I learnt something in my working life lately. I have not been working with my worth in mind. And only after being burnt do I now realise my mistake. And it’s not the other party’s fault as most people would say. As a freelancer, it’s so important to have standards and know how much your work is worth. Earlier this year, I failed to do this.
So earlier this year, I took on the biggest job I’d ever gotten from the app Fiverr. The task at hand: to edit a book of 100,000 words for $1,000. But then Fiverr takes 20% so I actually only got $800 – I didn’t think of this before. And even though I googled what I should be charging for such a big editing job, I still accepted the job. Because it’s ‘better than nothing’, right? Wrong, Kristina, wrong!
Why was I wrong to accept this job? Because the money I received did not equal the time I put into the project. Because, by accepting such a low rate, this tells the client they can get away with anything – not that my client did. They were lovely throughout. However, when you charge a low rate first of all, it’s quite awkward to ask for more when the edit takes longer than you thought.
So why did past Kristina accept such a low rate? Because she thought that, seeing as it was her first experience editing a book, she couldn’t possibly charge full-price rates. Because I was blindsided by the four figures. Because I thought it would be worthwhile when my work was published and my name was written under the contributors section. Because she had no respect for herself. Because she was stupid. Because she was naïve. Because she simply didn’t stand up for herself.
tHE ISSUE WITH fIVERR
My, oh my, where do I start? As helpful as apps like Fiverr and Upwork are for freelancers to get work, this does not counteract the sheer amount of people that turn to these apps to try to get a cheap deal. I’m sure other freelancers can resonate with this. If I had a penny for every person who has messaged me asking for ridiculously cheap prices, I’d be a rich lady. I recently had some guy contact me to request an edit of 22,000 words for $50 – minus the discount, that’s be $40! I said heck no!
I wouldn’t say that my client requesting the book edit was being that cheeky. Do I think they could have offered more money? Yes. Do I judge them for requesting 30% of a normal price? Yes and no. At the end of the day, I accepted the suggested price so it’s all on me. I also don’t want to completely bad-mouth Fiverr. It really is a much better app than Upwork because it puts the power in the service provider’s hands. With Upwork, I found myself writing essays for every job I applied for, basically pleading for the work. And most of the time, you don’t even get a reply. And when I did get a job, it was obviously ridiculously underpriced – this time it was a cookery book of over 50,000 words for $50. I know, I don’t know what I was thinking. So I’ll be staying on Fiverr for the time being. I’ll just ignore the idiots you get on there sometimes.
Now doing a job for a low price but with a high reward sounds okay, right? If my work gets published, then that’s something I can add to my CV, right? But what happens when you do a job for a cheap rate and then that work isn’t even used? Yeah, you guessed it, that happened to me. So not only did I work tirelessly for hours on end to get the language quality of this book (written by a non-native speaker) to a good standard – basically rewriting mass chunks of it – but now it’s not even going to be recognised. What happened was the book was supposed to be self-published, hence I was hired. But then a publishing house got involved with the original language version and decided they wanted to translate that as opposed to use the existing English version that I so tirelessly edited. Great. It’s not the author’s fault because I don’t think they could have predicted this would happen. But it still sucks. Why does it suck? BECAUSE I HAD NO RESPECT FOR MYSELF WHEN I ACCEPTED THE JOB. If I had been paid the rate I deserved, would I be as sour about the situation now? Probably not!
So, I’ve learnt a valid lesson from this ordeal. I have to know my worth and not let dollar signs sway my judgement. Yes, $1,000 sounds like a lot, but for editing an entire book? No, Kristina. That is not enough. And I shouldn’t work for less in the hope I will be recognised because the events I describe above could always happen.
My advice to anyone reading this: If you’re a requestor on an app, don’t ask for stupid prices. Have some respect for the skill you’re requesting. Sit and think for a second if your quote is enough. If you wouldn’t work for that, it’s quite likely that you’re being an a**hole and not offering the price your service provider deserves. Also, while I’m on this topic, have some respect for the field of editing and translation people! Everyone seems to think it’s easy and not much effort. But it really is! It’s just as hard as writing the original source text. If you, like me, are the person providing an editing service, don’t accept less than you deserve, make sure your name is mentioned when you deserve it to be, and have some respect for yourself. I know I will from now on. Also, if you’re my client reading this, I don’t mean anything personally. But next time, I will ask for more money from you.