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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

Hanging on by a foot...

The past few months of freelancing have been a real struggle.

During the first 6 months of this year, I averaged over $2k each month as an editor/writer, with most of my income coming from the Upwork platform.

In the past three months, I have averaged only $650 monthly, and only $220 of the total I've earned has come from Upwork.

I feel like my freelancing resembles the pose of one of my backyard squirrels.

My goal of self-employment is hanging on by a thread - or a foot.

Using Upwork, or any other freelancing project platform, has some negatives:

1. I'm constantly fighting for a place at the editing/writing table.

2. It takes SO MUCH time every day to sort through

  • fake job posts

  • severely underpaid jobs

  • jobs that don't require 16 Connects just to bid on

  • an oversaturated market of freelancers in competition with each other

3. It's a stressor to spend money on Upwork Connects only to be outbid by ridiculous numbers like this:


What kind of freelancer can spend 85 connects (which costs $12.75 to purchase) on a job that only pays $180 before taxes and $130 after taxes? And this job requires the freelancer to edit a 290-page cookbook, which could take 10 hours. After all is done, the freelancer makes $13 an hour for the job, barely over minimum wage.

4. The work is just not steady. This past week, I've been awarded two contracts and have reached out to both clients twice, eager to begin the work. But, so far, I've been ghosted. The clients have not been back in touch to start the project and are not responding to my messages.

It's beyond frustrating.

I love the three consistent clients I have and enjoy my work with them.

But their combined work does not cover my monthly budget needs.

So, I'm having to take a step back and think about the following:

  • What kind of work do I enjoy and want to be doing?

  • What kind of work will allow me to take each Thursday off to be with my mom?

  • What kind of work will pay me enough to meet my financial needs?

The first question is easy enough to answer.

I want to do work that engages my mind and fulfills my desire to serve others.

Which is why I really love editing. Helping others ensure that their words are ready to go to print, in whatever format, brings me great satisfaction.

And it's why I love writing, too. My experiences have provided me with unique insight and perspectives in many different areas of life that I feel I can provide knowledge and education to others:

  • caring for aging parents

  • end-of-life planning

  • helping kids decide what to do after high school

  • college planning

  • single parenting

  • divorce recovery

But neither of these skills is paying the bills.

When I think about the other two questions - having time flexibility and sufficient income - it's hard to find a balance.

If you work a full-time job (remotely or on-site), your employer likes you to be at work the whole time.

If you need time freedom to care for a family member, you risk not earning a sufficient paycheck.

That's why I decided to try freelancing in the first place, so I could devote time to caring for my mom during her most vulnerable and needy time. But, now that she is somewhat stable and settled in at her memory care community, I've got to focus more on myself and my livelihood.

So, I have a starter plan in place. My goal is to be completely steady, in whatever I'm doing, by the beginning of the year. I feel that that timeframe is so far away that I should concentrate more on the here and now.

But I don't want to just jump into something and not be able to stay the course.

My freelancing journey has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows over the past few months. While I enjoy my work as an editor and writer, the challenges in the freelancing world have tested my patience and financial stability.

My journey now involves aligning my passions and values with opportunities that provide both financial security and the flexibility to care for my mom. My quest for balance will hopefully result in finding a stable and personally fulfilling position - in whatever role that may be.

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