Though Carrol was a great executive assistant, the long commute and mind-numbing work made her job feel like a chore.
“I had been at the same job for 15 years. Everyday, I’d get in my car and drive 45 minutes just to sit at my desk and be totally bored all day.”
Carrol desperately wanted to leave the corporate world, but she felt it was all she knew how to do. She quietly dreamed of pursuing her passion, but it felt more like fantasy than reality.
“I always wanted to make my living as a writer. I thought writing fiction was the bee’s knees but I didn’t know how to start.”
When she came across Upwork, it seemed like her prayers may have been answered. The idea of a freelance marketplace where “regular people” like her could apply to writing jobs was exactly what she’d been looking for.
“When I heard about Upwork, I started to think, ‘Maybe I can do this after all.’”
Dipping her toe into the online freelance marketplace
It didn’t take much of a commitment for Carrol to get started. With Upwork, exploring a new career didn’t require putting in a 2-week notice at her job.
“I was able to keep working my day job while I looked for freelance writing work in my free time. During weekends I would browse the available jobs and send out a few proposals whenever I could.”
But she didn’t get the results she was hoping for — at least initially.
“It took 3 whole months of sending proposal after proposal until I finally got my first job on Upwork. And it didn’t pay much.”
Carrol tried to remain optimistic. “I was excited to get my foot in the door of my dream career. But I saw others doing well, so I knew there had to be a better way.”
Forced into a big decision
As Carrol struggled to make freelance writing work, she suddenly found herself with the rug pulled out from under her.
“One day, I got laid off. That company had been through four downsizings since I first got hired, but for some reason I didn’t expect for there to be a fifth…and it never crossed my mind that my job would be on the chopping block.”
She now had a major decision to face: Figure out how to actually earn a living on Upwork, or find another boring desk job for the next 15 years.
“I didn’t want to go back and try getting another corporate job I would be absolutely miserable in…so I needed to make freelancing work.”
Carrol rolled up her sleeves and got to work — she needed to find a way to command higher rates if she was going to make her dream job a reality.
Determined to solve the Upwork puzzle
Carrol knew she had at least part of the equation figured out.
“I always tried to deliver top quality work to clients. And I did – the clients I had worked with loved me. So, I knew I had the skill…I just didn’t know how to get clients to pay me accordingly.”
One client was so impressed with her skills that she was awarded the job despite having bid higher than all of her competition.
“I had a client that had this story in mind but he knew he didn’t have the skills to write it so he hired me. And he mentioned at the time that I was the most expensive freelancer that applied for his job.”
She was ecstatic, but being the most expensive freelancer still wasn’t enough to pay the bills.
“Even as the highest bidder, the truth was he was still paying me peanuts. At the time, I was trying to make a living as a writer and he was hardly paying me anything.”
It almost seemed like she’d have to give up on her dreams of becoming a writer and get a “real” job to make ends meet.
“I was pretty upset and wondered whether I should quit freelancing and go back to the corporate world. I really didn’t want to but I was nearing the end of my rope.”
A new way of thinking about her work
Just as she was getting ready to throw in the towel and give up on her freelancing career, Carrol came across Freelance To Win.
“The Freelance To Win website was just so charming and so inviting that I ended up signing up for Danny’s 5 Upwork hacks.
From the hacks, Carrol realized that it was absolutely possible to make a living from freelancing. She just needed to think about her work a little differently — quality work alone wasn’t going to get her higher rates.
“Even though I was offering high quality work, I was intimidated by the competition and so I was afraid to ask for what I thought I was worth. If I really wanted to write fiction for a living, I had to value my work more highly.”
Getting paid what she deserves
Armed with this new mindset, Carrol decided to put it into action by doing the “unthinkable” — asking her best client for a raise.
“I ended up going back to the client who was paying me peanuts and even though I was having a lot of fun writing his story, I just laid it on the line with him. I told him I needed to make more money.”
The client tried to hang tight to the low price, but Carrol persisted. She was ready to walk away from a job she really loved to get the pay she deserved.
“He said, ‘But you were the most expensive one anyway!’ I held my ground. I loved the project but I was willing to risk losing this client altogether if he couldn’t meet my price.”
Carrol had managed to muster up the courage to do the one thing even seasoned freelancers shy away from — negotiate. And it really paid off.
“He thought about it for a few days and apparently he didn’t want to lose me. He ended up giving me 4 times more than he was paying me originally.”
Taking her freelancing career a step further
Having already 4X’ed her earnings from just the free hacks, Carrol decided to invest further in her freelancing career by joining Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker.
“Even before signing up for Danny’s course I ended up making considerably more on a job I was already working on. But I knew there was a lot more I could do to build my freelancing business and that sold me.”
Once in the course, she followed the proven system that many other freelancers had used to build a full-time freelancing business.
One of the first things she did was update her profile to make it more about connecting with the client, not talking about “me, myself, and I.”
“My profile before was really boring. It was ‘here are my qualifications, I have a degree, blah blah blah…’ But when I boosted my profile using the techniques in the course, it became much more interesting and much more engaging.”
The way she approached proposals changed as well — she didn’t go in for a hard sell right out of the gate.
“My proposals are different now too. They’re short and sweet. They’re not just about getting the job; they’re about starting a conversation.”
Being part of a community
Carrol loved learning the techniques high-end freelancers use to command top rates. But her favorite part of the course was the new community she became a part of.
“The SSFU forum is the best thing since the qwerty keyboard and well worth the price of the course. I thought I was a freelancer working alone in a dog-eat-dog world, but that’s not true. There’s a real community here.”
“One of the best parts about freelancing is being able to work alone. One of the worst parts about freelancing is feeling alone.”
She loved learning valuable insights from other freelancers and having somewhere to turn to when things weren’t going so great.
“I love how we share with each other our successes and pitfalls. I learn so much from other freelancers like how to deal with clients. I know I can go to the forum when I’m at a low point, when I need encouragement.”
A better career leads to a better life
Nowadays, Carrol’s commute is way shorter than it was 2 years ago.
“Instead of driving 45 minutes every morning, I go from my couch to the coffee pot!”
Nor does she worry about finding a “steady” job. In fact, she’s realized that freelancing is more stable than a traditional job.
“For so long, I believed in the myth that freelancing is more uncertain than a traditional job. I clung to it as Absolute Truth, forgetting just how miserable I was at my last traditional job. The company went through four downsizings in just the time that I was there. That way of life was way less certain than my freelancing career is now.”
With the number of jobs on Upwork, she knows she won’t be running out of work anytime soon.
“The truth is, there are literally hundreds — maybe thousands — of jobs on Upwork at any one moment that would be great for me. When I finish up with one client, another one is right around the corner.”
Even the lack of a “steady paycheck” has become an advantage for Carrol. It’s now one of her favorite parts of freelancing. What other paycheck grows every week?
“These days, thanks to my having run into Freelance To Win on the interweb, I watch my freelancing income rise with each passing month. Every day, it becomes easier to make life happen on my terms.”
Doing work she loves — on her own terms
Today Carrol’s work molds itself around her lifestyle, not the other way around.
“My life is totally different than what it was before. When I want to take a break, I take a break. If I want to I can just take a walk around the block and I don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to do that.”
And all those problems she struggled with when she first started out seem to have melted away. Carrol is making a living doing work she truly enjoys.
“I’m just happy as a clam to be able to pay the bills by doing something I truly love. I’ve had a steady stream of clients willing to pay fair fees for my work. The feast-and-famine cycle is over for this freelancer, and that’s a win in my book.”