Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Lesson In Freelancing

It has come to a point where clawing into my pockets had reached its limits, and, without other sources of income to serve as my buffer, it would take months before I can truly say that my funds have been replenished. I spend beyond my earnings and for that, I turn to freelancing so I may not sink beneath my payment obligations. 

Elance has been my saving grace for the longest time. The problem, however, lies, with bidding. One has to draft a pitch - a letter to sell your skills. These days, it is hard to get noticed. Despite my attempts to be creative, I tend to lose to other sellwords.

For this reason, I was fortunate to enter into a contract with a local client last month. It is a project that modestly pays, but with a job that is taxing - if you work full-time in another company. Nonetheless, I tried my luck and was hired. I may have lost a great deal of time spending it with loved ones, but at least, my needs will be met.

It was a trade-off I begrudgingly accepted.   

Three weeks into the project and I was getting worried because they have yet to send my earnings on Paypal. I raised this issue with my team leader twice. He assured me that the funds were still intact. There was no reason to get anxious.

To my horror, I learned that my earnings were coursed through a staffing service. Its representative sent me a notice asking for my bank account. I replied immediately asking how I got associated. There was no clear answer. Only that, they had sent an invitation and I accepted it.

I have no memory of such invitation.

Recalling how I got into this mess was already a stressful affair. First, I signed in with Odesk only because it was required by the client. Second, my account was a derelict. Never did I use it to find work, since, I was earning comfortably from my favorite marketplace. Last, I was dropped into the middle of things without any knowledge. Imagine having panic spells thinking as to what happened to your compensation, only to find out it was hijacked by a person you don't even know of.

So it was escalated to my team leader, my manager and to Odesk itself. I was looked down by the headhunter after accusing her of sending a spam.

"Im not gaining from your contract." The bitch said. "I earn way too much if you can see from my history yet I'm the one contacting you just so I can give you your pay. And yet I'm being perceived as a spammer." I was unrepentant.

Knowing that my money remains with her, and that, throwing more insults would result in a possibility that I'd not get my pay forced me to tone down the rhetoric. After explaining my behavior, I let the good managers do the talking. Not only was the manager able to persuade the headhunter to drop me from the staffing service, she sent a full refund amounting to half month's worth of pay I get from my day job. I was relieved.

At a hindsight, the escalation could have been averted had the headhunter explained how the process worked. Instead, her words probed, like a blade piercing through my gut. She was condescending, cocky, and unfitting to look after agents that were supposed to be under her wing. On my part, I could have been level-headed, a little less abrasive, a little less suspicious with her intentions.

It's water under the bridge now.

With my contract resumed, and without any staffing agency attached to my new account, the only challenge remaining is how I can hit the quota without losing so much of my free time.

Seldom do I get the chance to hit so many birds with one stone.

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