Lessons Learned

I have to admit, the early part of the year made me a bit nervous.  While I landed some fantastic opportunities including a publishing contract for both a book and a comic book series with Silver Phoenix Entertainment, other ventures, well to put it mildly have faltered quite a bit.  Freelance opportunities that I thought were golden turned out to be extremely tarnished, and my finances definitely took a hit.  But, as usual, I found a way to bounce back- just a little beaten up and a lot wiser for the ordeal.

And, not surprisingly, I learned a few things.  That’s the one thing I absolutely love about freelance work- there is always something out there that can teach you a lesson – and most of the time, I need to learn it.   Here are a few lessons that I’m finally beginning to learn.

Lesson # 1:  Auction Sites are a Waste of Time

Sure, auction sites like Elance, Odesk, and others are great for getting low-bid temporary jobs in the beginning, but if you factor in the number of bogus clients, extremely low paying jobs, and the sheer volume of applicants the chances of getting a client who pays a reasonable rate for your work is pretty slim.  In fact, when looking back over my records, I discovered that of all the freelance bids made in 2013- which was close to 950, only six- yes that right- six of the successful bids that made me a profit came from auction sites.

Lesson #2:  Quality is Much Better Than Quantity

Sure, writing SEO-friendly articles for websites is something I can do in my sleep, and I have no problem doing them.  The problem is that when you are able to produce a high volume of material, the client, rightfully so will expect a discounted rate.  it’s really a matter of time management.  Why spend eight hours putting together 10 articles and get paid a relatively small pittance per article, or spend that same eight hours researching and putting together a single high quality piece that will not only get you a much higher rate, and a better reputation?

Lesson # 3:  The United States isn’t the Only Market 

Truth be told, approximately sixty percent of my returning clients are international.  I’ve had clients in Germany, Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, United Kingdom, France, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada to name a few.  And when it comes to paying on time and honoring contracts, my clients outside the country have routinely hit the ball out of the park.  Now keep in mind, I am not saying that my clients in the US are any better or worse- only that they are no longer the only option I pursue.  True, working internationally does lead to some strange sleeping hours, and I’ve grown  accustomed to dealing with some language difficulties, but those are minor inconveniences.

Lesson # 4:  If it Sounds Like a Scam, It is One

I can’t believe how long it took me to learn this lesson.  Perhaps it’s my hidden positive nature, but I always tend to think first of the possibilities instead of the realities.  While there are plenty of opportunities out there that are legit, there are plenty more that are not.

Lesson #5:  The Only Way to Get The Job is to Go for It

One aspect of ghostwriting that I enjoy is the relative anonymity of it.  I can research, learn new things, and write without taking the risk of putting my name out there for ridicule.   But the thing is, hiding away behind another’s name means that very few know your true potential.  And, let’s face it- the more people who know what you’re capable of when it comes to the freelance market, the better chance you have to get the next great gig.

Freelance writing, more than anything else is built on your name, and your reputation.  If you don’t get it out there by sending in ideas, bids and pitches, you won’t get the opportunities you want.  And honestly, for someone like me, who is a bit shy and introverted, learning this lesson took me a very, very long time.
Well, hope my lessons are of help to you.  What lessons have you learned?

© 2014, Laura Seeber. All rights reserved.

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