Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Global Freelancing on Upwork: One Year Later

This month, I’m celebrating one year of building my presence as a global freelancer. Using established sites, I’ve worked to expand my client list from a narrow local base to a broad worldwide clientele. Where locally, I provided only media-related production and editing, my global freelancing career has allowed me to offer a wide range of writing services. In this twelfth month of global freelancing, I’ve achieved my goal: remote clients account for nearly 100% of my income—and I’m convinced that’s just the tip of the iceberg

After trying several alternatives, my platform of choice is Upwork.com, where businesses and individuals post their needs, and Upwork-screened freelancers (like myself) respond with a cover letter and relevant work examples to win the assignment. I have had the opportunity to work with a wider range of professionals and entrepreneurs than I would have otherwise. I have the opportunity to put all of my talents to work, instead of a select few.

My writing assignments have included professional biographies, recommendation letters, resignation letters, product descriptions, nonprofit mission statements, corporate website content, dozens of short stories and “chat stories,” numerous proposals and pitches for documentary video content, and production-ready scripts for educational and corporate videos.

I also provide video editing services, including corporate videos, YouTube content, training videos and premium quality celebratory videos (a photo and video montage marking a birthday or memorial, for example).

Corporate clients have included a wide range of spirited entrepreneurs, from those designing small tech start-ups to the founder/CEO of a vast corporation providing energy infrastructure. Individuals have also hired me for a range of tasks—one man in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia asked me to write a science fiction story for his son’s sixteenth birthday. I’ve worked for numerous online learning corporations, conceptualizing, writing, and in one case presenting content (offering my experience as a self-published author). Upwork gold is a repeat client—and I have had quite a few as both a writer and editor.
 
One of my Upwork gigs involved teaching
an online writing course.
Reaching this point has taken a great deal of hard work—requiring a commitment to adopting global freelancing as my profession. What started out as a side experiment only became truly viable when it became a full-time effort (I still work with local clients, though selectively).

In my case, another key piece of the puzzle was my decision to seek out training to use Upwork effectively. My thanks to Claudia Holcombe and the Barefoot Consultants program for providing excellent guidance on designing my Upwork profile, seeking and winning the best jobs, and other intricacies of becoming a successful global freelancer. If you’re serious about making this financially viable, training will get you up to speed right away.

Global freelancing (I’ve served clients in Kiev, Moscow, Saudi Arabia, Panama, Mexico, Canada, Australia and across the United States) isn’t simply a new direction in my career—it’s an entirely new dimension—and only increasing in potential. I can't say whether it's the future of employment - but it's my future.


You can check out my Upwork profile at https://www.upwork.com/fl/richsamuels (scroll down to the bottom for an indication of why I love my clients!) - and follow me @rickflix for more updates.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Writing for a Living: A Career Trajectory That Just Seems Right

Here's an update on my efforts to grow in the "Gig Economy."

My online writing services have touched on so many areas and served a wide range of clients in the past few months, It keeps the process interesting and continues to expand my network (and my horizons!)

I've been writing:

1 - "chat stories" for various smartphone apps.
2 - A vision statement for a non-profit organization creating an anti-bullying workshop.
3 - An "executive summary" tracing a corporation's service to a troublesome client
4 - A curriculum for a video production workshop for teens
5 - A logline and synopsis for a short documentary
6 - Narration for another short documentary.
7 - A short story "legend" for a cartoon character serving as a trademark for a clothing company [check out this article from Upwork about Brand Storytelling]
8 - A job seeker's introductory email to a prospective employer.
9 - Several short biographies for corporate websites
10 - Several serialized short stories: a thriller, a murder mystery, action/adventure, science fiction...the list goes on.

Until I jumped into remote freelancing, I hadn't offered writing services as part of my freelance toolbox. Now, they're a major part of my activity (and a growing part of my income. To use the vernacular, writing is my "super power."

Several of these jobs have generated return business—in many ways, that's the key to making this process work. New clients + Return Clients = Positive Cash Flow. Simple equation, but true. One client has hired me for eleven unique, well paying jobs.

At this point, ten months in, I'm still learning best practices to continue my growth. The process is slower than I would hope, but steady and building. Working online may be convenient, but don't believe the hype: it's still hard work.

(If I can be of service, contact me via my Fiverr Account)


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.