No more alarms to wake up

2 years ago   •   8 min read

By Zekeriya Mulbay
Table of contents

My name is Merve. I'm 35 years old, I've had 10 years of work experience, and only 1.5 years of this has been through freelance.

I want to talk about myself and my working fields.  I'm from Izmir, Turkey I graduated in Business Administration at the University of 9 Eylul. From high school, I dreamed of reading about communication, design, and cinema. However, people around me always said, "I'm not saying do it, do it again as a hobby." With their infinite support (!), I studied in the most comprehensive department, Business Administration. It was a curate's egg for someone as unstable as I was, and even someone who wanted to know everything. On the one hand, I learned about marketing, writing a thesis, human resources, finance, accounting. However on the other hand, I was even more confused.

Freelancer Guide helped me write this story. I'm just retelling this story right now.

From the first day I got the job to the last day I quit, I said to myself every day for 9 years, "I will be my own boss, I will work remotely, how can I work as a freelancer?". I can even tell you that I've been collecting stationery for the company I'm going to establish in the future. (I may have created this as an excuse for me to have a stationery ;)

In that time, people around me say, "how are you going to do your job in your industry? How can you work in finance, except for being a paid white collar? Have you ever seen a freelance CFO?"

So I started researching jobs where I could work as a freelance. I knew that software developers and graphic designers work freelance. I took Swift (the language used by IOS application developers) and Graphic-Web Design training.
As I said at first of the story I had an interest in all of this, however, I didn't think of any of it as a profession and I didn't end up working forever for these branches.

And that's the happy news! I became a mother during this period. I quit my job and we moved from Istanbul to Izmir. I thought of this resignation as a chance for my career, and when I wasn't working, I realized that I love my job but I didn't like the working conditions. I love being financial advisor. In fact, most people start to yawn when they're interested in Excel and numbers. So instead of changing sectors and planning a new career in a new sector from scratch, I decided to shape my entire energy into my own career by my own rules. I met Zekeriya at the that time and my Upwork adventure began.

I didn't think that I could get a job in my field at Upwork. I started out just because I would get small jobs in Excel. After my applications, my first job was to write an Excel formula for $20. Nichole who is from USA returned immediately to the job I applied for before I went to sleep at night. I remember getting out of bed, running, turning on the computer, and delivering the job in a few hours. Then I got another job about Excel. Unlike the other client, this client wanted to have a call. We were out, and we ran home to get the job. That was an easy couple of bucks, but I managed to get 5 stars from both of my clients.

I had two 5-star feedback for applying for a job all the time, so I started to go up the top of the searching by the clients. I could celebrate now that I finally got my first job-related, which can be called a big deal for me. Not the money I earned, but by doing my own job at home, when my daughter with me, winning foreign currency, even being the boss of my own business made me believe in that I did! We live in England now. I have a financial advising company here. I work part-time because my daughter is very young, and frankly, I can't think of a business where I'm not freelance anymore.

How do you organize your desk while working?

I'm addicted to setup and technology. I'm following all the setup inspiration accounts on social media. I'm always interested in minimal, cold, and Scandinavian designs, but my desk is full of colorful flowers and water bottles. I say that I'm a technology lover, but I write my notes on paper with a pen. So I'm not missing my Moleskine notebooks and my carefully chosen pens from my desk.

So while it's far from a minimal Scandinavian setup, I find it very enjoyable to work at my desk.

  • Computer: Dell Inspiron 5593
  • Monitor: HP M27f 27 Inch 75Hz FHD
  • Keyboard: Apple A1314
  • Mouse: Logitech Mx Master
  • Lighting: A brand at Amazon :)
  • Desk: IKEA ANFALLARE / HILVER Desk Bamboo140x65 cm

What are your dreams?

Since we have been in England my first dream is to live here for a long time, surely :) However, to work harder and earn much more money my biggest motivation is to travel. I'm thinking of working at the Covid period and traveling around after that. I think it would be easier to plan a trip if you don't have a boss to follow your schedule.

How would you describe a typical day as a freelancer?

As I mentioned at the beginning of my story, since I have a little girl, when she wakes up, I wake up, too. The best thing for me about being a freelancer is probably that I forgot where the alarm was on my phone.

I don't have breakfast usually, so I drink coffee until noon, check my social media accounts, take care of my daughter, and deal with them if I have bureaucratic affairs. Because of living in England, our bureaucratic stuff is more than you can imagine.

I have 3 hours to work after I drop my daughter off at kindergarten. I started to work and try to spend these three hours in the most efficient way. Besides of these 3 hours, my other working hours are between dinner time and before sleeping. To be honest, working in the quiet of the night has always been more productive for me. This is other advantage of working as a freelancer. When I was most inefficient, it was usually the hours I had to start working at 9 a.m.

What are your recommendations to the new graduates?

Never, ever think about the local. They should see themselves as citizens of the world and always follow the international agenda related to different sectors. Search for not just about their own business, but also about other professions. I recommend that they should try to get jobs in each sector and specialize in an industry they enjoy after a few years.

Why export?

Unfortunately, like I said above, we should not think locally. It is necessary to accept yourself as a citizen of the world and search for free opportunities on the internet and search for international business. While a German can get to these things financially, we need to make money with the exchange so we can catch them.

Of course I don't take economic evaluations on Turkish Lira. :)

Freelancer platforms where I work on

Even though I got a few jobs from Fiverr after working at Upwork, I didn't have time to spare for Fiverr either. Besides Upwork, I've also made a few deals with a few customers on LinkedIn. My first goal is to take part in Fiverr and spend time on my own website to find customers on these channels too.

How did I set up my profile?

I'm writing it short and clear. I'm clearly writing what I did to the clients and what they expect from me. I'm trying not to take up a lot of customers' time by writing articles that is why I am making short sentences.

How did I create my portfolio?

I didn't think clients were very interested in the finance industry portfolies, but I was very impressed with which of my clients I showed the graphics that I made, and it became an upsell. So I suggest that you make portfolios of any output you can offer.

Communication in English

Like any Turkish citizen, I was afraid to communicate in English. However, the more I met with clients, the less excited I became, and over time, it became gone. I remember walking into the next room with my laptop, saying, "Oww, I have a meeting in 5 minutes." You have to have a lot of meetings to get to this consistency. If you're very concerned about the first meetings, write down a self-described article on a piece of paper as well as answers to the job. It will give you comfort to know that the paper is there during the meeting. You probably won't even look at the paper.

What are my tactics when choosing the right client?

Firstly, of course, I'm looking at their old comments. Then I'd look at the language they used in theirs' job description. Then I was looking at their attitudes at the video meeting. After that I could tell if we're going to fit together.

Even we were sure we would agree but maybe we split up in a fight, and sometimes there were customers that I started with, "this customer is going to be a real pain in my life" but ended a very happy business.

My difficulties while becoming a Freelancer

I definitely have one answer: Uncertainty. I could tell when I woke up, when I was working on a salary, I could tell which day I was going to report. I even knew what time I was going to run into the office. The most difficult part of being a Freelancer is this uncertainty. I didn't have a client all the time, and since I didn't work every day, I didn't know what day of the week I was going to have a client. I don't even know if I have a client. When I had a client, everything looked great, but after I finished the project, I said, "well, when am I going to get a new job?" The thought is a little corrosive. I didn't really care if my company's sales rep got customers that day when I was working on the payroll.

My advices to the fresh Freelancers

Even if it's a fantastic Freelancer attraction centre, my advice is to start as a freelancer part-time and give yourself a trial period. You should not start like “I was born to be a freelancer” and be pressured not to regret it. I suggest you should not burn one's boats the process

What do I do when I'm depressed?

If I'm having a work-related morale disorder, I'm giving myself a deadline. And when I calm down, I try to evaluate the process and criticise myself. I'm finally taking lessons from my experience.

The tactics I use in customer communication are

Yes, the customer is always right. But there are also points to be warned. I am trying to stop the customer by informing and directing them at the points where they need to be warned at all times. I'm trying to never get into a mutual argument, and I'm building a 100% professional relationship.

My future goals

Switching from part time to full time freelancer is one of my first goals. Then help and support people who want to be freelancers.

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