What Does a Writer Do When Her Day Job is Deemed Non-Essential? Old dog learns new tricks #lockdown#amwriting
She writes, of course, but with a different twist. I needed money and I needed it fast. After I spent a few days crying, day-drinking wine and binge-watching Netflix, I slapped myself a couple of times and said, "Girl, get your shit together. You have skills; use them." So instead of working on my awesome new fiction series like I've been doing, I did a mental adjustment, put on my freelancer hat, and got active on Upwork and Constant Content, two companies I've used on and off in the past.
To start at Upwork you take a few tests, fill out information about yourself, then scroll through the jobs that clients have listed. If you see one you like you apply for it and if the client selects you, begin a conversation via the website. Clients can also invite you to interview for jobs and you can accept or decline. You'll get an email if a client sends an invite. My experience this time around with Upwork was as positive as it's been before. I edited and added content to one fiction story, wrote another short story from scratch, did a brief online interview, and wrote three chapters of a longer book from an existing outline. I also rewrote and embellished a non-fiction article about dogs, which involved fun research. I only took on small projects as I planned to return to work at some point and I made sure the clients knew that I was short-term only.
Constant Content is looking for non-fiction articles. You set up an account with them, read through their guidelines, then write on whatever subject you like. The article may or may not get edited by staff after you upload it and if it does, make the requested changes and resubmit. Then wait. My articles on this site have been purchased immediately but some sold after months or even years. Articles will stay active forever or until you take them down. It's a good idea to noodle around the site and see what's selling and/or being requested.
This is the basic info about these two companies and there are many more details on their websites. Both websites take a bit of getting used to but are fairly easy to navigate. Both companies take a percentage of your income and I had no problem receiving payment from either.
As with any new adventure, freelance writing and ghostwriting gigs have pros and cons. One of the cons is my aching back! I'm not used to sitting for long periods and if I ever write full-time, I will be buying my little body a super-duper chair and also figure out a way to stand and write for a portion of the day. Also, I'm not used to rejection, which sucks. I know it's not personal but it often feels that way. Sending my cover letter for a job I knew I'd be perfect for and not being selected made me hit that bottle of chilled Chardonnay long before happy hour. (That's right, I like drinking wine. We all get a pass for these last few months.)
The amount of money I made writing was far less than I earn at the day job so I had to keep shushing my ego telling me I was working for peanuts because even peanuts add up over time. If I pursued freelance writing I would expect to eventually earn a higher rate as my skills developed and I could show a client I had experience. It takes time to acquire expertise. And like anything else, I know I would get faster and more proficient at finding the right jobs for me, at developing relationships with clients, and also at the writing in general, so I would write more words. Practice, practice, practice.
I'm damn proud of myself for earning a few dollars and stepping out of my comfort zone to write fiction and non-fiction that's not in my usual genre. I'm proud I hung with it and managed to focus on writing when my brain was a stressed-out mass of noodles. My daily inspirational calendars, yoga, a cool meditation app called Insight Timer and other uplifting material helped me through this tough time by reminding me that I'm strong, smart, and putting one foot in front of the other and doing my best is all I can do. I made mistakes, did dumb things and kicked myself more than once, (when you do yoga you can literally kick yourself) but in the end, I feel like my freelance/ghostwriting venture was a success.
Many working people, including myself, are still struggling to get businesses going and make ends meet. Please be kind and patient to everyone, shop at your local stores, if you can afford it tip your service workers generously, and let's get our economy functioning and up to speed again. Big thanks to all of you who buy books and support authors. You're the best!
Delightful image by Cookie the Pom on Unsplash
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