As one of the top salespeople at his publishing company, Nenad was no stranger to success. But that success came at a price.
“I worked with some of the top people in my country. But I realized I couldn’t continue working for someone else without sacrificing my own peace and comfort. I simply didn’t want to be subject to the whims and ego of my boss anymore.”
The constant travel requirements and not having control over his own schedule had also taken their toll on Nenad’s life. So after working at the same company over two years, he decided to try something different.
“It was important for me to do business the way I wanted to, and the first step to that was working for myself – not anyone else. So I decided to become a freelancer.”
Eager to get started, Nenad created a profile on Upwork. He’d dabbled in graphic design at his job, though he’d never officially done it professionally — until now.
“I’d taken some design classes in high school and continued practicing over the years. I also designed some book covers as part of my job at the book publisher, so it seemed like a good fit.”
Struggling to charge what he’s worth
Although Nenad had no trouble winning a few Upwork jobs right out of the gate, he wasn’t charging nearly as much as he wanted to. “When I started out, the first hit I had was at just $10 per hour.”
He also found he wasn’t spending much time doing the type of work he enjoyed. “Those first jobs involved a lot of manual and repetitive tasks — not exactly the kind of stuff I love to do!”
Being able to control his own schedule and work from home were important to the life Nenad wanted for himself. But he knew he needed to improve his freelance business if he wanted to turn that dream into reality.
“I started looking for anything that would help me do better and raise my rates. I was doing a lot of research, trying to grow and learn.”
From $10/hr…to $1,400 for a single-page website
After about a year of experimenting and researching, Nenad came across the Freelance To Win blog.
“Here was a guy saying that he wanted to share tips on raising your rates and getting new clients. Who’s going to say ‘No’ to that? So I signed up for Danny’s 5 Upwork Hacks.
Once he’d finished reading through the hacks, Nenad put them to the test.
“The hacks were amazing. They helped me realize that I’d been charging too little, so I raised my rate to $35/hr. The best part is that I actually landed a couple of clients at that rate!”
Nenad was ecstatic to have a few more clients at his new, higher rate. But he didn’t stop there.
“After I implemented the hacks, the first big project I got was to design a single page website for around $1,400. That’s when I knew that Danny’s material really works.”
Climbing the online freelancing ladder
Nenad was already charging more than when he first started out on Upwork. But now, he was ready to take his results to the next level.
“The moment the hacks proved themselves to be effective, I was interested in Danny’s course. I finally joined Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker after about 3 months. Looking back, my only mistake was not buying the course sooner.”
After reviewing the course material, Nenad quickly discovered that there was a lot more he could do to improve his freelancing business.
“Even before joining SSFU, I’d done plenty of research to do better at freelancing. But some of the insights I learned from the course showed me that I’d been totally wrong about a lot of this stuff.”
What stood out most to Nenad were the deep mental frameworks that helped him redefine his entire approach to freelancing.
“No one else talks about positioning. I’d never even heard of it before. But now, I use it not just for my own freelancing business but for my clients’ businesses too. The idea of positioning even helped me become a better designer.”
Nenad also realized that being a top freelancer isn’t just about having technical skills.
“I think the course is valuable for everyone. Regardless of what industry, we’re all in the same business: making money. To do that, you have to master the fine art of marketing yourself.”
Learning from other freelancers
Through the SSFU private community, Nenad learned the value of connecting with a diverse group of fellow freelancers.
“When I started freelancing, I only offered design services. But after joining the course, I started a conversation with another student on the forum who was a writer.”
Through that connection, Nenad learned about copywriting.
“Once I started researching it, I knew I wanted to add copywriting to my skillset and offer it to my clients. Without help from the community, I’d have had a much harder time finding the best place to start.”
Having realized the value of offering more services, Nenad continues learning new skills that make him a more valuable asset to his clients and help him stand out from his competitors.
“Right now, I’m a designer and writer. I prepare everything, from concept, to writing and design, and give it to their developers as a final piece. I’m thinking of getting into development as well so I can provide an entire website to my clients.”
An abundance of new opportunities
After graduating SSFU, Nenad started looking for new Upwork projects to tackle.
“The moment I finished the course, the first job I got was for $1,700 to help design an app for telemedicine. The thing is, I had absolutely no experience with this kind of work… I didn’t even have a single UX portfolio piece at that time. ”
But his lack of experience with UX design didn’t prevent him from catching the client’s attention.
“I didn’t even submit a proposal to the job — the client found my Upwork profile and invited me to chat. And it was just because I’d proved myself to be more professional than other freelancers.”
Then things got even better. Once he started working on the project, the client surprised him with an all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey.
“My client actually paid for me to visit him in Istanbul for 3 days so that we could start drawing his app in person, on paper. As you can guess, I had a really fun time!”
By the end of the project, Nenad had wowed the client with his work — and made a new friend for life.
“The client was extremely happy with the final result. I completed the job in such detail that his developers had to think very little. The best part is, I’m still in touch with him even though years have gone by.”
Pushing his career and lifestyle forward
Today, Nenad has fully unlocked the “Hidden Upwork Economy” — meaning Upwork clients come to him, not the other way around.
“I designed my current tagline, ‘UX and Persuasion’, through Danny’s course and it’s gotten me a ton of invites. I basically haven’t applied to any jobs for over a year…all the jobs I get are through invites.”
And Nenad’s existing clients keep coming back to him with more work.
“A few months ago, I had a client contact me for a website redesign. After I took a look at his website, I sent over a brief and the client hired me right away. I ended up getting $1,400 for a 4-page website. The client loved the end result and over time, I’ve worked on 3 more projects with him.”
Getting so many offers puts Nenad in the driver’s seat, allowing him to choose which clients he works with.
“I like working with clients that are making a difference in the world. My most recent client is researching behavioral economics. They’re providing services that help consultants make consumers more aware. It’s a very unique project and I’ve never worked on something like that before — I find it very interesting.”
Now that he’s freelancing, Nenad doesn’t have to travel for work anymore. Instead, he gets to choose when and where to go.
“Last year I went to SeaDance, a music festival by the sea in Budva. It truly was a pleasure — sunshine, music, pizza, beer, ice cream and even a bit of romance.”
Overall, Nenad is loving the freelance lifestyle. And he’s optimistic that things will only get better from here.
“From freelancing, I got to create my own life. I got more freedom, more autonomy, I choose my own clients, and have much more potential for personal growth.”