I’m aware that the title of this post makes my blog now seem like some kind of trashy network marketing scam – but rest assured, that is not the case. It’s merely a post discussing freelance writing and how it’s actually a viable option of work when you’re a student. Not only can you can work from the comfort of your own bed whenever you want, but, with a bit of experience, you can choose the kind of projects you work on.
So for me it all started in 2013 – I’d just had major surgery and blood transfusions because of a ruptured ovarian cyst (nasty) and I wasn’t allowed to work for a couple of weeks, let alone walk around. In the UK, with employment laws and sick pay and such, this wouldn’t have been too much of a problem. But in Portugal, this kind of thing doesn’t exist – in fact, I’m pretty sure I was actually working illegally since I was never given any form of a contract. But that’s a pretty normal thing to happen in the Algarve, as terrible as it is. Anyway, without sick pay and no means of earning money for a good few weeks, I did a bit of research and came across something called oDesk – it’s now changed its name to Upwork.
Upwork is essentially an online platform for freelance workers specializing in different areas. There’s jobs for translators, graphic designers, editors, transcribers, researchers and writers, and companies from all over the world post ads describing exactly what it is they’re looking for. You write to them informing them of your skills and why you’re a good fit for the job, and you give them an hourly or fixed-price rate. Of course, this comes after the initial set-up process, in which you build your profile to showcase your skills and what you can offer. It’s also the place where you establish your rate of pay. I started off with a pretty low rate (something stupid like $8 an hour) because that’s the best way to get work and build experience. After a while, you can use this experience to gradually increase your rate of pay. I tend to charge $15-$20 per hour now for projects, and this has been the case for a couple of years.
The first project I did for Upwork when I was practically bed-ridden after my operation was a travel guide for the Algarve; I figured I would use my experience of living in the region to make a bit of dolla when I had no other means of doing so. I was hired by the owner of TravelMyth, a hotel comparison website, and paid $8 an hour (about a fiver). After that I was hooked, and Upwork has been a means of earning extra money for nearly four years. Through Upwork I’ve been able to build up my experience and online reputation as a reliable freelance writer, and have worked on a range of interesting projects, mainly revolving around travel. I even did a couple of projects for the trainline.com in which I had to take train journeys around the country and write blog posts/reviews about them. Whatever your interests, skills or writing style, there are tons of companies looking for writers to write about a selection of weird, wonderful and colourful stuff.
These days, I only really use Upwork for a bit of spare cash when I’m running low; I’m currently writing routes for Routey and occasionally posting travel articles for Go4TravelBlog. But if I wanted to work more hours, I definitely could – it’s just a matter of putting in the time and work, and this has something I’ve been slacking on for a while because of university and generally just being a bit lazy, really. What I’m basically trying to say is that it surprises me how hardly anyone I come across has heard of Upwork or other digital freelance platforms – students tend to assume that a part-time job has to mean restaurant/retail weekend work, but this isn’t the case at all. With Upwork you can choose your own hours, your own projects, and work it around your university schedule, which is what I love about it. As they say, working digitally is the future!