Tom had been growing increasingly frustrated with his corporate engineering job and often toyed with the idea of trying something new and different in the back of his mind. But when he and his wife decided to make a big family change, he felt he was left with no choice but to soldier on through the 9 – 5.
“My wife and I had recently packed up and moved down to Nashville. It was a huge move for us, and our daughter was still very young — so I wasn’t really in a position to quit and try something new. I had to support my family. So I took another full-time engineering job and hoped it would work out.”
And while he never let his frustration get in the way of his performance — he was an excellent engineer, and climbed the ranks quickly — his new job turned out to be a huge mistake.
“It was the absolute worst in every respect. The thing is, I’m very meritocratic in my thinking. I believe that great ideas and hard work should be respected and appreciated. At my new job, valuable ideas were routinely vetoed just because they didn’t fit somebody’s agenda. I couldn’t stand it.”
Pretty soon, he found himself at a crossroads.
“I worked myself high-up enough that I had a choice: I could either become upper-level management, or go out on my own as a consultant. Both options required more hours, more travel, more headache — all for less time with my family, and the same lack of recognition.”
Thoroughly fed-up with all the red tape and bureaucracy he faced on a regular basis, Tom decided enough was enough. Instead of settling for the lesser of two evils, he created an entirely new option for himself.
A blast from the past
He knew that if he was going to make a change, he wanted to really shake things up — he wasn’t just looking for another run-of-the-mill office job.
“I had tried freelancing a few times before we moved, but I could never quite work out the kinks. But the idea of working for myself stayed with me. I knew I had decent writing skills, based on some other stuff I had tried in the past. I just needed to figure out how to make it work this time.”
With a few failed attempts under his belt, he knew he’d need to try something different than before.
“I had followed a bunch of blogs and how-to-freelance sites before, but this time I kept coming back to Freelance To Win. I liked it because there was a lot of stuff on there that I could try immediately, just to see if it worked. So I made an Upwork account and experimented a bit.”
Tom was pleased to see that the strategies he found on the blog did work — pretty soon, he was starting to win jobs and make some money. Eventually, he felt comfortable investing in Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker — but under one condition.
“It seemed like SSFU could be the boost I needed to really get things going, but I still needed to maintain my income. I wanted to go through the course material and do a proof-of-concept experiment to measure how much progress I could make in a couple of months. So instead of diving in head first, I decided to keep my day job and just follow the course during my spare time.”
From 0 to 60 in no time at all
Things took off much more quickly than he expected. Before long, freelancing started looking like a seriously viable option.
“The course breaks Upwork apart like a freaking puzzle. All the pieces are mapped out: how to get in front of clients, how to set up a profile from scratch, how to send out proposals that get responses, everything…I was able to go from 0 to 60 very quickly.”
Tom was surprised to learn why a common Upwork strategy — offering as many services as possible — was the wrong way to get the most clients.
“The thing that’s helped me the most was learning how to optimize my profile. Before that, I was offering a lot of different copywriting services and getting a private invitation once a week or so. But once I narrowed my focus and tweaked my profile, the way Danny teaches in the course, the private invites started flowing in — like two or three a day. It was almost too many.”
With an inbox overflowing with work requests, Tom decided to up the ante.
“I was able to raise my rates really quickly using the things I learned in the course, and was able to start charging $85/hr. All of the invites I get now are at that rate (or higher), so I have a lot of incrediible options to choose from. Basically, I’m not forced to accept any job unless it’s something I really want to do.”
The final nail in the corporate coffin
With his freelancing career skyrocketing and no end in sight, Tom couldn’t turn down a long-awaited opportunity when it fell into his lap.
“My manager tried to force me into unpaid overtime, and I basically told him to fuck off. I decided I was going to quit right there, on the spot — I didn’t have to think about my income or any of that. I didn’t need to put up with it anymore, and it’s all because of how I’ve built my freelancing career.”
Saying “no” to his corporate boss was just the beginning. Now, he has plenty of practice turning down work unless it’s the perfect opportunity.
“It’s been weird making the transition from ‘dying to land a client’ to ‘figuring out how to tactfully say no.’ It’s a pretty great problem to have.”
Getting the respect he’d always searched for
After years of feeling unsettled, Tom finally feels comfortable in his work environment.
“It’s been really nice to establish a core set of regular clients that I can build relationships with. The money is great, but being able to choose who I work with because I like them and they value my work — that’s really what’s made the difference for me.”
He thought he was playing it safe by taking another “regular” job when they moved to Nashville. Now, he realizes that freelancing offers way more job security than any 9 to 5.
“The probability that all of my clients are going to disappear overnight is much lower than the probability of making a single wrong move at work and getting fired. It’s counterintuitive, but the truth is that salary positions are definitely not as secure as they used to be.”
He also doesn’t have to worry about abandoning great ideas because someone higher-up doesn’t like them.
“The thing I love about freelancing is that if you’re willing to put in the work, you can make fast progress. With more traditional jobs, your earning opportunities are limited to what stage you’re at or how much experience you have. None of that matters in freelancing. When I do great work, I’m recognized and compensated appropriately for it.”
Being present for the little things
Tom is finally able to dedicate time to the things he’s always known were his priority.
“When my daughter was born, I took six months off to be home with her. Going back to work after that was brutal. Seeing the contrast between the impact you can have in your child’s life when you’re there all the time versus spending the majority of your time somewhere else — that was a big motivating factor for me to get into freelancing.”
He makes his schedule work for his family, instead of the other way around.
“If my wife is having a particularly difficult day with my daughter, I can take an hour here or there to pick up the slack. And then I can work when she’s asleep. It’s just a lot more conducive to family life, and that’s huge for me.”
His daughter will always remember her dad being there when it mattered the most — those small, everyday moments that most people miss out on.
“Our town is very family friendly, so if there’s something going on downtown we can just block off that time. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. We just get up and go do it, and I adjust my schedule accordingly.”
With freelancing, Tom is finally starting to settle in and get comfortable with his lifestyle.
“I just have so much more peace of mind knowing that I can provide a permanent income and help my family meet our financial goals — and be happy while doing it. We want to buy a house soon, and I know we’re going to be able to do that with my freelancing career.”