I had an email this morning from Upwork celebrating my 5-year anniversary as a working freelancer on the site. I took a look back on my epic list of complete contracts and sure enough, on January 16, 2013, I finished my first-ever job for the website formerly known as ODesk.
Those were some humbler times for me, considering I had 17 years of professional experience under my belt, but was a novice online freelancer and thus taking jobs with salaries I hadn’t seen since high school, all for the motivation of that coveted first 5-star rating.
The job was writing 15 book reviews (300 words each) in 24 hours. The price was $27.78 ($25 of that to me). I got the job because I had read 5 of the books – all by J.R.R. Tolkien. The downside was that I hadn’t read the other 10 and thus winged those reviews based on listings on Amazon (back when it mainly sold books).
The 5-star rating was worth more than any monetary sum at that time, and the same generous client hired me seven more times over the next eight weeks, giving me a 5-star rating every time.
About a month later I got my first $100 contract. Two months later, I edited a spy thriller and got paid $500. Our girls, the twin miracles, had just turned 1 year old, we were paying out the nose for childcare every week, and I was gone from the house from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
We rolled the dice on me becoming a stay-at-home dad taking care of the babies during the day and freelancing at night. The first year was a bumpy ride, every one since has gotten better and better.
Today’s the kind of day where being a full-time freelancer is brilliant. My hometown of Houston is totally locked down with frigid temperatures and accumulating ice and snow. But I’m not losing any income today because I can work from anywhere. It’s a career I never thought I’d end up doing but boy am I happy to be here.