The Onion On Freelancing: Freelance Lessons From A Fake Newspaper

The Onion On Freelancing

Thank the skies for The Onion. The satirical news site really, really understands what it’s like to be a freelancer.

A few weeks ago, The Onion ran a story called Freelancer Loves Being Able To Barely Scrape By Livelihood On Own Schedule, and we won’t lie… it sounded familiar.

Although the Almost Millions team is financially stable these days, there was a long stretch where freelancing didn’t bring in the money we expected. That made all the talk of being broke and hustling to pay rent very, very familiar.

So we did the natural thing…. Checked out The Onion’s article to see what we could learn from it.

Here’s The Onion’s original article:

EUGENE, OR—Praising the flexible lifestyle that comes with his manner of employment, local freelancer Martin Abraham told reporters Monday that he loves being able to barely scrape by a livelihood on his own schedule. “I really enjoy the freedom my work affords me in cobbling together just enough to subsist,” said Abraham, noting that unlike his friends who are “chained to office jobs,” he has the latitude to do whatever work is available from a variety of inconsistent, unreliable sources. “The best part is that I can do it from anywhere. I can actually work from a coffee shop where it’ll take me an hour to earn back the cost of the least expensive menu item. And anytime I want to deprive myself of the income I badly need to move out of my parents’ house, I don’t need anyone’s permission to take an afternoon off.” Abraham went on to say that what he loves even more than the flexibility of freelancing is the total autonomy of being on unemployment.

The Onion On Freelancing: What We Learned

1. The (made-up!) character in The Onion “has the latitude to do whatever work is available from a variety of inconsistent, unreliable sources.” That sounds very familiar.

2. The character adds that “I can actually work from a coffee shop where it’ll take me an hour to earn back the cost of the least expensive menu item. And anytime I want to deprive myself of the income I badly need to move out of my parents’ house, I don’t need anyone’s permission to take an afternoon off.” While we don’t live in our parents’ house, we’ve been there before. Got that.

3. In the kicker, “Abraham went on to say that what he loves even more than the flexibility of freelancing is the total autonomy of being on unemployment.” Their imaginary freelancer is on unemployment… the irony!

But because we’re a personal finance and business site for freelancers, we have to show what this imaginary freelancer was doing wrong:

The Onion On Freelancing: How To Up Your Freelance Game

1. The Onion’s freelancer messed up by focusing on taking work from a variety of inconsistent, unreliable sources. While those clients exist (we’ve had them!), freelancers need to focus on getting anchor gigs–recurring projects from clients who want you to do work on a regular basis. Anchor gigs are your friends.

2. If it takes you an hour of work to earn back the cost of the least expensive menu item at a coffeeshop (And we know this is a satirical Onion article that exaggerates. But go with it!), let’s say we’re talking about a $2.25 cup of coffee. That means you’re making $2.25 an hour, which means you should either raise your freelance rates or improve your negotiation skills.

3. The Onion’s imaginary freelancer was working as a freelancer while on unemployment… which you should never, ever do. You can lose your unemployment benefits if you’re freelancing (Sorry!).

It also turns out that The Onion’s capable staff of writers are pretty familiar with freelancing… In fact, we’re going to guess they used to be freelancers themselves.

The Onion On Freelancing: More Onion Stories On Freelancing

  1. The Onion’s Pros And Cons Of Freelance Employment are kind of amazing.

2. Two-Month Freelance Gig Posted In ‘Careers’ Section Of Company’s Website sounds… kind of familiar!