This is my submission for the Upwork Success Story campaign that ran over the month of September. Hopefully it provides a bit of insight to how I approach my work and my backstory:
“My name is Kiel Bonhomme, I am a native New Yorker living and working as a writer and translator in Lyon, France. Leaving college in the U.S. I was in debt and directionless (I studied Art History). I had two choices: move back to NYC and find a “traditional” job in the sea of talented millions or take a chance in following my better half, Lydia, back to her native France. Not knowing what kinds of opportunities were waiting for me in l’Hexagone as an aspiring English content writer, the move was a leap of faith.
The move made, I still didn’t know where to start looking for a job. Lydia, alert to my waning resolve, sent me a link to a freelancing platform called oDesk, a site where I might find gigs writing for clients all over the world. In the lukewarm hours of a 2013 mid-April afternoon I created my profile. Upwork provided the start for my career and the rest is history.
Like all freelancers, I stumbled on my share of hurdles (gauging fair pricing, regularity of work, late payments, trusting my own judgment, being entirely comfortable working from wherever/whenever). However, I was completely absorbed with the quality of my work, and it showed in positive feedback from my clients. There were plenty of postings for translators, so I worked doubly hard to become fluent in French. Months of nighttime headaches from over-concentration paid off when I landed my first “big” English-French client.
Self-discipline was central to my growth. I drilled myself to work while others slept, learning to privilege the fertile solitude of rising before dawn and often working well into the night. The responsibility of having a flexible schedule meant building a new respect for time. 60+ hour weeks became my norm, and out of the initial fatigue came determination and fulfillment. As my skillset and confidence grew, so did my client base and number of opportunities both on and off the platform.
the freedom to work from anywhere
means you will work everywhere
In time, I joined the journeys of a handful of startups as a content creator, dabbled in journalism, have been published, piloted new branding projects, contributed to apps, translated entire books, and also made time for the gym, did laundry at convenient hours, kept the fridge stocked with smoothie materials, became manager of a co-working space, played soccer, developed a passion for domestic horticulture, and started a (semi)consistent yoga and meditation practice. Looking back, I see how my personal growth took its tempo from my professional success on Upwork.
In Lyon, I found special perches to work from and talked with anyone who would listen about the virtues of freelancing today and the sustainability of a career that requires no more than a laptop, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and motivation. Soon I was taking my work with me all over France (Paris, Bordeaux, Dijon, Marseille, the Alpes…) and the world (London, Lisbon, NYC, Rome, Istanbul…) drafting, editing, and exchanging with teams in blocks of time that would be lost in a traditional setting. From cramped train seats and during flight delays, on park benches and building stoops, on sandy keyboards, or while wearing ski boots – I worked. My wife and friends branded the photo series of my operating in odd places #WatchKikiWork, and though I’ve been too shy to post anything on social, I’m happy to share a few clichés here today.
This year counts my fifth annual cycle as a Top-Rated freelancer. I’m nearing my 10,000th billable hour and I can say without a shred, shroud, or speck of a doubt that I wouldn’t trade a single second to work any other way.”