Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

I'm finding It: Upping My Game in the Gig Economy

Six months in, my experience with Global Freelancing is going well. I've made considerable progress, and I'm confident that I can continue to increase my online business.

The milestones:


  • I've reached the "Top Rated" level on Upwork, which means that my ratings from clients are above 90% (in fact, they're at 100%), and I've met criteria ranging from total earnings and responsiveness to consistent availability. 
  • I've reached "Level One" status on Fiverr, which also means I've reached a level of success similar to Upwork. There are two further levels to achieve.
In both cases, leveling up means higher visibility and access to a higher level of customer service. Personnel at Upwork will also email leads to jobs that may be particularly appropriate for my talents and experience.

The jobs have been diverse and challenging. They've included chat-stories, short stories, professional biographies, videos edited for social media, a storybook for elementary school-age children, and professional letters for a variety of purposes.

Building From Here

As I work to improve my online presence on both platforms, I'm taking a series of steps:
  • I've taken a one-on-one course on optimizing my efforts on Upwork, including improving my profile, writing more effective job proposals, and developing workable strategies for building and maintaining a client base on the site. I also learned search strategies on the site, to find more jobs that fit my expertise. (I'll be writing about the course in a future blog).
  • I'm experimenting with my gigs on Fiverr, and seeking out more effective ways of improving my visibility on the site.
  • I attended a local Fiverr event, which has allowed me to interact with like-minded Fiverr uses so I can learn from those who better understand how to optimize the site to attract more work (it requires a different strategy than Upwork).   I'll be joining a local Los Angeles user's group (and one for Upwork, if I should find one).
Last week, I was interviewed as part of a university study exploring the rapidly expanding "gig economy." Though the idea (and these platforms) have been around for a while, it seems that near the leading edge of a profound shift in the character of employment.

My immediate goals are to learn better optimization on Fiverr, expand into blog and article writing on Upwork, and in general find better ways of promoting my services on both sites. 

I've come a long way, but I still have a long way to go toward making this a full-time operation...but I think I'm on my way. The progress I've made so far has exceeded my expectations. I'm optimistic about the possibilities for the future.

I've always believed that whatever might be your talent, there's an audience somewhere in the world for what you do—if only you could find it.

I'm finding it.

Check out my Upwork Profile here, and my Fiverr Profile and gigs here.  If you need writing or remote video editing services, check me out (if you tell me you came from my blog, make sure to let me know).

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SoupChad is on the Menu: Book Marketing

"SoupChad" is my novel about a boy who loves soup—and will not tolerate kids who like salad.  I love the fact that the book is fun and offbeat, but through all the absurdity has something to say, too.

In the last couple of months, I've been test-marketing the book in several venues and websites. I was at the Santa Clarita Local Authors Celebration, and then at a fundraiser at Barnes and Noble bookstore for a local elementary school.

The Santa Clarita event was great fun, with my nephew (portraying SoupChad on the book cover) and his friend helped me promote the book, soup spoons in hand and wearing brand-new SoupChad t-shirts. The book did fairly well, but there weren't too many kids in attendance.

The Barnes and Noble event was a special success. I had the opportunity to talk to numerous kids about the book, give out "SoupClub" cards (favorite soup of the day: chicken noodle), and sold a healthy number of copies. It was a great day!

Here I am at Barnes and Noble, introducing
my book to elementary school kids. 
Reviews are slowly beginning to appear. Here's one from the winner of a drawing I had over at Goodreads that hit the nail right on the head: The book relates to our times in that you're either with us or against us. Teaching children to be tolerant of others opinions or likes or dislikes is achieved by either being a salad or soup person. I entered the draw in hopes of winning the book for my granddaughters. I believe they will learn a life lesson when they read this book.
My nephew Josh (right) and his friend Nick helped
me at the Santa Clarita Local Authors Celebration

Building on previous success, I've decided to more directly promote the tolerance aspect of the book, at least to parents and teachers.

Every kid who visits the SoupChad booth
gets an "official" Soup Club card, complete
with a club name based on their favorite soup.
My new listing on Etsy.com offers a "Class Pack," including multiple copies of the book, a book poster, and Soup Club cards. I'm hoping that my humorous and non-political approach one of the growing issues in our society today can interest both traditional and home schools. Take a look at the listing and tell me what you think - or better yet, pass it on to anyone who might be interested!

By the way, I'm looking for press of all types and reach - just forward this blog or contact me at rich@rlsventures.com

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gig Economy, Global Freelancing...it just WORKS

A funny thing happened with my "test dive" into the so-called "gig economy."

It's becoming a fantastic success.

The first few months were spotty, as I began to establish myself on two of the better-known sites serving "global freelancing." I got small jobs on a fairly regular basis, but the volume of work didn't grow for a while.

Then, the whole thing changed.
Another reason I like Global Freelancing: Positive Feedback!

At the end of the year, I began to accumulate a series of jobs on Upwork.com that not only were interesting and well-paying, but will result in a dramatic increase in income for the month of January. Already, my income in this month alone exceeds the first 3.5 months I've been on the site, put together. As I've developed a track record on the site, and learned how to improve my proposals for available jobs, opportunities have been multiplying.

Better yet, all of the work is writing related. Here are a few of my recent projects:

  • I've been creating chat stories for a variety of clients and websites. Several specialized apps now offer stories told entirely in the form of chat messages (in other words, dialogue). Developers are doing what they can to make sure they have quality stories to offer their young adult audience. Though some are user-created, many are created by hired writers like myself.
  • I've created proposals and treatments for documentary filmmakers across the country.
  • I've written short stories for a number of clients—some as part of a larger project (for example, an anecdote to illustrate a point), or for reasons unknown. 
  • I'm conducting and recording writing seminars. 
I hadn't the slightest idea when I started this experiment that writing short fiction for hire would be part of the game. I had hopes that some of my online work would be writing-related; as the moment, it's 100%.

The challenge now? Keep up and increase the momentum. I'll share some concrete steps I'm taking to make this experiment in global freelancing (a better term, I think) a full-time venture.





Thursday, December 21, 2017

SoupChad Simmers: Early Marketing

I made SoupChad available for sale on Amazon on December 7, 2017, but I'm considering these next few weeks a "soft launch" before a more extensive push after the first of the year.  After all, I don't want large numbers of readers checking out SoupChad on Amazon...with no reviews!

Here's what I'm working on at the moment:
A Box of SoupChad, ready for 2018!

1 - Reviews! It's so very important to build up as many reviews as possible before I start sending potential readers to Amazon in earnest. The simple fact is, reviews sell. For an indie author like myself, positive reviews are golden. I'm letting those in my network know that the book is available, and I'm hoping for promising results. It's one of the most difficult steps in the marketing process, so if you would like to help out, I would be grateful.

2 - Giveaways are helpful tools. I can set up various types of opportunities on both Goodreads and Amazon, which hopefully will develop word of mouth and a wider network. I can even set up a giveaway on Amazon that requires entrants to follow me on Twitter.

3 - Flash sales. Amazon Kindle allows for limited flash sales, which will allow me to offer the book for free for a limited (one day) sale to encourage readers and reviews.

4 - Media coverage. SoupChad is also about polarization in our society, so I'm hoping for media coverage across several platforms, from newspapers to blogs, radio and television. 

In the next few weeks, I'll be working on an overall social media campaign to "get the word out" over upcoming months and to brainstorm some promising secondary markets. For example, foodies and soup aficionados might get a kick out of the story. I'm hoping to create some book launch opportunities at schools as well, and engage in classroom discussions.

If I can get that word out, I believe I have a fighting chance of getting SoupChad the exposure it deserves.


Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @Rickflix 

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Gig Economy: You Never Know What's Next!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working in the gig economy (in my case, working with UpWork and Fiverr), is the wide diversity of challenges I've tackled. I never know what's coming up next. 

As an editor, my online work has extended from YouTubers to training videos to a memorial park in Australia, with clients and needs that were everything from simple "do your magic" assignments to true partnerships.

As a writer, I've been paid to write (or ghost-write) short stories for various clients, as well as opening chapters for prospective novels. I'm especially excited about the possibilities in this area. To be honest, I hadn't considered writing short stories for pay as even a remote possibility.  I'm hoping to grow my clientele in this sector. It is, after all, the core of who I am. I've also written specialized short stories intended for specific apps (for example, "chat-based" stories).

The stories I've written so far extend from historical to biographical, horror and coming of age. In fact, one of my gigs on Fiverr offers to write a short "coming of age" story, while another offers a "Stranger Things" type story. Another throws the net even further, offering to write a general short story. I ask prospective clients to contact me first, so that I can screen those stories that wouldn't be practical (foreign or historical settings that would require research, for example). I've also been asked to write personal letters for those who don't have the skills to put their thoughts and intentions into a cohesive package.

To be clear, this isn't a game-changer yet. I haven't reached that volume of work or level of income (though I can see that others have). I'm still working on the right recipe to generate this work on a more consistent basis. How will I make that happen? 

I'll share my current strategy next time.


Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @rickflix.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Why I Wrote SoupChad

Like most people, I've found it somewhat difficult to process the increasingly polarized society we live in. Political discourse doesn't exist anymore. Political demonization is the norm. You're with me—or you're against me. We live in a state of anxiety.

SoupChad is my response. It's the tale of a middle school boy who loves soup and won't tolerate any kid who likes salad. When his family moves and he starts at a new middle school, he forms Soup Club to share his passion. Kids steer clear, until he decides to grant each one of them a new name based on their favorite soup. Spinach, Noodle and Chowder join first, followed by Matzo Ball and Potato.

But power goes to SoupChad's head, and his club transforms from a gathering of soup fans to an army allied against Salad Eaters. SoupChad doesn't just hate salad, he wants to eliminate it from the school. He'll do anything to make that happen.

SoupChad is a story of intolerance and power. While it's a fun, absurd picture of middle school obsession, it's also an allegory that pokes fun at the tendency to see every opposing point of view as an epic battle between Good and Evil, where there is no middle ground and there are only winners and losers.

In a modest way, I hope SoupChad encourages kids to treat others who simply don't agree with them with a bit more fairness.

Curious? SoupChad is available NOW at Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle formats. I would welcome your early review of my book—it's a huge help to an indie author!

You can follow me on Twitter @Rickflix 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Leveling Up: Starting to Build an Online Clientele


One of the most common criticisms of sites like Fiverr and Upwork is that they're essentially a "race to the bottom," offering services at ever cheaper rates, making the prospect of earning a living virtually impossible.

True, there are thousands of people offering pro gigs at rock-bottom prices. The cost of living, after all, is cheaper in Thailand and India than Los Angeles. They're in every category, from website creation to video services to writing. In some situations, westerners have relocated to low-cost locales. I wondered if it possible to compete.

I decided to look further. As I said, as a client, I had already spent over $200 on Fiverr services with just two sellers. I consciously avoided the lower cost options. I wanted to employ an established pro with whom a positive outcome was more likely.

As a seller, that's where I want to be.

I had two built-in advantages, even as a newcomer: First, I was a video professional with several Los Angeles Emmy Awards to my name (and several additional nominations). I also have published three young adult novels (with a fourth on the way). I hoped those facts gave me a bit of a leg-up against the competition, even though I didn't have a work history or online reviews on the freelance sites when I began.

I couldn't charge a premium, though. Despite my background, developing a presence and a collection of positive reviews is the key to higher end gigs. I started the process, seeking small gigs for 25 or 35 dollars that I could complete quickly and cleanly. The jobs I scored weren't going to make a dent in my income, but they would allow me, to borrow game parlance, to "level up" and allow me to play a more powerful game. More on that next time. 


Remember to follow me on Twitter @rickflix