by Sierra Ret, Age 17, Canada
The first Upwork job that I was successfully hired for was to write a 10,000-word eBook about a university student’s adventures as she backpacked through Europe. It took hours of research (it’s a bit difficult to write about the menus of Romanian hostels if you’ve never been to one before), and was by far the longest story I’d ever attempted to write.
I had also naively agreed to a first draft deadline of less than a week. I was forced to spend several days hiding in the basement writing in a mad rush to get it finished in time. The total paycheque? $85.
But do I regret doing it?
No. For me it was a crash course in European hostel culture, my first lesson on how to professionally communicate online with a client, and resulted in a great 5-star rating for my freelancer profile. But the most valuable thing that I gained by far was the realization just how much I could write under pressure.
Pros and Cons of Upwork
Freelancing isn’t for everyone. I would certainly recommend discussing this with a parent or a trusted writing mentor before you begin applying for jobs. There are many, many clients out there looking for 1,000-word articles for $2 or $3, which is outrageous, and at least as many looking for writers to churn out cheap, steamy romances. I would advise young authors to stay far away from job listings such as these, which are quite frankly a waste of your time.
Currently, I’m working with a client who has steadily been providing me with work for months. Once a week I supply him with a quality 900-word article on pool care for $25 US. This may not seem like an especially lucrative rate (I make more per hour working as a waitress in the summer), but I prefer to think of it as paid homework. All the research I’ve done on the benefits of hydrotherapy has certainly left me more knowledgeable, and I have become much more efficient at nonfiction writing.
That being said, there are plenty of success stories out there about writers who make a very comfortable living on freelancing sites. Experiment. Research freelance tips and tricks. And above all, be prepared to put in a lot of hard work.
For young authors who will have to balance freelancing along with schoolwork and personal writing, I would suggest that the wealth to be found on Upwork isn’t in paycheques, but in experience. Online freelancing gives you the chance to be seen as an adult writer, gain experience in professional communication, and practice selling your skills and making pitches. And if you do finally see money deposited in your bank account after a successful job, you can sit back in the knowledge that you honestly earned it with the skill of your pen. And that, dear readers, is priceless.
Do you have any questions on freelancing or creating a profile or job proposal on Upwork? Leave them in a comment below, and I’ll try to tackle them in a follow up article.
Sierra Ret is a freelance writer and homeschool student who’s eager to explore everything from sales copywriting to poetry. She resides near Peterborough, Canada, along with her tightly-knit circle of fellow homeschoolers and family. Winner of the 2015 Polly Prize for Creative Writing. View Sierra’s Upwork Page. She is also the most recent member of the LTC team.