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karl_drawing
Community Member

Freelance role changing slowly over time

Hello,

I was curious... Does anyone have any experience of slowly changing the direction or focus of their skills on Upwork over time?

 

For example, a person may start out in some branch of graphic design. During many design projects, the freelance designer might do an unexpected amount of writing (for example, creating tutorials or making edits on infographic video scripts). They might find out that clients are also interested in their written ideas, rather than just the visual portrayal of those ideas. 

 

At what point does the freelancer change what they call their skills (or add a new profile section) to include the new experience? The reason I ask is because it may not be a good fit if a visual design profile applies to a creative writing job. Other times, a freelancer might realise that they have more opportunity to tailor their skills to a different environment that works out better than a previous environment. 

 

Thank You

 

 

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colettelewis
Community Member

I think, rather than change, we have to evolve, and adapt to rapidly changing times.

 

A million years ago, before the Internet, and before online job sites, I was proofreading and editing hard copy, using the standard publishing symbols. I still use them, but very, very rarely for online work and now, I hardly ever edit hard copy. In my category, I should be learning how to format an ebook ready for publishing. This would be an additional and different skillset, but in a related field, and I think I'm probably going to have to make this my 2022 goal, but if I do this, my basic offer will not change, just increase in some way. 

 

(Upwork seems to encourage adding different skills and keeps trying to make me add 'writing' to my profile.  I like writing, but I am much too slow when writing articles, to offer it as a skill!)

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9 REPLIES 9
colettelewis
Community Member

I think, rather than change, we have to evolve, and adapt to rapidly changing times.

 

A million years ago, before the Internet, and before online job sites, I was proofreading and editing hard copy, using the standard publishing symbols. I still use them, but very, very rarely for online work and now, I hardly ever edit hard copy. In my category, I should be learning how to format an ebook ready for publishing. This would be an additional and different skillset, but in a related field, and I think I'm probably going to have to make this my 2022 goal, but if I do this, my basic offer will not change, just increase in some way. 

 

(Upwork seems to encourage adding different skills and keeps trying to make me add 'writing' to my profile.  I like writing, but I am much too slow when writing articles, to offer it as a skill!)

allpurposewriter
Community Member

In theory, you offer your skills as a freelancer when you become an expert at a particular skill.

What's the reason for that? You have no fallback position. You don't have an employer to back you up or a co-worker to blame for a job going badly. Put another way, you don't have the employer's insurance policy to cover your backside. With freelance, if you stick out your neck the only person who takes the fall is yourself.

On Upwork, the playing field is theoretically level. If you're not an expert, you get lousy reviews, while the real experts get great reviews and the morality tale has come to its conclusion. (The wheat, the chaff; the believers, the wicked ... you get the idea.)

In reality, everyone starts out at least slightly below expert status if only becaue you have yet to blunder through the contract process, the diplomacy loops and a few other minefields. In reality, there's a difference between "expert" and "perfect." So, everyone has to accept a bit of a risk and a learning curve. Anyway, what was the question? I just came in to warm my toes by the fire. 

allpurposewriter
Community Member

Karl,


OK, I just reread your posting. I'm not the one to ask on Upwork rules, but if you find your skills expanding you could broaden your category to include more sub-sets. For example, you could start as a graphics artist and begin to take on writing jobs. What to do? You could take a step backwards and call yourself a Marketing Expert, who does both graphics and writing. Then you woudn't have to have a second profile.

abbas_tauseef
Community Member

I have two master's degrees, corporate law and business administration; however, while starting freelancing my only skill was to write on philosophy (which is still I believe my strongest skill), but now I mostly write copies, legal and business contracts, terms and conditions for websites and apps and my current project is to analyze the income statements of Toyota for the last three years. 

 

It means freelancing helps us learn new things and also let us know how brilliant we can be without bosses and some stagnated setups. 

Well put, Tauseef.

aitringo
Community Member

I started as a data analyst in my early days, now I'm converted to a business growth consultant, having more than a decade in the field. It took me a while to offer my full service, simply because I didn't master the communication that went with it, in English.
Now that I have tested myself over time, I can offer my skills, feeling 100% confident,

I Thank God for everything! ðŸ™ 

bilal1983
Community Member

Hi Karl,

I think you've touched a very important aspect of freelancing. I recently saw a poll posted on LinkedIn from Upwork, asking people if focusing on a niche was more important than creating a strong online presence. There was a third aspect which I don't remember, but the prior ones were neck-and-neck, with online presence being the most voted by a short margin.

 

I've heard from many experience freelancers that it is more like a business than a job, so I suggest you look at it in that sense. " Slowly changing the direction or focus of their skills on Upwork" - is like an established food business dropping out items from their menu and just focusing on one/two best selling item(s). I've seen and heard plenty of such cases.

 

Most of the time the businesses started out with a much different plan, and upon noticing the massive response to one of their items, they put all of their energy in producing and selling that one item. This way they maximize their earning potential and are able to generate more business by being known for that specific item. The important thing is, they decide to do this, only when they get a good response and they are able to sell the in-demand item. Sometimes, their original specialty does sell reasonably well too, but they find that the other smaller item on their menu, takes way less effort to produce and people enjoy and order that more. So some businesses decide to retain their original items, and some are not too rigid and decide it is better to revamp and refocus their resources, energies etc. Again, this should be done when there is a guaranteed response noticed.

 

In terms of freelancing, I think one should 'change the direction or focus' when there is a clear opportunity and scope seen. You mentioned graphic design, so let's say that is your main skill and talent. But over time you noticed that there is a need and demand for writing. In addition, you noticed you are good at that.

 

Now should you change the focus? That decision depends on you as a business owner. Does writing service pay well compared to the graphic design niche? Is there a consistent demand for it? Does writing take less effort compared to graphic design? Is the pay out better compared to deisgn in terms of overall effort and time it takes, revisions, back and forth with clients and so on (Im not a graphic designer so I don't know the specific). So, you should better be able to judge this.

 

You could keep both skills in tandem, by creating a specialized profile for instance. But, in the long-term I think focusing on the best skill and service you can provide is best. And you can keep evolving to adapt to changing times like Nichola said.

elizabeth_samit
Community Member

Karl, I read most of the existent responses to your question, and I'm in agreement with those that suggested you create another profile for your writing. I started out as an editor via Elance (the predecessor of UpWork), but some of my clients asked if I could ghostwrite an article or book for them. This enabled me to very gradually shift from primarily editing to primarily ghostwriting. On the other hand, I felt it made sense when I began freelancing to identify specialty niche areas that could set me apart from other freelance editors and writers in order to acquire client invitations and job offers. This worked, but also has had a downside in that this does not present my real capabilities to potential clients--who only might become aware of my other capacities if they engage in communication with me. Moreover, I can copy-edit fiction but only present myself on UpWork and elsewhere as a nonfiction editor (developmental editing, line-editing, and copy-editing)--and solely able to perform nonfiction ghostwriting. The ability of clients to provide online reviews that can utterly ruin a freelancer's reputation is the reason that I stick to nonfiction (and primarily healthcare-related), as I am not willing to take any more risks than already inherent in using a platform such as UpWork to perform work for clients. Therefore, I would suggest that you state in your specialized profile exactly what type of writing you are offering to potential clients, and not accept any job offer to perform writing on a subject not within your personal area of expertise. This is because any negative review about your writing at this juncture can impact your reputation as a graphic designer (which is your main focus) besides as a freelance writer. I almost never accept fixed price job offers anymore, as I typically work under an hourly payment arrangement (with a negotiated cap on hours) due to greater payment protection from UpWork for hourly jobs and less protection over the years for fixed price jobs (with Milestones). Fortunately, I have built a longstanding reputation and repeat clients, so I can reject offers from clients only willing to pay a specific (and possibly large) price for a ghostwritten book that may or may not be exactly what they wanted. I always try to provide my clients with what they do want, but am no longer willing to have my time wasted if they want changes to content after I have already completed the book. Through only working under an hourly payment arrangement, I can maintain greater control over the entire process. I hope this helps you to decide what to do.

Thank you to everyone who wrote a response to the original post I made a while ago. There were a lot of interesting points and experiences brought up...for example: thinking about freelancing as a business rather than just an unchanging job, as well as thinking about how the individual freelancer and the entire field can change over time. It makes sense that some things stay popular and other things phase out. I will think of the pitfalls to avoid. (For example, how a seperate profile would avoid bad feeback on one skill to impact the entire profile, or how I should focus only on a new writing skill if it is within a specific area of expertise and confidence I already have).

I'll have to go back and read all the posts again carefully to see all the options there are. 

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