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A Ukrainian PhD content writer earning his living on Upwork

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Have you ever wondered how good your life may become in case your work will be remote? How good it will be for your mental and physical condition to not have to visit a company office every day and avoid potentially harmful and stressful social contacts? What benefits can you get, when you can switch your employer anytime you ever want? If you are, then you probably know what freelancing is and what benefits it has.

Since I started to work as a part-time freelancer I began not only to gain more income but also got more freedom in everything that is somehow connected with choosing an employer, projects, that I work on and my daily working schedule. And last, but not least, I got an opportunity to avoid contacting toxic people and annoying colleagues at my working place, which led to a huge stress relief. And from the perspective of the last research in psychology, psychiatry, and neurobiology the last fact is really important for the normal mental state of a modern human being.

You may probably think that I am some kind of misanthrope or highly expressed introvert, but that’s not quite right. The truth is I have bipolar disorder and at least for six months a year it's better for me not to contact people face to face. When I am getting to the maniacal phase, which usually happens in summer and lasts for the three hottest months, my actions and words in real life become too ill-conceived, harsh, and may look strange to most people surrounding me. And when I get into my depressive phase I become slow, unapprehensive, and also looking strangely unemotional to my colleagues and clients.

According to my special mental condition, I can't work properly in a big collective under conditions that grant a high level of stress. For example, when I graduated from the Vinnytsia National University in 2016 and got my doctor's degree and internship in radiology, I was sent by the Ukrainian Ministry Of Healthcare to the Mykolaiv TB Dispensary, where I couldn’t work properly due to my disorder.

My freelancing career started approximately in 2016 when I finished studying at the university and didn't get my university grant payments anymore. As I was always a passionate reader and used to write good essays and other papers during my studies, I made a decision to become a writer. The first work that fate granted to me was connected with writing news for a small website network.

After that, I worked for almost 3 years with different clients, which mostly came from Ukrainian and Russian websites and different content aggregators for a modest salary. Also, many clients at that time refused to pay. I didn't feel like my money situation was pretty stable and good in general, so I decided to make another attempt to work as a doctor radiologist, this time in Oncology Dispensary. And I failed due to my mental condition again.

But everything changed in 2018 when I discovered different famous worldwide platforms for freelancers. Right at that time, I switched my psychiatrist who prescribed for me new meds and who used cognitive behavioral therapy to treat me, so my mental condition was getting better. At the same time, usage of different platforms for freelancing, like Upwork or Fiverr, allows me to think while formulating my replies, proposals and the content itself much more carefully and more according to the client’s needs and wishes.

I realized that communication with the clients or colleagues in the written form was the key to my personal success, but Ukrainian and Russian employers mostly prefer to interview their future workers via phone or Skype. Usually, when they called me in summer I would send a pure consciousness flow on them, and if the conversation happened in winter they got to talk with the vegetable who can`t put two words together. But since Upwork and Fiverr don`t allow their users to contact elsewhere except the platform contact form, all the communication there happened in written form, and I got a new medical prescription and a special therapy from my doctor, it became much easier for me to get and to accomplish an order.

For a long time, I was working mostly on different projects in Russian and sometimes Ukrainian. I was writing articles, small educational posts, blog posts, fairy tales, landing pages and work as a translator (mostly from English to Russian and sometimes from Russian to English). My business was going pretty okay, till the day when in Russia a law was released called “Act about Sovereign Internet”. It happened on the 1st of November in 2019. According to that law, every provider had to install a system of monitoring, analyzing, and filtration internet traffic. Since then, a lot of my regular clients have stopped making orders.

I can't say that I`m happy about it, but I neither feel very upset. I just decided to try to write in English, and totally unexpected for me, I got my first client who needed content in English! After a while the second client came. My business is going on, and even if my content in English is not as good as in Russian or Ukrainian, it finds its clients anyway and that gives me a lot of faith in myself, helps not to stop working and motivates me to improve my English even further.

In the end, I`d like to thank all the freelancers’ community for its existence, and one person, whose name I can't even remember and probably won't recognize, for a random Facebook post, where they mentioned Upwork. I couldn't even imagine that my life would change so dramatically thanks to just a website. Freelancing changed my life, gave me an opportunity to earn cash for my life, feel comfortable while working, allowed me to communicate with citizens of western countries while at the same time not scaring people off.
I am proud to be self-employed!
Author: Dmitro Kyiashko