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How did your Freelancing career start?


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Hey! I'm pretty young (won't mention my real age since people tend to look down on me when I do), and I'm getting to the point where my job isn't just about making money on the side, but making a proper living. I have not yet completed my education, but in a year or so, I have to continue my further studies based on what it is that I want to do once I 'grow up'. I honestly want to continue being a freelancer, because of the freedom it gives, but it's not exactly very reliable. I'm not sure what I want to do either since I prefer to experience everything. So far, I've just been selling on Fiverr and some other sites, but it's nothing permanent. I've looked into working on other sites, but unfortunately, I'm too young to work on most of them. Most of my clients believe I'm 30 (probably, I mean, I don't tell them I'm __). I don't mind lying about my age, but most other freelancing sites require legal documents and a profile picture. So, basically, I'm just wondering how did your freelancing career start? How old were you when you started doing it? Do you have a full-time job on the side? Do you enjoy what you do? Do you think I should focus on getting a proper job and studying for some 12 more years (probably, but god, I hope not) or should I just keep trying till I hit the jackpot with a regular client? Also, I'm old enough to work on Fiverr, don't report me.

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I started in my 20's. I do have a full-time job, which I don't plan on giving up. My Fiverr income is good, but it's only 1/3 of what I make in my current job, and even on my best months, it just matches my job salary. 

Freedom is one of the major benefits that people consider when being a freelancer, but I don't think that's accurate. Yes, we can work anywhere, but I've invested even more time freelancing than in my actual job. So freedom doesn't really apply in my case unless I deny jobs or increase my deadlines, which would subsequently make me less competitive in my field. 

Then, in terms of the worst-case scenario; you can spend years building your profile and with one wrong move, your account could get disabled. And this would mean starting over from scratch. Then, there's the inconsistency of revenue, no company benefits, etc. So, to me, freelancing is an amazing opportunity to boost your current income but shouldn't be your only source. With it working in tandem with your regular job, you'll have the opportunity to start your life and build streams of passive income and when the time is right, you'll be able to choose to leave your job and just work off freelancing because you'll still have other streams of income. 

Some freelances make a lot of money in a short space of time, but for others, it takes time. So, you really need to weigh the pros and cons as it relates to your life and your financial goals. 

 

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Twenty-two years ago, I found myself divorced, financially strained, and with two boys under three. Job opportunities that would pay child care and living expenses were rather impossible to find, so I decided I had to work from home. Way back then, it was easy to find content mills that paid $8-10 for pretty much any decent 500-word article. I churned out thousands while doing absolutely everything I could to learn copy and content writing, online marketing, SEO, website creation, etc. I was able to segue smoothly into other opportunities when the content mills shut down (Google's Panda update, if my memory serves). I joined Fiverr and a bunch of clones when they first came out and stuck with Fiverr as the others disappeared. Found private clients. Today, I also write novels for a chunk of my income.

If asked why I succeeded, two tips come to mind. Never stop learning. Learn everything you can about anything related to your skill/service and marketing. Also, do not put all your eggs in one basket.

Self-employment has a lot of drawbacks: no paid vacation or sick leave, no 401k matching, sometimes brutally long hours, annoying clients, no regular pay check you can trust in lean times. It does offer freedom, but as the late, great Janis sang, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Sometimes it felt like that. It started like that for me. For the new folk still reading, it took a lot more than patience, staying online, trying 'tips and tricks', or wishing to make success happen.

Edited by melanielm
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16 minutes ago, melanielm said:

Also, do not put all your eggs in one basket.

Your story is genuinely impressive, but what do you mean by this statement? Like, should I not focus on just one freelancing website? Should I have a day job and do freelancing on the side? Thanks for your tips! 🙂

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I started in 2009. I was still in school, but wanted to be "financially independent"

In my country you're dependent on your parents until you're married (if you're a girl) and I wanted to be different.

 

Oh, btw - I'm called Mark on fiverr, but it's just my alias (from xpertMARKeter) My real name is Ayesha :))

Edited by xpertmarketer
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2 hours ago, aarontgladiator said:

Your story is genuinely impressive, but what do you mean by this statement? Like, should I not focus on just one freelancing website? Should I have a day job and do freelancing on the side? Thanks for your tips! 🙂

Don't rely on only one source of income. If you don't make enough with freelancing, absolutely have a 'real job' on the side. However, the point is mostly to diversify income sources. If you only sell through Fiverr, for example, and it goes away tomorrow (which won't happen!), then you have nothing. If you have three other income sources, then you're safer.

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1 hour ago, xpertmarketer said:

I started in 2009. I was still in school, but wanted to be "financially independent"

In my country you're dependent on your parents until you're married (if you're a girl) and I wanted to be different.

 

Oh, btw - I'm called Mark on fiverr, but it's just my alias (from xpertMARKeter) My real name is Ayesha :))

Ah, I can relate to the wanting to be financially independent, but I do use my real name.

 

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I got a job in the best local ad agency at the time. That was it back then, the absolute top, nowhere else to go. 

I was so miserable. Showed up there and realised that it’d be the same job I was doing for 14 years. Shinier, with a bigger monitor and an insta-friendly office but other than that, same people, same processes. It’s not like I’ve expected rainbows and unicorns but I expected, I don’t know. To be surprised? Not to be bored to death? 

It was either going for a leadership position, change the profession completely or try freelancing. Took 6 months off to gather my wits, have been freelancing since. I was 31 and just turned 38. 

Freelancing is not boring, that’s for sure. Full of surprises on a daily basis. 🙂

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2 minutes ago, lenasemenkova said:

It was either going for a leadership position, change the profession completely or try freelancing. Took 6 months off to gather my wits, have been freelancing since.

But apart from the 'happiness' aspect, has freelancing been financially more beneficial to you than your previous job? 

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20 minutes ago, aarontgladiator said:

But apart from the 'happiness' aspect, has freelancing been financially more beneficial to you than your previous job? 

 

You could say that. Not astronomically so (my income went up but it didn’t double or triple) BUT I work maybe 18-20 days a month. Half of those days are pretty intense, half - very relaxed. Overall, the schedule is better. 

And you get rid of most of the middlemen. ‘Cause when you are a designer for an ad campaign in a corporate setting (which was who I was), you have your creative director who has their client manager who has the client manager on the client’s side and that manager has the client. That’s me simplifying things. Because in-between of all that you have junior managers who want to be useful, representatives of various tech departments and unrelated people no one asked. If, heaven forbid, a celebrity of some sort is involved in the campaign, there are also their ego, their posse and their private photo editor who knows the best way to photoshop the said celebrity’s face (I’m not kidding). The sheer amount of people you have to get through to get the visual approved is staggering. 

There are big, complex freelance projects with a lot moving parts, of course, but in my experience, even in those cases it’s much less people to deal with. On fiverr, I mostly deal with one person per order. So you can just concentrate on work. 

Edited by lenasemenkova
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On 2/1/2022 at 1:07 AM, aarontgladiator said:

So, basically, I'm just wondering how did your freelancing career start? How old were you when you started doing it? Do you have a full-time job on the side? Do you enjoy what you do? Do you think I should focus on getting a proper job and studying for some 12 more years (probably, but god, I hope not) or should I just keep trying till I hit the jackpot with a regular client?

@aarontgladiator I was in the military for 15 years, but I got injured and was discharged. I always knew I wanted to write, and I already had an English degree. After I got out of the military, I got my master's in business marketing. I dealt with physical and psychological pain from the military, but I found peace in writing and creative expression. I did not work for years after I got out of the military. I was on so many meds, it was hard to function at times. Anyway, a friend told me about Fiverr in July 2020, so I tried it, and I'm glad I did.

I technically don't have to work because I am 100% disabled from the military, and I am compensated well. But I love what I do on here, and it's almost addictive. 

I think you should seek a more reliable choice of employment. You can still work on Fiverr on the side, but you need something more solid, especially for benefits like insurance. Whatever career you choose, try not to commit to something you dread doing. I think if one hates their job, it definitely shows in their performance and chemistry with others.  

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3 hours ago, words_to_wow said:

@aarontgladiator I was in the military for 15 years, but I got injured and was discharged. I always knew I wanted to write, and I already had an English degree. After I got out of the military, I got my master's in business marketing. I dealt with physical and psychological pain from the military, but I found peace in writing and creative expression. I did not work for years after I got out of the military. I was on so many meds, it was hard to function at times. Anyway, a friend told me about Fiverr in July 2020, so I tried it, and I'm glad I did.

I technically don't have to work because I am 100% disabled from the military, and I am compensated well. But I love what I do on here, and it's almost addictive. 

I think you should seek a more reliable choice of employment. You can still work on Fiverr on the side, but you need something more solid, especially for benefits like insurance. Whatever career you choose, try not to commit to something you dread doing. I think if one hates their job, it definitely shows in their performance and chemistry with others.  

I sure hope everything is fine now, and I'm glad you found something you enjoy!

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