Breaking Up with Your First Freelance Job
A little over a month ago, I decided to resign from my comfortable 9-5 job back in Louisiana, jump into the freelancing world with little to no experience, and travel the world with 50 other brilliant minds.
As bold as this move was, of course I had many doubts and fears. What if I get rejected? What if I can't find work because my prices are too high? What if I am selling myself short with my low rates? What if I can't make enough money to sustain myself like I did when I had a comfortable salary at my old job? The list goes on.
All of those questions are valid, and normal to think about, but I knew I couldn't let those ideas keep me me from starting my own freelance business. So, I started building my network and signed up to join several freelance sites. Within a month, I got my first two freelance jobs retouching photos on a site called Fiverr. One was a huge success, and the other..... well I'd like to classify that one as a COMPLETE NIGHTMARE.
First of all, the gig that I posted was originally posted as bait to see if I could actually get some work. Both jobs came in around the same time, and they both contained a little under 200 photography product images to be retouched and completed within a 5-day return. I completed the second order with no problems at all, closed the job, got paid, and formed a longterm business relationship with the client. Easy!
The first job, however, turned into a royal mess! I worked on this one client's 5-day job for over two months straight. I sent him revision after revision, and it was near to impossible to please him. I used all of my resources, energy, and patience working with this client only to be compensated with condescending comments, personal harassment, and a little bit of self doubt.
To sum up what happened in the end, I wound up choosing to cancel the job through Fiverr, with the sacrifices of not getting paid a single cent for my two months of work, a decrease in my job completion rate on the site, and a terrible review from said client.
You might be asking why? Why did I choose to cancel the job instead of following through with what I already started? Well, I'd like to compare this situation to a bad relationship, and essentially I had formed a relationship of some sort with this horrific client.
From my reflections, I realized that I was too eager to please the client and neglected myself in the process. I spent so much time worrying about getting each revision done perfectly and on time that I began to lose sight of my other personal goals. It took two months of endless work and one night of harassment from my client to recognize this destruction. It was time to stand up for myself!
Freelancing is a business, not a summer camp friendship circle. Just as in any relationship it is my responsibility to know and stand up for my worth. I have all the rights to bluntly demand respect for myself and my work's value, politely refuse the projects I don’t feel comfortable with, and/or tell certain clients that their “quick gig” has grown into a project demon and should be paid for accordingly (even though in my case, I wasn't paid anything).
As unfortunate as it was to have this freelance nightmare brought upon me, I was once again presented with the opportunity to learn some important lessons:
1. I can't let this one incident stop me by any means.
2. Even though I cancelled an unfinished job, I am NOT a quitter.
3. It's okay to ask for help or for advice. It's important to build up and rely on a support system, and, fortunately, I've been blessed with an incredible group of people I can depend on.
4. Always, always know my worth, no matter what anyone says to me or about me.
5. Don't let fear seep back in, acknowledge its existence, respect it for trying to keep me safe, and DO NOT take it on this new journey.
6. Grab my passion, my creativity, and my persistence, and let them lead the way.
Cheers and good blessings to mine and anyone else's expedition in making it as a freelancer, and never stop explauren yourself, your options, and the world!