Even worse is that thanks to the additional communication blackouts caused by the phone towers ceasing to work, I have not been able to access social media beyond checking a couple of statuses on WhatsApp or tweets, which therefore means I have no real idea what has been going on. The last I managed to read, the country’s Minister of Communications was blaming U.S. Senator of Florida, Marco Rubio, for personally sabotaging our electric system. Rubio replied with a mocking tweet, but it was all I could check before my phone’s juice ran out as well.
I was sitting on a Skype call the last time we had electricity (March 8), having a business conversation with one of my clients. He is in the U.S chemical industry, and has hired me to perform research for technology and materials development at his chemicals manufacturing company. The blackout came just as we were saying goodbye. My only consolation is that I at least had enough signal on my phone to end the conversation.
Captured with the most miserable blackout-caused look that you'll ever get to see on my face.
Seventy-nine (79!) people died in blackout-related incidents during the first twenty-four hours, many of these deaths split among elderly people who were on life support of some kind and who needed to be kept plugged in to keep breathing; the other half were infants, who had been born recently and needed their own type of machinery to breathe and keep their precious little hearts beating. These were the first to die, in fact, and a viral video of a female doctor using a manual oxygen pump to keep a newborn alive by incessantly forcing air into his lungs has surfaced. Elsewhere, an entire metals foundry – which was once a Venezuelan industrial powerhouse - has been shut down due to the blackout forcing its machines to stop (an event that causes some of their components to jam and stop functioning permanently).
Crazily enough, while this may sound like a desperately hopeless situation for anyone who is forced to undergo such an experience, it actually gets worse: this isn’t the first time similar events have taken place in Venezuela, and to most people this has just been nothing more than an unfortunate couple of days. The fury and dismay that were once so quick to appear when injustice was showing its ugly hand are now distant memories, and the general populace has grown terrified of the police-sponsored kidnappings and/or suspicious murders that follow any signs of rebellion.
However, the most amazing fact of them all is that there is always a ray of light at the very end of the tunnel, which eventually turns into something much more positive. The forces of good typically prevail over evil and injustice in the end, and in this case the situation is no different. I have no evidence in this being the case this time round, but let’s just say I have a strong feeling that everything will get better. Hope is always present, even in the darkest days.
The following article is my story – one which you may consider as neither a happy or a sad tale by the time you’re done reading it – a young man’s bittersweet account of struggle and accomplishment. You will not walk away from this tale unscathed, believe me: today, even the most privileged member of society will discover just how bad it can get around the world for those less fortunate, and how a positive mind and strong sense of will can defeat even the most complicated of crises. Oh, and as for the resolution? Let’s just say that it’s still an uncertain one due to the tale being a work in progress, but you will most likely be a witness to how this ends.
But first, let’s try to understand what the hell has brought Venezuela to this point. What could ruin a country in such a way? You’re about to find out.
Imagine being stuck in a never-ending cycle of corruption, bad decisions and horrible governments which rise to power with the sole intention of lining their pockets before serving their people.
In a reality where the poor are treaded on, ignored or even abused, there has to be a breaking point. I mean, every single country has its tales of independence, civil war or social unrest, and sooner or later any tyrant is taken down through sheer willpower of the angry and discontent.
This is how the current Venezuelan crisis began, in a way. After the famous dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez was overthrown, the two most relevant parties in Venezuela - known as Accion Democratica and Copei - decided to exchange power intermittently for four entire decades, sharing the riches of a country with booming petrol and tourism industries, opening the doors of the nation to foreign investment and creating an economical situation that allowed the middle and high social classes the opportunity of studying abroad, traveling across the world and building their own fortunes from the ground.
However, those among the lowest classes were neglected and ignored, with few real efforts being directed their way. These were people who weren’t worried about how they could now buy U.S. Dollars at a lower rate than ever or that they could easily travel visa-free to anywhere they wanted, but were actually more preoccupied with filling their children’s stomachs and guaranteeing a decent education for the youngest members of their family. They had urgent, immediate needs that weren’t being satisfied. And yet…nobody cared.
The simmering unrest eventually exploded into red rage, and the first social explosion eventually came in 1989. It came to nothing but violent riots, needless bloodshed and a lot of unfinished business that would tear the nation apart once more. The inevitable followed in 1992, but this second uprising was different. Led by a young, revolutionary Lieutenant-Colonel named Hugo Chavez, this one was met by a massive amount of approval by the masses, who were mostly dismayed when the coup failed and Chavez was imprisoned. His last words before he was escorted to a jail cell, uttered to a T.V camera, are still chilling: “Our objectives were not met… for now.”
This feeling of disappointment would grow with passing years, and it wasn’t long before the clamor of the people grew: “We want Chavez,” they cried, and a famous President by the name of Caldera actually let the guy out of prison. It was, in the end, the biggest mistake a Venezuelan President has made in recent times.
In 1998, the inevitable arrived. Chavez’s campaign managed to convince even the biggest doubters, and the masses of poor and neglected classes gifted him their votes almost without asking who the man really was.
Soon, he began to show the real face he had behind his initial message of peace and prosperity. Of course, many had seen this coming, but their voices were drowned under the gleeful cheers of the ignorant and oppressed, who now had a hero to protect. Chavez, despite his promises, had been a massive admirer of Fidel Castro for decades, and had wished to install a “milder” version of Cuban Communism in this rich, hopeful nation that he was now leading. He would christen it “21st Century Socialism”, and he soon allied himself with a powerful bloc of leftist politicians across South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Paraguay), who also won their own presidential elections at the same time as he did.
Thus came a time of absolute Socialist control, in which these presidents grew in power and influence, and opposition was gradually crushed by force or silenced through political means. In Venezuela, the press was punished for reporting on “bad news” (such as murders, riots, shortages and other similar events); elections became more and more one-sided and favored the government more regularly; certain goods began to become more scarce and expensive; and the suspension of opposition candidates from participating in several elections became more common.
Chavez’s plan was moving forward, and it seemed that nothing could go wrong. Furthermore, his anti-American sentiment seemed to make him more attractive to many in other countries as well, and it seemed that he had become unstoppable.
However, in 2013, among a strange, ironic twist of events, Chavez suddenly grew terribly sick and died. His last decision? It was as if he wanted to screw the people of Venezuela one last time.
Enter the Venezuelan Counselor and former bus driver, Nicolas Maduro Moros.
To this day, nobody knows why Maduro was chosen to succeed Chavez. Even those that hated Hugo, recognize that he was a genius of sorts, a true mastermind of manipulation and social control, who perfectly knew how to implement a negative political system into a rich nation and make it look like he was doing the Venezuelan people a favor. At the time of his death, his net worth was in the BILLIONS of U.S. Dollars, a value that now belongs to his family (which is mostly spread across the world and which hasn’t stepped foot in their native Venezuela for years).
It was, in a sense, the man’s oddest decision.
But the decision was made, and in came this hulking brute of a man, who is not even a shadow of the leader that Chavez was – rude, badly-spoken and impulsive, Maduro is of little to no subtlety in his measures, and he is hated by almost all Venezuelans at every echelon of the social classes. Since entering power, his government has done little to prevent the spread of an unparalleled crisis that has starved Venezuelans, kept them from buying the most basic of medicine (even those keeping cancer and HIV patients alive), seen crime continue to rise since the historic records that the Chavez era witnessed, and lowered the salary to a pathetic $5 USD a month that has forced millions of Venezuelans out of the country in search of wages that can cover their bare expenses.
He has been a disaster of a president, and has managed to keep power through military force and bribes, going as far as giving away money and appliances to the poor masses to ensure they vote for him and show up at his rallies.
But I digress; I mean, come on, wasn’t this an uplifting story about how I beat the crisis through freelancing? How did all of this tale relate to that at all?
Let me just say that it was necessary for me to tell this tale and explain the context. Completely necessary, in fact. Make no mistake, what is happening in Venezuela has nothing to do with “U.S. sanctions” as many claim with ignorance; it has nothing to do with Maduro “not being allowed to conduct his government actions” or “sabotaged”, as others do instead; it’s not even something that was impossible to prevent with enough vision, planning and investment. No, this was a mix of extreme incompetence and despicable evil. The desire to break a nation, and to hold onto it for as long as they could, leeching away at its resources.
However, we have now exposed the context. Act 1 is over, and Act 2 is in play. How did I save myself from the crisis with freelancing? Can this experience still be applied in Venezuela or anywhere else where a nation is hurting and its people need to save themselves as well?
Let us find out.
Returning to the present day, it has now been 5 days since the electricity left us, and this blackout has just been another of Maduro’s most recent blunders, and quite possibly the most serious of them. Five whole days, and the country has already seen hospital patients die, government-hired thugs fire live ammunition into crowds of protesters, a bank emptied of bills by a furious mob (who left the bills on the street), and a jaguar beheaded because, well…it’s Venezuela and this is Mad Max IRL.
Yet beyond the rage of no air conditioning at temperatures around the 35 ºC mark, no water and the general discomfort that such a situation brings, I can still smile. I know I have work to do for at least two clients in different parts of the world, as well as content similar to this post to create for Begin Wandering. I’m not happy by far, but I’m optimistic about my situation. Not many people in this country (or people from this country who have migrated) can say the same.
But is this a secret business that I plan to keep to myself? Am I boasting about how comfortable my life has been in the midst of this crisis? Of course not. This is Begin Wandering, and we want to teach you to enjoy a life such as this one.
We have already addressed how big freelancing is around the world in previous posts, and how more companies are seeking out remote workers to keep their in-house staff smaller in size, and their hours more flexible than the traditional 9-5 obliges. Furthermore, in Latin America, freelancing can be the difference between living in below the poverty line and enjoying a nation’s luxury like a high-class citizen.
Venezuela, of course, is no different. In fact, the massive gap between those making money online and those who aren’t is actually much more significant than in other Latin American countries, especially considering that the dollar exchange is heavily limited here. To make matters worse, the final months of 2018 and early months of 2019 saw the inexplicable rise of prices in all goods and services to international levels (and even beyond) in this country where everything was previously cheaper than anywhere else in the region, leading to the need for alternative sources of income for even the wealthiest office worker.
Where $100 USD can be seen as pocket change for a middle-class parent in the United States, it can be the difference between having something to eat for a fortnight and starving to death for a Venezuelan family. Make no mistake, the title of this post (and this section) is no lie. Making dollars online will save your life in this country.
The biggest bill amount currently found in Venezuelan currency is the Bs. 500 bill. That is worth – at today’s exchange rate - $0.15 USD. Let me rephrase this: WE GO TO THE BANK AND ASK FOR BILLS WORTH 15 CENTS. To buy one hundred dollars ($100), we need to hand over 666.66 bills of our biggest bill (Bs. 500). If that’s not diabolical (pardon the pun, guys), I don’t know what is.
If you’ve read this far and still don’t believe that freelancing, online business and overall simply making money online can save this country, then there’s no salvation for you.
I never believed in freelancing when I had the chance. I remember looking it up at age 18, when I was still looking for a solution to everything that was going on in my life. There was a possibility then, as I was hungry to learn and was in love with Adobe Photoshop. “Sell artwork, make a name and grow,” a voice in my head urged. “Or just write, since you’re good at it.” I read more about all freelancing, finding sites where I could post my stories, looking up deviantArt and creating a bio there.
It never got anywhere. I soon got into university, grew disillusioned with the directions my life took, and for a long time I was content with the money I made working with my parents. I’ve always been of little spending, barely eating out or buying clothing, not having any expensive habits like smoking, drinking or partying (although I had a pretty wild early 20’s, just saying), so the need to make money was never there.
Did I waste the chance to freelance before 20? Yes, you could say that. However, Venezuela was a different place back then, still enjoying the oil riches and the possibilities of having a normal life. It wasn’t going to last, though.
By 2014, the country entered its downward spiral. I have described this above, but I believe that nobody outside a crisis-torn country can understand.
Just to put this into perspective, in 2013 a huge group of us went to Margarita Island to a chemical engineering convention, spending 3 days and 2 nights at a 5-star hotel that had it all (3 pools, 2 discos, all-you-can-eat restaurants, a bar, live shows, the works), and many of us paid this ourselves with the money we’d saved up from working while studying or from our allowances. 2 years later, this very annual convention was cancelled. The 2014 convention was the last. Nobody (not even the richest students) had money to pay for the ones in 2015 or 2016, and the organizing company (CONQUIMIC) shut down months later.
It only took 2 years for this country to fall to pieces.
I started freelancing in 2015, born out of the necessity that was eating away at my savings and at my health itself. In fact, I must shamelessly confess that I wasn’t even eating 3 times a day in the second trimester of that year, searching for a way to get out of my troubles. The monthly wage had already dropped perilously low, and no longer receiving support from my parents (I can’t complain since I was 25 by then), meant that I was living day by day on whatever I could make from teaching English to Venezuelan students.
Basically, I was screwed. Screwed in a sad way, too: I’m a British citizen, who wasn’t even born in Venezuela. I’ve been here for almost two decades, and for one reason or another, I had been forced to stick around and deal with what was happening. So there I was, in a foreign land and in the middle of a crisis, not eating well and wondering if I was getting out of this one alive.
Freelancing came to me like a gift from the heavens.
I’ve told this tale already on a previous post, about how one of my best friends re-introduced me to freelancing. What I haven’t explained, however, is how exactly it happened.
She’s been on Upwork for ages (since 2013) as a speech-to-text transcription specialist (fully recommend her btw), and is always looking out for interesting ways to make money online. She’s also incredibly patient and thoughtful, and found my situation unacceptable. Antonia taught me all I know about Upwork, getting me to write my bio, reviewing my client proposals and withdraw my money once I was making some.
After this initiation, however, I was on my own. Nobody was going to serve me clients on a plate or point me to where the money was; I would have to navigate around the challenges of interviews and networking myself, and I knew that these first clients would be crucial in deciding my fate as a freelancer.
Have you ever realized that you’re good at something without ever having expected to be? Call it beginner’s luck or just simple talent, it can change the way you see yourself in the sense that your self-belief grows significantly.
In my case, I managed to get my first client within the first 8 days of freelancing on Upwork (Most people take weeks, even a whole month) – a client in the eBooks business who sold Minecraft fan fiction. A second client followed within the first month – a guy specializing in True Crime and Spanish Education books. I look back on those days now after almost 4 years, to the times when I was underpaid and working hard for a bare $200 a month, and I smile nostalgically; I would spend most of the money earned almost senselessly, going out with my girlfriend at the time to eat almost every day and spending the rest on what I needed. To me, I was making a lot (consider that most Venezuelans were starting to see the fruits of the Socialist destruction in their nation), and people were starting to ask how it was going so well for me.
I was different then, jealously keeping my secrets and keeping things as low-key as possible. “After all,” I thought, “When I was down, who helped me?” I’ve changed this philosophy, of course, learning that just because everybody else is selfish it doesn’t mean you have to be too.
My profile soon grew, more and more clients paying attention to my efforts and my 5-star reviews growing in number with each passing month. I didn’t just like fiction writing, content and copywriting – I LOVED IT. Even now, as an engineer with experience in sales and teaching, I still consider writing to be my passion, and would happily turn it into a career (I may still do so, eventually).
During my freelance career, having worked for over 40 clients and produced over 60 books in different genres, dozens of blog posts, dozens of chemical research papers, countless hours of translation and even Spanish learning courses for several clients and companies; I feel that I have not only saved myself economically, but also professionally, since I’ve learned tons of things that no university could ever have taught me.
I used to restrict myself to a very short list of skills. Now, copywriting, research, editing, translation, SEO, social media marketing, blogging, fiction and nonfiction ghostwriting, proofreading and even cold-calling skills are now within my portfolio, as are the obvious freelance/student skills of going to bed at 3 or 4 a.m., surviving on snacks and holding my urges to go to the bathroom.
Another interesting fact about freelancing is that you WILL network and get to meet extremely interesting people as you work for and with them, finding out just how online business functions, and what to do to get started in this field.
For example, I have learned plenty about eBook publishing (which can make 6-figure monthly revenues with little work); I’ve learned how to control traffic, market my brand and grow at insane rates; I’ve even found out how to improve my personal brand, which is massive for a shy person like myself!
Freelancing can be the means or the end – you decide – but it can take you anywhere you want to go if you know how. Why else are people literally quitting their jobs to turn freelance? Why else but to reap the benefits that this life entails?
I have personally never been as motivated as I am now, now that I’ve become a freelancer. Are you ready to change your life?
There’s been something on my mind for a while, and I want to take this opportunity to announce it.
Here on Begin Wandering, we have been producing content for a while, creating guides and information, as well as interesting list articles for those who want to learn about the world through business, money and travel blog posts, but there is one big purpose behind this site, and it is to help those who need it.
Everyone has a value, I always say, and everybody can monetize what they know and what they do. It is a simple truth that cannot be denied. The problem, however, is finding this value and recognizing what you are capable of. I know what that is – I couldn’t find it in myself to freelance when I had my first chance. I didn’t know I had it in me. Now, I realize that there was more potential to be unlocked than I could ever have imagined.
Venezuelans who are reading this, you strong, good people, and anyone else in a crisis-stricken country – I tell you that my tale is just one tale of many. One success story surrounding online moneymaking. With freelancing, you can beat whatever situation you’re in, you can escape your country or stick around to succeed, and you can become who you’ve always wanted to be. Even right now, you are literally only a few steps away from accomplishing what you most desire.
I want these words to reach everyone they can, honestly. I am sick of seeing young, bright people stuck in situations where they can’t live life like they want (just like I was) or having to work just to survive at the simplest, lowest levels of existence. I’m sick of people having to leave Venezuela or any other country because they have no opportunities (even those in developed nations). I want to change the world, one person at a time, and I’m going to start this change with Begin Wandering.
Nobody deserves to go through what the people of Venezuela have gone through. Especially not those of the middle and lower social classes who haven’t sat around waiting for a government pension, but instead have been fighting to learn new skills and make money one way or another.
For this reason, I conclude this post with an announcement. An announcement which I will explain in depth in an upcoming video:
We created Begin Wandering to help people make money online and find the opportunity to fulfill their monetary dreams as well as travel. We created it to allow more people across the globe to become Digital Nomads.
However, since then, we have learned that there is more to life than making more money and traveling. Some people simply need to make some money online to get out of their most urgent problems. To find freedom, and to improve their quality of life. Some people have immediate needs, and aren’t just looking to boost their income. Unemployed parents; students who can’t pay their bills; even professionals who just aren’t able to find a decent-paying job. I realized this almost immediately after I started producing content for the site, and found it to be a turning point for my vision on what bW was aiming to become. Now there was another audience that needed us, so we would have to include them in our freelance dream as well.
For this reason, we are establishing an upcoming program for Begin Wandering, which will be aimed at turning hopefuls into Wanderers, that is, pupils and valuable members of our community at Begin Wandering. This program will allow us to approach our fans, followers and friends more than ever, and help them create the conditions necessary for a new, respectable life.
We are not saying our current audience of hopeful entrepreneurs and digital nomad students is going to be neglected, either: we have dozens of posts lined up for the following months, aimed at teaching these hungry souls to make more money online and reach even more daring destinations across the world, and both our podcasts and videos will provide you with the information that you’ve been needing for years - but we will also concentrate our efforts on helping those who need it the most, no matter what.
This is why I offer you now: please contact us if you’re going through a bad time and need to learn how to monetize your skills. We’re eager to help you, wherever you are from. Are you going through a rough patch and depend on freelancing for your last shot at rescuing your life? Allow us to give you a few minutes of our time for consulting! Do you want us to look at your online business and give you a few valuable tips to make it grow? Contact us. We want to help! Leave a comment below or send us a DM on Instagram; we’ll answer you as soon as we can. We’ll even interview and give you some exposition if you’re interested. We also have a Contact Us section on our site, if you’re interested in talking directly and in private with us.
Like I said before - I, Anthony, want to change the world, and this is my first step in doing so. There are many out there who aren’t looking to be given the fish but instead taught how to catch them, and these people are the ones we will never deny our help to.
If enough people are involved, I will begin setting up webinars, and meetings will take place. Who knows? Conferences could certainly follow, and we could soon see ourselves spread across the world in one big community.
The potential within you is infinite, as you have now learned from my story, and there is nothing keeping you from reach greatness. The question now, however, is if you are ready to rise.
Final note: As I write these words, on March 14, light has come back to our homes – the blackout is finally over, and we may return to the closest thing to “normalcy” we have in Venezuela. It has taken 7 whole days for the power to be restored in most of the country, and the damages are almost impossible to calculate. The country weeps, and the forefathers of this beautiful land with it.
If you have anyone in Venezuela, ask them how they’re doing, offer them help – any help you can give them – and stay in touch. What is happening in Venezuela is not an easy situation to be in, and things will get more difficult before they get easier. Every little bit of help will save Venezuela and its people! Act now!
And now we reach the end. Thanks for reading my story, and I hope you understand now how Freelancing Saved Me, as well as how it can Save YOU!
Comment below, and don’t forget to Subscribe!
Founder, Head Content Creator. Chemical Engineer. Entrepreneur. Instructor. Writer. Traveler. Once a cog in the traditional workforce machine, I decided to stake my claim in the freelancing business and haven’t looked back since. Working remotely is the first step to freedom, bringing you the ability to call your own shots and organize your own time. Now, however... I'm going to teach you how.