Not everything is worth doing (Better Freelancing, Part 1)

The freelancing market is a mess, at least in India. New folks are clueless about what to do, and there are innumerable middlemen, driving prices to dirt. Having survived this hell and after finally climbing out of it, I decided to share my learning with fellow freelancers in this Better Freelancing series.

According to Economics, the most important factor in one’s success is Opportunity Cost. If you’re busy making straw hats by hand round the year, for example, you are missing out on a much bigger opportunity by not investing time in, say, building a machine that can produce hats.

Abraham Lincoln said the same:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

Same goes for us freelancers. There are plenty of low-paying projects out there. If you get desperate, and in a dash of panic, accept, “regular, bulk” work from a “prestigious content agency”, you will be missing out on exploring your real strengths and moving towards greater earning and respect.

Let’s take a moment to understand this in detail, in the concept still eludes you. Let’s say you’re a passionate foodie and also love to cook. You search for freelance projects, and you come across the following on Facebook groups:

  • Every single “looking for” post gets answered by at least 24 people within 30 minutes of its posting. You cannot be in front of your laptop/phone all the time, so there’s no way you would be ever among the top five.
  • The projects that seem easy are demanding around 3,000-5,000 words per day, and are also “demanding” to pay you Rs. 50 per 500 words.

How you deal with this situation is a topic for another post (and a long, intricate one, at that!). I promise we will get to there soon. But before that, the most important thing for you to understand is to not give into the temptation. If you accept such a job, maybe you will start making Rs. 500-700 per day. But you’ll be doing extremely back-breaking, boring work, with a high likelihood of getting cheated (I’ll explain in another post why).

Also, by tying yourself up like this, you are denying yourself the leisure to hunt for the quality projects out there. For example, there are literally hundreds of food blogs globally that you could be writing for and making ten times that amount. It will take at most double the amount of time, but will allow you to enjoy life more and have a good sleep at night.

So that was the first and most important lesson for freelancers: don’t panic, and don’t accept just about whatever comes your way.

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