It’s always interesting to find out how people wound up doing freelance work and my story isn’t much different from others except that I have a few varying twists in my tale.
I never considered being a freelancer! In fact, I simply couldn’t imagine depending on chance for a paycheck every week, I really liked the stability of the brick and mortar workplace. What changed? Well for me there are multiple changing points in my road to freelancing. The first occurred in 1991 when I was informed that I had retinitis pigmentosa. Web MD Says this about RP:
Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is one name for a large group of inherited vision disorders that causes progressive degeneration of the retina of the eyes. Peripheral (or side) vision gradually decreases and eventually is lost.
Rather frightening prognosis! But then again, such is life – I had to give up my driver’s license but frankly, I felt lucky I could see at all! At the time I worked full time for a financial services firm and had been there for a few years so I continued to plug away at my job day after day – something of note here: I was a telecommuter – which was very convenient since I could no longer drive. In 2005 I was laid off. I was not too worried, I was actually doing some heavy duty volunteer work at the time and decided that I would in fact take the next year (2006) off as well, I could afford it at the time and this would allow me to focus more on that. I really did not consider the challenges of working after that!
So in 2006 I did my volunteer work (and separated from a very long term relationship) and towards the end of my time in that role (July 2006) I decided it was time to start searching for real. I was fortunate in some ways that I had been in financial services for so long that I had a strong background. I did however have two distinct problems! (A) I was getting really close to 50 and I was looking for a substantial amount of money (B) I was competing with students graduating college with MBA’s (and I’m degree-less). None the less I plugged away and I finally wound up in a very unlikely job – I was hired to build an internal database for a high tech company (which had a lot of low tech filing solutions)! I was told I could work at home and that while I would be temporary that in March of 2007 I would be able to go permanent! Perfect – just what the doctor ordered!
Alas, this was not to be – In February of 2007 I was laid off as part of a ‘sweeping’ cost cutting measure my position was cut – interestingly enough I still hold the theory that had they gone ahead with their original premise that they would have saved a bundle but that’s another story for another day! So I was back on the job hunting trail again. My unemployment benefits ran out quickly and my savings was a tad strained but I was determined to get back to work. I bet I sent out some 800 resumes and cover letters between February and July. I am convinced they went into some ‘black hole’ someplace!
In July, a friend of mine notified me about a class that was being conducted online for people who had visual ‘disabilities’ that helped them promote themselves better for obtaining jobs. I figured I had nothing to lose, the registration fee was very minimal and what could it hurt? Well, it was a great class – and after the first couple of assignments my instructor asked me if I’d ever considered freelance writing. I laughed at him and said no – I wasn’t a writer!
Ya, right!! Anyway, someone mentioned oDesk in a chat room one day (one of the attendees in the class I mentioned above). I already had profiles at LinkedIn, eLance and frankly, I wasn’t too excited about oDesk at the time but when I saw it was free I decided hey, why not try it. My first profile overview was awful (and so was my first job!) as I basically focused on my data entry skills. But, then I picked up an SEO job from CraigsList in August and the person convinced me that I could actually write and I could do SEO work as well, so I started building Squidoo Pages and Hub Pages (many of which I’ve since converted to articles on Helium). Thus began my freelance writing!
Since then I’ve changed my focus to more article writing (though right now the bulk of my work is blogs), I have substantially increased my rates. Currently, I’m practicing use of voice recognition software. I am doing this because my eyes are getting much worse and I see no other alternative to continue my freelancing. Loss of vision is going to mean that I’ll need to find a way to have my assignments read to me and my work will have to be read to me as well. My proofreading will have to literally be done by computer – I’ll have to depend on my ears to pick up words that are not where they belong. So, that’s my story (and I am sticking to it!).
Onward and upward! Happy Freelancing