When I stumbled onto an ad on Instagram seeking freelance writers in late 2019, I was a bit skeptical about applying. I read the name – Ureed.com – and thought it sounded foreign, so I wasn’t really sure whether the opportunity would pan out for me. But given that the ad mentioned that they were looking for writers from my home country, I was encouraged to register. The process was quick and simple, and in less than 10 minutes I had set up a freelancer profile on their website.
Till then, my journey as a freelance writer was marked by false starts, disappointments and heartache. I had registered on multiple local and international platforms and had never gotten a response on any of the gigs I had pitched for, since most of them are rigged in favor of those who have been around longer. For those opportunities that did come through, the pay was, to put it mildly, peanuts. For instance, one client paid me only $36 for a 4,500 word project that I had to submit in less than 24 hours. Another platform, much more outrageous, asked me to pay them $20 so they could “train” me, after making me write a blog for them (which they posted without paying me) to assess whether I met their expectations. I left and didn’t look back.
From talking to other freelancers over the years, I’ve come to realize that my struggles aren’t isolated. Getting started as a freelancer can be one of the most taxing experiences ever, that’s why many people give up on their first try. I had already stopped looking for freelance gigs when I stumbled onto that ad that early December morning. Submitting my application was more out of habit than it was out of expectation.
Getting Started on Ureed.com
After setting up my account, I totally forgot about it. Travelling back home for the Christmas holidays and spending time with my family took my mind off most things, so I didn’t think about Ureed.com again until I got a personalized email mid-January asking me to write a 1,200 word blog about Entrepreneurship in the MENA region. Still skeptical but with undertones of excitement, I agreed to write the blog and in less than a day, I had submitted it and received my first payment. But I hadn’t met the $100 threshold that is required for withdrawal, so I was still nervous about the platform, wondering if I’d ever get to that limit.
However, 2 days later, I received another offer to write 2 blogs for a Halal makeup startup company, and in less than a week, I had made my first $100! Just to confirm that it was real, I quickly made the withdrawal and the money was credited to my PayPal account the next day. I couldn’t believe it! I had struck gold! Even now, 79 gigs later, I’m still amazed at how lucky I am not to have dismissed that ad as I had done with many others in the past.
Working on Ureed.com as a student freelancer
When I applied to Ureed.com, I was an Engineering student in my 5th year of school. But anyone who’s ever been in an Engineering class will tell you, surviving that course and juggling a side hustle at the same time is no mean feat. So after I confirmed that Ureed.com was legitimate, and the gigs started knocking on my door in plenty, I started getting nervous about how I’d manage both my school work and my newfound freelance career. But my fears were shortlived because my clients were very accommodating when it came to deadlines. Something that stands out for me about Ureed.com is how considerate and flexible the platform is. When you make a pitch, you also include the duration it would take you to complete the assigned task, so you and your client don’t clash when it’s time to make your submission.
As a student, freelancing helped me become a better manager of my time, so neither my academics nor freelance writing suffered at the expense of the other. Also, I was making enough money to live comfortably, enjoy my student life, pay my own rent, and get braces for my teeth without burdening my parents.
Freelancing and a 9-5? How I’ve been managing
For most of my tenure at Ureed.com, I have been a student. But I’ve recently finished school and landed an internship position at a prestigious Engineering firm in my city. But this hasn’t stopped me from pursuing my career as a freelance writer. Granted, it’s a bit more challenging than it was when I was a student, and the risk of burnout is higher, but I’ve still been doing both jobs without any additional stress.
First of all, I know the causes and risks of burnout (I’ve written about it severally), so I’m cautious not to wear myself out too much when I work. Self awareness is the first step to avoiding burnout. Also, my clients at Ureed.com and I have a flexible schedule in place, so I know what is expected of me and when. And on the rare occasion that I’m unable to meet a deadline, they’re willing to give me more time. If you’re a freelancer on this platform, it’s easy for you to negotiate terms with your clients from the start, so you don’t have to stress yourself out with impossible-to-meet deadlines.
Another important thing is to have some time to yourself to do non-work related stuff to unwind. For me, I like to sink my teeth into a good novel, watch Netflix, garden, and bake with my sister. A stable work-life balance is important not only for clarity, but for physical and mental health as well. If you don’t take some time off to rewind and recharge, you won’t be able to give your best to the jobs you’re tasked with.
But all of this wouldn’t have been possible without the constant help that my contacts at Ureed.com have given me. Ever since I started working through the platform, I’ve always had a point person that I could direct my worries and questions to. Even when I suffered a personal tragedy last year, my contacts at the company were gracious enough to give me some time to grieve and come to terms with my new reality, and willing to reel me back in when I was ready to get back to work.
Working as a freelance writer on Ureed.com has helped me navigate both student life and permanent employment without burning out. Although for most people having a side job means long hours of stress and fatigue, mine is quite the contrary because of the flexibility that working with Ureed.com accords me. I am now living my best life, meeting my career goals and laughing all the way to the bank.
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