days here stay pretty busy, although some days I wonder.  I am finding that it is really useful to keep a list of what I did during the day because it is easy to discount those things that seem mundane but are so needed.  Especially as a freelance writer.  So much of what I do cannot be seen, unless you visit my laptop.  Many of my projects are longer term for my clients, so it is a lot of chipping away at things.  But they do get done!  And I am busier and busier every week.

If you ever wanted to work from home and look into freelance writing/editing/proofreading, I am here to tell you that it can be done, but it also can be a slow uphill climb.  I read a blog last year that introduced me to Upwork and I am glad that I did.  She gave a lot of good advice, which I have found to be very true.  So, here is my two cents and perhaps so advice if you are interested!

  • You start off slowly.  You will pitch proposals for lots of jobs, but as you haven't built a reputation, you need to focus on doing that first.  What that means is that in the beginning, you need to focus on getting some work experience and a track record.
  • At first, you get paid peanuts.  Basically, the entry level jobs that you start with as a newbie pay very little.  But each job gives you more hours on the clock, more feedback for other clients, and more experience with the platform and opportunities.  Consider it "paying your dues".  Don't quit your day job and then start this work.  Unless you don't have to worry about income.  Even then, you really need more to do so I would say start doing this as a sideline.
  • Plan to ramp it up at every opportunity.  Every job you do helps you get the next one.  Frankly, I have a list of regular clients now, and I am starting to get cautious about adding more as I want to be sure that I can maintain the quality of my work as I improve my income.
  • Beware of the scams.  Upwork really works to prevent you from dealing with this, but it does happen.  If you follow the Upwork rules, you will find that they are there for your protection.  And they make it hard for a scammer to take advantage of you.  Do not do any work off the Upwork platform.  When you get someone who wants you to do work and not communicate on Upwork, it is a scam.  When they don't offer you a job - that is an Upwork contract - but want you to do work and promise payment, RUN!  This is a scam.  There are many of them.  I now avoid making a proposal on any job where the client has an unverified payment source.  I don't work for them.  I would reconsider if someone was new and I felt confident, but it is a risk until their payment source is able to be verified.  

This has been on my mind because I have had it happen yet again in the last week.  The scam I mean.  I had an international proposed client who wanted an immense amount of work, in a very short time frame, with not a great payment for the amount of work that he wanted to be done.  It felt fishy in my gut.  With Upwork you can be invited to interview for a job, and that was the process this proposed client and I were working through.  At first, the client needs seemed really straightforward.  And ebook.  Completely original, excellent grammar and spelling and content.  Then he gave the word count and deadline: 17,000 words in 48 hours maximum, preferably 24 hours.

Gasp.  Now, I don't know how much your write.  I write a lot.  A lot.  I am comfortable putting out thousands of words a day, usually on things that require some research and certainly accuracy.  But to put out a scientifically researched 17,000-word ebook to his standards (and mine!) is an entirely different beast from the many short articles I do every day.  It would take at least 48 connected hours to complete the project, maybe less, but certainly, more time than I had available with all my client needs.

I told him that I could not do it in that time frame.  He suggested another day, so 72 hours.  I considered it if we could pick a start day three days away so I could really push and get all my other clients needs to be met in advance.  No, it had to start right that moment.  I indicated that I could start in 24 hours, and I knew I would be putting myself through some hell to get ready at that time, but was considering that I might try.  I told him if we could do that, then he needed to send a job offer over.

Suddenly, he wasn't going to make an offer, he wanted to send an offer for $10 with the rest of the agreed upon amount (which still wasn't a ton) upon completion.  Note to the reader - with Upwork you only get paid upon satisfactory completion of a project, so his request was fishy, to say the least.  And with the contract being written for only that $10, despite the messages about more, according to Upwork rules, he would only be required to pay me the $10 for the entire project and if I accepted the job that is all I would be legally entitled to.  

NO.  Just no.  I had spent an hour or more dickering around with him, getting all the information on the job, making sure that it was something that I felt I could do.  The reward held out to me was that it would lead to consistent ongoing work.  However, my stomach just clenched.  This was wrong.  No way this was real.  So, I told him I simply could not meet his needs, at which point his messages became quite irate and in fact, I contacted Upwork and reported him.  There, finished.  Whew.

And then just last night, he came back again, nearly a week later.  He wants the same job done.  With a full offer, with the full amount.  Okay, send me the written offer and I will take it, however, before I accept, I want to discuss the time period as I have several huge projects that I took on over the last week.  Then he comes back, oh no, he needs this 17,000-word ebook in 24 hours!!!!!  It was already 10 PM our time and I was done for the day.  Nope, cannot have that done.  He proceeded to get irate again.  Sigh.  Done.  Blocked him.

So, note to anyone starting out, if something feels fishy and it would cost you more than the risk of your time is worth, don't do it.  There must always be a contract in place.  Without it, you could submit your hard work and there could be no payment.  Sometimes a gamble is okay, but you have to take a look at what you are gambling.  This was TOO MUCH and frankly, I wasted too much of my time even talking to him.  Never, or nearly never, have contact with a client outside of Upwork.  You have no protection outside of Upwork.  If a client offers something too good to be true, it likely is.

On the other hand, I have had great success building my work life through Upwork, though there are large learning curves and a large need to prove yourself.  After all, this is the internet and you never know what is behind that screen.  Be wise.  If you aspire to this life, I think it can be done.  You will work hard, very hard.  You will need to really work on customer service and learning.  But, it can be done!

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11