Finding my dream writing job on Upwork

Upwork – My Latest Venture

Evening folks! I’m excited to tell you about a step I’ve taken towards the dream of actually legitimately being a real-life paid-up writer person: I’ve signed up as a freelancer.

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out for me, and hopefully I’ll be able to share some tips and pitfalls along the way that might help anyone else out there wanting to do something similar. So a quick breakdown:

Why
I want to be a writer. I’m currently an engineer. It pays well, it can be pretty interesting, but it is not what I love. I love writing. I’ve been looking at writing jobs and, unsurprisingly, employers want professional experience, so I’m going to get some.

What
Upwork is a site that connects freelancers to projects all over the world. There are fields for programming and web design and blah blah but more importantly writing! From editing and technical copy to poetry and blogging, there are people everywhere who are willing to pay me to write. Oh my.

How
Signup is simple, and free, and pretty quick. I set up my profile – picture, short bio, list of skills – last night and have started looking at jobs today. When you find something interesting, you message the project/owner/employer/tasker and if they like you, you get the job! You agree a rate, do the work, get paid. Apparently.

So what have I done so far?
Wrote a bio.
Added my skills  – for me that means fiction, blog writing, poetry, editing etc
Chose a nice cheerful photo.
Added some work details (about my irrelevant engineering job, and how that has helped me communicate with barely-literate, scientifically-minded people) and about the student magazine I edited at uni. Gotta start somewhere!
Set my hourly rate
^^ What?? This really threw me – I’d just signed up and was expected to state how much my time was worth. I had no idea and agonised for a while, but in the end just went cheap (I’m not doing it for the money after all) for now and for each job you agree on a rate anyway.
Took a creative writing test! Upwork has a ton of tests to cover all the skills you can list on the site. The prospect terrified me a bit but it looks good to verify your skills so I went for it. This test was 40 questions, multiple choice, about publishing, plot, characters etc. I did pretty well thankfully (in the top 10%) so that will look good.

and lastly…

Applied for some jobs! Within a few hours of joining the site I was invited to apply for a job writing short stories about green tea and Korea… neither are areas I know much about, but I explained that in my application (why not, hey?) as well as my passion for writing, my low rates and my willingness to research green tea and Korea and make a decent hash of it! We’ll see where that goes. I’ve applied to three others as well (applying costs credits called Connects of which you have a limited number each month) to which I wasn’t invited (being invited means a free application!) which are proofreading, a rewriting of a novel into natural English (from a non-native author) and short story writing for an online magazine startup. Not heard back yet, but I’ll be sure to check in here when I do, and I’d love to hear from any of you who have tried similar endeavours!

Albums or Collections of Songs?

I love music. Always got a song in my head, often pulled up for singing or humming out loud at work, during exams, when I’m meant to be listening to someone… Often I’m totally carefree about it.
Music also has a big effect on me – it can calm me down, get me into game mode for ultimateit even once convinced me to end a difficult relationship. It’s powerful, and as such often I’m very serious about it.

One such area I take very seriously is albums. I still buy physical CDs and I insist on listening to an album ‘properly’ the first time around: in one go, without distractions, from start to finish. I sincerely hope that you read these sentences in order (though if you don’t and get anything out of that, do tell me!), and for the posts of mine that build on previous ones, I hope you read them in order, as that’s how I intended them to be read when I wrote them. I believe the same to be true of albums.

There is logic, thought, emotion behind the order and the combination of those tracks. While picking only your favourites to listen to the second time around is fine, you should initially respect the artist’s intentions for the album, as a novel composed of ordered chapters, all of which contribute to the story. You wouldn’t leave out a chapter of a book if it didn’t interest you straight away, would you?

Saying all this, some CDs are just collections of hits thrown together. If it’s a bubblegum pop hit parade (and as an Aqua fan I use that description with reverence) the order might not be so important – these are perhaps less likely to have slow, building intro and outro tracks, inter-song skits or deep, recurring themes. But they still might!
Some albums definitely do, and [insert comparison number two] just as sports finals are elevated by their significance and the journeys of the competitors to make it there, so tracks of a true album are more than just individual songs. I’ve listed a few of my favourite musical journeys below – these are albums that, to me, demand to be listened to properly, so powerful are the tales they weave.

Nero – Welcome Reality: The first words are almost three minutes into the album. Way to build expectation, and the way the words (“December the first, 2808: Doomsday”) set the tone for what’s to come (futuristic, space-age dubstep with hints of mind control) is masterful.

Disturbed – Believe: The religious overtones that permeate through the whole album kick off with the first song and continue until the final few bars of the beautifully melancholic end track, ‘Darkness’. Saving this slow sleeper hit for the end leaves the listener drained after the incessant high energy of the rest of the journey.

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night: The energy of the songs is key – the desolate start with ‘Closer’ gives way to the rush of ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, we’re drawn through the slower ‘Revelry’ and ‘I Want You’ by dogged drum beats into the hard hitting ‘Be Somebody’ before a 5 minute-plus cooldown as the wistful reflection of ‘Cold Desert’ closes things out.

That’s about all from me on the matter for now… Would love to hear your thoughts, whether you do things the same (and what albums you’d consider great examples) or completely the opposite to me!

[I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend Katie, who completely disagrees with me on this. But how boring would it be if we all felt the same?]