5 Things Freelancing Taught Me

Things freelancing taught me

For the past three years, I have run my own virtual writing and editing company, Desired Assistance. Born out of my ability to write and edit, paired with the increasing demand for virtual assistants, I combined the two to create my own business. This journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has certainly been worth it. Along the way I discovered things about myself, my writing, and business in general. Here are some of the lessons I learned.

Work Your Network
When I first launched my freelancing business, the majority of my clients came directly (or indirectly) from my college and church networks. The relationships I’d made and work I’d done in those environments set me up for great testimonials before my business even started. You never know who is observing you and the impressions that you’ve made.

You Don’t Work for Them, You Work for Yourself

This is something that took a while to get into my head on my first (long-term) freelancing job. The individual that hired me was under the impression that I worked for him. I thought this too until my business advisor set me straight.

It’s the same with doctors, dentists, mechanics, hair stylists, and others. We are service providers. It actually helps to see it more as a temporary partnership: they provide the funds and you provide the services to produce an expected end.

If you can grasp this concept now, you will gain a new level of freedom in your business.

Cheap Rates & Frequent Discounts Breed Cheap Clients

things freelancing taught me

This one’s a toughie. When you are passionate about a talent that comes naturally to you, it can be hard to charge and charge rationally at first. This is especially true if you are surrounded by individuals or a community with a pervading poverty mindset. EVERYBODY wants a discount.

But guess what? You need to get over it. Set a new standard.

Think of it this way: Wal-Mart offers cheap prices and frequent discounts. Bergdorf’s does not. Accordingly, each store attracts a certain type of customer. Which end of the spectrum do your clients swing to?

You are a professional. You deserve to make a good living by the work of your hands.

Writing Farms Suck

I hate, loathe, and despise writing farms! Someone or some entity that herds writers like cattle (hence the term writing farm) and expects you to do excellent work for crappy pay. Stop the madness!

Most of the individuals who work in this environment speak and write English poorly. They get hired for pennies on the dollar and when a high-quality writer comes along nobody wants to hire them because they’re content with sub-par work at cheap costs.

If we band together against this modern day indentured servitude, then the world of writing will undoubtedly be a better place.

Stay True to Yourself

I’ll try not to preach on this one, but what is your foundation? What are your guiding principles and values? I’m a firm Christian, yet have been approached by New Age gurus, mediums, and more who have attempted to hire me for projects. And even though at times I entertained the thought, I had to remain true to my values which usually meant turning the gig down. (I’m trying to figure out how they overlooked the titles plastered on my website like Godly Government and Faith and the Imagination!) And let’s be honest, it’s probably best for the conflicting brand to choose a freelancer who’s likeminded or at least familiar with the subject matter.

I refuse to prostitute my talents to support a lifestyle or career that clashes with my worldview.

You may not believe as I do, yet I bet you have your own set of guiding principles which have shaped who and what you are today.

And the issue may not be something as large as religion. It could be filthy language, sexually explicit content, praise of drugs and other unhealthy actions.

Consider this: would you want your professional brand affiliated with the brand or project in question? Would you want to be thanked in the Acknowledgments? How will this truly affect your business?

You must remain true to your brand, whatever it is.

Bottom line: you must value yourself as an individual, artist, and professional. One size does not fit all! And why should it? There are more than enough freelancing gigs to go around if we would only seek them out.

Happy Freelancing!


About the Author

Desiree M. Mondesir is an author, columnist, blogger, and entrepreneur who has run her own virtual writing and editing company, Desired Assistance, since 2010. She loves to help writers become better through her writing consultations and coaching classes. Her books include Godly Government, Faith and the Imagination, and How to Write Fiction that Doesn’t Suck. If you’d like to hear more from Desiree, sign up for her email updates and get some great free gifts. You may also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Desiree is 27 and resides in Charlotte, NC.

Images via Cas and A McLin



12 responses
  1. MissLittleOwl Avatar

    Good things to think about. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    1. Desiree M. Mondesir Avatar

      Thanks so much MissLittleOwl, it was my pleasure! 🙂

  2. Dr Ryan James Avatar

    Great article. I have to keep it to remind perspective clients that I am Bergdorf. If they want Walmart, they will need to look further.

    1. Desiree M. Mondesir Avatar

      I love it! I’m so glad you liked the post!

  3. Jenn Besonia Avatar

    It’s really saddening that on Odesk, there are many people who bid on jobs that just want to pay $1 per 500-word article.

    But then again, the client must be fine receiving low-quality articles too, so that’s his lost.

    1. Desiree M. Mondesir Avatar

      So true Jenn! Those doing the hiring will truly get what they pay for.

      1. Noemi Tasarra-Twigg Avatar
        Noemi Tasarra-Twigg

        My friend always says, “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.” Or something like that.

  4. Nicole Starbuck Avatar

    Thanks for the words of wisdom and encouragement! I am also a blogger and creative writer with a passion for Christ. I’m new to the world of freelancing, but God has been calling me to use my creativity to inspire others. I’m glad to see that there are others out there with such uncompromising values. Thanks!

    1. Desiree M. Mondesir Avatar

      Hi Nicole,

      You’re welcome and thank you so much for your encouragement! 🙂

  5. Michelle Kulas Avatar

    All great points! I especially love the one about deciding what type of client you want to attract. My rates are fairly high, and I have wonderful clients! Those who are paying top dollar understand that I am a professional, and that I do not need to be micromanaged. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!

    1. Desiree M. Mondesir Avatar

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks so much! 🙂

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