Editors Note: Felix is a okwrite Spanish language freelance writer/translator currently living in Venezuela. His English, although quite excellent, is his second language and we’ve been very light on editing to maintain his voice. Enjoy!
When I started working as an okwriter a couple years ago, friends and family started looking at me as if I was speaking Chinese and having crazy ideas to make money out of thin air.
However, after talking with them for hours (and months of work later) people understood that not only it’s entirely possible to work as a freelance writer in Venezuela, but it’s also a very lucrative job.
Recently, several clients and other writers have asked me about my situation as a freelance writer since the news has spurred plenty of controversy about the country and, out of curiosity, are wondering how do I work as a freelance writer from Venezuela.
With this article, I don’t hope to take sides on political situations, nor give a lecture on how to become a Writer, but instead shed some light on my work, my personal status, and what I love about being a freelance writer.
How I Ended Up Being a Freelance Writer
I always loved writing, but I never considered it as a possible career choice. Perhaps out of ignorance, or just because I never met anyone who wrote for a living and could lead me in this career path.
However, I’m currently writing thousands of words every day, weaving stories, news, and editing online content for people all over the world. But how did I end up here?
Unlike other countries where the term “freelancer” is common and online jobs, and businesses are growing exponentially, Venezuela is still lagging behind in such concepts, and online entrepreneurs are still in diapers.
Moreover, Venezuela is facing a deep economic recession and political mess that absolutely wrecked what everyone knew about businesses, it’s impossible to know what sort of investment could lead to profit and most lucrative areas are downright illegal or dubious at most.
This lead to hundreds of workers and professionals (myself included) to look somewhere else for a stable source of income.
A friend of mine who works in the graphic design field started working as a freelancer and asked me, after seeing me struggle between jobs, to try my hand at online gigs, maybe I could find one related to my career or skills.
Since I graduated from Law school–I have a Bachelor Degree in Laws, and tried pursuing a Mastery degree in Civil Rights, but ditched the idea after analyzing Venezuela’s future, especially the situation on Law and human rights–and I knew my way around words, I started looking around for any gig related to laws, writing, editing, or to be honest, anything that could help me out.
A strange combination of luck, effort, and tirelessly spamming my resume online led me to a couple of gigs that lifted my status from “almost broke” to “I’ll make it to the end of the month.”
After two months of working a double shift between my day job and writing at night, I decided to become a full-time freelance writer. It was the best decision of my life.
What it’s like to be a okwriter in Venezuela
It’s not easy and as simple as it seems.
Although the main bulk of the job is like any other freelance writer in the world (researching, writing, and handling deadlines) living in Venezuela always makes things harder.
Basic services that some people take for granted, like internet connection, are a high-value commodity, and electrical service despite being almost free, is completely unreliable.
I still dread over some gigs that I ended up delivering late due to a blackout or my connection completely bailing for a whole day. Nevertheless, I keep hustling day after day to make my way as a freelance writer.
Moreover, managing payments is not an easy task either since until only a few months ago receiving foreign currency (especially USD) as payment was illegal and local bank accounts only worked with local currency, it was quite an odyssey to make sure money ended up here in a legal way.
On the social and economic side, it’s impossible to deny that having an income from abroad does miracles in a broken economy. Being capable of supporting my whole family (I have a young daughter, a wife, and my inlaws, because you simply can’t escape them after marriage) through my words it’s a fantastic feeling that I wouldn’t trade for any other job (besides no more wearing suits to work!)
Tourism, Business, Web Products, and Exotic Animals from a Venezuelan Desk
What I love the most about working as a okwriter is learning about things far away from my country.
Consulting businesses all over the world who need a helping hand with their written content is a fantastic experience that allows me to connect with people and subjects that I wouldn’t be able to due to the limitations of Venezuela.
One day I’m editing a tourism brochure about a company in Thailand, and the next one it’s a blog post about natural health and beauty products.
Freelance writing is like a rollercoaster of topics, where the only skill that you bring to each company is knowing how to weave words and make sense out of wildly different subjects.
I once described my job to a friend as traveling across the world from the comfort of my desk. Perhaps it’s an exaggeration, but it does feel like that when you’re connected with dozens of persons from all over the world through writing.
With an awful internet connection, the Venezuelan government blocking specific sites and interrupting communications, power outages, the economic hyperinflation, and the global political tension it’s hard to stay sane and be a responsible freelance writer in this country.
More often than not it seems like the country is weighing you down, stopping you from making progress, but you have to keep hustling and remember that change will come.
Venezuela wasn’t always like this, it’s a beautiful country with thousands of things to be proud of, with wonderful and warm people that may have lost their smile in this situation but that keep on thriving and seeking a better tomorrow.
The current situation in Venezuela is grim, there’s no way to sugar coat it, but we still have hope that things will change for better and the case for all of us becomes much more manageable.
Keeping Hope Alive
As an okwriter, there’s only so much that I can do to change my country actively, but I’m hopeful that the past few events will lead to a positive change.
It would be great to see and help other freelance writers grow in Venezuela, as it’s a fantastic career with great benefits where you’re always learning new things about this beautiful world.