Jan 15, 2015

A reasonable amount of reasons why you shouldn't be a freelancer

I do hate every Buzzfeed type of article that starts with "Seven ways this puppy knows more about financial markets than you" or something like that, and I should know it. I used to write articles of the sort, even though way smarter, for $1 to $5 a piece! There are lots of freelance jobs out there with now hated by me websites such as Elance or oDesk (who viciously cast me aside and cancelled my free subscriptions), or Freelancer, where Indians and Africans hire you to do jobs instead of the other way around. For writers like me, the work can be exhausting, because how many original ways can you come up with describing an astonishing electric dryer?

There's so much useless information that is written online, so many writers, re-writers, sellers who bid on writing projects and hire others to do the writing for them for $1 a pop, and there are websites who use all this useless information to attract viewers to their site. And of course they're going to have to use whatever method to bring people to their site. There's no journalism and there's no writing anymore. What it's all about is coming up with titles people will click on, and filling up the rest to complete that assignment for as little time as possible, so you can at least receive a payment of $5 per hour.

Why do I do this, or why have I been doing all of this? Because I always need extra cash, and I was never a visual person to learn photoshop. I've been taking extra writing gigs on the side, for many British, Americans, Australians who can't write to save their life. I've been writing A papers for dumbasses in these countries, and I've been writing articles for idiots in these countries, and I've been paid less than the resellers in these countries, because I'm not a native speaker. The worst part about these writing gigs is that you actually sell your own work, and somebody else gets the credit for it. But hey you guys, you're just renting, not actually buying. My work is still mine. My articles are the genie that comes back to the master after being sold. 

I used to work as a freelancer to be able to pay for my very expensive university in Europe, because as European, but not member of the EU, I didn't have a working permit in the country. Have you tried to convert USD to Euros, when you get paid in the former and have to spend in the latter? It's quite depressing business. When you bid for these projects, there's always somebody else bidding lower. How can you work for $1 an hour!!!! 

There are freelancers who can earn a lot of money, but most of the work done in a day is bidding for projects. And when you're lucky enough to win a good gig, 20-40 hours a week, in the afternoon or weekends to get that extra cash on top of your full time work, or as full time work, if you only work as a freelancer, you still don't have any safety or reassurance. They can fire you at any time and leave you with no income. The website can just randomly delete your account without any reasoning, after you've spent years building up your portfolio and profile. There's no guarantee that you will actually get paid by individual employers no matter what these websites say. 

As a freelancer, you don't get insurance or a dental plan. And trust me, working as a freelancer you're going to need medical benefits to repair all the damage done to you. As a transcriptionist I've bled my ears trying to figure out what the hell that French guy was saying in English, trying to distinguish him as Speaker A or B from five other people in the table, all with bad European accents (while the recorder had been sitting comfortably at an annoying distance, and there were many other voices from people in other tables). As a writer I've damaged my eyes whilst writing for hours articles about electric dryers. As a freelancer I've damaged my back from all the sitting and lying down. As a freelancer I've blown my own brain up whilst trying to come with a way to write an article about investment, linking a snowboarding website covertly to the article. Can you come up with a way to do that? And finally as a freelancer I became at one point severely depressed, because freelancers work with no human contact for days at a time.

So next time when I tell you, I've been doing freelance work online for many years, writing articles about different topics, doing research, among other things, don't tell me "that sounds so interesting". In the corporate environment. most of the time is filled with sitting and waiting, discussing, attending meetings, and having coffee. Freelancers don't take coffee breaks (even though forget what I said, that's actually a good thing - typical Balkan coffee breaks are boring). Freelancers need to fill every second and minute of their time, otherwise another $10 is lost. I'm a workaholic, but dudes and dudetts, that's not healthy.

Working full time in an environment where there's so much waiting and hanging out from time to time is not fun either. Let me tell you my idea of a great working environment as an example I learned from my Organizational Psychology class: There's this actual company where employees go to the office to do their job whenever they want. There are no working hours and they get paid as long as they finish their projects. They don't even have the same desk when they come to work. They can just take any available desk. They finish work, and those who manage to finish fast, can actually go home and enjoy the rest of the surfing (or drinking) day. You get the benefit of a full time worker without feeling like a prisoner! Turns out there is a Golden Middle after all. 

If you still want to be a freelancer after reading this rant (nobody actually read it but whatever) don't complain about your medical, psychological and financial state at the end of the year. Freelance, is the opposite of freedom. Is pretty much slave work for most of the online working bees out there. #Truth


  1. Nice piece!
    I also would recommend to post/rewrite this article in LinkedIn. ... Give it a try!

  2. Thanks! I'm posting a version of this article on Linkedin, which is less of a rant!