• Meghan Hale

Freelance Writing: How I Got Started

I have always identified as a writer. When I was younger I would collect every notebook that I could find, just waiting for the inspiration to strike. Each one would slowly become filled up with stories of fantasy, adventure, friendship, and love. My teachers slowly caught on and would help me apply for every single writing contest that came up. Reading my words in anthologies of young writers was the first taste of achievement that my little soul had experienced. I still have those anthologies. And yes, my writing was awful. But which 10-year-old's isn't?

Writing short stories turned into novel writing once I discovered WEbook. The website apparently no longer exists. Though, it was essentially a place for writers to post their stories, publishing chapters as they go. I had written my first full-length "novel", publishing short chapters almost every day. At the time it had felt massive. Though, I don't think it could have been any longer than 20,000 words. I started receiving attention and minor praise from fellow WEbook-ers. Again, looking back, my story wasn't that great. However, through this small writing community, I was able to understand how to properly accept criticism and received plenty of valuable advice that I still think back on today.

My journey into the world of writing continued when I discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I managed to complete a 50,000-word story throughout the 30 days one November. I had high hopes. I contacted dozens of literary agents with the dream of it being published. (Spoiler: it was not published). I was only 14. I knew then that writing would always be my greatest passion.

Writing, like most passions, has ways of being put on the back-burner. I wrote very little beyond mandatory essays and creative writing assignments throughout my high school years. I had started a variety of new stories that never made their way past a few dozen pages. I started writing poetry, but only when inspiration struck. I wanted to write, but I struggled to find the energy.

My 14-year-old self always told people that she wanted to be a "famous author" when she grew up. The jury is still out on whether that one will come true. Regardless, it's not what I tell people when they ask about my dream job. Through my teen years, I also discovered passions that lay outside of the writing world. My university plans could not have been further away from becoming an author. Though, entirely due to the brilliance of a professor from one of my first-year electives, I decided to pursue English as my second major. I studied classics, different genres, and I saw the possibility of finding my way back into a literary space.

With an approaching graduation date and little more than a few final exams to go, I decided that I might as well start looking into the opportunities for writers. I had months to "kill" before starting a post-graduate program in a non-writing field. I knew that working my retail management position would not be enough to keep me going throughout the summer. Eventually, I stumbled upon UpWork. While I recognize that plenty of authors have had struggles and horror stories through the writing platform, I still owe my freelance career's start to the website.

I am not ashamed to admit that I took some pretty awful jobs. I knew that I had to build a reputation and earn those 5-star reviews. My first few months were filled with low-paying transcription jobs with a few fun blog writing ones sprinkled in. I was lucky enough to wind up working with a few amazing clients. They provided me with opportunities to work on projects that I really loved. I wrote pieces on mindfulness, body positivity, confidence, and a handful of other things that I actually loved working on. I also learned that I couldn't keep up with jobs that paid well-below minimum wage if I wanted to make something meaningful of this experience.

Once I had a nice set of 5-star reviews and a few longer contracts with clients, I narrowed the lens of what types of jobs I searched for. If the topic wasn't something that I would at least somewhat enjoy, I skipped by. I found an amazing opportunity with a website that writes about things like comic books, movies, books, and television shows. Movies are another passion of mine, and being able to write reviews and similar content has been a dream. I've been on their core writing team for months now, with my own name plastered on each post that I write. While I love ghostwriting, it's still nice to see your name attached to your work every once and awhile.

Once I had some longer contracts established, I stopped looking for new work. I had started my postgraduate program and continued to work my full-time retail position. It was worth it but still rough. After finally making the tough decision to leave my job, the idea of making freelance writing a full-time gig consumed me.

So, here we are. I've found moderate success in writing for clients through UpWork, and managed to forge working relationships with clients outside of the platform. I now have a variety of people who I write regular content for. But I'm ready to expand far beyond what I've done. I hope you'll join me along this adventure as I navigate a world where I get to earn a living from something that I am passionate about.

To all of the other freelance writers out there, I want to connect and hear your stories and talk about shared wins and losses. Because as we all know, there can be plenty of both of those things in this industry.

To the clients out there who continue to support freelance writers like me, I thank you. And if you're looking for a writer, you know where to find me.

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