+ CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR: Razvan U.
1. Cause and Effect as the Root of Progress
People who choose the path to freelancing do it for all sorts of reasons, be it to get rid of their annoying chain of bosses, because of health issues that prevent them from getting a regular job, lack of jobs or positions for jobs that aren’t really common within their job market, their entrepreneurship spirit, you name it and it can easily serve as a reason to embark on the freelancing journey.
The reason why I’ve become a freelancer is a tad more complex than that — let’s just say that the country I live in is a two-faceted place. From the outside, everyone is actually seeing the capital city where things are in good standing because that’s what needs to be shown and generalized from. On the inside, however, you’ll stumble across the ugly truth of sheer unfairness within our job market. Basically, it’s really hard to find a job where your skills are more important than your looks, where you’re not required to fill at least 3 positions for the same salary, which is also severely low compared to what you would actually need to survive, let alone raise a family.
I wasn’t able to find a job where I wouldn’t have been legally enslaved to do multiple jobs in one without being paid accordingly, let alone be paid for the extra hours required to even cope with such a multi-job position. If that doesn’t sound like a valid reason, think again when, for example, you apply as an electrician in a popular school and you end up also being the janitor, the warehouseman, the security guard and anything that the director needs on any particular day, not just working days.
Before I became a freelancer and couldn’t find a job, I was fresh out of University and living with my parents. Problem is, my parents couldn’t find a job either, because in my country most employers will simply refuse you straight in your face if they see you’re over 40-50 years old. They’ll simply make up some mouth-closing reason to cover the fact that they only want young employees. They won’t even care that a 50-year-old candidate could easily outrank a young rookie. More so, looks are everything here when trying to get a job! You have to be young, but at the same time with a long track of experience in the field, and you need have perfect teeth and a perfect smile no matter the type of job you apply to, thus having ruled out pretty much half the active working population.
Since I couldn’t get a decent job to survive on my own (let alone help my parents, too), and since my parents couldn’t get a job either for they were over 50 and had one or two teeth missing, I simply had to find an alternative that would help us all. At that time, the country wasn’t too advanced technologically speaking, considering that owning a computer barely started becoming a trend. The whole idea of making money at home in front of a computer was basically limited to those popular scams like opening tons of emails or watching ads for “quick cash”.
2. In Pursuit of An Opportunity
I was desperate to find a job, but at the same time I didn’t believe any of those “quick cash opportunities”, so I kept looking, wandered the web up & down with a bad, intermittent dial-up connection until I had finally found something different. It was a website where potential clients could start contests based on logo design briefs for their businesses, and any graphic designer could submit their designs and compete with other designers for the chance of winning the contest and getting paid in return. That was my first tangency with freelancing, although I had no idea that this whole process had a name. I just thought it was a great opportunity until I could find something more stable.
However, while I was heavily participating in logo design contests and earning a few hundred dollars a month, something different and new happened. After winning a logo contest, the client was so thrilled with my design that he wanted to engage in a collaboration for his other design projects, outside that platform. That was my first regular client, and a great one to say the least! Working with him allowed me to improve my design skills and get better at what I loved doing. The work he gave me was pretty much constant, so I was earning a more stable income working with him alone.
After a few months, though, his projects became too complex for me as they started going beyond the design boundary. So, after refusing some of his projects, I started participating once again in logo design contests to cover the losses, until we had eventually reached a point where we couldn’t help each other any further. And since one bad luck never comes alone, I was kicked out of the logo contests platform for the most insane reason I was going to hear! They accused me of copying & reusing design elements from “another designer”, that “other” designer being me. Apparently, the platforms’ owners had stumbled across my public portfolio website and claimed I wasn’t the owner of that portfolio, and that I had basically stolen from myself. Nothing compares to an unjust rejection and a permanent ban!
This is basically how I had learned the ups & downs of freelancing in a couple of years, to finally end up where I started: jobless! I guess that is one of the worst parts of freelancing: that nothing is secure or constant, and it can end way too abruptly! True, a regular job isn’t more secure than freelancing either, but at least there is some constancy to it.
However, I had felt the taste of freelancing and I was still hooked on it; there was something about it that made me crave for more. Perhaps it was the lack of a boss or the advantage of making your own schedule. Whatever it was, I needed more, so I started looking for something else, some other opportunity.
3. A Lost Opportunity Leads to New Opportunities
It did not take long until I managed to find something that immediately caught my interest: a microservice platform where people could offer their skills through small services at shockingly cheap prices. I was so hooked on the concept, just like everyone else who joined the platform, and not only did I see the potential it had, but I simply knew inside of me that this was finally the solution to our problems!
The website was still in Beta stage after barely being launched a month before I had found it, so I didn’t think much before signing up to create some random small services that I could offer to get some quick starting cash. I just wanted to see if it works or if it’s actually some genuine-looking scam. It took a few days before I got my first client, and I was so thrilled because the platform was working, the potential was there, and I was there as well to harvest that potential! Then more days went by, a few more clients came looking for the stuff I was selling, and because my services were so random I decided it was time to offer something that I’m actually good at instead of selling random stuff.
I was good at graphic design since that was my most recent work experience. I was also good at programming since that’s what I loved doing in college (not to mention that I had also won a few local programming competitions). So, naturally, I started there and offered a few services that tackled these skills of mine. For some reason, unfortunately, the demand for what I was offering wasn’t quite what I hoped for. There were already many designers and programmers on the platform, and there were even more qualified expert designers & programmers running their own websites or agencies both online & offline. So I decided to think of a service that most people would need, something that wouldn’t go extinct too soon in terms of demand.
It didn’t take long to find the idea, but it took longer to learn the skill set needed to implement & offer it, for it was something I never knew or had heard of before. Suffice to say it was all worth it — my brand new service was being offered by at most a handful of people, and it brought me clients from all over the world, every month more than the previous, and then every year more than the previous!
4. The Road to Freelance Success and Its Hidden Secrets
Long story short, I’ve become a top rated seller on this platform and have been one for many years in a row, with 8 total years of experience working there and having helped all kinds of businesses & individuals across the world grow their online presence. So far I’ve worked with over 10,000 clients, covering 65% of the world’s countries. Of all these clients, hundreds of them are now regular clients, some of them even hiring me for other jobs that I never thought of offering!
That is one heck of an achievement considering where I’ve started, without even knowing what freelancing was or that I’d be offering something I had no affiliation or knowledge to begin with. But even with such impressive facts & stats, freelancing is still the same even after all these years. It has constant ups & downs (I guess that’s one of the few constant things about freelancing), I go through stressful periods of high sales and not enough sleep considering that I work with clients from all over the world who live in all possible time zones, and I also experience the effects of a sales slump when bills start piling up.
But then I look back at what I’ve achieved and how much I’ve grown, how many people I’ve helped along with my parents and my now old dog, and what a difference I’ve made for some of these people! And I think to myself that it was all worth it, even though I always have that feeling that it could have been a lot better of a job.
What I thought was impossible at first now has become a daily routine. You’ll always hear me saying that nothing is impossible, that the impossible is just harder to reach! Freelancing is definitely possible as a full-time and sole-income job, as long as you’re willing to make some necessary sacrifices that you’ll come across in your venture to this type of job.
So dare to dream, be it small or big, then start doing something about it if you also want to live that dream, because opportunities don’t always come knocking on your door by themselves — they need to be found and harnessed, and I even dare to say that all these are the secrets of a successful freelancer!