“Back In The Day”
Writing has always been one of my favorite things! As a youngster growing up, I don’t think I ever had a hobby that meant as much to me. I would hurry home from school to finish my homework just so I could start writing. Ideas came to me at break neck speed and I often had to jot down notes just to remember certain things.
Of course, that was years ago. I will say that I am currently working towards getting back to being that girl that wrote without overthinking it. Back then, I was a fiction junkie 🙂
Off To A Scary Start…
These days, I’ve mainstreamed a little more to make writing my profession. It’s really a dream come true and for the past two years, I have made almost all of my money this way. But I’ll tell you a little secret about what it was like when I first started…
I can’t exactly remember how the idea came to me. I think it was another round of someone saying, “You know, you could probably write for a living”. Of course, I had always dreamed of writing full time, as a profession. I just wasn’t sure how to start or what to do. There were all the same old questions, to which I had no answers, that kept me from throwing myself into the mix.
“What if no one likes my writing?”
“Can I be as good as people think I am?’
“What if it’s just the people closest to me telling me I’m good?”
“No one would want my made-up stories, would they?”
It’s amazing what fear of the unknown will do to you. Paralyzing you is, of course, the first thing it accomplishes. It keeps you from ever even reaching out to find out if it will even work.
There’s an old saying I’ve always heard: “There’s nothing to it, but to do it!”, so I did it! I was a nervous wreck, and yes, I was still scared.
My husband and I both doubted the validity of the whole situation, but had few choices. We have a son that has autism, and once he graduated high school, leaving him home alone wasn’t a real option. We had also decided to home school our daughter. Taking these things into consideration, my working outside the home was becoming more and more impossible.
Then I found a couple of online platforms that have saved our financial situation!
There is a lot of controversy surrounding these types of writing platforms. Mainly because it has made the playing field a whole lot more crowded. It has also driven the price clients are willing to pay down drastically. I can’t say I’m happy about either, but when you have to make that choice to stay home and work, or make no money at all, you stay home!
This was my very first home on the web as a paid writer. Upwork came to be when Odesk and Elance combined to form one solid site. The result has made them one of the most popular writing sites on the web.
Clients who need content written post jobs on which writers can then bid. If the client thinks the writer is a good fit, they can either choose to hire the writer outright, or message for more details. Then, both client and writer can discuss all the information pertinent to forming a relationship.
As with other bidding sites for writing jobs, you have to BE CAREFUL about the jobs you take. Some clients want to pay nearly nothing for near-perfect work. That’s the saddest part about this type of site, and one of the reasons people talk so badly about them. But there will always be someone who wants “something for nothing”. If you spend some time on the boards, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Getting Started on Upwork
It’s easy to get started. In fact, it’s one of the easiest sites to get signed up for. All you have to do is click on “Become A Freelancer” in the top right section of the webpage. Then, simply follow the instructions and you’ll be off and running.
One of the best things about working for Upwork is the fact that the site is so easy to navigate. There’s little left to the imagination when it comes to bidding, sending messages, accepting a job or submitting your work. And the fact that Upwork will stand behind you if a client refuses to pay (which has NEVER happened to me!) is worth SO much.
There are, of course, fees associated, since it is a service. Upwork gets 20% of what you make, up to a certain point. Once you make $500.00 with a particular client, that drops to 10%. Anything over $10,000 means you only pay 5% in fees. Yes, the initial 20% seems like a lot, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. Private clients will net you more money, granted, but if they decide not to pay, it’s just you against them. And if you don’t know anything about contracts and how to put them in place, it can be bad.
But, that’s just my opinion. Other sites charge fees as well, for the most part, and it’s a price you pay for this kind of work. For me, even with the fee, I still make decent money PLUS I have a lot of fun doing something I really enjoy.
Blogmutt has to be my all time favorite place to write! But, they’re a little different than anything you might have dealt with in the past. At Blogmutt, you don’t have to bid jobs because the topics are already listed for you.
Once you find a topic you think you can write about, either from personal experience or research, then you write it. The customer then looks over all the submissions for that topic and chooses one. Pay varies, depending on the number of words you write: 250+ words pay $8, 600+ words pays $19, 900+words pays $40 and 1200+ words pays $72.
The pay is very good, especially for someone just started their career. However, the application process is tough. When you apply, make sure you are ready to commit at least an hour to the application process. You will need to write a sample piece and submit that before you can start posting.
They also have a point system in place. Beginners, of course, start at level 1, at which time you can write posts at the 250+ word level. As you gain points from writing and selling posts, your level will increase, as will your money making potential.
It can be tricky, at first, to figure out the format of the Blogmutt site. This is not a problem however, because they have an awesome forum where you can post any questions you have. The moderators are super helpful, as are the other writers, and you’re likely to find your home away from home while there!
Some Writing Tips Before You Start
I wish I had had someone to talk to who had already done this kind of work before I started. Not that I had a bad experience, but I think things would have went more smoothly. SO…I’m going to give you a few pointers on what to do before you dive in to the writing world.
- If you don’t already have a bank account, get one! All these kinds of sites pay either by direct deposit, PayPal or some other online payment method such as Stripe. I didn’t have an account with either, and I had to slow down immensely when I started. PayPal has a trial period where you have to establish your account before they start immediately releasing funds. So the sooner you can get a PayPal account going, the better.
- Take free online courses on writing and grammar. My favorite is Khan Academy. This really helps you brush up on grammar and so many other things that you may have forgotten about. For instance, when I first started writing, I found that I had a lot of passive sentences. Some clients also want writing laid out in certain formats, such APA, MLA or Chicago style. Believe me, this is not something that sticks with you after college! There are lots of free open source learning programs out there that will really help with this.
- Set aside specific times and days for your writing. This is SO important! Once you start working from home, it’s easy to get tied up with housework, projects with the kids, pets and let’s not forget Facebook! If you’re not careful, the entire day will get away from you. You’ll find you didn’t get anything accomplished, and you don’t want this to turn into a habit. Decide when you will start “work”, plan on breaks and decide when you want to stop working for the day. Setting goals is a great idea anyway, but for writing from home, it is a necessity!
- Do your homework on self-employment taxes! This is something I learned the hard way. I mean, I knew that it was going to be different, but I didn’t realize how different. Once you get rolling along good, you will want to pay your taxes quarterly. While this usually doesn’t happen in your first year, playing it safe is always the best bet. Otherwise, it can strangle you when it comes time to file your taxes. Along those same lines, you will also want to research what you can write off as an expense. For instance, when I had my Ebay business, I could write off things as shipping costs, and supplies related to printing. You can write off anything that relates to your work-from-home writing career as an expense. This can include specific office furniture, equipment, even a portion of your internet bill! If you take nothing away from my tips today, take this one. Study taxes!
- Finally, I will leave you with the tip to join the Freelance Writer’s Union. Membership is free and I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from them. This is an excellent place to learn about how self employment taxes will affect you. They have lists of tips, tricks, shortcuts and more than really come in handy. Plus, it’s a great little tidbit to add to your resume!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, but most of all, I hope it’s helped you to make a decision. If writing is something you’ve always wanted to try, it’s worth it. Go ahead and dive in. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll tell you — you’ll stay right where you’re at! At least you won’t be any worse off than you were before!
If you have other writing sites that you know of, please post them in the comment section below! It will help me and other reader’s as well, and we will appreciate it!