After attending a conference in September, I was bitten by the freelance bug.
Freelancing entails offering your skills and/or services to another on an as-needed basis. The beauty inherent in a freelance agreement is the ability to set your price and schedule your time according to your convenience. It’s a marvelous way – in theory – to generate additional income.
That income could be used to accelerate a journey out of debt. You might also use it to support the additional holiday expenses. Why not eliminate the need to rely on credit cards or create more debt this season?
Freelancing just might be the silver bullet.
Or is it?
I’ve had an encouraging start to my foray into freelancing. While my first couple of months in have been hardly explosive, they have highlighted the potential and I’m still convinced this is a great path to explore for many people especially those who have:
- Limited schedule flexibility
- Family responsibilities which restrict your free time
- Transportation challenges
- Challenges increasing income with a primary position
Let’s Talk Turkey
Again, my results don’t scream YES…yet. They are, however, encouraging from the standpoint that I have limited experience in the freelance arena and am just getting started. Where you’re willing, there’s a way.
I’ve entered a side hustle challenge with a group of personal finance bloggers. I love the idea of offering gigs on Fiverr because there is no money required up front to hang out your Fiverr shingle. On the other hand, there can be an enormous amount of competition – especially if your services are not highly specialized or unique.
I’d offered to do website reviews and editing. While helpful, I’m up against a ton of service providers in this genre and to date I’ve only sold one gig.
Plans for improvement: Fiverr is not a “build it and they will come” solution. That’s pretty evident. However, I do still see the potential benefit in continuing to explore this income avenue. One tip that I have not implemented yet was to proactively find my first 10 orders. At this point, I qualify for the level 1 distinction and then I can build from there.
I will keep you posted.
To date, I’ve picked up 3 clients. Two of which offer repeat writing opportunities. I found these clients on Craigslist, Indeed.com, and a blogging conference attended back in July.
The Craigslist client required – by far – the most time and paid the least. The project spanned a month. I probably worked about 3-4 hours week and the total was $200.
While the fee may seem unreasonably low for some, it was worth it for the following reasons:
1. I was able to complete an entire freelance agreement from contract to completion.
2. I have a satisfied customer who can now serve as a referral source, a recommendation, or a source of repeat work in the future (negotiated at a more reasonable rate).
3. I have a better idea of how I need to manage my day and estimate work effort to structure agreements so that they are a win-win for all involved.
The other two writing clients were straight forward written pieces on my favorite subject – personal finances. One is a typical content mill. They pay $20/article for 500 words. It takes me about two hours to complete one with research and proofing. It’s simple work and the pay is immediate. While the work is not entirely engaging, it’s constant. That’s a huge benefit.
The second client is a larger, established company and they offered $300 for 1000 words. There was a bit more involved in this process. I had to interview sources, the research was a bit more extensive, and a few rewrites were required. I enjoyed the process and am looking forward to a byline on a larger site. I spent 5-6 hours on this project.
My grand total for this initial effort into freelance service providing rounds out at $665.
While I won’t support my family on this monthly income, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. I generated all this from my home according to a schedule that I established. In addition, I only traveled to a client site once. I guess I should include that 2 hour outing in the time spent on the project as well.
- The Fiverr.com opportunity offers so much potential. I need to focus dedicated time on generating the first 10 sales in order to move the needle. Because I took on projects with hard deadlines, I didn’t focus as much on this and you can see that the results are as expected. Given that I have completed the time-intensive project, I’ll have more time to execute a more effective Fiverr strategy moving forward.
- While experience has value, I need to be more selective about the projects I take on. Consider both the potential fee and also time required. I also need to consider my personal schedule in the agreement negotiation process. A road trip to Maryland for the Thanksgiving holiday really took a chunk out of the time I had available during this month. This really caused a backup in other areas. From which I’m just now unraveling. This was a huge lesson learned.
- Recognize that even constant income sources are very unstable. Although I’m still writing for the content mill, that project could end at any time without notice. I should (and I am) looking to build my client list with more options.
- Get new cards printed up for freelance writing. While speaking with people at a local conference, one lady reminded me that she might forget that aspect of my service when looking through cards a week or two later. Point taken.
I’m happy with my initial results. I have a lot of work to do if I want to make this a stable part of my income stream. However, I’m encouraged and will continue to keep you updated with my wins and losses in the freelance lifestyle.
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