In addition to starting this blog when I became unemployed, I also started looking for ways to make steady money. After all, the side gigs like WeGoLook or Easy Shift App are great, but it’s hard to create a steady income. So I started to explore freelancing.
For me as a parent, the real trouble with freelancing is finding the work. I barely have time to do the work, let alone search it out. That’s where a site like UpWork comes in.
Signing up took some time, so you want to do it when the kids are in bed and you have about an hour to yourself.
Think about what you want to freelance in before you sign up. I started out with transcription and as I built up my blog, I started applying for writing jobs.
UpWork has a ton of categories including writing, transcription, editing, graphic design and bookkeeping. You’ll need to decide what to do before you sign up.
When I signed up, I had to outline my skills, the kind of work I was looking for, the hours I was willing to work per week (less than 30) and desired hourly pay. Don’t worry, you’re not locked into the pay, you can change it based on each job you apply to.
Then I took a few proficiency tests. I took the writing skills and English language tests, but there are also ones that evaluate your spelling abilities, skills in other languages, etc.
You’ll have to take tests to build up your profile. I was also asked to write a summary describing myself. Kind of like a mini cover letter.
Once I did all that, I started to apply for jobs. Starting out is tough because I didn’t have any ratings, but UpWork tried to help me out by calling me a “Rising Talent”. It’s a little message to let people know I’m just getting started.
Each job has requirements such as native English speaker or proficient in AP Style. You don’t need these but without them, you’re probably not going to get picked.
You can search the postings and when you find one you like, you apply. UpWork allows you to apply for about 30 jobs per month to start, plenty to get you rolling.
When you apply for a job, you will need to write a cover letter and come up with a price for the job. You may be asked to answer specific questions from the job poster as well. If you’re applying to something like graphic design, you may also want to submit some samples of work.
Eventually, I found a job. The employer set up a contract. This one was hourly, so I would complete my task and log my hours. The employer approved the hours and the funds were sent to me through UpWork, less a 20% fee.
Once I had more than $100 in my UpWork account, the company pushed the money into a bank account that I linked to UpWork.
Sidenote: I created a free checking account separate from the personal one I share with my husband. Not because I don’t want to share the earnings, but because I’m paranoid about giving out personal finance information.
The Bottom Line
- The pay is good. You choose your jobs, so if you don’t like the pay, don’t apply or don’t accept the job if it’s offered to you.
- You can work when and where you want.
- You can work as much or as little as you want.
- The 20% service charge definitely cuts into the profits.
- Jobs are tough to come by if you’re not willing to take a pay cut. You’re competing against workers in other countries where $6/hour is like $20/hour here.
- Many of these jobs are tough to do with young kids around.
UpWork is hands down the best source of secondary income I’ve come across to date. This month, I made almost $1,000. That’s a big help when it comes to household finances.
When it comes to doing the work with kids, that’s going to depend on your kids. I personally write a lot, so it’s easier to hop on the computer when the kids are in bed or during naptime. For parents of older kids, it may be fine any time of the day.
I will say that eventually, I may try to move away from UpWork and try to create a steady stream of clients where I don’t have to forfeit the 20% fee before I get paid. Until then, however, UpWork is a great choice.