Disclaimer: I have two wealthy progenitors (a joke). They provide me with food, shelter, and everything else. Hence, I had the freedom to choose.

I have a confession to make. I feel like a fraud. Please hear me out.

A few days ago, I wrote about What I learnt from a month of freelancing. That article got some attention. So, friends, batchmates, and others reached out to me asking how to succeed as a freelancer. This article is an attempt to address that. I will talk specifically about Fiverr. Full disclosure: I am not an expert on the subject, this is just a confession.

I’ll start by re-iterating the few points that I made in the last article.

  • I did the projects just because I needed spare cash for buying the Kindle Paperwhite.
  • I wished to try out something new since there was so much time. I don’t think I’ll take up freelancing full-time ever. Grad school rocks, yay!
  • You are essentially exchanging money for your time. This might not be the ideal scenario in a few cases. If you’re well-off, you probably should be spending time in other interests.
  • However, if you’re just idling away your time, I think freelancing is an excellent idea.

Since, we’re here allow me to plug in a photo of the Kindle Paperwhite 10th Generation. I absolutely love it. I’m currently reading “Educated” by Tara Westover.

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My lovely Kindle Paperwhite 10th Generation. (It just feels nice to say the full name each time 😛 )

Now to answer the questions that I’ve been receiving, I don’t know how to be a successful freelancer or how to get more projects. I understand why people have started asking me these questions. I’m humbled by that, I truly am. However, I’ve completed just four projects and made some money from them ($156 to be precise). It’ll be foolish to think that I’m an expert on freelancing. In fact, I’ve stayed up countless nights thinking I’m not good enough in anything.

Still, I’ll share a few tips that could help you. Take everything I say with a pinch of salt. And, you’ll almost certainly fail if you follow these step-by-step.

Fill out your profile correctly. Be honest when writing out your skills and expertise. Some of you might think that you don’t have any talent. That’s okay. I’m sure you know what interests you. You should first go online and learn the things that interests you, be it making a website or learning to speak English fluently. Be honest, it is okay to say you don’t know something than to accept a job and realise later on that you don’t have the skills needed to finish the job.

Creating gigs. Gigs are advertisements for your skill and how much you’ll charge for doing the job. I recommend that you keep the prices low while starting out. And don’t provide everything upfront. Gig extras are an excellent way to make extra income. For example, if you are teaching Python programming, you might choose to charge 5 USD for 30-minute lessons and then provide a programming problem for an extra $5.

Gig description. Write a detailed description of what value you’ll provide. Make sure to ask the buyer to message you first before placing an order. This will help you negotiate and gauge the scope of the project. This also makes sure there aren’t any misunderstandings.

The art of negotiating. You should know how to negotiate effectively. Once someone reaches out to you, thank them for reaching out and ask every detail about the project. You would want to ask them how much they’re willing to offer. Negotiating and explaining helped me a lot. I received an offer for $90, by negotiating.

Bid properly. There is a section called ‘Buyer Requests’ in Fiverr. Here, buyers who do not know whom to reach out for help usually place an ad (sort of). Now, just by the commonsense, they’ll probably reach out to the lowest bidder. You don’t want to bid too less as well. A rule of thumb that worked for me was to offer about $\frac{2}{3}^{rd}$ the price. Ask them to reach out to you, and then you can negotiate. This won me two projects – 165 USD (bid 70 USD) and 100 USD (bid 75 USD). Sadly, I had to ask them to cancel the orders because of personal reasons. In short, bid a lower amount, and negotiate well when they reach out.

Improve your English. This might sound unfair to many, but it is what it is. Most people on the platform communicate in English, so it’s an excellent skill to have. A few have told me that my English is excellent. As flattering as that sounds, it did not happen overnight. In fact, you can watch this video of me explaining all that (sorry for messing up the audio volume).

Communicate effectively. Please be clear about what your buyer expects from you. Before making an offer, ask everything you need to know. Once that is done, ask the buyer to offer a price. Should you you feel that what the buyer offered is way less for your paygrade you can say, “Please can you bump up the offer by $10?”. Words like kindly, please, sorry etc. are helpful in negotiation in my opinion. Sure, they won’t work everytime but they can help your case.

Although I did not use any of the online resources on freelancing myself, I’m sure there are tons of material online. Some even have clickbait titles like “How to earn blah and blah in a month?” or “The ultimate guide to freelancing”. Feel free to check those out. However, I’ll still say that all of these articles are based on personal experiences; what worked for someone else might not work for you most of the time.

Endnote. I am not an expert on freelancing. I feel immense pressure when people reach out to me asking about something I did and how they can do it themselves. I hope this guide will prove helpful to you. If you have any other comments, feel free to drop a line at hi{at}reangdeba{dot}xyz. Thanks for reading the guide. Stay safe. Happy freelancing.

If you liked this article you might also like How to email at IIT Kanpur.

Please check out the free lessons that I created on YouTube. Here is the link to the channel. Like, Share, and Subscribe. Thanks!

This confession is inspired by another confession by this amazing human being named Chip Huyen. You can read it here.

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