10 Essential Items for a Successful Work-at-Home Transition

The Better Call Paul Blog 

April 26, 2020

by

W. Paul Alexander 

Simultaneously published on several outlets owned by the author


Whether you have been forced into a work-at-home situation due to the current coronavirus pandemic or you are just beginning to step out on your own, it’s clear to see that, at some point in the very near future, you are going to need to set some boundaries between your workspace and your homespace, and that can be very difficult to do.  

Having been in the teleworking community for over a decade, we have already gone through the twists and turns and grinding down and lifting up that comes with blazing the trail in any given industry; while at the same time, making it much easier to help out those who are now beginning to work from home.  

Don’t make the same mistakes we did.  By following as many of these recommendations as possible, you will have a great work-at-home experience. 

1.  Get A Room Divider

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If you are going to work from home, one of the first hurdles you will encounter is discipline.  If you’re used to working around the hustle and bustle of a busy office environment, the familiar home stimuli suddenly thrown in your face can be overwhelming, and can sometimes mean the difference between failure and success.  

Buying a room divider is an affordable, easy-to-setup, ultra-effective solution for the attention hyperactivity that will occur when you begin your work at home adventure.  

On one side of the divider, you christen as your workplace.  You tell others in your home to act as though it does not exist.  It is off limits to them, and your work stays behind the divider at all times.  This creates structure while keeping your attention on the job at hand by keeping you isolated from the TVs and refrigerators calling your name.  

Buy A Room Divider Here for less than a half day’s pay.

2.  Keep It Simple, Stupid.

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Okay, I know you’re not stupid, it’s just an expression.  

So, here, the focus is on the simplicity of your setup.  In the picture above, you see that an all-in-one PC has been chosen to really maximize the usability of every inch of the small workspace.  I think this is an amazing idea, and if you are going to go with an All-In-One, I will always first suggest that you buy an iMac, which are priced to move with all of the influx of work-at-home job.  So, if you can go buy a new iMac with all the bells and whistles, you can do that and save yourself a bundle by ORDERING FROM HERE.  

But even if you only have the budget for a slimline PC, you can still get up and going with a nice, organized approach to your workstation setup.  

Here are some affordable PC options that will do the job just fine: 

1.  CYBERPOWER Pro Gaming PC – If your work-at-home venture is going to include a large amount of video processing, such as constantly using videoconferencing or livestreaming your channel on YouTube and Twitch, then this awesome pro gaming PC from CYBERPOWER is an excellent choice.  Not only is it affordable, but it includes a 9th Gen I5 CPU with a ton of RAM and storage.  It’s much less that you’d expect to pay for this quality of gaming PC. 

2. HP ELITEDESK 800 G1 SFF Slim Business Desktop Computer – This Business-class PC is an excellent choice for corporate-ready deployment in an at-home environment. With a capable I5 CPU at 3.50 GHz and plenty of storage and memory options, you won’t believe the price until you see it for yourself.  However, I will say that you will be pleasantly surprised at how affordable your work from home PC actually is.  

3.  Just Say No to Family, Friends, Pets, and Children 

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When it comes to your work environment, those who are close in your personal life need to be made aware that it is off limits to them.  This can be an awkward conversation, but usually I just like to tell my children, who are adults now, that it would not be polite or accepted if I were to go hang out with them at their office and constantly keep their attention away from their duties.  

Sometimes, it can be easier just to get a pack of “Do Not Disturb” door hangers and let your family members know that if they see the sign, they are to leave you alone.  They are super cheap and they make a very awkward conversation much easier.  

4.  Exercise As Much As Possible

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Exercise can be hard to come by in a regular office setting alone, and in a home office setting, lack of exercise can contribute to obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, and a number of other health issues.  Plus, the more you exercise, the more oxygen flows to your brain, allowing you to be much more attentive and productive with your duties at work.  

I personally love an under-desk peddler machine.  These are the little contraption that look like a set of bicycle pedals without the rest of the bike.  This machine is placed under your desk, and operates according to the parameters you set on the digital display.  You will burn calories, stay focused, productive, and even more energized than normal.  

For me, this is a must-have product.  I wouldn’t make it without my peddler.  

5.  Take your Eyes Away from your Screen Regularly

Staring at a computer screen all day can be terribly taxing on your eyes, which can lead to a drop in productivity.  Every 15 minutes, you need to look away from your screen, and focus in and out on something that is at a longer distance than your screen. 

Doing this at least every 15 minutes will keep your eyes and your brain in shape and can even keep your eyes from suffering damage done by excessive screen time.  

If you do this simply task, your eyes will be sure to thank you down the road.  

6.  Take Your Day Planner to the Next Level 

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If you work from home, you need a physical day planner, period.  There is no other way that you can keep you life and work schedules and demands separate from one another, while doing everything you can to maximize the available time.  By purchasing the planner above, called THE SELF JOURNAL, you can take advantage of scientifically-proven tools to help you boost productivity and keep down time to a bare minimum.  

Phone planner apps are getting better an better as technology improves, but no matter what seems to come in its place, nothing have ever beaten the hard-copy advantage that comes with physically writing an appointment, quote, reminder, or suggestion.  Phone apps just can’t compete with a good, solid day planner, 

You will not only learn to keep your work life scheduled and organized, but you will also develop strategies that allow you to make the most of your time, no matter what situation you are in.  This planner is worth every cent, and then some.  It comes undated, to allow you to deploy it at the time you feel ready.  Additionally, it comes with proven tool that help you to crush procrastination and limit administrative tasks.  You won’t go wrong here.  We just can’t say enough about THE SELF JOURNAL.  

7.  Consider a Standing Desk

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One of the hottest new functional items to hit the home office in the last few years has been the rising desktop.  This allows you to convert from a sitting position, like you would see in a traditional workplace, to a standing position.  At first glace, we thought, “why would I want to buy something that MAKES me stand up?”  

After a couple of seconds of critical thought, the benefits become clear… 

A standing desk helps you to stay active, as you burn more calories in a standing position than you do when you are sitting.  By keeping you active, it helps you keep the pounds off, which is a HUGE deal when working from home.   When you work in the same environment you live, you can catch yourself going to the fridge over and over.  Standing up consistently will help to stop those actions as well.  I gained 80 pounds during my first year and a half of working from home, but I’ve been able to take the weight back off by using a standing desk, modifying my eating habits, and with an exercise pedaling machine under the desk. 

This particular desk is ergonomically designed to help alleviate back problems that can occur from sitting in the same position too long, as well as shock on your tailbone and lower vertebral spaces.  

In the end, you will undoubtedly find that, once you switch to a standing desk, you will never go back.  

ORDER YOURS BY CLICKING HERE

8.  Make Your Home Workspace Your Own Creation and Hang Wall Art

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Make sure that you don’t get so caught up on the idea of “work” that you leave your workspace a solid, meaningless wall without a single bit of flair or uniqueness that makes the space individually yours.  If you keep your workspace clinical, you may get more done to begin with, but you will eventually hate the uninspiring monotony.  

Hanging some art that reflects your style is an easy way to personalize and customize your space.  Motivational art and stylized quotation are always great ways to keep your mindset positive and your eye on the prize.  THIS COOL SIGN quickly draws your attention to mindfulness about your own actions and reactions, keeping you professional in all of your affairs.  

Dressing your workspace up like this will give you a motivation to want to be in and dwell in your office space for the entire work day, leading to better production and less boredom and better discipline, as well.  All from a simple sign, at that.  

9.  Buy an All-In-One/Multifunction Printer Immediately

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Nothing will make your new work-at-home lifestyle easier than making a simple, very affordable investment in your working capabilities.  By including a single machine that handles copies, fax, printing, and scanning, you never have to tell a potential clients “sorry, I don’t have a printer” again.  You’ll be able to completely eliminate your dependence on copy store services and the like, and the only thing you have to do is buy ink.  

This printer is an excellent price and has amazing functions, making it my recommended pick for this category of home office equipment.  

10.  Get A Keurig Mini for the Home Office

  

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Keurig Mini is Perfect for Small Home Offices

Now, you probably already have a Keurig or other pod-based coffee maker, or perhaps you don’t.  It doesn’t matter.  This is one place I am going to suggest that you just bite the bullet, splurge a little, and get yourself a nice, compact Keurig Mini for your home office space.  This way, you can brew your own cup-by-cup coffee without making a trip to the kitchen each time you want a cup. 

This simple little step will make your life so, so much easier.  You’ll never understand how you went without if before. 

Other Ideas to Maximize Earnings Potential while Working from Home

Faucets

While you are stuck at home, try getting involved with as many passive income opportunities as possible.  Of particular interest to me are some of the tried and true cryptofaucets that have been around for years and that pay out to the CoinPot microwallet.  If you are new to crypto, these faucets are the “moon” faucets and you can choose when to make your claim.  You are paid a small amount of crypto each time you make a claim — it’s not gonna make you rich, but it may keep you in beer money!  The cool thing is that you get 25% referral bonus on each of your referrals faucet claims as well as daily increasing bonuses for visiting at least once per day. 

1.  Moon Litecoin – http://moonliteco.in/?ref=213eb8e0f39e

2.  Moon Bitcoin Cash – http://moonbitcoin.cash/?ref=552128A80EEC

3.  Moon Dogecoin – http://moondoge.co.in/?ref=7cf5516ff41d

4.  Moon Bitcoin (You get 50% commission here instead of 25%) – http://moonbit.co.in/?ref=4f207d49c5aa

What’s cool about these is that they all go into the same single CoinPot.co microwallet account, and they actually accumulate very fast.  I’ve been using all of them for years to stack satoshi in the background. It’s definitely worth it when you realize one day that you have enough to pay your electric bill.  

Crypto Loans

Nexo

If you find yourself low on fiat but have a decent bag of crypto, consider starting an account with a service like Nexo.  They provide loans on collateral crypto so you can get the liquidity you need without selling your bag permanently.  Nexo is a great service — I actually set all of my faucet earnings from CoinPot to withdraw to my Nexo account, where I currently have around $200 USD in crypto value with a line of credit of $100.  I’ve never used the line of credit, but it’s nice to have, and it is backed by a HUGE $100 or 50 million dollar insurance bond, so you know your crypto is safe.  You can use volatility to your favor here, too, to make your loan higher, lower, or to actually make profit off of it.  It’s completely free to join and participate, too.  They do have their own token, and it pays 8% staking interest annualized.  

Join Nexo here:  https://nexo.io/?u=5dc6bcec7a2c0c14525b7488


Conclusion

First and foremost…..REMEMBER:  IT’S JUST A JOB!!!  The current crisis will eventually come to an end, and when it does, many companies will evaluate their costs, revenues, and profits during COVID19 and before COVID19 to see if there was efficiency gained by employees working at home.  If a large cost savings, revenue increase, or profit increase occurs, they will certainly be forced to consider whether or not they want to permanently keep certain positions at home instead of on-site.  So, you will likely have quite a bit of good opportunities to work online.  

When it seems like you just may not be able to take it any more — perhaps you have been dealing with an irate customer or client on the phone or perhaps you just totally screwed up on a design.  Whatever the case, you will always do better as a telecommuter if you always remember that it’s only a job.  There is no life-and-death involved.  Make sure that you don’t neglect your family by using your job as an excuse to stay in your home office.  Make sure that you keep your work inside the office and keep your family outside of the office.  

Now, you may not make all of the changes or get all of the cool things listed on this page to make your work-at-home venture a success; but I promise you — if you follow some or all of the steps on this page, you will be a successful telecommuter by the time COVID19 gets back in its cage.  

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Why I Left My 9-5 For a Freelancing Career

Introduction

When engaging in normal, “single-serve” conversations that occur in grocery stores, medical offices, coffee shops, and other public places; I have found myself increasing explaining the fact that I “work from home” as a freelancer and what such a choice has allowed me to do. As a result of this, I estimate that I end up explaining my choices in doing so around one hundred times per year.

As freelancing slowly infiltrates and replaces traditional workplaces for many different roles in the workplace – ranging from administrative assistants to software development – writing an article explaining these choices seemed only to be the next logical step forward for me, especially since most of my freelancing involves writing in some form, be it legal writing for one of numerous paralegal gigs or a story for a blog post. Even though I have been a freelancer for several years now, I only started using the Upwork platform a little over 6 months ago, and I have found it to be one of the best opportunities for new freelancers to build their careers. In fact, I have written extensively about this, as seen in this article I published a few weeks ago.

1. Freelancing is the future. My first year as a freelancer, I made a little over $19,000 from independent gigs alone. During this year, I was still working a W-2 job, as I was unsure how going full freelance was going to pan out. I found that by April, I had left the W-2 job and was pursuing freelancing and independent contractor (IC) jobs more often than not.

Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I kept one of the IC jobs for 3 years, basically as a back-up source of income if going full freelance did not work out. I was a bit scared of the fact that going full freelance meant that I took full responsibility not just for doing work assigned to me, but finding and executing contracts for said work to even begin.

Of course, now I realize that the trade-off for taking this extra responsibility means that I am able to work wherever I choose, wearing what I want, and saying “no” to jobs I am not interested in. All freedom comes with massive responsibility, and freelancing is no exception.

The simple fact remains, though, that as of 2017, approximately 35% of the U.S. workforce is comprised of freelancers. This powerful statistic meant that if I did not jump on the freelancing train, I was sure to be left behind. For decades, the fear that automated factories would make human labor obsolete, but the other side to that coin is that the human workforce that cannot be replaced by automation will have their full-time employment replaced with freelancers. This is not a bad thing; simply the evolution (or revolution) of the workforce, which was bound to occur as it always does.

2. The opportunities are mind-blowing!

Already, I have surpassed any income I ever made at a traditional workplace, and instead of scheduling and competing with others for vacation time, I can pick up and go wherever I want, so long as I have my laptop and internet access. I currently work as a paralegal, journalist, professional writer, and customer service representative. Where else can one find such flexibility and such diversity?

The answer to beating back the possibility of boredom and burn-out is by learning discipline and by spreading your skill set out across all possible categories of work, while at the same time stepping out of your comfort zone by learning new job skills and applying for gigs that allow you to utilize them. Then, if you can get an hourly, long-term gig that you can count on; you can make this your security cushion. Knowing that you have your financial security worked out, you can reach for the skies for fixed-price jobs that can supplement your income by thousands per month.

3. You can find the perfect mesh for where you best fit in and what you love to do!

We’ve all heard the ultra-optimistic quote that everyone attributes to their father: “Never work a job that you don’t love doing.” Of course, while such a statement is not always within the grasp of those who actually have to work for a living, freelancing is the closest you can get.

Not only will you get to experience professional freedom that you have never experienced before, but if you branch and market your skills out to a wide variety of professionals looking to hire freelancers, you have a much better shot at finding that perfect symbiotic relationship between where you fit in professionally and what you love to do.

I have always loved writing, but I never really thought about it as a career until I started freelancing years ago. I started out writing these 250-word pieces for a massively-produced, low-quality content, Chinese-to-American English site for $2.00 an article. I did this religiously, and because I always make it a point to write in my best possible hand, I showed the proprietor of the said website that my quality deserved an increase in pay and a bump-up to his higher-quality content categories.

While this increase in pay was nominal at best, I slowly carved out positive feedback after positive feedback on fixed-price, single-serve articles for clients as far apart, genre-wise, as a highly technical, peer-reviewed cardiology journal to a survival-based guide reviewing rugged gear to have in case of a remote emergency.

That was years ago, but that beginning portion of my freelancing career introduced me to the vast opportunities available, and those small, low-income articles gave me the feedback I needed for more complex, long-term clients to take a chance on me. Combined with an impressive portfolio of legal pleadings with client information redacted, I slowly started to get invitations from law firms and was able to make a name for myself among some of the best.

I currently bill out at $29.95 per hour, which I just increased a month ago after receiving my “Top Rated” status, and clients have no problem paying this upon review of feedback from other clients. So, with a mix of hourly gigs that includes my old rate of $22.50 and the new rate of $29.95, I have been able to guarantee a sizable “backbone” income no matter what happens with “fixed-rate” projects. Combined, it is not difficult to visualize how I am able to make more freelancing than I used to make at a single job; but also that I did not get to this point without hard work, just like with anything worth anything in life.

4. Being at the forefront of any major evolution in society historically leads to large rewards.

Now, I know I touched on this briefly above, but as its own area of appeal, just the very thought of being at the forefront of the freelancing revolution probably means that I will be rewarded down the road in ways I never dreamed possible. Think of those who got onboard with the forefront of the new technologies that were unveiled in the 1800s through the Industrial Revolution. Fortunes were made because people took calculated risks that the evolution of the workplace would pay off. Most of my readers and clients alike do not know this, but I am part of the founding team of a prominent cryptocurrency, and my position as a founding member was due solely because of my decision to freelance full-time. The project made me a ton of money at the end of 2017 during the Bitcoin Bubble, and did it all without jumping on the “ICO bandwagon.” Now, as a project with 2 years of history, we are about to have a full public launch, which is bound to reap even greater rewards to those of us who have been smart enough to hold on to a good portion of our assets. This would have never come about had I not decided to take the chance to work on the initial project as a freelance developer and an agreement to be paid for my services with the new currency instead of in dollars. While these types of payoffs are not common at all, the fact remains that I would have never even known that such a project was forthcoming had I not built a freelancing network, which brings me to my final point…

5. Freelancing builds amazing professional networks.

When I first got into freelancing, I didn’t have a contact in the world. As I mentioned, I started by writing those tiny articles for pocket change. However, over the course of the first year and a half, even those who did not hire me retained my proposals and my CV (resume) for future projects. Some of them passed my information on to their professional contact, and on and on the cycle went; until I started receiving full-blown offers from clients without even having an initial conversation. I do not use social media for personal use whatsoever and I barely use it for professional reasons, except for platforms like LinkedIn and freelancing sites like Upwork, Fiver, and Guru; to name a few. However, I have built an amazing professional network that includes everything from politicians to prominent attorneys and even a couple of actors. This could have never been accomplished had it not been for my choice to go full-time as a freelancer.

Now, it’s important to note that there are also characteristics inherent to freelancing and telecommuting in general that can be difficult to overcome, and are the main reasons why people do not stick to it. This would not be a fair and balanced article if I did not at least skim through these topics, so without further ado…

  • It takes discipline. The main reason that people fail as freelancers or telecommuters (work-from-home) is because of the discipline required. It can be tempting to watch the TV, get a sandwich or drink from the fridge, or browse the internet while you are supposed to be getting work done; and many times, people look at this hurdle as simply too difficult to overcome and give up on the industry. There are 1500-plus-word articles dedicated solely to overcoming such obstacles with great tips for doing just that. I will not sugarcoat this – distraction can be a huge, huge problem. However, besides reading up on articles like the one linked above, my advice on the topic is simply to stick with it. Eventually, you will find your groove and learn to understand when you can afford to take a quick look at your personal sites and when you simply cannot. If you simply cannot make it without seeing your social media – buy a used laptop and set it up next to your main workstation. Use it to log in to all of your personal pages and set it off to the side at a right angle. Some people may think that this is bad advice, but the fact of the matter is that some people simply do not have the discipline to cut the likes and retweets out of their daily life, so pragmatic solutions like this can be just the thing to keep you going during those first aggravating months. Eventually, you will find that you focus less and less on the laptop and more and more on your professional workstation.
  • Freelancing simply is not for everyone. The plain and simple fact remains that freelancing is not for everyone. There are those of us who simply cannot work a productive job without having constant supervision. This is not a character flaw, it just means that these people work differently. Some people may be able to train themselves to work without supervision, but there will always remain those who cannot. There are also people who simply cannot work from behind a screen and prefer manual labor or jobs that require travel and face-to-face interaction. These people have some choices within the freelance market, such as freelance journalism that requires investigative techniques to write their work. There is definitely room within the freelance economy for these people, but they may find that working for a traditional employer better meets their desire for a career choice. Before you decide to freelance because your neighbor is making beaucoup bucks writing for Men’s Health as a freelance contributor, consider your desires when it comes to your career goals and determine whether or not your goals line up with freelancing. If you think that you may be a fit but you have some reservations, fear not, there is a solution for you (and for all freelancers just starting out, actually). Before you commit to freelancing full-time, get an account with a freelancing platform and find a couple of small gigs that are open to everyone. Work these single-serve gigs over the course of a single week during your time off from your current job. If you find that you like it, slowly build your income foundation with small hourly or fixed-price gigs that want a little bit of work from you per week on a long-term basis. As you continue to pick up gigs, you will eventually get to the point where you have to decide whether to freelance to supplement your regular job or if it is time to replace the 9-5 with the freelance society. This process may reveal to you that you may be a good fit but not full-time, and in the process, you may have found yourself some nice supplemental income. Either way, you will soon get a feel for whether or not freelancing is for you.
  • Your taxes, insurance, and record-keeping is your responsibility. This is one of the biggest concerns for newcomers to freelancing, but in all honesty, I have found it to be liberating instead of a burden. Being that I have prepared taxes back-and-forth over the course of my career as a paralegal, I find that dealing with your own taxes is not as daunting as many make it out to be. As an independent contractor, you are supposed to pay your taxes quarterly. However, in my case, I usually see a pretty large refund every year, so I simply wait until the end of the year and have my self-employment taxes deducted from my yearly refund. For instance, I did this last year – had a refund due to me of close to $6500 but owed around $1600 in self-employment taxes, so I simply allowed this to reduce my refund to $4900. This should not be construed as tax advice, because I do not know your personal tax situation, but if you usually have a tax liability (meaning you owe every year), filing quarterly is probably better for you, so that you will not be hit with the extra $1500-3000 in self-employment taxes on top of what you normally would owe.

Health insurance can be purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace (Click Here) or through a freelance-friendly health plan. The Freelancers’ Union can help direct you to health insurance companies with special rates for freelancers as well as dental insurers who do the same. As freelancing overtakes traditional employment in the labor force, more and more options will become available.

Finally, record keeping can at first seem like a good reason not to jump on the freelancing train, but in all actuality, if you are working through a platform such as Upwork, your records are kept for you. You are actually given access to run very powerful reports based on your earnings, clients, and more; and you can easily download an earnings statement that you can present to any entity as proof of your income, broken down quarterly, over the past 12 months. Furthermore, there are tons of apps available that help you with record-keeping, time tracking, and client invoicing, as outlined in this great article on the Freelancers’ Union blog.

Conclusion/Final Thoughts

The decision to jump into freelancing is not something that should be made overnight. Six years ago, as I started to write my first $2.00 article, I thought that there was no way I would be able to completely replace my W-2 income with a freelance career. Now, as a Top Rated freelancer with a vast sea of networked professionals, there is nothing I would rather do. I can work while I travel, when I cannot sleep at night, while on a vacation to Hawaii, or while doing anything that life throws my way. I can write an article while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or bill a client from the grocery store. The flexibility and the ability to work across multiple fields to make full use of the wide variety of tools in my skill set make freelancing my preferred method of getting work done, and I cannot see that changing at any time in the foreseeable future. However, those considering a career in freelancing should be aware that success is not an overnight accomplishment and that there is hard work that must be put in to become a highly sought-after freelance agent. Discipline is a must and the dedication to succeed without supervision and a direct set of instructions will either make you or break you. However, the rewards that can be reaped are just now starting to come into focus for those who get in at the forefront. Taking all of this into consideration, I suggest that anyone looking to change their career path into something where you can set your own hours and basically write your own paychecks consider taking a look at what freelancing has to offer.

Source Material:

1. The Conversation. (August 15, 2017). Is Freelancing the Future of Employment? Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/is-freelancing-the-future-of-employment-80253

2. Smooth Business Growth. (July 31, 2017). Overcoming Distractions for the Work-at-Home Professional. Retrieved from https://www.smoothbusinessgrowth.com/overcoming-distractions/

3. The Health Insurance Marketplace. Government Agency. Provider link: https://www.healthcare.gov.

4. Upwork.com. Professional Platform. Product link: https://www.upwork.com.

5. Christian, A. (April 8, 2014). Don’t Get Mad, Get Paid. The Freelancers’ Union Blog. Retrieved from https://blog.freelancersunion.org/2014/04/08/dont-get-mad-get-paid-6-invoice-apps-freelancers/

Why Upwork is Your Best Bet for a Successful Freelancing Career

So, first of all, I want to give a bit of a disclaimer. I am not, in any way, giving an endorsement of the Upwork platform. I am simply relaying my experiences that have turned my freelance career into a powerhouse, and because Upwork is a super-popular freelancing platform, it is the best bet for new freelancers to get started.

So, I have been freelancing ever since I became a paralegal in 2012. While in college, I discussed with one of my law professors the pros and cons of being a freelance paralegal, and the positives outweighed the negatives, so I decided I would go that route. The most powerful draw for me was the opportunity to gain experience with just about any discipline of the legal field that I wanted instead of staying with one law office and working in one field of law.

I jumped into the freelance world with little experience but a ton of references. Again, while in college, I became close with many of my law professors, and each one was gleefully happy to write me a letter of recommendation to show to potential attorney clients. I started to slowly gain experience working with attorneys all over the state in everything from criminal law to real estate litigation to mediation and basic trial preparation. I also started my own local service helping people in my immediate community with family law issues, such as divorce, custody, paternity, and just about anything else that the law permitted me to do with direct client interaction.

Then, I decided that I wanted to start writing in addition to my work as a paralegal. So, earlier last year, I decided to go ahead and register on Upwork. I put my absolute best into creating my application profile after learning that Upwork staff has to approve each potential freelancer before going live on the platform. I was easily approved, and thus, I started to look around at the available jobs.

My first contract was with the owner of a website who needed content written. He paid me a very fair rate, and I was quickly able to show him that my writing skills were second to none. He ended up extending the initial contract out, from $100 for the first job to over $1700 by the time I was done with everything he needed content for.

Next, I started with a long-term contract in which I wrote blog posts for a business and marketing company. That contract lasted for about 5 months, but during that time, I picked up one of my first hourly paralegal contracts that still is in force to this day, along with some other small jobs.

As time went on, I strove for complete client satisfaction, to the point that my lowest feedback score from a client was 4.75 out of 5.00, and the rest were all perfect scores. This led me to become part of Upwork’s “Top Rated” program, and ever since then, my career has absolutely skyrocketed, to the point where many clients offer me contracts without ever even speaking to me personally, and many of these have since led to fruitful, lucrative long-term contracts that I still work with today.

I am to the point to where I am about to be able to hire another freelancer to work with me on some of the more tedious parts of my contracts. This is incredibly exciting to me, in that it has always been a dream of mine to be able to create jobs in my community.

The takeaway here is the speed with which I have attained the level of success that I have reached. It never would have happened without Upwork’s brilliantly put together platform. The ability to reach potential clients is incredibly simple, and best of all, you get a total of 60 free “connects” per month. Each job that you apply for takes up 2 “connects,” so without paying a dime, you can potentially apply for up to 30 gigs per month. When you first start out, I suggest doing a search through your job feed for the term “entry-level,” and you will find all sorts of beginner jobs that pay very little but will allow you to quickly build your feedback on the platform. Once you have built a good reputation, it’s pretty easy to get the higher-paying jobs. At this point in time, I have such a good reputation that I am finding myself turning away potentially thousands of dollars PER WEEK because there is no way I can take on extra work at this moment. I refuse to give less than my 100% all to my clients, so I have to turn these offers down, which I guess is a good problem to have.

So, getting started with Upwork, it is very important to create your initial profile in a very professional manner that gives very detailed descriptions of your abilities. This is because, as I mentioned, your initial profile must be submitted for review before you are approved for an account. If you create something that is vague or minimal, you will get rejected with a message that they are not looking for freelancers with your skill at the moment.

Once your account is approved, if you follow the advice above, you WILL get jobs. Every 2 weeks, the system runs your account through an algorithm that assigned you a “Job Success Score.” It takes awhile for you to get the first JSS score because your history takes awhile to build itself. The more of the small “entry level” gigs you work, the faster you will get a JSS. Many of the good, long-term, and high-paying gigs require you to have a JSS score of 90% or more, and once you have reached 90%, your opportunities are endless.

Remember, part of what I do involves helping freelancers to get established. I will be publishing many posts that will assist you in getting started, but aside from that, I offer 1-on-1 sessions to help you to better understand the scene and make the most out of your new freelancing career. I understand that it can seem daunting and just plain scary to give up the promise of a bi-weekly paycheck and a position at a corporation in exchange for taking on the responsibility for your own success. However, the fact is — freelancing is the future, and if you get in on the scene now, you will be well prepared for the soon-to-come paradigm shift in the world’s workplace. I would never advise you to quit your job until you have built your own presence on whatever freelancing platform you choose. That means that you may have to work your job during your normal work hours and work your contracts when you get home. I’m also not going to sugarcoat it and tell you that it is easy. It’s not. It is process that is full of hard work in order to make it worth your while, but eventually, if you still with it, you can easily match the income that you make working at your 9-to-5.

Freelancing Hacks

Thanks for joining us!  My name is Paul, and I am a successful freelancer.

As a “Top Rated” Freelancer on some of the world’s largest freelancing platforms, I thought it would be a great idea to start a site that explains some of the tips and tricks involved in getting started.  So, this blog will feature these tips and tricks, but will also feature articles written for my clients that I still retain the ownership and publishing rights to, so that my visitors can see the style of writing that most clients who hire freelancers prefer to receive.

I am a paralegal and a professional writer by training and by trade, but during my time freelancing, I have broadened my horizons through free certificate and diploma-level educational courses.  This is something that anyone considering freelancing as a source of primary income should do — not consider — but do, in order to keep an ever-expanding skill set in your portfolio.

Sites like ALISON and EdX  are great places to get started with your online education.  There, you can take online marketing and SEO (search engine optimization) courses that will help you not only to get the job you are applying for but produce the type of quality work that clients on freelancing sites expect you to create.  Quality content is the backbone of the internet, plain and simple; and while keyword-heavy content used to by the go-to for SEO, it is no longer the case.  As search engine algorithms have consistently improved in their ability and scope, natural language content is now the preferred form of written material.

Anyway, as I am just starting my site as of March 20, 2019; there is not that much here right now.  However, I am going to make it a point to publish a substantive post at least once per day with the intention of being on of the top sources for people looking to create their own work-from-home freelancing service.

Of note — any sites that try to tell you that there is some magical solution to “get rich quick” from freelancing are flat out lying to you.  Like everything that means anything in life, building a freelancing operation involves hard work and a really thick skin, as you will be rejected many times before you ultimately are hired.  Then, once your clients start leaving you good feedback, you will slowly grow your reputation on the platforms, eventually leading to becoming a Top Rated Freelancer like me; but it takes a good amount of work and dedication, with a few tips and tricks from established professionals to help along the way (like this blog!).

So, until next time — keep your head up and take courses.  The amount of knowledge you can gain from free online education services is amazing, and almost all of it can be applied to your quest for a stable and profitable freelancing service.

Deo Volente, 

W. Paul Alexander