Paul Deines
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A Writer’s Life – Upwork as a Stepping Stone in my Literary Career

By Paul Deines

Where do freelance writers find work? I get that question a lot, and the answer is, of course, lots of spots. There are email lists and journals. There’s certainly plenty of networking, and there are also lots of websites that connect freelancers with clients.

My favorite of these sites, bar none, is Upwork.

A sharp, intuitive platform that includes easy profile and resumé setup, clear job parameters, messaging and work tracking – Upwork is the gold standard for freelancers. Its mobile app is so seamless, I can sometimes apply, draft and submit jobs on my phone. It also provides the best-quality client pool, in my opinion.

Upwork can be an integral stepping stone for freelancers looking to kickstart their writing careers. Here are a few benefits of the service:

 Engaging Another Party

 Writing, by its nature, is a solitary pursuit. Your words may be brilliant, but often you’re the only one who sees them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Writing alone allows you the freedom to write badly, sloppily … in a word, freely. But there needs to come a time when you present this work to someone else. That might mean a friend or partner. It might mean a writing group or editor.

The very act of handing your words to another person transforms writing from a diversion into something concrete. This is truer still when the other party is paying you. Not to diminish the value of non-transactional feedback, but you can’t deny that a client has a vested financial interest in extracting your best, cleanest work.

Having a good Upwork client is like having an editor who always prioritizes your work and desperately wants to improve it. Even better, a client won’t let you edit and refine endlessly. We writers are all prone to that vice!

Exploring Your Strengths

I’ve had a lot of different jobs in my life. I have worked in the arts, marketing, community organizing, education and the financial sector. I’ve also manned a steam table, a video store counter, and a women’s shoe department. My contention has always been that a wide breadth of life-experience makes me a better writer. So while I haven’t loved every job, I’ve taken valuable lessons from each.

My attitude toward my Upwork proposals is the same. I do marketing, blogs, short stories, mini-novels, and whatever piques my interest. Freelancing through the site has opened my eyes to skills and interests I didn’t know I had.

Every job is an opportunity for personal growth. So, don’t hesitate to send proposals for anything that interests you. You might discover a new strength, which might also be a new writing income stream.

Refining your Portfolio

When you start as a freelancer, your portfolio is razor-thin. Maybe you have some school work or the odd article you got placed in a journal. Sometimes, you find yourself including unpublished personal writing, hoping that a potential employer will read it and appreciate your style.

Of course, the only way to grow this portfolio is to write and have that writing picked up.

Upwork is a wonderful resource for developing and refining the work samples you send potential publishers and employers. Being able to tell someone that the writing in your portfolio was commissioned and compensated lends it an additional air of credibility. The folks that look at your samples will, at minimum, think, well, looks like someone paid for this applicant’s work.

Building Contacts

I have found, time and again, that the clients I write for on Upwork return to me for additional work. The site attracts serious, organized folks looking for quality content. Many draw from its freelance talent pool to eventually take on salaried creative employees. What begins as a series of one-off commissions can become a permanent job.

Moreover, plenty of publishers use Upwork for ghost-writers. This too can be a stepping stone. On more than one occasion, a satisfied client has inquired about my personal writing. After all, they’re happy with the words I produce, so they’re curious about my passion projects, too.

In the end, we’re all looking for regular employment that can meet our financial needs. As writers, we also look for something intellectually and spiritually fulfilling. Upwork is a huge resource to identify and secure high-quality contract employment. Every freelancer should be on it.



About Paul Deines:

Paul Deines is a New York-based writer focusing on beer and culture, sometimes together and sometimes separately. His work has appeared recently in SR-Mag, Brew Studs, and Hop Culture.

As a freelancer for hire, he ghostwrites novels, crafts marketing copy and contributes dialogue for video games and other digital content.

An occasional playwright, Paul’s plays have been performed both online and on stage around the country. In his spare time, he enjoys experimental cooking, classic cinema, watching football, attending the theatre, and constructing playthings for his daughter.

You can read more of his work at his website, The Curiograph ( or follow him on Twitter @thecuriograph.

You can also read recent articles by Paul Deines by visiting the links below:

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