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‘Thank God we have that’: Wattpad author says writing gig became coronavirus emergency fund – National

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When Caroline Richardson’s husband was temporarily laid off in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, money became a concern.

The family of four was down to one income and the bills kept coming. There was the mortgage, car payments and two kids who wouldn’t stop growing and needing new clothes just because the economy was going through a rough patch, she recalls.

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Luckily, though, Richardson’s long-time hobby came to the rescue. Government employee by day, Richardson is a writer of — in her own words — “mature, steamy romantic stories with a happy ending” in her free time.

It’s a labour of love she’s kept up for years, says Richardson, who has four book-length stories under her belt. But it wasn’t until one of her most recent works took off on Wattpad, an online storytelling platform, that her pastime became a lucrative side-gig.

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Richardson’s novel Two Cream, No Sugar — later re-titled Out of His League — became a Wattpad sensation, eventually hitting 1.1 million reads. The platform quickly included it in Paid Stories, its paid content program, where readers can buy novels in full or as chapters.

Soon, Richardson received her first cheque at the beginning of 2020.

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Richardson had planned to use the money for a trip overseas to visit an old friend in England, but when the pandemic hit, the money became a much-needed financial cushion.

“Thank God we have that,” she says.

Richardson has since received another quarterly check from Wattpad for an amount she calls “very helpful.”

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Born as a free platform for readers and writers of fiction, Wattpad has grown into a juggernaut, with a monthly readership of over 90 million and five million active writers.

It launched its paid content program in 2018 and is also now publishing its own books and co-producing its stories for both TV and film.

The company says it has seen a 151-per cent increase in the volume of new submissions from writers between January and April, as the world huddled inside amid COVID-19 restrictions.


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Are freelance platforms a good way to make money in a pinch?

Amid record job losses linked to the pandemic, millions have turned to online gigs to make ends meet.

A recent study by Upwork, a freelance job platform, found the share of U.S. professionals who freelance full-time has reached 36 per cent of the U.S. workforce, eight percentage points above its level in 2019.

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Onlyfans, a subscription-based social media platform famous for its racy content, reported 3.5 million sign-ups in March, with 60,000 of them new creators, according to the Daily Beast.

READ MORE: How to save an extra $100 a month – without even thinking about it

Substack, which lets writers monetize newsletters, has seen its number of readers and active writers double, according to WIRED.

In Canada, the COVID-19 outbreak has also driven up interest in online freelance platforms.

The volume of links to Wattpad shared on Twitter in Canada between March and October was up more than 40 per cent between compared to the previous four months, according to audience intelligence company Pulsar.

Substack, online freelance workplace Fiverr and Teachable, which lets users create and sell online courses, have each seen growth of 20 per cent or more, a Pulsar analysis shows.


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Platforms that connect freelancers to businesses and individual clients can be a quick way to monetize work-from-home skills, says Jackie Lam, a freelance personal finance writer and expert on gig work.

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It doesn’t take much to create an account or profile page and start advertising your services or bid on projects, she says. If you’ve never side-hustled before, platforms are an easy way to survey what other similarly qualified freelancers are offering, how much they’re charging and how they’re promoting themselves, she says.

They can also help you quickly get an idea of what kind of work you like to do and how long different projects take, she notes.

But be prepared for competition, Lam warns.

Platforms, she says, “can be a very saturated market.” Unless you can carve out your own niche, there will probably be lots of people offering the same services or vying for the same projects.

“It could easily be a race to the bottom,” Lam says.

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While platforms can be a freelancer’s training wheels, seeking out clients on your own may eventually turn out to be more lucrative, according to Lam.

But Pulsar’s Davide Berretta calls the likes of Substack and Teachable the “next generation” of platforms.

They’re “for creators who want to have that direct audience relationship, that is not just about content, but it’s also about commerce and it’s also about selling access to that premium content.”

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On Wattpad, writers retain the rights to their work, says general manager Jeanne Lam. They can approach literary agents and publishers on their own — success on the platform can serve as proof of concept — or they can publish through Wattpad Books.

The company uses machine learning technology — combined with flesh-and-bone editors — to sift through millions of stories and identify those with publishing or paid-content potential.

So far, there are more than 400 writers in Wattpad’s paid stories program Lam says. And nearly 1,000 stories from the platform have been turned into books or adapted for TV and film.

Richardson, for her part, says she wasn’t thinking about the money when she joined Wattpad. She cherished the ability to reach out to readers all over the world and the chance to hone her craft, she says.

The cheques have been a nice surprise that happened to materialize exactly at the right time.

And if her book one day becomes a movie, she says, “why not? Wouldn’t that be fun?”




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Union push to improve delivery riders’ pay and conditions after five deaths in two months | Gig economy

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Australian unions will push for delivery riders’ pay and conditions to be set by the industrial tribunal to tackle a spate of five deaths in two months.

On Wednesday the Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, outlined the plan at the National Press Club, as the industrial relations minister Christian Porter accepted “there clearly is an issue” with the safety of the gig economy workers.

Porter revealed in question time he had discussed the problem with the Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine, who told Guardian Australia the union representing riders and drivers will continue to push for a national solution.

In Australia, food delivery riders are classified as independent contractors, responsible for maintaining their own equipment and incentivised to rush orders to achieve rates that amount to less than the minimum wages of $19.84 an hour.

Five food delivery riders have died in road accidents in the past two months. Many were recent migrants or visa-holders who had come to Australia in search of a better life.

McManus said the “shameful tragedy” shows gig economy workers had been “abandoned” by the government, tech giants and inadequate workplace laws.

Asked what solution unions will pursue, McManus said the movement did not want to go down the route attempted by California to reclassify the workers as employees, arguing gig economy companies will attempt to sidestep the laws with small tweaks in their practices.

“We think we have got to get away from talking about employees or not and talk about workers,” she said.

McManus said the “best way” to tackle the issue “is to empower someone like the Fair Work Commission to deem a group of workers [such as] delivery riders, as getting the rights of the Fair Work Act”. That would include the minimum wage, the ability to collectively bargain, and access to paid leave, she said.

Labor’s shadow industrial minister, Tony Burke, last week flagged Labor support for that proposal, describing it as “one option” that could be adopted easily to improve conditions in the gig economy.

By allowing the commission to regulate workers that are “employee-like”, the government could prevent workers “being exploited and receiving less than minimum rates”, he told the Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation on Friday.

In question time, Labor MP Josh Burns asked about Chow Khai Shien, who he said “dreamed of owning a restaurant and working as a chef”, but died while delivering food in Melbourne October.

Porter replied he had a “very productive and informative meeting” with Kaine discussing the issue, but occupational health and safety for the drivers “is essentially a state-based responsibility”.

“But there’s no doubt that there are issues to be addressed here as the gig economy gets well and truly indentured into the area of deliveries and food deliveries,” he said.

Porter added that he had “deepest sympathies” for the families of drivers who had accidents.

Porter said there was “no doubt that there is a leadership role for the commonwealth to play” and he committed to raise the issue at the ministerial council with states and territories.

The federal agency, Safe Work Australia, will also investigate “exactly how those laws are not operating in the most efficient way with respect to those drivers”, he said.

Kaine told Guardian Australia it was “a good thing” that Porter had acknowledged the problem, describing it as “progress”.

Although the TWU will also pursue legal change at the state level, Kaine rejected the claim it is solely a state responsibility.

“It’s a federal responsibility – this is a federal government of the same political hue as the one that grabbed responsibility for workplace laws with their WorkChoices legislation, and the same is true of the Independent Contractors Act,” he said.

“They have captured work – so they have to deal with the gaps … They can’t just push it off to the states.”

Kaine argued that work health and safety laws don’t address the underlying pressures including “incredibly low rates of pay”.

Under the TWU proposal, the Fair Work Commission would consider whether classes of worker, like food delivery riders, were “highly dependent” on tech companies for work, and award them higher pay and conditions.

In 2012 the TWU persuaded the Gillard Labor government to create a road safety remuneration tribunal to set the pay and conditions of truck owner-drivers in a bid to improve safety.

The Turnbull government abolished the body in 2016, arguing it disadvantaged independent contractors bidding for work and competing on price against large trucking companies.

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The gig economy will continue to grow postpandemic. Is your company ready?

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Ritva Nosov is the founder of TalentEd Consulting Inc., an advisory firm providing full-service support at the intersection of people, culture and the law. She is the leadership lab columnist for December, 2020.

COVID-19 has gotten all the credit. It has been attributed with overturning our well-worn work norms and sending them into uncharted territory. But there is another big trend that has been revolutionizing our work world for years. It is the gig-ification of our economy.

According to Statistics Canada, a gig worker is defined as an unincorporated, self-employed individual who enters into contracts to complete specific tasks and/or projects for individuals or organizations. Recently, most of the headlines associated with gig workers have revolved around Foodora or Uber drivers seeking unionization and arbitration rights through the courts. Meanwhile, the white-collar work world has been quietly ushering in gig workers for many years. A recent survey conducted by staffing firm Randstad estimated that gig workers already made up between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the professional work world – and that was in the pre-COVID-19 era.

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For organizations, gigs are a means to access a larger pool of talent while saving on recruiting and employment costs. As my consulting practice has grown, I have increasingly received questions from organizations about how to address hiring for gigs. The murky world of gig work certainly raises interesting questions for both parties.

As an employer, the first question to address is: Who are you hiring? That will determine the contract you draft with your gig worker. Along the worker classification spectrum, there are three main categories: employees, dependent contractors and independent contractors. Traditionally, gig workers were defined as independent contractors in employment law. What this means for them is that they are not covered by employment legislation, such as the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Employment Standards Act, 2000.

The potential for problems creeps in when misclassification of a gig worker happens, as it regularly does. Has the gig worker you hired become economically reliant on you as their one employer? If so, they are now classified as a dependent contractor and their rights, and your obligations as an employer, have changed. In Canada, the onus has been shifting onto employers to prove that their contractors are not actually employees. It is anticipated that this shift will only continue.

At this time, there is no one conclusive test that can be universally applied to determine the status of a worker. Instead, the courts ask whether the gig worker engaged to perform the set services is performing them as a person in business on their own account. Other factors taken into consideration include the level of control the employer has over the gig worker’s activities, ownership of tools and/or equipment, the opportunity for profit, risk of loss, as well as the intention of both parties.

As gig work becomes more common, the courts will increasingly be called upon to interpret gig work cases, and legislation will in turn need to be drawn up or amended to better reflect our current employment needs.

In the meantime, it a wise idea for organizations to seriously consider how they classify their gig workers, and how that is reflected in the contracts signed between both parties, both when they begin at your organization and throughout their tenure there. Employers should schedule a regular checkpoint to reflect on the current nature of the employer-gig worker relationship. Keep in mind things can change a lot in a few months’ time span. For example, has the gig worker you hired as an independent contractor now taken on more responsibilities with the departure of their team member? Are they now working predominantly for you? If yes, then it is time to draw up a new contract that better reflects the current employment circumstances.

As an employer, there are too many risks and liabilities associated with getting misclassification and the contract wrong. Work will no longer be a physical place; instead it will increasingly resemble a series of gigs in the future. Prepare for the gig-ified economy, for it has indeed arrived.

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Ritva Nosov, founder, TalentEd Consulting.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about the world of work. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab and guidelines for how to contribute to the column here.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today or follow us at @Globe_Careers.



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Gig Line: Thankfulness abounds – The Coastland Times

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Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, but I hope the day you spent with your loved ones was as special as you all wanted it to be! As for me, I am thankful for many things in my life, even with all the stress we are all going through these days, because we still have so much to smile about.

The sun is still shining, the sky is still blue and the clouds are still fluffy white and hanging in the sky just like God placed them; the trees are pretty even when they shed their leafy clothing in preparation for winter temps; duck blinds are being repaired or reinforced and the crunch of hunters’ boots making their way to a deer stand still fill the air; watermen are still searching for a load of tuna and smaller fish, too, for those that sit in wait; good neighbors are listening for the needs of others who are shut in, homebound or living day to day more alone than ever feeling almost total isolation; business owners who can contribute to the good of our communities still give from good hearts; food pantries are serving folks going through hard times offering blessings of kindness and nutrition; EMTs are evaluating the injured and sick hoping to keep  COVID at bay; prayers are still going up every single day for our family, our friends, our nation and for those who have lost a loved one.

In this time, we have been through much, but tomorrow is another day to rejoice in the blessings that surround us even now. We have our military men and women – those who have “been there, done that” who have experienced the worst of the worst and those who are currently standing guard now away from their families dedicated to our protection from foreign adversaries; law enforcement who continue their commitment to try to make life safer, more orderly and better for all of us. Our blessings are great, even in the worst of this, so I thank the mighty men and women who sacrifice so much for our peace of mind, restful sleep and protection.

The memories of days gone by are precious; old pictures, clunky projector slide shows and even videos of when we were little riding our first bike, catching our first fish or sitting at the dinner table chowing down on foods that feed not only our belly but our spirit as well come to mind. We do, folks, have a lot to be thankful for and worrying about what we “coulda, woulda, shoulda” done differently makes no difference, but rather what we “want to, can and will do” will leave a mark for the future.

In the last year or few, some of our local icons that we have called on for advice or looked up to with respect – like one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Wayne Gray – and other mentors have retired or sadly ascended to Heaven and they are missed. The impressions and marks they have left on our lives will go on as long as we do, but for now we can be grateful for their advice, their indelible mark and the blessing of having known them. The pastors who preach to us all, pray for our youth and sit at the bedside of those preparing for their imminent journey are precious treasures too, just as their wives and children who miss dinners and special events at their own home because those God called to serve in that very special capacity are at the side of others in need.

Thinking for a second about all the volunteers who help with fundraising events, who collect and distribute gifts to children at Christmas; who visit nursing homes and skilled care facilities to bring cheer to those who cannot live in their own home; those who take church members no longer able to drive themselves to and from church – not for praise or for a pat on the back or recognition from the pulpit, but just because they want to. We have so much good all around us and if you stand in one spot and turn 360 degrees, your eyes will likely ascend on someone or something that has touched your life.

We are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. We have communities that mesh from the extreme north to the extreme south end of the Outer Banks inundated with sweet, loving, good people who care if you are sick, out of work, out of food, out of company and alone; if someone has made bad choices but wishes to start over, our towns and villages offer forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts. Happy is living here and being one of many authentic born and bred or who moved here because they fell in love with what we have and who we are.

From our little boys and girls who grow up on the water, learning water safety and how to dock a skiff, throw a cast net, drop a crab pot or pull a shrimp net . . . we are Outer Bankers, thank you Lord.

Thanksgiving should be in all of our hearts day in and day out and the beautiful glow of Christmas is coming soon, when we continue our celebration of thankfulness even more so in honor of and in appreciation for God’s precious son Jesus Christ, in recognition of His Holy birth and remarkable life, the miracles He performed; His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. He is our hope, He is our ability to feel love, express joy, offer forgiveness and embrace one another. He and He alone is what brought my sweet Billy and I together; He in us created the most wonderful son and daughter and four beautiful grandchildren we could have ever hoped for and I am so thankful and blessed.

As the season of the most special gift and example of true love to all of us approaches, remember our men and women in uniform; pray for their safety, clear thinking and good judgement in defense of others. Stay true to yourselves and to those you influence and be proud of the man or woman you are. We have so much to give.

Please, please, please – if you are able to offer your life saving blood, please make an effort to participate in the Red Cross Blood Drive at the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Tuesday, December 1 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Wednesday, December 2 from noon-6 p.m., sponsored that time by the Outer Banks Association of Realtors – yippee! Go fellow Realtors!

Also, for anyone who has attended or would like to attend the 13-week Grief Share class, it will be rescheduled to begin in January 2021. Peggy Snead, the outstanding program coordinator and facilitator, is another of our sweet blessings and she is eager to again offer the outstanding weekly group meeting (social distancing adamantly observed). I will keep you all posted as the time for it to begin draws nigh, so please watch for the update in future Gig Line columns. Holidays are such a happy time for us, but also a time of reflection and with that sometimes comes tears. Grief Share is a way of realizing similar feelings, reactions and thoughts that others express to a “T” just like we do when we lose someone we love. No matter the relationship, I promise from personal experience that the study is a comfort and provides a measure of healing. Please just think about it, no matter who you have lost or how long ago it happened.

Do you know a veteran who needs some help? Or a friend? If you do, please let us know by calling either myself at 252-202-2058 or Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer, at 252-475-5604. Either of us can issue the Dare County Veteran Discount Card offering local discounts to nearly 100 businesses with proof of your DD-214 Honorable Discharge, your driver’s license (not necessarily from North Carolina) and proof of your Dare County residency showing either a long term tenant lease (or utility bill in your name) or a Dare County tax bill of vacant or improved land ownership. (Note: no copies are taken or kept, it is for review purposes only.) Call either of us for more information and an appointment and please bring your mask or let us know in advance that you need one.

Until next time, be happy, be safe and be proud! God bless you and your family and remember, even though we may never have met, I love you anyway! Stay tuned.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

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