Get Paid to Do the Work You Love: A Case Study of Freelance With Fiverr

People like case studies, which are basically “people watching” with better details. Hearing how another person has managed a real-life situation is more informative-and interesting-than a list of facts. I would like to write about freelancing with sites like Fiverr, and, since I have personal experience working there, I want to briefly share some of my discoveries and a little about what might await you.

Hello, I’m Dr. Ron Masa. I’m a Jungian psychologist, now retired from private practice. I’m also an artist, having sculpted in stone for many years and sold nearly a thousand small paintings online. I began freelancing with Fiverr in 2013. I wanted to learn to make professional-quality voice recordings from my home.

In the 1960s, I had worked as a TV Director for the NBC affiliate, KVOA-TV in Tucson, Arizona. I got to do a little bit of voice announcing then, and I loved it. I have wanted to do more voice work ever since. My first inclination was to locate a formal training program for voice-over education. Fortunately, I learned that they charge thousands of dollars a year! I say fortunately because that cost, plus the delay before I could do real voice work, convinced me to try something new.

I decided to “adventure” my way into freelancing with Fiverr. I read several books about voice work, found a plastic microphone lying about, and created my first gig on You, too, can start very simply and upgrade as you learn and earn. I grew a little with every job. I made mistakes. I learned how to correct-and eventually avoid-them. As I gradually improved my voicing skills, I also upgraded the microphones and software involved.

Choosing to work limited hours, over three years, I was paid more than $7,000 to learn voice-over work by actually doing voice-over work from the first day. I completed 450 professional audio jobs! To my surprise, they earned 100% satisfaction ratings. I did cancel a couple of “difficult buyers,” but nearly everyone else was great to work with. Buyers know they’re getting a great deal, they want the services to work, and they are typically very understanding.

In addition to recording traditional voice-over scripts, I discovered that I especially love voice acting. Who knew? Yes, self-discovery is one of the rewards for designing and doing work that you love. I was soon the dramatic voice of insistent reporters, troubled and brooding presidents, creepy evil villains, kindly loving fathers, disturbing alien predators, and a variety of WWII generals and battle-weary soldiers. These recordings, and hundreds more, now appear throughout movies, TV, video games, the internet, and corporate audio systems on several continents.

I also discovered that I love doing educational narration for kids about whales and stars and dinosaurs. I performed endless commercial messages. I even got to narrate several entire books. One influential classic by Dale Carnegie was far ahead of its time. Another book taught financial planning and insight. The book that I felt most honored to record was “A Summary of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.” It summarized the life and novels of the powerfully inspiring “father of African literature,” Chinua Achebe.

I loved being able to leap right into real voice work and learn the craft by doing real projects. And I particularly liked being paid to learn. If I count the $15,000 I saved on formal training, plus the $7,000 I earned for doing voice work-this freelance path put me more than $20,000 ahead! If someone prefers traditional training methods, there is nothing wrong with that. I, personally, found freelancing more exciting and more engaging.

When you do work that you love-which freelancing invites-you are much more likely to meet kindred spirits and find related opportunities that truly suit you! There are immediate, and then secondary, benefits to following your heart in employment. While practicing voice work, I learned to audio edit my own recordings as well. I later used that experience to teach an audio-editing class online!

Now, the combination of my original voice-over training and those audio-editing skills has enabled me-has really empowered me-to teach online classes. (And, yes, they have been praised for their exceptional audio quality!) Unanticipated benefits are more likely to come your way when you follow a path with heart. I now know it is possible to bring a long-term dream to life through carefully chosen freelance work. Want to get paid for work you would happily do for free? How would you design the kind of work or service that you would-admit it now-genuinely love to do?

You Need Spine To Get Dream Clients

During the past year, I’ve doubled my rate and tripled project volume. I love 95% of my clients and have 0% client from hell.

Long story short – I stopped being “nice” and started showing a sh*t ton of spine the first moment I talk to a potential client.

It isn’t about sitting on my bum and “attracting” dream clients.

It’s about proactively and apologetically being clear on my approach so clients can self-select before engaging my services.

When we work together, they’re trained/nudged to roll my way with clear instruction. (Not insisting that it’s the best way, but I believe it’s the best way for me to deliver the best results for my clients.) Often I explain the reason for following a certain process to set up a co-creation relationship.

Here’s the long story and how you can turn prospects into dream clients:

“I want my dream client to share my POV”

Very well, then you have to be clear about your POV from the get go!

IMHO, working with clients who share your POV is super important so there won’t be an uphill battle trying to “sell” your work and prove your approach every step of the way.

From the get go, when you talk to potential clients, be forthright about your POV. Be opinionated. Be willing to be offensive. Don’t be nice, be clear.

In fact, your content is a great vehicle to share your values, convictions, and POV and help you prime the conversations.

Tell your potential client how you’d approach her challenges and gauge if it resonates. If it doesn’t, then it may be best for everyone if you let it go.

“I want my clients to respect my expertise and value my opinions”

Then behave like an expert! Have an opinion and stand by it!

If you don’t respect your expertise and opinion, then how can you expect others to respect you or have confidence in you?

Of course, you know your stuff. But do you have the words to articulate what you do and how you do it in a way that makes you stand taller?

On the flip side, earning respect also means acknowledging your own limits and not puffing up when something is not your area of expertise. No need to be apologetic – just state the fact: this is what I know about this topic, and I don’t consider it to be my area of expertise. I recommend seeking the help of ________.

Don’t hang onto a client or prospect if there’s no mutual trust and respect in the relationship. It’s soul sucking and won’t allow you to do good work.

“I want low maintenance clients with good boundary”

Other people’s boundary problem is not your problem unless you have a boundary problem. Keep your hands to yourself and you’ll be OK.

I get it, not everyone is a project management bitch like yours truly who can smell sh*tty boundary from miles away and have allergic reactions to scope creep. And it’s all good.

Start your work with any client with a clear scope and “rules of engagement.” Make sure you stick to your guns and don’t be afraid to call out issues early on. Don’t let anything fester.

Train your clients to adhere to YOUR rules, designed to help you deliver the best results for them. When everyone goes by the way you want to roll, you don’t have to go about handholding them all the time and yep, you get low maintenance clients!

“I don’t want my clients nickel-and-diming me. I want them to pay on time, at the fee I demand”

That’s easy… don’t discount. State your fee and shut the hell up. Take it or leave it, your clients’ money problem is not yours to sweat over.

The more hem-and-haw someone is about your fee, the more likely he’s going to be high maintenance and the less likely to pay on time.

Be ready to walk away instead of bending over backward to get this client. It’s not worth the stress and certainly not fair that this one crappy client would suck all your energy, leaving you nothing to serve your gold-star clients.

The problem with sh*t client is that the interaction takes up a lot of emotional energy and mental space. It impacts your ability to do good work – which is the foundation of hmm, everything.

TL;DR – what I’m saying is, you can be proactive about getting gold-star clients in the door, and/or train them to become your dream clients. All you need is some spine… and grow a pair.