Every freelancer has periods of time in which work seems like a distant memory. Last month had your desk plastered with post-its and reminders, ensuring you didn’t let a client down whose project is due tomorrow, whilst at the same time organizing a meeting with another potential client in an overpriced coffee shop in the suburbs of the town. But that was last month, oh how you yearn for that now.
Today, for no reason at all, your river has dried up to nothing more than a trickle and you’re in desperate need of work to pay the bills. No, I’m not a psychic. I’m a freelancer. We’ve all experienced the long waits for client emails and offers of work as a freelancer. In fact, I can’t put my finger on a single freelancer I know who hasn’t gone through the trials and tribulations of dealing with no work.
For many freelancers, it’s not just a period where we can’t go out for a meal each week until the work comes in again. It’s much more than that. It’s a panic period – a time where thoughts of losing your car, losing your house, and canceling next year’s wonderful holiday in Mexico are incessantly rifling their way around your head.
These thoughts do you no good whatsoever. What client is looking for a trembling wreck that’s desperate for you to work with them? None that I’ve ever seen. The threat of everything going seriously south is a spiraling staircase to nowhere nice.
I recall a few years ago when I was in this exact same situation as a freelancer. It seemed like one day I had everything laid out in front of me, with no concerns and a bank statement pages long, yet the next my fridge was barren and I felt like all I’d consumed for the last week was the cheap pizza I’d bought in bulk god knows how long ago.
It’s a horrible feeling, and it’s a tough place to get out of. Friends of mine have been in this situation and crumbled, giving up freelance entirely and looking for contract work and permanent employment.
How I got saved by a friend
Not me though, I stuck it out. I was desperately looking for work as a freelancer until recently when I got into a conversation with an acquaintance of mine over lunch. She started talking to me about the website Fiverr, a freelance marketplace.
Naturally, I told her where she could shove her suggestion, as I for one valued my time as significantly more valuable than getting $5 for what seemed like an hour’s worth of work. But, being a gentleman, I heard her out and let her explain her experiences whilst I finished my cheese and pickle sandwich. I never did finish that sandwich.
What she explained to me changed my opinion of the site, and got me signed up and working by the following day. You see, Fiverr is about much more than slaving away and providing your skills for measly sums of money. Fiverr’s a great way to build relationships with clients – by offering them a taste of your services you can secure their custom for when they fancy a bigger bite. And that’s exactly the way I use the site.
I offer voiceovers, 200 words for $5. But after voicing a small trailer, my clients come back to me, outside of Fiverr, and ask me to work with them on an audiobook. What seemed like a simple $5 sale earned me the best part of five hundred bucks.
And for those clients that don’t return, there’s a sinker for them too. By offering extras to my gig, as they like to call it, I can charge much, much more than a simple five dollars. Proofreading of your script, that’ll be an extra 5. A higher-quality file format, you’ll have to fork out for that too.
I developed a system whereby it was easy for me to up-sell my services without increasing the amount of time I had to spend on each order. On a good day, I’ll be earning in excess of $32 hourly, just through up-selling and ensuring I spend no longer than 15 minutes on each order.
Fiverr really is a brilliant site. The premise is simple: eBay for services. The difference? If you’ve got an ounce of skill, you’re in the top 5% of sellers and the Fiverr editors will smack your gig on the front page and promote the living hell out of you via their newsletters and search results.
With such a reputation as a source of freelance workers, Fiverr attracts hundreds of potential clients for you each and every day. You don’t even have to lift a finger. Instead of sitting at my desk all day waiting for a single email, I’d be replying to requests, orders, and messages from people desperate to work with me.
It was a revelation. I really was getting two birds with one stone; from a situation, I felt was dire, too! I was earning a decent wage, simply for building a client base, networking with other freelancers, and advertising my services. Then, at the end of the day, I’d get a message pop through from someone who wanted me to work with them on their up-and-coming iOS game with a hefty budget. Safe to say I’ve remained in touch with that fine lady, and I never fail to let her know how my freelance work on Fiverr is going.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
What’s the worst situation you’ve ever been in as a freelancer? And how did you manage to work yourself out of it?