My husband and I have three kids under three years old. We had twins who were born at 29 weeks gestation, and when the twins were only 7-months-old we found out that we were expecting our third child.
Between hospital bills and credit card debt, we found ourselves in a situation where we either had to file for bankruptcy or make some serious changes in the way we managed our money. We chose the latter. We have buckled down on our budget, and I have begun working online to make some extra money in addition to my teaching salary.
Working Online: The Journey
I have tried just about every option available for working online and some of them are by far better than others. I’ve taken surveys, filmed myself trying out various websites for research, tried my hand at transcribing audio, and most successfully have begun my side-hustle as a freelance writer.
First and foremost, I feel obligated to mention that none of the “easy” money schemes are ever going to work. There is no work online job that is going to instantly get you rich quick, but it is possible to make real money online. Surveys are by far the most difficult way to make real money online. This option is extremely time consuming and makes you little to no actual money in the long run.
I also had an entirely unsuccessful and frustrating run with transcribing audio. I worked for a website called castingwordsworkshop. Everything was going okay at first, but after only two transcription jobs, the company deemed my work unacceptable and turned off my ability to transcribe.
Now, I am a native English speaker. I have a firm grasp on the English language, and I highly doubt that my transcription was irreparable beyond repair. Especially considering the amount of time and energy I put into making sure they were done correctly. At the end of about a week transcribing audio, I had made $6.56. That was not an option for our current situation.
My Freelance Story
I actually began working as a freelancer when Upwork was still known as Elance. I found some success there, and I wrote several e-books for various clients which was my favorite type of job. However, I hit a snag when some personal things happened during my college days, and I decided to take some significant time off from freelancing. I never picked it back up until almost 6 years later.
When my husband and I found ourselves over our head in debt, I remembered that I had been making a decent income working for Elance as an independent Freelancer. I then decided to sign back into Upwork, sign up for people-per-hour, and I even thought about checking out Fiver.
By far my favorite platform out of all of those mentioned above is Upwork. Not only do I enjoy the platform, but I like the system of checks and balances that Upwork has in place to protect the freelancer and the client. After all, we are all making Upwork money in the long run.
Working Full-Time and Freelancing the Rest
I briefly mentioned before that I am a school teacher during the day. I actually teach 8th grade English Language Arts at a rural school in South Mississippi. Working all day and then coming home to my three children under three years old is rough. You may be wondering where I find time to freelance. To be honest, I sometimes wonder the same thing.
The first thing that I do to make sure that I have plenty of time to freelance is wake up at around 4:00 am every morning. I do this because I know that none of my family members would dare to be awake that early ensuring that I have quiet devoted working time to get some writing done.
As you can imagine, I am unable to do any writing work once my school day starts. Keeping up with 30 rambunctious teenagers is hard work, and I fear any work I tried to do simultaneously would almost certainly be sub-par.
I also have a rule that I do not work on freelancing work until after my children have gone to bed. I have to make sure that my children still get the best of their mom whenever I am home. This means that all of my writing work is done between the hours of 4-5:30 in the morning and 8-10 pm at night.
In order to accomplish this, I have to remain on a tight schedule. However, I have been able to earn enough extra income to pay off one of our credit card bills in a single month. That feeling of accomplishment is enough to keep me working through all of the difficult mornings and late nights.
What I Have Learned as a Freelancer on Upwork
I have learned a lot over the last several years through various experiences on Upwork (and on other platforms). All of these truths remain true no matter what type of freelancing work I am doing. No matter what platform I use to find the one. These truths remain constant. These are the tools I keep in my toolbox to ensure I remain successful in my freelancing journey.
1. Communication is Key to Success
Communicating with clients is by far the easiest way to keep yourself out of hot water in the freelancing community. There are going to be times where miscommunications happen, but be willing to listen to your clients and try to work on the issues together to come to a mutual agreement.
2. Push Yourself
Working online is tough. Especially for those of us who still have full-time jobs during the daytime or families to tend to at night. However, the reward is far greater than the pain of pushing through the tough days. If you have a tendency to give up when the times get rough, then working online as a freelancer may not be for you.
3. Be Ready to Research
One of the things that I like most about writing online for different clients is that I get to learn so much about so many different types of subjects. However, for some clients I have found myself doing far more research than the pay was really worth. This is where #4 comes into play.
4. Only Apply for Jobs that You Can Relate To
When I first started freelancing, I applied to every job that came across my job feed. I accepted every job that was offered to me, but over time I have learned that this was probably not the best option for me in the long run.
Landing jobs for which I was not qualified to write wound up costing me more time in research than was worth for my pay. When you are able to only accept jobs for which you are qualified to write, then you are able to make a better hourly rate in the long run.
The Downside to Freelance
There are times where I find myself a little overwhelmed with the demands of having a full-time job, a full-time family, and an extremely successful freelance career. I have made mistakes that have been extremely stressful and do not always come out easily.
Clients often have very clear expectations. However, those expectations are not always very clearly communicated. Unfortunately, all of the communication with clients on Upwork is almost exclusively done through email. This can sometimes lead to miscommunications between the client and the freelancer.
In my experience, I have been lucky to work out all of the miscommunications to the satisfaction of both myself and my clients. However, when this happens it is extremely stressful for me as a freelancer. This is one reason I am so grateful to have so many repeat clients. I enjoy getting to know and understand the expectations that each client has for me.
My Favorite Job Types: Fixed vs. Hourly
Fixed-rate jobs are jobs for which the pay rate is a fixed price for the entire job. For example, a client may be willing to pay $40 for a 2,500-word blog post about wine and cheese pairings. On the other hand, hourly jobs are jobs for which the client pays by the hour.
In my experience, I get paid a little more money for hourly contracts. However, I still feel that fixed-price contracts are by far my favorite type of contract.
I like to be able to take my time, edit, re-write, research, and have my way with my very muddy writing process. However, on an hourly job, I feel the need to rush my writing process a little beyond my comfort zone. I much prefer the freedom to do things in my own time. While hourly clients may be perfectly happy with my taking my time on my writing, one of the very reasons I chose to work on Upwork was to avoid punching the clock for my side-hustle.
Final Thoughts: Upwork Has Saved My Life
There was a time when things were extraordinarily hopeless for my family. In fact, I wondered from day-to-day how I was going to keep milk in the refrigerator and a roof over our heads. Upwork has changed all of that worry to a steady source of reliable income in addition to my salary.
This side-hustle is freeing. It allows me to make money doing something I love, while wearing my pajamas, with my children sleeping in the room next door. Sometimes, I still cannot believe how successful I have been in creating an entire extra income out of thin air.
I will forever be grateful for the experiences that I have gained through working with various clients on Upwork. Upwork has truly saved my life and is helping my husband and I work toward our goal of becoming debt-free.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in