Writer Spotlight: Ruby Kalten – It’s Your Move

Even before the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit inspired a new generation of players, the game of chess has been a metaphor for life. Players can advance their pieces with caution or take bold risks, creating a sequence of maneuvers that have likely never been played out before.

We’ve been contemplating the art of chess thanks to our chat with this month’s featured writer. Meet Robert, known on Crowd Content’s job boards and writer forum as Ruby Kalten. A skilled copywriter, keen traveller and chess enthusiast, Robert’s story is its own series of intriguing moves.

These have led him 6,000 miles from his hometown of Longview, Washington to “around” Eastern Europe. “I don’t have residency anywhere I’m interested in living, but I currently spend about a third of the year in Skopje, Macedonia,” he says.

In true adventurous fashion, he’s not sure how long he’ll be in the heart of the Balkans. “Once my roommate moves out with her boyfriend, I might pack my bags and settle in on the Croatian coast or run off to India or Laos,” he adds. While this is the perfect example of the free-flowing lifestyle enjoyed by freelancers, I would like to request that Robert take his laptop and Crowd Content login credentials with him.

As for how he ended up in Skopje and writing for our platform? “I had a brief, ill-advised stint in the Air Force starting from 17 that went nowhere fast,” he begins. “I hunted down various odd jobs during my first couple years abroad and did temp work during a brief return to the U.S.”

Before long, Robert discovered he could use his knack for writing to pay the bills. In 2019, he settled into freelance copywriting with Crowd Content out of pure luck. “My ex-girlfriend compromised my Textbroker account,” he explains. “After googling ‘online writing jobs’, I signed up for Crowd Content just in time to pay rent via the Walmart Canada project.”

Robert hit the ground running, tackling pretty well any topic clients sent his way. “Finance, crypto, gaming, behavioral health, fashion, CBD and cannabis, adult toys, auto advice, technology … I’m comfortable and confident writing just about anything,” he explains. When pressed to pick a preferred project out of the many he’s worked on, he gives a nod to the Catena slot game descriptions. “The consistency and regularity … has made them a favorite,” he says.

Robert’s versatility makes him one of our more prolific writers, moving easily between projects and teams. In fact, he’s written more than one million words on the platform, which is no small accomplishment given the relatively short time he’s been here.

He has solid advice for new writers interested in a similarly fruitful writing career. “Take it easy, ask questions, be proactive when you need help. You will always be better off speaking to the content manager than not doing so,” he recommends.

While Robert’s writing pace suggests he’s working around the clock, he’s clearly a time management master. He finds plenty to keep him engaged outside of writing, which brings us (finally!) to chess.

“I’ve become quite the chess fanatic with several sets, many books and a projected FIDE rating around 1800,” Robert says. “I currently have far more confidence than competence but I’m aiming to get good within a year or two.” Being a thorough investigative reporter, I looked into the meaning of the FIDE ratings. They’re used by the International Chess Federation to rank the relative skill levels of players and fall on a scale of 100 to 2800. Since you’re considered an expert chess player once you hit 2000, Robert is being very humble about his talents.

I’m not nearly as highly rated by FIDE, but I do know that my game clock is running out. Let’s pick up the pace and see what else we can learn while we’ve got Robert’s attention.

What’s your favorite restaurant or meal? “I love homemade pierogi (Polish dumplings), either with a traditional filling or one of my own recipes. My most common meals are a Turkish döner kebab loaded with vegetables, slow-roasted chicken, garlic sauce, or cevapi, a common grilled meat dish from across the Balkans. You’ll find the best cevapi in Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast across the sea from Italy.” (Why does Writer Spotlight always make me hungry?)

Who is your favorite author? What’s your favorite book? “Ender’s Game is my favorite book but I consider Orson Scott Card too inconsistent to call him my favorite author.”

Do you have any hobbies or unusual interests? “I’ve grown fond of collecting kitschy Cold War-era memorabilia. I’ve absorbed a vast amount of in-depth historical knowledge, from politically expedient topics like the American Civil War and WWII to more niche and purely interesting things like the political situation in the Balkans.”

What’s your favorite TV show or movie? “I barely watch enough TV or movies to pick a favourite, but the most recent show I really enjoyed was The Good Doctor and I’m always happy to see a new anime adaptation of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.”

Where do you write? “When the weather is pleasant, I write outdoors; when it isn’t, I go to a bar or cafe.”

Have you been published by any notable sites or organizations? “I don’t know if it’s been published yet, but I wrote a personal life/work history for an organization in New Jersey.”

What do you think sets Crowd Content apart from other content platforms? “The culture is not just better but exists to start with. Summer and fall 2021 have been a continuous nightmare for me … so I’ve had occasion to appreciate that management is pretty understanding and supportive. The combination of the job board style with genuinely reasonable rates [makes] Crowd Content an enjoyable alternative to the Textbroker sweatshop or the psychological torture of Freelancer, Upwork, etc.”

Do you have a preferred type of writing? “I like long-form projects that fall on one or another extreme when it comes to guidelines and brief. I either want guidelines to be open-ended or extremely detailed and even a bit formulaic … I find content that’s more middle-of-the-road harder to get into.”

If you could change one thing about our platform, what would it be? “I’d like it if the teams were more visible and there was more information available, perhaps more in-platform communication methods. The Managed side is highly developed, what with the forum and email usage while working with repeat, high-volume marketplace clients is less intuitive.”

What do you find most challenging about writing content? “I find it difficult to accept when I’m not working at 100% and to accordingly stop taking on responsibilities at 100%”.

Complete this sentence: When I’m not working, I love to … “Hang around random cafes with a book.”

What are the five worst words in the English language? “Colonel, lisp, drawer, wiggle (I hate Jason Derulo), booger.”

And with that, my time is up. I’ll let Robert get back to his plans for soaking up the sun on the Croatian coast, and in the meantime, I’m off to find another writer to step into the spotlight. Who knows, maybe it’ll be you!

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Erin is the Community Manager at Crowd Content, and before that was a project manager here for 3 years. She lives in Massachusetts, is a baseball/Red Sox fanatic and loves spending time with her family.

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