Yes, I Do In Fact Owe My Entire Career to Browsing Reddit

keyboard and hands

I don’t foreshadow casually, so when I dropped “I actually owe my freelance career to Reddit and will tell you that story someday” in the tags this morning, well… you knew this was coming.

Back when I was trying to make a go of the touring musician thing, I realized that I was running out of money very, very quickly. (I was making surprising amounts of money as a musician, but touring was expensive so I wasn’t actually making a profit.)

At that point, I could have walked myself down to the nearest temp agency and done my usual trick of “I can type one billion words a minute at a Six Sigma error rate, please hire me.” The problem was that I was in the middle of working on Giant Robot Album and I had shows booked all over the country.

So I had to figure out something else.

I found a Reddit thread re: “how do I earn extra money from home,” checked out the responses, picked Amazon Mechanical Turk, and started Turking. A lot of Mechanical Turk HITs are extremely low value, so I started using the resources at Reddit’s Hits Worth Turking For—it’s a community that lists the best Mechanical Turk HITs so that Turkers have the opportunity to complete those HITs and earn decent payouts.

I’ve written about my experience Turking and using HWTF at The Penny Hoarder, so check that story out if you want to learn more about that.

At one point, one of the Redditors left a comment to the effect of “if you want to make good money on Mechanical Turk, you have to start working for Crowdsource.” So that was my next step: completing the Crowdsource application, getting accepted, and picking up jobs.

Crowdsource is a content site, and although this was my first time writing content, I turned out to be really good at it. I climbed the ranks the way Julia Wicker earned her magic stars: it was a lot of hard work—writing 5,000 words a day isn’t easy—but I was good at it and I was earning money and the better I got, the better work I was offered.

So I started applying to other content sites and looking for other clients. I also started pitching first-person pieces and building those types of clips. I was beginning to think of this as a career.

In June 2013, the Los Angeles recording engineer who had been in the business for years and who had been helping me shape Giant Robot Album told me that I was a fine enough musician but I was really a writer. I interpreted this to mean “I’m not going to say that you’re a bad musician because you clearly have talent, but you are not going to make it in the music business. You might make it in the writing one.” (I realize that’s a lot of meaning to put into one comment made by one person. But we’d been working together for a while. He knew my talents and my limitations. Also, it’s what I was thinking myself. Confirmation bias is a powerful bias.)

In November 2013, I pitched Logan the piece that would become “I’m a Hack Writer Who Writes 5000 Words/Day for $20/Hr.”

And the rest of it you know.

But yes, it all came from browsing Reddit. If I hadn’t been on that particular thread on that particular day, I might have eventually picked the temp route and gone back into administrative assistance.

So, in conclusion: SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON REDDIT.

You never know what might happen.

Photo: Anonymous Account

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