TME Blog

Celebrating 5 Years with Upwork

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.


Beware the “SEO-Millars” Scam!

73924887_455685725I was invited to interview for a job on Upwork yesterday wanting a host of articles every day about all manner of things – entertainment, food, retail advertising, etc. I talked to a lady (I guess) on Skype who was offering $22/500-word article or 25 articles a week – a tidy $550 week.

As the conversation on, my “Danger, Will Robinson!” sensor began to flare as there was no mention of a contract, an agreement, even a website connected to the job. I asked the person at the other end where I could find their website or what the company was called and got the response “SEO-Millars”. I Googled that and found …. nothing. Now, if you know the Internet even a little bit you know that there’s something for every search on it.  I just made up the term “unicorn salad dressing” in my head and a ton of stuff came up.

I was now about 99% sure it was a scam and when I sent the empty Google search screenshot, the Skype contact told me they were partnered with and I should search that website for them. Naturally, Scripted has no search tool because it’s a business. I grabbed the contact’s info, sent it to Scripted’s service desk – which sent a nice response about an hour later stating they were working with Upwork on it – and blocked the party from sending me Skype and Upwork offers.

The moral of this story? The good offers are usually too good to be true. Do your due diligence on any high-volume job offer so you’re not left holding the bag.



I interviewed a guy who’s been married 74 years

200I’m doing a series of feature stories on residents of several senior living communities over the next couple of weeks and have decided to highlight some of the truly remarkable people I’ve been lucky enough to talk to.

James is from Dallas and is 94 years old. His wife is 93. He worked for Southwestern Bell for 40 years. When I asked him who his favorite Dallas Cowboy of all-time was, his answer was: “Whoever the guy is running the ball scoring touchdowns.”



Breaking Up is Hard to Do – When You’re a Freelancer

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a client if you’ve worked together for any reasonable length of time and success.

It’s counter-intuitive to leave someone who’s paying you for your services, because, it’s money! We make our living by finding clients who are willing to pay us for our services. It’s a hustle, a competition, and any other buzzword you want to slap on it. Cutting ties with someone who regularly exchanges their dollars for your sense (get it?) just feels wrong.

But when it becomes harder and harder to justify continuing the relationship, that means it’s past time to go. For me recently, it was a missed invoice payment that broke the camel’s back. I invoice once a month and the payment comes out on the 16th of the following month. Except that this time it didn’t, and with no advance warning, just a “Oh sorry” email the night it was due to be paid.

The promise of payment the next day became promise of the week after. Five long days went by without the intended money, making me very aware of how many late nights I had spent poring over jobs for this company to hit its deadlines, only to rewarded with “sorry…”

It wasn’t the first time this had been the case, but definitely the longest. When I contacted the founder to state my imminent departure he countered with an offer of more money .Now that just stinks, because it tells me you knows me you are aware I’m worth more…you just aren’t going to pay it.




I Interviewed a Guy Who Flew 131 Missions Over Vietnam

200I’m doing a series of feature stories on residents of several senior living communities over the next couple of weeks and have decided to highlight some of the truly remarkable people I’ve been lucky enough to talk to.

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed a Texan named Clay who had flown in the Vietnam War, 131 missions to be exact.. A few of his words are below:

“I was flying an F-4 at the time and it was absolutely black, no lights on the ground. We were a nighttime interdiction and harassment squadron. It was a hell of a flying experience.”

I Interviewed a 27-Year Army Vet Today

200I’m doing a series of feature stories on residents of several senior living communities over the next couple of weeks and have decided to highlight some of the truly remarkable people I’ve been lucky enough to talk to.

Today’s subject was a guy named Al born in The Bronx in 1918. In addition to playing minor league football for the New York Giants, he spent 27 years in the US Army, in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, eventually rising to the rank of full Colonel as a military intelligence officer.

He’s 98 years old now and still plays a round of golf every week.

Current Project: HERO Sports

aaeaaqaaaaaaaaj2aaaajdy3zjcyzjdllwfinjetndk2yy05mzvhlwm0nzq2nwi2njqxmqI first thought about being a sportswriter when I was 7 years old and NFL legend Earl Campbell came to my elementary school in the prime of his career. I got to introduce him before his speech.

As it happens, I spent a good dozen years as a sportswriter, another four years writing about tennis, and the last four writing about golf. For the last month, HERO Sports has given me the opportunity to get back into writing about college sports and it’s been an absolute treat, catching up on the NCAA basketball, baseball, and softball scene, while also getting to use my love of history to delve into some “Top 10” and “all-time” lists for the guys at HERO.