My freelancing story began when I was fourteen-years-old and desperately wanted a source of income for the first time in my life.
I discovered a freelance bidding website formerly known as oDesk. That company has now merged with eLance to create Upwork – a company that I’m sure we’ll talk about several times in the future. I spent several weeks developing my profile, making a shoddy resume, and setting up my first bank account. Finally, after days of anticipation, I was ready to send a few applications to prospective clients.
My first professional freelance writing position? Writing ten articles about hot tub covers for ten dollars. Don’t worry. The story gets better.
Over the next several months, I raised my rate. I began writing 500-word articles for three dollars each. Eventually, my rate climbed to five dollars. And, for a long time, that’s where it stayed.
The Big Apple
During the remainder of my high school years, freelancing on oDesk paid for theatre tickets, room remodeling, and Christmas gifts for my family. It provided a sense of self-worth. And, even though I was being completely robbed financially, I was building a reputation and gaining more experience than I ever could have dreamed.
That experience helped me launch a series of community editorials during my senior year, while I was an editor of our school newspaper. These editorials and the responses they received fueled my eventual acceptance into New York University.
At eighteen-years-old, I packed up my things and moved to the Big Apple. As a freshman at NYU, I dreamed of becoming a reputable investigative journalist and working at a big name newspaper. These aspirations changed drastically when I realized I wanted control over my career, my words, and my creative works. Among other things, my time in Manhattan taught me that my future was my own.
The Low Point in My Freelancing Story
In May of 2015, after a drastic tuition increase and unbearable depression, I packed up my things and moved back home.
As someone who had always wanted “something more” out of life, I was miserable. My application to Michigan State University had been denied, due to the absence of a single necessary transfer course. I enrolled immediately at Lansing Community College, intending to pass the course, complete a few additional core requirements, and transfer to MSU in the spring.
Regardless of my plan, my life had changed dramatically and I had trouble coming to terms with my new reality.
My epiphany came on a rainy Sunday morning, three weeks into my stint as a cashier at Kroger. I was working an express register, reading the morning newspaper between customers. As I scanned the fifteenth carton of eggs in a row, it dawned on me.
I could be doing so much more. My freelancing story wasn’t over. It had just begun.
A New Chapter
The next day, I began applying for freelance positions with a vengeance on oDesk (now officially Upwork). No more part-time work. I quit my job at Kroger. I recreated my resume and cover letter. And, essentially, I ushered in a completely new era of my life. One where I was a full-time freelance writer. One where everyone suddenly wanted to do what I do.
By September of 2015, I’d purchased my first car with my then-boyfriend Austin. In January of 2016, I began my first semester at Michigan State University. By June of 2016, Austin and I (newly engaged) co-leased our first apartment in West Lansing.
Austin and I married on September 31, 2017. I graduated in December. Now, in 2018, I’ve become a woman completely focused on my career and my future as a freelancer.
I don’t make six figures. I can’t guarantee you’ll make six figures. But I make a healthy, honest living – and you can, too.
Thanks for reading my freelancing story. I hope, someday, I can read yours.