The Next Day, The Same

It’s over before their families know
The bullet’s job is through
They’ll still be on that floor for hours
The shooter, someone they knew.

In America, we pretend to feel sorrow
But in the next few hours
It will just be tomorrow.

Will it ever change?



A Utah School and #MeToo


Update on this story: The school district has changed course, now allowing girls to say “no thanks” to boys at the dance. Thank you to everyone who called and contacted the district on this.

The other day I came across this story. Read it, please, so you don’t think I’m making any of this up.

It goes like this:

A mother in Utah, Natalie Richard, was concerned when her 6th grade daughter came home and told her that, for the upcoming school dance, she was not allowed to say “no” to ANY boy who asked her to dance.

The Kanesville Elementary Valentine’s Day dance just got interesting.

Richard was sure her daughter misunderstood what was really said.

There was no way, in 2018, that this could possibly be a rule. No way that girls have to say “yes” to any boy that asks them to dance.

So Richard went to the teacher, who indeed confirmed that her daughter was correct.

Next stop, school principal, who told her that the dance had been set up that way for a long time and they have never had a complaints about it before.

Ummm, okay. So, because something has not been brought up before as a problem, it couldn’t possibly be a problem, right?

Lane Findlay with the Weber School District confirmed the rule, put in place to teach students how to be inclusive. “Please be respectful, be polite,” Findlay said. “We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance.”

I put out a tweet about it and got a strong reaction from my followers. The discussion is ongoing, but the message is pretty consistent:

This is not okay.

Our country is going through a major movement. #MeToo is empowering women to come forth about past abuses and to stand up to a culture that has treated them unequally for so long.

Women are letting the world know that they are finished being second class citizens.

A rule like the one at Kanesville Elementary gives us a picture of just how early the idea of women being “less than” begins. These are 6th graders, and both the girls and boys are learning the wrong things.

The girls are learning that it is their job to say “yes” to boys.

The boys are learning that when they ask a girl something, the girl has to go along with it.

Do we honestly not see a clear parallel to what is going on throughout our society? This is the kind of behavior that has upended Hollywood, the political landscape, and our business culture.

Kanesville Elementary was aiming for an inclusive environment, not wanting any boy to be rejected. The problem with that is that they don’t mention a rule saying that the boys have to say “yes” to any girl who asks. Maybe they just assume that the boys have their choice, while the girls have to wait to the invite. Are the girls even allowed to ask the boys?

Rejection is a natural part of life. There is no problem with teaching kids that, indeed, you will be told “no” sometimes.

This is just one example from one school. Yes, it is in a conservative state, but it should not be allowed. Let’s start cleaning all of this up, beginning with this school.

Here is some information so you can make some calls. Click the links and you will be led right to the contact information you need:

Kanesville Elementary School

Weber School District Superintendent

Weber School District School Board Members

Let them know that this rule is not okay and that they need to change it immediately.

Everyone should have the right to say “no” to anyone. It doesn’t matter what gender you are. You have to power to say “no.”

What do you think? Comment below.

Acceptance of the LGBTQ Community is Declining

American’s acceptance towards the LGBTQ community declined over the last year

Acceptance towards the LGBTQ community was never at the level we thought it was – it’s just that many people are okay showing their bigotry again.

The LGBTQ community has become more and more accepted over the last few decades. With the rise of portrayal of LGBTQ people in television and movies, as well as many legal victories, most Americans have begun to simply see it as a regular part of life.

But something has happened.

GLAAD’s 2017 Accelerating Acceptance report has revealed some alarming, and rapidly changing, new trends.

  • In a survey, only 49 percent of non-LGBTQ adults say they are “very” or “somewhat” comfortable with LGBTQ people.
  • That is a 4 percent drop from the previous year.
  • There was a 3 percent drop in American adults being comfortable with learning a family member is gay.
  • There was a 3 percent drop in having an LGBTQ person teaching their child or being their doctor.
  • 55 percent of LGBTQ people have reported experiencing discrimination, up an alarming 11 percent over the previous year.

What happened?

How could there be such dramatic shifts in tolerance and acceptance after such a long trend towards acceptance?

There may have been a sudden shift in the true feelings of Americans towards the LGBTQ community, but that is unlikely. Very rarely do we see people that have accepted something suddenly reverse their opinions.

No, let’s be clear.

That is not what happened.

Bigot in Chief

What has happened is that people feel more empowered by the current political climate to be able to express the feelings they’ve always had towards LGBTQ people.

The people who simply can’t fathom anything but a straight couple and two genders have an ally who speaks their language.

His name is Donald Trump.

President Trump has made no efforts to hide his disdain towards anyone different. From mocking the disabled, calling mostly black countries “shitholes,” banning travel from majority Muslim countries, and attempting to ban transgender people from serving in the military, President Trump has shown he doesn’t care much for minorities.

Anyone who was tempering their racist or bigoted feelings no longer feels like they have to. Why would they when the leader of the free world so freely insults whoever he wants and gets away with it?

The Same Truth

The numbers in the GLADD poll don’t show a decline in LGBTQ acceptance – they show the truth that was already there.

And I’m fine with that. I would rather have the real numbers. I want to know how people truly feel and not have falsely inflated numbers. The truth is out there. As a gay man, I can deal with that truth.

Many people still can’t stand the LGBTQ community.

We can’t regulate thoughts. People are free to think what they want. For the most part, they can say what they want. That’s their right.

Unless their words lead to discrimination and violence.


  • 55 percent of LGBTQ people have reported discrimination in the last year.
  • That is an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

It is no coincidence that the 11 percent jump has coincided with the rise and election of Donald Trump.

Speaking up about not liking the LGBTQ community has led directly to increased violence in the community. According to the HRC, 2017 was the deadliest year on record for members of the transgender community.

A 2017 NPR report shows:

  • 57 percent of LGBTQ Americans personally experienced slurs about their orientation or gender identity.
  • 51 percent of LGBTQ Americans say they or an LGBTQ friend or family member has experienced violence because of their orientation or gender.

Moving Forward

Progress towards acceptance for any minority community is always bumpy. The latest numbers show a truth that we had hoped was not there, but now we have to deal with it. We have much more work to do.

In the end, I have to believe what President and CEO of GLAAD Sarah Kate Ellis says:

“Forward progress ebbs and flows in every social justice movement. Progress for marginalized communities is a pendulum that swings in both directions, and, when well-supported, ultimately lands on freedom.”

Meaning that we won’t stop speaking up.

We won’t stop marching.

People are people, and until every person is treated equally, we will carry on.






Do You Know the South?

Good, Fried, and Southern

*This is the first of a series of articles about the Southern USA. The topics will range from culture and food to politics and religion. You can see my post about growing up gay in the South by clicking here. Strap in and enjoy the ride.

Defining the South

It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in the United States, you know what the South is when people talk about it. When someone says they are from the South, they are either looked at with pride or disdain. Rarely does anyone feel indifferent about the area. Really, since when has this country ever not had divided feelings about the South?

So, in your mind, RIGHT NOW, define the South. Make a mental list of what the “South” is and what makes it that way.

I could ask one hundred people to define the South. They could write their list down and I could post them all on the wall. Nobody’s list would be the same.

For an area so vilified and so cherished, nobody can really define it.

Disclaimer: I am from South Carolina. Born and raised. I went to school here, stayed for college, and stayed again afterwards. I live on the coast, a beautiful area that inspires me. I’m also gay and a Democrat, not exactly things that are synonymous with the South.

When I was teaching AP Human Geography to high school students, I gave them a blank map of the US and asked them to shade in the area of the country that they considered the South. I have to say, the results were interesting and often funny.

Even though I was teaching in the South and most of the students were from the area, not a single one of their maps was ever the same.

With apologies to a Hungarian student who had recently been transplanted in the state, who simply drew a line across the southern part of the country, I put his to the side. After all, he had Southern California and South Carolina BOTH in the South. His concept of the “South” was simply directional.

What I ended up with was a hodgepodge of maps, all somewhat resembling each other, but never quite lining up.

The discussion I had with my students is the same I’ve had with many adults since then. It revolves around the question – How do you define the South?

Defining Legacy

Historically, as we know, this country has always had a North/South divide. As the North industrialized in the 1800s, the South kept their agrarian society intact. Why wouldn’t they? It had worked thus far, and it was a generational thing. The prosperous days seemed to be rolling by with no end in sight, especially after good ole’ Eli and the cotton gin.

This also meant an explosion of the slave population at a time when many of the Founders thought slavery might begin to die out.

Naturally, many people still define the South based off of this history and the Civil War. Much of the culture of the region as well at the ethnic makeup is a testament to this darkest period of our history.map1861[1]

Civil War State Breakdown

You can see the ethnic breakdown of our country. It is no surprise that African Americans are heavily concentrated in the South. That is where many of their ancestors were property, brought here for labor and kept for generations because of unrelenting greed.

Though this is from the 2000 Census data, the basic racial breakdown hasn’t changed much

Sweet Tea and Fried Food

There is no quicker way for a Southerner to get laughed at in a restaurant in the North than to ask for sweet tea. You’re just not going to get it. They’ll bring you unsweet tea with packet of sugar, which I think we can agree, is not the same.

Sweet tea is a Southern thing

Sweet tea brewing is a near religious thing in the South. No restaurant goes without it and you won’t enter a household without a pitcher on standby. That’s not to say it’s all the same. There are varying degrees of sweetness, from a little sweet near the border state of Maryland, to molasses, can barely suck it through a straw sweet as you move to the deep South of Alabama and Mississippi.

Simply put – if you don’t drink sweet tea in the South, you are an alien (I used to, but now I don’t, much to the consternation of many. I’ve nearly been exiled).

And that Southern food!

Fried food is a way of life in the South, as ubiquitous as our favorite drink. You name it, we fry it. You won’t find one mammy, momma, or meemaw, who doesn’t have a fried chicken recipe right next to their recipe box with instructions on how to fry every other food. Squash, zucchini, okra, pork, liver, turkey, fish, apples, Snickers…you get the point. Every race of every age in the South fries food.

It’s not uncommon to go to a restaurant in the South and see people order fried chicken with french fries. The other side? Fried okra.

And sweet tea to drink.

Oh yeah, pass the hot sauce.

A quick look at this heart disease chart tells you all you need to know about this type of cooking, and gives us another way to define the South.

A cluster of heart disease deaths in the Southern region. A quick glance tells me that the Appalachian region is doing something right.

It’s a Religion Thing

Driving through the South is an interesting thing to do. Save for the larger cities, the amount of rural spaces here always amazes me. It is beautiful country, with farms and small mom and pop stores. Small towns that have stayed the same way they always have, where everyone knows everyone.

There is also a church on just about every other block. In the spaces where there’s not a church? A sign with Jesus telling you what you’ve done wrong and how to fix it – or you’ll go to Hell.

You will be hard pressed to find a church that is not Southern Baptist, especially as you get out of the cities.

Whatever you think of the Southern Baptist Convention, there is no denying their stronghold is the American South.

2010 U.S. Religion Census
The geographic dominance of the Southern Baptist Convention is clear

Endless Possibilities

A Southerner out of the South is easy to spot. Even those of us who don’t think we have an accent are inevitably picked out of a crowd if we travel anywhere else in the country. That Southern drawl is unmistakably charming and annoying at the same time.

There are more ways to define the South. Everyone has their own way. We call it soda, the North says pop. The Confederate flag flies proudly in the South, but most Northerners would burn it.

How do you define the South? What comes to your mind? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Check back for more articles about the South and Southern culture. We’ll be getting into the Second Amendment, the death penalty, and political parties, as well as more lighthearted topics like BBQ and taxes.

See y’all soon!

My Dad Died in Front of Me

December 23, 2017. Christmas Eve Eve. A day, for most, of last minute shopping and cooking, many people spending time with their families. It was that kind of day for me as well. I was home for the first time in four years for Christmas, finally with my family again. It was a good day.

Until my dad died in front of me.

The Perfect Holiday

I love Christmas. Seriously. Ever since I was a little kid, Christmas has been my thing. I had, and still have, an Advent calendar that I used to countdown the days until Christmas morning. When December hits, the magic begins. I would spend every day at school before break just thinking about how awesome break would be. Two weeks off from school! How could it get any better?

Both sides of my family did Christmas big. It was an all-day event for me. Wake up at home and go see what Santa left under my Christmas tree (it was always my tree). Go nuts while tearing apart all of the toy packages. I am an only child, thank God, so everything under the tree was mine. Then we would be off to my mom’s side of the family, where I was, for a while, the only grand kid. Again, everything under the tree was mine. The final stop was to my dad’s side of the family.

Now, his family is huge. Tons of people. Tons of fun. I will always remember everyone stuffing themselves into the living room around the giant tree (my grandfather loved having a giant tree, which the marks on the ceiling prove).

In short, Christmas has always been amazing.

The Holiday Changed

The official documents say, “Sudden cardiac death.”

It wasn’t that sudden.

My mom and I needed to get one more present for my dad. I had just finished mowing the backyard (it was warm that day). We decided to run across the street to a store three minutes away from the house. We were there a total of five minutes, getting my dad a sign that says, “Let the Sea Set You Free.” My dad is a huge Jimmy Buffet fan, so this went perfectly with the new Buffet album we bought him.

We were home ten minutes after we left.

I noticed that the lawn mower was now around front of the house and part of the lawn had been mowed. Dad had gotten it out, intent on getting the front finished.

You see, in 2011 dad had a stroke. He couldn’t walk or talk right after, but has since made a mostly full recovery. Don’t tell him he can’t do something, because he will set off and do it.

All Watson’s are notoriously hard-headed that way.

My mom and I walked in the door and dad was sitting in his usual chair with his always present green cup filled with ice water beside him. He was taking a rest, but said he needed to get the side yard finished with the mower. Mom sat on the couch and I went into the kitchen to wash the dishes.

One minute after we walked in, I heard my mom and I knew something was wrong.

“Honey, honey, what’s wrong?” she asked, her voice not quite panicked, but heading that direction. I immediately went to the other room. Something was very wrong.

My dad was seizing up, his face red, veins in his head bulging. He couldn’t breath and it looked like he was trying to swallow his tongue.

It looked like a scene from a movie where someone gets poisoned. Remember Joffrey at his wedding? That’s what this looked like, but nobody was cheering.

At this point, something happened to me. I zoned out completely because I knew that emotion could play no part in what I was going to have to do. I had been an EMT for nine years, but had never worked on a family member. This was different.

Instinct took over.

Once I realized the danger of the situation, I ran to my phone and called 911. As soon as the operator picked up, the call dropped. I called right back and told them what was happening. This was all about 30 seconds after the incident began.

This whole time my mom was trying to get dad to tell her what was wrong, but he couldn’t. No words would come out, but you could see the panic in his eyes.

This is when my dad stopped. I can’t say he stopped breathing because he wasn’t doing that anyway. He just stopped. The life drained out of him.

He died.

I threw him out of his chair and onto the floor, handed the phone to my mom so she could talk to the dispatcher, and got ready for business.

If you’ve ever wondered if people really do turn blue when they stop breathing, stop wondering. They do, and it happens quickly.

I put my ear to his mouth and nose to listen for breathing and looked towards his chest for movement. Nothing.

I checked his neck for a pulse. Nothing.

Head tilt, chin lift, squeeze the nose. Just like they teach you. Two breaths. Chest rise? Check.

Begin compressions. Hands interlaced, find the right chest placement. Go.

Not to sound morbid, but they tell you that the best song to keep in your head when doing chest compressions is “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. It is important to keep the right pace with chest compressions, and the beat to this song does it just right.

As soon I started compressions I felt and heard the cracking. Ribs, cartilage, and sternum. All parts of the body not used to this kind of trauma. To get the necessary depth to keep the blood flowing, it has to be done.

Thirty compressions. Two more breaths. Thirty compressions. Two more breaths.

He tried to breath on his own.

I check for a pulse. None. His breathing stopped.

Resume CPR.

Thirty compressions. Two breaths. I hear the ambulance coming. Thirty compressions. Two breaths. Thank God I live on the same street as the fire station.

He takes another breath on his own. Still no pulse. Only one breath.

Thirty compressions. Two breaths.

At some point my mom had gone out to flag down the ambulance. They came in and took over. I watched at they continued CRP. The AED was hooked up.

Shock. No pulse. Resume CPR.

I’m making phone calls to family members and letting them know what is going on. I’m looking for phone chargers because I know it will be a long day at the hospital…or somewhere else.

Shock. No pulse. Resume CPR.


At this point I was sitting with my mom and we decided to pray. Mom lead the prayer while EMS worked.

Also at some point he began breathing on his own, a pulse came back. They loaded him on the ambulance and took off for the hospital.

We followed shortly after. The thirty-minute ride to the hospital was remarkably calm for my mom and me. We had no idea what we would find out when we got there. It was really 50/50 whether he was alive or dead.

We walked into the ER waiting room and were told that someone would be with us shortly.

We waited an hour.

A nurse came to get us and led us to a waiting room with a doctor.

Dad was alive.

He was alive.

January 1, watching the Outback Bowl. GO GAMECOCKS!

A New Beginning

My dad has now had a quadruple bypass to correct a serious arterial blockage. The night before the surgery, I took the dog outside. I was walking around the backyard, thinking. Praying. I just happened to look up to marvel at how clear the sky was when a shooting star sailed by. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. I made my wish.

He is going to be fine. The first few nights at the hospital were rough. He was on a ventilator until late the first night, which he wanted to rip out. The next few days were horrible, as he had aspirated a few times and sucked some of his December 23 lunch into his lungs. This led to a horrible cough.

Have you ever coughed with a cracked sternum, broken ribs, and torn up cartilage? It looks like it hurts.

The bypass led to another few nights of agony, but he did everything they asked him to do. He got up when they said get up, and walked when they said walk.

If you asked him now, he would tell you he was certain he was dying for two days straight. But things got better. The bypass saved his life.

We should have many more years to come.

And we can’t wait until next Christmas.

The Importance of CPR

If you don’t know CPR, you need to learn. You never know when you will need to use it on a loved one. Please don’t think you know it if the only place you’ve seen it done is on a medical TV show. Most of the time on the show, the person comes back. The reality is much worse.

In 2016, there were more that 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the US, according to the American Heart Association. Of those, 46.1 percent received CPR. Of those 46.1 percent, only 12 percent survived to be discharged from the hospital. That means that only around 19,000 of those 350,000 survive.

Many times, when CPR is performed, it is performed incorrectly. It is recommended that bystanders just perform chest compressions now, as doing that correctly will significantly improve the chances of survival. Many people were hesitant to perform CPR because of an aversion to the mouth-to-mouth part. I was a trained health-care professional, not to mention this was my dad, so I didn’t think twice.

It could be your mother or father. Your brother or sister. Your child. You really never know.

We were in celebration mode, happier than we had been in years. This still happened.

Don’t be caught off guard. Learn how to save a life.

If we had been at the store a minute longer, or if traffic had held us up, my dad would have died. We would have walked in and he would have been gone. I can’t explain the timing, but I’m glad we were there. I’m glad my mom and I worked together as a team to ensure my dad’s survival.

I can’t yet get the images of the incident out of my head. Maybe they’ll fade over time, maybe they’ll follow me for the rest of my life.

I’m just glad he’s alive.

Charles Watson, a survivor.



We Forgot, So Let’s Hope We Remember
There were similar slogans in Germany in the 1930s.

Never forget that the Nazi party rose to power legally on a wave of nationalism.

Never forget that the Nazi party was a smaller faction of the German right wing…until they weren’t.

Never forget that the goal of the Nazi party was to extinguish left wing politics.

Never forget that Hitler and the Nazis coined the term “Lügenpresse.” Translated, this means “lying press.”

Never forget that German institutions slowly lost independent power, or became discredited, until Hitler had complete control.

Never forget what happened next.

We forgot.

Check out the whole article I wrote by clicking here.


Original post is from the Rural Urban Divide, a political outlet I write for.

Prejudiced Against Apathy


I was asked a tough question in a job interview once. I was being interviewed by eight people at one time, with them taking turns asking questions. The last question, asked by a black woman, was, “Everybody has prejudices, what are some of yours?”

Wow. The question left no room for ambiguity. It did not give me the option to say, “I have no prejudices.” She wanted me to admit the ones that I have. I thought for a second then responded with what I am about to tell you now.

My prejudices are not geared towards anyone of a particular race or gender. I am not prejudiced against anyone because of their sexuality or religion. My prejudice is against people who have reached a point in their lives where they have decided they are finished improving. My prejudice is against apathy.

It doesn’t matter if you have a PhD or you are a high school dropout; a business owner or a fast food cashier. No matter your situation in life, you can always improve. There is always something more you can learn. Once you have decided that you are content where you are and have nothing more to gain, that is when society should decide it is finished with you. You are useless because you have become stagnant when your purpose is to grow.

Nelson Mandela was freed after nearly three decades in prison. Where would South Africa be if he decided that simply being free was enough for him? Abraham Lincoln was a successful lawyer and state politician. He could have become content. Where would our nation be if the Great Emancipator had decided to stay in Illinois and never run for president?

There is a doctor out there who might find the cure for Alzheimer’s or cancer, but what if that doctor decides to stop their research? After all, they are already a doctor. They have made it big in life.

Humans are made to strive for intelligence. We are born to innovate. We are supposed to contribute to those around us. First to our families and communities, then to society and humanity as a whole. We do not have time for anyone who thinks they can be finished; for those who think there is nothing more they can learn. Apathy makes you a sleep walker. A failure. If you have reached that point, you are invisible.

It is okay to not know something. What isn’t okay is not knowing something after you have had the opportunity to learn about it. At that point, it is okay to call you ignorant.

  • Allen Watson, 2014

The (Almost) Failed Republic

The British surrendered at Yorktown in October of 1781 and George Washington took the oath of office to become president in April 1789. Yes, you are seeing that correctly – there was almost an eight-year lag time from the end of fighting to when our first president took office. What happened during those eight years was the first great experiment the United States undertook. It was an experiment of government that almost destroyed a nation that had just been born. It is also an example of how decentralized government can dissolve under its own weight.

Want to read the whole article I wrote? Go to The Rural Urban Divide and check it out!

The Rural Urban Divide

How I’m Making Money On UpWork As A Freelance Writer


Author’s Note: This article was originally written in September 2017 and updated in December of 2017. The updates are at the end of the article.

At the end of July of 2017 I began looking at new ways to make some money. I love to write and ultimately want to publish some books. I began to wonder if I shouldn’t try to get some freelance writing jobs. About that time, my cousin suggested a site called UpWork. For those of you not familiar with UpWork, it was created after the merger of two other freelance connection sites – Elance and oDesk. UpWork, like its predecessors, works to link together clients with freelancers. The catch – they take a whole 20% of the total billed amount. Yes, this is a large percentage. That is the biggest downside to UpWork.

Let me give you a little background on my experience with the site as of right now.

Opening an Account

I was confused as all get out at first. I have never been a freelancer and I had no idea what to do on the site. Here are some steps you need to make BEFORE you start to submit proposals for jobs. Take a look at my profile here before you read on so you at least have a visual understanding of what I am talking about.

  • Ensure you complete your profile – There will be a meter telling you how much of your profile is complete. No client will bother with any freelancer who does not have a complete profile.
  • Photograph – You need to find a professional looking photo, preferably of you in business attire. You need to look friendly in the photo, as studies have shown that a simple smile can get you more jobs. I don’t know what program UpWork uses to ensure profile photos are good ones, but it is hard to get one approved (at least it was for me).
  • Profile Information – Go browse successful freelancers on UpWork and see what they put in their profile. Try to make yours look like theirs, just with your information. You need a good and to the point section to tell clients about you. I have changed mine regularly as I learn better ways to describe myself and my skills. You will have sections for your education, certifications, work history, and other experiences. Fill it out as much as you can but DO NOT LIE. If you lie and get caught up with work you can’t handle, it will be evident pretty quickly. (UPDATE ON PROFILE INFORMATION AT END OF THIS POST)
  • Payment Verified – When you browse UpWork clients and freelances, you will see a little mark signaling whether or not payment for that user has been verified. This is very important, as most people simply do not bother dealing with anyone unless they see the payment is verified. I don’t even look at clients who can’t verify how they will pay me and I don’t expect them to deal with me if I don’t verify mine. This is just another way to signal you are a real and serious freelancer.
  • Tests – UpWork offers hundreds of tests for you to prove your skills. These range from language skills, management skills, to programming skills. Take the ones that are relevant to the field you will be in. If you do well, they will say you scored in the top 10% or something similar and note that in your profile. You don’t have to have these tests visible on your profile if you don’t want, so don’t worry about taking one and failing it. Just know that you have to wait 3 months before you can take the same tests again. Why are the tests important? To show clients you really do know your stuff.
  • Portfolio – If you have some good samples of your work, you need to put them in your portfolio for clients to see. I lost my jump drive with all my old work, so I had to piecemeal mine together. As I continue to work, I add in new items that I think show my multiple skill sets.

UpWork Feedback

You won’t have any feedback when you start, which is the hardest thing to deal with. The main thing clients look at is a freelancer’s feedback history, just as it is the main thing you need to look at before deciding whether or not to work for a client. Since you have no feedback, the first job will be the hardest. How do you get feedback? Get some jobs and knock them out of the park like I did.

It will take the completion of about 5-10 jobs before you get a Job Success Score (JSS). You will notice when you start that most clients are looking for freelancers with a JSS of 90% or better. See my update about my JSS score at the end of the article.

Submitting Proposals on UpWork

Now what? It is time to browse and start submitting proposals. Search for jobs in your desired field. One trick I quickly learned – when searching, take OFF the filter that shows you jobs only in the US. All of the jobs I have gotten so far have come from overseas. As soon as you take the filter off, the number of available jobs usually triples.

You are given 60 CONNECTS each month with the basic free account. This will allow you to apply for 30 jobs, as each job usually requires 2 connects to apply. Once you use your connects, you can’t apply for any more jobs until your connects refresh the next month. I ran out the first month, but have learned to pace them. DO use them all, as they do not carry over.

When you find a job you might be interested in, just know that there is an art to submitting proposals. Remember this – there are foreigners who apply to every single job that pops up and they all use the same generic proposal cover letter.

  • Submit to each one with a new cover letter, not just a copy and paste generic letter. You need to show the client that you really read their job description (some have ways to verify this anyway). Here is a typical letter that I write (of course, I tailor it to each posting).


I am interested in helping proofread and edit your statement of purpose. I have attached my resume so you can view my education and experience. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in teaching. I worked as a research assistant in graduate school. I spent much of my time in this job editing and proofreading scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles. I then went on to teach high school.

I am a native English speaker. I will use Track Changes in Microsoft Word so you can see what I change and make comments on.

I hope you find the right person for your job. Please feel free to ask me any questions necessary.

Allen W.

There are a few things to this. I offer my resume because it says more than I need to say in a cover letter and I am lucky to have an extensive one with great experience. I also offer the resume because I am still new on UpWork without a whole lot of feedback.

It is important to mention that you are a native English speaker. Most clients are looking for this, not a foreigner who says they know English. I have nothing against them, but their English skills will never quite grasp the language’s nuances needed for some jobs.

Notice how I mentioned specific things from the job posting and then I asked questions. It shows that I read their post and am interested, but not overly interested. Remember, you want jobs that are good fits for you and the clients, so don’t beg.

How Has UpWork Worked For Me?

On August 1st I got my first UpWork job. This was writing five articles about the United Nations for a Model UN website. It was for $50, of which I would receive $40. The articles needed to be about 1000 words each. I got lucky – I’ve created Model UN teams as two high schools. I nailed the articles well ahead of the deadline and submitted them. The client loved them and immediately offered more.


Every client I’ve had so far has used me again immediately after I submitted the first job. Good, fast work leads to recurring clients.

On August 7th I got an entirely different job with an advertising firm. I was to take 60 sentences and rewrite each one three times without changing the meaning – $40 charge. They would then choose the one that works the best for ads. Well, this is nothing like anything I’ve ever done, but I wanted to try. I love writing and I’m good with words. Turns out, I did it in a few hours. I made about $20 an hour with this job. When I turned it in the client was so impressed that they immediately gave me another set. They also left great feedback.

On September 4th I saw a job that involved taking photographs of certain rooms in a house, giving the photo a title, and writing a one sentence description about them. The job offered $20 for 100 descriptions. I bid on it, but I didn’t bid at $20. I bid at $25. Why? Because I know my value and that is what I would do it for. I was actually surprised when the client contacted me the next morning, asked for a few samples, and hired me at the higher price. I finished the job in two days and they offered unlimited work for me. Another recurring client.

So, that is my experience so far. I am certainly not making mega dollars, but I am able to do this work from anywhere with an internet connection. As my feedback increases, I expect to get better work. I have upped my hourly charge once and will do so again once I get a few more jobs under my belt. I always look at profiles of successful freelancer on UpWork to see if I can make my profile better.

I will continue to update this post about once a month. I will let you know whether or not this is something I will stick with. Only time will tell. Again, take a look at my page for some ideas of how to set yours up.

December 2017 Update

Since my last post, I have done better on UpWork, though I have not made it to the level I want yet. I began using UpWork in August of 2017. In September I doubled my money from August. In October I doubled September. November was about the same.

I’ve learned a few things from these last few months on the platform.

One is this – it takes time to get a reputation built. Though I managed to get some pretty good jobs, I’ve been hampered by one piece of feedback. To be honest, it wasn’t that bad, but it hurt. It was from an editing test job I took for $12, hoping to secure long-term work for them. Well, one I started, I realized the article was written in English by someone who had such a poor grasp of the language they might as well have been speaking toddler. I cleaned it up the best I could and sent it back. Overall, my feedback score for that job was 4.6 out of 5. Not bad, but because I didn’t have much feedback yet, it bumped my overall Job Success Score (JSS) down to an 80%. That is important because most clients want freelancers with a 90% or better JSS. So, I’ve spend time trying to build that back up. Look at my page now and you will see I’ve gotten it up to 86% and when the next update comes, I should be well above the 90% mark (It updates every 2 weeks).

I’ve also learned that there will be slow weeks. November was depressing until the end when I got absolutely slammed with work. All I had for three weeks was one of my long-term clients until the fourth week of the month. Suddenly, I had five jobs going at once.

One thing I did do was change my profile. I asked one of the highest paid freelancers on the platform to look at my profile and tell me what they thought about it. They did, and they basically told me it sucked. They said it was like every other profile on the site. Nothing on it was catchy. If you look now, I decided to go the humorous route. The profile I have now is different and had gotten more views since I published it.

I raised my rate as well. As I have now shown that I’m capable of quality work, I’m now at $50 an hour. I think that is a good rate to show I mean business. It’s not too low or too high.

I’m going to keep it up. I enjoy being able to work from wherever I can get an internet connection. You are just as likely to find me at home in my pajamas as you are at Starbucks or Panera Bread. I just want to get it to a sustainable income level.

Succeeding takes patience and the ability to do good, quality work. Without either, you will find UpWork a waste of your time.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments or contact me through email or social media.

The UpWork social media team sent me an UpWork t-shirt and notebook!

Since I Started High School


I’m starting a post about the state of the US when I started high school. I hope others will write their own. I’ve found it interesting to look back and see what was going on when I started high school. It’s amazing how much I didn’t know about the world then, so going back and looking at all the news highlights, knowing what I know now, is a journey. I didn’t actually intend on this being anything but a fun post, but reality set in as I started to write.

I started high school in the year 2000. Bill Clinton was president, but as we all know, it was an election year. THE election year. Bush versus Gore. The outcome would shape everything I’ve known since.

When I started high school:

  • Y2K turned out to be just a big party
  • The US had a $232 billion SURPLUS not a deficit
  • Gas was $1.26 per gallon
  • Unemployment was at 3.8% (an absurdly low rate)
  • The Yankees won the World Series, the Rams won the Superbowl
  • Survivor was the number one show (can’t believe that show is still around)
  • Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Eminem, blah, blah, blah

We should have known things were brewing. In 2000:

  • The Pyrenean Ibex went extinct
  • The Dot-Com bubble burst
  • Vladimir Putin was elected president of Russia (I mean, damn, he’s still there)
  • I’m sure I was wearing ridiculous clothing held over from the 90’s

I started high school before the Supreme Court put George Bush in office, changing the next few decades of military and political roles and influence. It was before 9/11, an event that taught Americans that our isolation can be violated. It reopened the wounds of those who lived through Pearl Harbor and taught a new generation that the days of our invulnerability were gone. For a moment in time, though, it united the country as we tried to heal.

When I started high school, I thought the idea of war was cool (having not learned what war really was). The invasion of Iraq had my full support. I didn’t understand then, when I started high school, that my country was capable of mistakes.

We started the year 2000 with hope. Hope for our booming economy. Hope for global partnership. We were boosted up for a new millennium, so full of energy that anything seemed possible. If the year 2000 taught us anything, it’s that things can change.

Since the year I started high school, things have changed. The victor of the 2000 election was handed one of the worst situations our country has ever faced, and he handled it well…at first. He attacked those we thought were responsible, then abused our blank check to start a war with someone else.

In 2000, our economy was so good that we couldn’t know that a combination of 90’s mortgage policies and labor union exploitation would set off a major economic disaster. We couldn’t know that our hopes would be dashed by 2007, but renewed in 2008 when we thought racism was on its way to defeat. Our first black president would bring us together, or so we thought.

Since 2000, a hurricane in one of our oldest cities taught us that underlying racial tensions can lead to delayed assistance for those who need it the most. Since then, race has taken center stage. Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott. Ferguson and Baltimore. In my home state, a sick and deranged young man murdered nine African Americans in Charleston. In a church. I wish he was alone in his thinking, but after what we all just saw in Charlottesville, Virginia, we know better.

Black Lives Matter was born because of much of this, though we should have never gotten to a place where we had to be reminded that anyone’s lives matter. How is it that we don’t know, don’t realize, that every single life should matter?

Just a thought, but most of that happened under a black president.

How could we know, in 2000, that a real estate businessman, a reality TV joke, would become president of our country. We should have known. We would have known, if we had been careful in monitoring just how much certain groups in this country were looking for an answer to the hate they had been building. We’d have seen those who were just waiting to hear their dreams spoken by a demagogue who could disguise their ideals inside the guise of patriotic nationalism. Too bad we never paid attention to 1930s German history.

Yes, we’ve had trouble since 2000.

And damn, here’s what’s happening now:

But we’re not going to give up. I didn’t know about these issues when I started high school, but now I do. I know how to write, so I’ll figure it out that way. I would never have come out back then, but now I have. We’ll make it through this okay. Just hold on tight, it’s going to be a wild ride.