Why Settle For Peanuts?

*** Chipo’s Note ***

You’re all awesome people! Every single one of you that continues to come and read what I post. Thank you.

***

I’d like to share a story of mine with you. This happened two months ago. I’d recently stumbled upon a website – odesk.com. What is oDesk? According to http://www.whatisodesk.com:

oDesk is the world’s largest online freelancing site where clients and over half a million contractors from around the world are brought together in a cyber-office environment. Freelance work is offered by clients who can post jobs free so that contractors can competitively bid for them.”

In Chipo’s words: oDesk is a place – online – where people can post jobs for free and contractors (freelancers) apply for the job and hope that they get it. The clients put up a job description that entails what they want from the contractor, the experience the contractor must have, and how much the client is going to pay.

When I first saw oDesk I thought “Ha! This is awesome! I can make money with my writing skills!” oDesk does, after all, have a category for those who write – ranging from Blog and Article Writing to Creative Writing and many other forms of writing. So I signed up quickly and filled out my profile. Once that was done, I started to look for potential jobs. My excitement soon died down when I noticed that most of these clients were looking for people with “serious experience”. Any jobs that I could actually apply for already had 50 applicants and my optimism wasn’t strong enough for me to be applicant 51 (let’s be serious now). After an hour of searching, I was about to give up when I saw the heading “Seeking Newbie Writers”.

“Hey!” I thought. “I’m a newbie writer! I can do this!” I clicked on the title and began to read the job description. The client was looking for writers to write articles for him. He was charging a buck an article. My mind accepted that for some reason. “Hey, Chipo, you have to start small sometimes, don’t ya?” I thought that was a good explanation so I wrote up my application and sent it. The client replied within an hour. He’d liked the samples I offered and wanted to test my abilities but first I had to answer a series of questions. The questions were harmless.

“Do you agree to give the rights of these articles to me?” “What are you comfortable with writing about?” “How long have you been writing for?” “What experience do you have?”

I answered the questions easily – and honestly. I didn’t mind handing over the rights of the articles. I mean hey, what was I going to do with them anyway? I said that I was comfortable with writing about anything – as long as it wasn’t inappropriate (you know anything defamatory and/or explicit). I said that I’d been writing for about 8 years – but not as a professional article writer or anything of the sort. I said I had no experience but I was a quick learner and I believed that my talent would supersede my lacking experience. I waited for the response anxiously.

It came.

The client was happy with my answers and decided to put me on a trial run. If I passed, I’d be paid for the articles. I jumped for joy and waited for the topics. The topics came at 4 in the morning. They were about bar-code technology. I had to write about two different types of bar-codes. I could have died right then and there. What the heck did I know about bar-code technology?! I couldn’t tell him that I was clueless. I wanted the job so badly. So I began the work. I researched and researched and researched until I could find bits and pieces I could work with. I went back to oDesk and asked the client when the articles were due. They were due in 24 hours. I gulped. I had 24 hours to write two 600 word articles on bar-code technology. By the end of it, I was tired, drained and full of information on bar-codes  I sent the articles. Two days later the client got back to me. I’d passed. I smiled. But my smile soon faded when I realized that I’d only made 2 measly dollar. After all that hard work? I couldn’t complain, though. I’d signed up for it.

The client sent me another message informing me on the way things would work. He would send me twenty articles at the beginning of the week and I’d have to have them in every Wednesday and Sunday. I could feel my brain deflating. This was going to be harder than I thought. I decided to go with it, though. By the end of one week and a half I’d managed to burn myself out to a point of absolute no return. I was always tired. I was always stressed. If I wasn’t in class I was in my room, typing away – about more damn bar-codes. I’d missed a deadline and the client put me on probation. Suddenly I was getting more articles than usual.

Someone special to me sat me down after becoming fed up with the way I was overworking myself.

“Chipo, this is slavery,” they said. “You’re making like 5 lousy bucks for all this work? You and I both know that you and your talent are worth more than this.”

It literally dawned upon me that very second. They were right. I picked myself up and within a few days I’d resigned. I tried to look for other jobs but I soon noticed that many of these people were trying to get people to do their lousy work for a lousy pay. I haven’t been back to oDesk in a while and I think I’ll keep it that way. I don’t have anything against the site. It works – if you have the time, skill and dedication – and desperation (joke). I just wasn’t up for the whole “Subjecting myself to a slave driver” thing.Image

And neither should you. I know I am a talented individual. My writing is worth reading and is definitely worth more than $1 an article. We are all blessed with talents. Don’t you try come here and tell me you aren’t gifted in some area of life. You are. If you don’t know it yet, well start doing things until you find your niche. Many people will see your talents and they will want to exploit them. The sad thing is, these people are so good they’ll make it seem like they’re doing you a favor. They are not doing you a favor. 

You can’t avoid these people though if you don’t know the worth of the talent and gift you possess. So go out there and realize it. Keep writing. Keep singing. Keep running. Keep being the people person you are. Keep doing it until you finally realize that “Hey, I’m awesome.” I’m not telling you to be arrogant. I’m just telling you to acknowledge the fact that you are gifted and the world should know it.

Even as you go out there to work keep in mind that you do not need to subject yourself to manipulation and exploitation in order to go somewhere. You don’t always have to start small. I know I don’t. I’m a big dreamer and a big achiever. Why should I suddenly reduce the level of my abilities?

Anyway. I am sure you’ve got the point now. Don’t trade your valuable talents, gifts and abilities for peanuts. 

You’re worth so much more.Image

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