Living the Dream

Or Dreaming the Life?

I'd had an idea of being a writer for several years and I'd been doing it to a degree. I'd published blog posts and I'd written short stories. I'd published books of said short stories and sold almost enough copies to buy a pint of Guinness with the slim royalties, but it wasn't writing for a living. It was all done myself and badly promoted. How did people manage it? I wondered.

A local newspaper paid me to condense some press releases after I emailed them on a whim. This tiny amount of work dried up after I was first cheated out of payment for an article I wrote and then they ceased publication. I secretly celebrated their downfall.

I sent various ideas for articles to different publications by email and got nowhere. Hardly surprising, given the zero research I did into: a) who to send them to; and b) how to write a coherent pitch that didn't sound like a cave-dweller had penned it.

I was near to giving up the attempt at writing for a living when somebody told me about online freelance website, Upwork.

I had a look and saw that there were proofreading and content-writing jobs with laughably little financial remuneration. I’d been told that it was necessary to take a few peanuts jobs in order to get some points on the board and garner good feedback from other users, so I bit the bullet.

I proofread a couple of hundred words for $1. It was quite easy and I received the payment quickly. I then found out that thanks to fees the paltry $1 became an even paltrier $0.76.

No matter, I was being paid to work using the written word.

Someone wanted some articles writing for $1.50 each. I agreed and set about producing content that was way, way below par, but what I considered good enough for the money. 

This backfired when I was found out to be plagiarising other people’s content. I didn’t think I was, but Copyscape doesn’t lie and it turns out that “spinning” someone else’s work by rewriting it still counts as plagiarism. I received no payment for the five or six hours I’d spent on the work, but it taught me a valuable lesson.

After a while, I was able to earn close to an hourly wage for proofreading, but there was only a couple of hours of work to be found each week. Still, I eventually managed to pay for a new, old laptop with some of the proceeds because I was a writer, don’t you know?

Fast forward a year and I was writing semi-regular content and daring to think that it was possible to carve a living out of it. I packed in a “real” job I hated and went for it.

That’s when I discovered the true "feast or famine" nature of freelance writing. Some weeks I would earn $5 and others I would be working every day for 16 hours at a time.

The content I work with is varied as in, it's varied which casinos I write reviews for and which online slot machines I need to do write-ups about. Yes, there’s a lot of gambling-based work. A LOT. 

Most of it involves being economical with the truth and claiming a particular casino website is better than all the others in the world when it’s not, all to help owners of gambling review websites to trick people into signing up to play poker through their platform so they rake in a referral bonus. 

I’ve jokingly told people that I’m a content creator for the Bullshit Industry, but in truth, it’s the best thing I ever did.

What does it matter if I’m skint as long as I’m happy?

Ask me if I feel the same way this time next year.

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Living the Dream