Everybody now knows about Upwork. It was once called oDesk and then merged with Elance until they changed the brand into Upwork. I’m not very well-versed in the history of the making of Upwork, but they have a whole ABOUT US page that you can go to and read. Below is the first month of my Upwork story.
Scrapping for Pennies
By July 2018, after my last trip to Salatiga, I realised that I will not survive in Indonesian archaeology circle. Things had become dull and redundant with empty promises, and there were so many ego spills that are ruining my psyche. You know who you are, I don’t have to name names. I wish you all happiness in the world, but I had to find my exit strategy.
Now, having been a yarn shop owner for five years, I learned bits and bobs about various business models, branding, marketing, and stuff that goes along with it. But nevertheless, if I want to boost my sale and add categories to my yarn selection, I need dough—and I don’t have the dough. At this point, I know there should be changing lanes involved. I should find dough somewhere else and reinvent myself as a productive person.
That day, I was browsing through Pinterest as I was looking for another crochet pattern to work on. But then I saw one post saying “How to Make Money from Home”. Instinctively, I thought, what a load of crap. This must be a scam link to or something. But guess what? I clicked on the damn Pinterest post! It turned out to be an article about how to make money while you’re at home—mostly aimed at stay-at-home moms but not limited to. One of the links included in that article was about Upwork. I liked the green colour, and I clicked the link, which led me to the platform’s homepage.
After reading some of the introductory pages, I thought, here goes nothing. Perhaps it’s time to try this method, and if it doesn’t work—well, fudge it. I created an account, but I was unable to. Upwork system said that there’s my email address was already registered. What? How can that be? I don’t remember I ever signed up for a platform like this. So, I followed the usual “forgot my password” method and got in. Apparently, I had created an Upwork profile since 2012. Who would’ve thunk, huh? Profile wise, I am ready to begin my Upwork story.
Upwork Story: The First Month
Upwork requires each freelancer to build up a complete profile. I got stuck with the fact that my skills aren’t portfolio-type, nor it is marketable in Upwork type of platform. I mean, is there any clients looking for a freelancer with human bone fragments identification skill? I don’t think so. I did my online research, finding ideas on how to work with what I got, and then it hit me. My English skill can be used in this platform, though I’m not too keen on going back to being a translator. But that’s the only way to go in and make my mark in Upwork.
On August 1, 2018, my Upwork story continues as I got my first hire. I landed a contract to do a website localisation and translation job for a company in Singapore. I’ve been submitting proposals since mid July, and finally, one client clicked HIRE on me. It’s so exciting!
As I started working on that project, during the week I also tried to enrich my knowledge on how to navigate this freelance world. I’ve watched YouTube videos, I read online articles of other freelancers and browsed through the Community Page in Upwork. I’m guessing this is not going to be an easy journey, but I have the will to try. I also figured that I can’t rely on one skill if I want my Upwork story to last, which means that I need to expand by learning something else.
I’ve been eyeing the field of transcription. Perhaps, it’s something new that I can try. I believe I have the listening skills too. My typing speed is also not disappointing. I think I am considering this skill option now, but let’s see how this pans out.
Starting out freelance without portfolio? Read these first...
I celebrated my first week in Upwork by earning my first $100. It feels very fulfilling because it’s the money I earned without having to put my signatures in blank receipts or waiting for months to be paid. It’s my income and I own it! Hurrah! Finally, a change at last. I have so many things to learn and a new mindset to form if I want to stick to this freelance life.
I’ve grown obsessed with Upwork that I keep changing my profile keywords and polishing my proposal to compete with thousands of other people in the field of English-Indonesian translation. I’m not really picky about how fixed price jobs are budgeted. I’ll take both small jobs and big jobs, and I should increase my client leads. I can see glistening lights at the end of my tunnel now as I discovered this freelance world. Half-conscious, I begin to realise that I have one foot out of the archaeology door, and when I have both feet outside, I don’t know if I ever come back.