I’ve finally got to the point where freelancing is far more stress than it is reasonably worth putting up with. However, I’ve also got to the point where I realize it is all my fault. My prices are too low, and for the most part, the quality of my buyers reflect this.
The most recent buyer horror show in my Fiverr inbox, concerns two different buyers who both ordered video work from me last year.
The first ordered a video in January 2018. They were 100% happy and left a 5-star review. Recently, though, they have messaged me to let me know they need a revision. Of course, it’s not a revision. The buyer has a new script which isn’t just different, its 1,000+ words long. It also reads like it has been written by a child, and after reading it twice, I still can’t make heads nor tales of what it tries to get across.
Buyer number two ordered a video in September last year. They too have decided they need a revision. Their banding has changed, their script has changed, and the app they use to promote their business has changed. Since I made a video showcasing their app, this means the whole thing needs reworking.
Now, I’m not a pushover, nor is it even possible to cram a 1,000+ word script into a 1-minute video (which currently has approx 50 words of text in lower thirds throughout.) In this case, I have pointed out to both buyers, that their revision request is not a revision request. I have also pointed out what is and is not possible, and that they will need to place new orders for what are in no uncertain terms, two new videos.
The response? Sheer horror at my nerve. (My videos cost $60.)
As politely as I have been able to, I have, therefore, told each buyer to clear off.
It is not just video clients, though. I’ve ended up putting Legiit in perpetual vacation mode. If I get one more buyer like my last one, I’m going to literally shoot myself. They ordered a 500-word article. They got an 800-word article. Then they asked me to optimize it for Yoast, told me it wasn’t ‘Australian’ enough, and warned me that they would be expecting better going forward.
That was my third buyer in a row on Legiit who was fully on-board with the ’I’m to talk down to you like you are dirt’ freelancer client attitude. However, that mentality isn’t limited to Legiit.
On Fiverr for the past 5-years, I have had a regular buyer who orders at least once a week. When they do, they never haggle about price. They also send a spreadsheet outlining their brief and act altogether charming. That was until recently.
About a month ago, this buyer started ordering from my basic $15 gig, before requesting up to 1,000 words of content. (Previously, they would place 2 x $20 orders for this amount of work).
I assumed this was an oversight. However, they also stared reducing their brief for each project to single obscure statements like "This is for a hardwood floor company."
After delivering their last order, they responded with a dispute screaming at me "WE DON’T INSTALL HARDWOOD FLOORS. WE MAKE THEM."
It then became clear that the person ordering from me now, is not the same person who used to. Either he has been replaced by a co-worker in the same company (they are an SEO Agency), or they have been possessed by Satan. In this case, and after a last "I’m going to be sneaky and just pay what I want order," I’ve just canceled and blocked them.
I do not work online to put up with this .
Thankfully, during my recent tribulations, I’ve relaunched my blog. In doing so, I’ve come to a quite striking revelation. Namely, there is no such thing as a less than $60 blog post.
My objective with my site is to have every post be expertly optimized for SEO and readability. In short, this means:
- Aiming for an at least 50-60 Flesch–Kincaid readability score
- Precisely formatting SEO titles, meta descriptions, etc
- Finding free media to add to posts (preferably video)
- Spending more time on more intuitive keyword searches
And generally trying to tweak everything for speed by compressing images etc.
The time it takes to do all of the above, equates to what would be approximately $60 in paid labor. - If that is, I was getting paid. On top of that, my experience as a freelancer has taught me very clearly, that setting prices lower while attempting to deliver work of comparable quality, is completely counter productive.
- Even with an expertly SEO optimized blog post, must buyers in the $5 - $30 price bracket wouldn’t know how to make use of work produced
- The majority of my budget clients have awful wesites and/or awful business ideas which are simply never going to go anywhere
- Clients who expect more for less, have way beyond reasonable expectations and severe attitude problems
At present, I am lucky enough to have some clients who pay non-budget rates. However, it is not reasonably possible to cater for both budget and mid-range clients.
- Almost every budget order takes more time due to buyers being more trigger happy with revision buttons, often to request more work FOC
- Delays caused by budget buyers and even having to communicate with Mr. and Mrs, ’I need a revision on a year old order’ set me back and force me to rush or spend less time on more meaningful orders
- The sheer amount of stress caused by having to try and blast 4 or 5 $15 articles out a day, is unhealthy, counterproductive, and after almost 8-years, has made me regret ever even thinking about quitting my real life career.
So, what is the solution?
At present, I’m not sure. Obviously, I intend to raise prices. However, I may quit freelancing as I am at present altogether. In an ideal world, I would like to write in a paid capacity for a single website or two on a daily basis, Alternatively, I may just switch to reselling a host of services like a lot of the best selling sellers on Fiverr seem to be doing. Or I might go into flogging template affiliate marketing blogs, in a similar way to how a seller on Fiverr makes $100K a year selling template Shopify stores.
As a final note, I’d also suggest that anyone thinking about starting to freelance at a budget price point, doesn’t freelance in the first place.
You get stuck there, it wears you down, and you end up hating the world. Go high, or go home. If it doesn’t work out, start all over again. Then start all over again if you have to a second or third time. In the long-term, any other strategy will just see your ‘career’ stagnate and become something you regret embarking on.