This time last year, I was on vacation in Cuba with my little sister for her 21st birthday. It was a needed break and I was working as a customer service representative in an office that sold faucets and door hardware. I thought I was happy, and I was, but I had no idea how much my life would change just a year later.
First, there was a pandemic, which uprooted a lot of our lives. I also switched jobs and became a 911 operator, but wound up unemployed shortly after that. It was chaotic and I couldn’t have predicted any of those things would happen to me.
About 8 months ago, I started writing online because I was dissatisfied with working in the customer service industry. I had almost $10,000 of savings so I knew I could take time to relax and would commit it. If it didn’t work out? Well, then I would find another job I’m sure.
Already, I can’t believe I’ve come this far and every week things are changing. My dream as a kid was always to be a writer. I’ve been good with words for as long as I can remember, but I doubted myself because of what society taught me to think. Writers are starving artists that no one will pay or respect. And while in some ways it is true, in many ways it’s not. Just read this great article in The Startup for more evidence: I’m A Writer, Not a Starving Artist.
Now, I’m happy to say society was wrong and all the creative skills I learned throughout my life have been more useful than ever. Some days I feel like I’m not creative enough!
So how did I go from unemployed to working full time with clients around the world?
I started on Upwork and wrote book reviews for $10. Yes, you read that right… I read self-published ebooks by small authors in 3–4 hours and wrote a short review for $10. That meant I was working for $2.50 an hour. It wasn’t much, but the client gave me good reviews and I was getting paid to write, so I was proud. Of course, I was also realistic and quickly asked for a raise as she loved my work, but sadly they didn’t have the budget. We parted ways and I looked for more gigs online.
Some of my other early gigs included editing the website copy for Dungeons and Dragons Kickstarter and revising a website copy for a digital marketer. They didn’t pay much, but they were my first real writing jobs and I was proud of myself for doing them.
Eventually, I even found an internship with a company called Sociomix and provided them some feature articles in exchange for an SEO training course. Later, I also got a freelance job that I found on Indeed as a content writer for an upcoming PR firm in Vancouver. While doing both those things I continued to apply to short and long-term gigs on Upwork doing everything from writing a psychology course on anxiety to doing social media content for a beauty salon.
My writing income now comes from various places and I’m actively seeking new connections all the time. I still have plenty of clients on Upwork and regularly get job invites that I sometimes have to decline. After making $3000 on the platform, I’m a Top Rated freelancer, and the second suggestion if you search for copywriters in Vancouver.
Beyond Upwork, I also work with friends who have small businesses. Plus the clients I met on Upwork have referred to their connections off the platform well. Remember folks, word of mouth is the best kind of advertising.
Honestly, I’m still in shock and sometimes I get so wrapped up in my client work I forget to take a break. Looking back, I’m still kind of flabbergasted. In less than I year I’ve edited plenty of websites, written dozens of articles, sent hundreds of emails, been published in PopSugar, and even ghostwritten for major business publications.
In another year, I can’t even imagine where I’ll be.
Now, it isn’t all glamour and cocktails parties, we’re in a pandemic after all. I’m exhausted today because of all the projects I have my hands on, but that’s proof that I’m doing it.
This month I hit my goal and made enough writing full-time to sustain myself and pay all my bills. In fact, I made enough to have some beer money, so you can bet I’ll be having a little celebration with a tasty sour beer. I’m tired but happy and I wanted to share my latest badge of accomplishment today. Writing is a real job, and I know because I’m actually doing it.