Upwork is like the Wild Wild West of freelancing, it’s the Russian-Roulette way to land gigs, and it can be a fucking goldmine [read: if you know how to use it to your advantage.]
Chris Rock came out with a comedy special in 2018 called Tamborine. There’s a bit in the special on bullies. I’ve watched it countless times. Mostly for research in writing this blog, but also because what he says rings true, and we can learn from him. ‘The world needs bullies” is a line he repeats and delivers with those distinct inflections that has made Rock’s voice immediately recognizable for most. If you haven’t seen Tamborine, then you should probably stop reading this blog and watch the full special because that would be a better use of your time and, like with most stand-up comedy, you only get the full impact from the delivery. You can watch it on Netflix—don’t worry, I’ll wait.
About a third of the way in, he gets to the bit on bullies. A weird thing happened after I watched this part of the special—inexplicably, I felt rejuvenated—like a furnace of ambition had been lit under my ass. It starts with him playing out a PTA meeting at his daughter’s school, and he imitates how adamant the school is on their no-bullying policy.
"So I’m at the school, and the lady comes back out and she goes, “I want you to know the school has absolutely no bullies, we have a no-bully policy, we don’t permit bullying, any bullies will be kicked out of school immediately. And right then, I wanted to take my daughter out the school.…What kind of a half-assed education is this?"
Chris Rock, Tamborine (2018).
"As soon as you leave this door, nobody gives a fuck about you. Nobody in the whole world gives a fuck about you…nobody thinks you’re cute, nobody thinks you’re smart, nobody gives a fuck about your opinion…Nobody on the whole earth outside of this door gives a fuck about you. Nobody."
Chris Rock, Tamborine (2018).
If you find it odd that Chris Rock saying “Nobody gives a fuck about your opinions” inspires me to do better, then hear me out for a sec before jumping the gun. At the beginning of this year (it’s 2022), I was like, I’m gunna see if I can earn some cash from writing online. I wrote a few blogs documenting my experience so far, ‘How to Actually Get Started as a Freelance Writer,’ ‘How to Know if Being a Freelance Writer is Right For You’ and ‘The Best Way to Get Started as a Freelance Writer,’ (which I now realize sounds the exact same as the first blog title, sorry that I don’t know wtf I’m doing!!) I enjoy blogging on Medium, but the $3.57 I earned in May isn’t going to cut it. I use Upwork to land gigs. So far I’ve earned over $8,000. Upwork is like the Wild Wild West of freelancing, it’s the Russian-Roulette way to land gigs, and it can be a fucking goldmine [read: if you know how to use it to your advantage.] Upwork lets anyone from anywhere with a credit card and internet access post a job online and hire someone to do it.
In case you didn’t catch that, anyone from anywhere with a credit card and internet access can post a job online and hire someone to do it. The internet is the epicentre for trolls, bullies, professional scammers, assholes, con artists, cheapskates, and also some of the most unsavoury, miserly people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting albeit virtually. Of course, not all A’s are B’s, but to make decent money online you need to be more than just good at what you do—you need to learn how to be your own advocate and understand your worth.
Heavy disclaimer: I have not read Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck” and am not able to speak to its subtleties. I like the title and I really hope this is not illegal. If the plan’s to freelance, then understanding how to advocate for yourself is a “lesson you need quick.” I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s the internet! I’m not saying there are cyber demons, but just like you and I—clients operate on their own time, dime and agenda. These people don’t give a fuck about what’s going on in your life—they’re not interested in hearing excuses if you don’t get the work done on time, just as much as they don’t care about which episode of This American Life it was that made you ugly cry, or the cryptocurrency you invested your money in that is now worth(less). They have their own shit to deal with and they want you to make their lives easier.
“Could you imagine having to wait till you’re 30 to realize people ain’t shit?”
— Chris Rock, Tamborine (2018).
What does it look like to be your own advocate? The art of self-advocacy, particularly when it comes to offering and negotiating your services on a freelance platform (such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and so forth,) is is a topic I will be blogging about again, because it is a critical skill to have and to hone… and to hold. To tie up loose ends, earlier in this blog I said:
It’s solid advice, though ironic that Chris Rock is saying this to a room full of people that have paid a good amount of money to sit there and listen to him talk about his opinions on literally whatever it was that he chose to talk about. They had faith in him, and they expected him to deliver, which I’m confident he did. Most likely, there were plenty of other standup comics they could’ve paid less money to see that same evening, but they didn’t, they went to see Chris Rock instead. People give a fuck about what he has to say, they are willing to pay because he seems like a standup guy (no pun intended); he’s funny, and incisive and is one heck of an observational comedian. Put simply—Chris Rock is incredible at what he does.
Advocating for yourself as a freelancer comes much easier if you are in fact decent at what you do. If you aren’t—then your best bet is to fake it till you make it—because you have to be able to advertise a skill or competency of some type (even if it’s fairy dust.) Knowing how to advertise yourself, articulate your skillset to clients, and the ability to be firm on your rate are all aspects of what I consider to be the freelancer-self-advocacy-starter-pack.
There’s much more to say on this topic, so there will be more to come. In the meantime, stretch those skills, watch some standup and follow my blog. Thanks so much, as always, for reading! If you got to the end of the post, I’d love to know so drop a comment!
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