Fresh out of college, Shajee did what most recent grads do: he found a job to pay the bills — even if it meant long hours and low pay.
“I finished school and started working right away. I worked 9 – 5, sometimes even 9 – 9. That’s typical in Pakistan. But I was repelled by the idea that I was working under someone.”
He knew he’d never be happy if he didn’t pursue his dream of working for himself. Desperate for a way out, Shajee quickly started looking for other options.
“I went to one of my professors and told him, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t stand this way of working.’ He was actually running his own company, so he told me I could come work for him part-time.”
Even though he’d still have to report to a boss, Shajee figured that working for someone he knew would be a step up. And having an “in” with the boss wasn’t the only perk…
“This new job was great for me — half of my workday was free so I was able to start my own photography business on the side. It still wasn’t ideal, but I was moving in the right direction.”
With his new side business up and running, Shajee was thrilled at his progress. But the success also drove him to attempt even more. Determined to make a living entirely on his own terms, he decided to take things a step further.
“After about a year, I was able to build my photography company up to a point where I felt ready to go out on my own. I quit my job (again) and started looking for freelance work to do while I wasn’t busy with my photography.”
A promising community gives discouraging advice
While he didn’t have any problems finding freelance clients, finding the right kind of clients proved more challenging.
“I started doing some offline freelancing in presentation design, but I always had problems with my clients. The revisions were never-ending, and there were so many payment issues. I didn’t know how to negotiate on my own terms.”
He needed to widen his pool of options in order to find clients he actually enjoyed working with. That’s when he started exploring some alternative options: online freelance marketplaces.
“I was excited when I found Upwork – there were so many clients to choose from. I sent out a few proposals, but I never even heard back about any of my applications. I was starting to feel very discouraged.”
Shajee had already come so far – he wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. He searched high and low for advice on how to succeed on Upwork and was surprised to find a group of people who seemed to be just like him.
“I found a Facebook group just for Upworkers in Pakistan. At first, I was excited — I thought they could help me get ahead. It seemed like the perfect chance to connect with people like me.”
But instead of helping him grow his business, the group gave him some pretty awful (and very common) advice.
“Everyone in the group kept telling me that I could only charge $5 or $10 an hour. They said that people from non-U.S. countries can’t charge high rates on places like Upwork. Not a single one of them believed that freelancers from Pakistan could get paid well.”
Escaping the undercut cult
Shajee was skeptical. He knew there had to be a way to earn as much as his American counterparts – he was just as skilled as any of them. But he couldn’t get the group’s advice out of his head.
“Even though it didn’t feel right, I actually tried taking their advice. I was offering work for next to nothing, but I still wasn’t winning jobs. I got back online and started looking for advice again…that’s when I found Danny’s course.”
Shajee was relieved to finally find a new way of looking at online freelancing. Best of all, it seemed like the strategies in the course could work for freelancers in any part of the world.
“I was worried about the price of the course at first. But at the same time I was thinking, ‘Okay, if he’s telling me I can do this — that I can raise my rates and I’ll earn the money back with a few jobs — I need to give myself this chance.’”
He went head first into Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I literally made the price of the course back in two jobs – exactly what the SSFU sales page said could happen. And I’ve learned since taking the course that all the advice I got, telling me that non-U.S. workers can’t charge high rates, couldn’t have been more wrong.”
A bouncer among beggars
It didn’t take long for Shajee to realize just how wrong that advice was. Using the proven formulas laid out in the course, he was able to raise his rates high enough to make more than enough to get by — in less than one work week.
“The cost of living in Pakistan is very cheap – most workers earn about $600/month, and that’s quite enough. I won a job at $60/hour, which comes out to just ten hours for a month’s income. And then I could be done for the month if I wanted.”
Not only that, but he’s mastered one of the most lucrative and little-known markets in online freelancing: the Hidden Upwork Economy.
“Every single job I’ve completed has been through private invites. I haven’t had to send any proposals since taking the course. I’m actually at the point where I’m turning down invites because I’ve worked 20 hours for the month and that’s more than enough.”
The secret to an inbox full of private invites? Shajee says it’s all thanks to his optimized Upwork profile.
“The thing that changed everything for me was learning how to position myself — how to change my profile so that I stand out. It was counter-intuitive, but I learned exactly how to do it.”
And while his Pakistani freelancer friends are surprised (and jealous), he knew he had it in him all along.
“I started out begging for jobs at $5/hour (and not getting any). Now, I don’t have to beg anyone for a job, or even apply for them. The clients come to me instead, and they don’t hesitate to pay me what I’m worth.”
Shajee is setting a new standard for how to be successful – and his friends are eager to know his secrets.
“Most people here go through years of promotions to make $1,000 a month…I can do that in just 20 hours. My friends complain to me that they work 12 hours a day just to make $500 in a month. And I say to them, ‘You never get any time for yourself or your family. What exactly are you working for?’”
A rich life — in all senses of the word
Speaking of family, Shajee isn’t the only one thankful for his flexible lifestyle.
“My wife and I just had our first baby. I would probably almost never see her if I had a regular job. It’s amazing. My friends almost never see their families, and I get to hold my daughter in my lap while I’m working.”
He also has time to pursue his passions. His offline photography business is booming – and he’s got big dreams for his future.
“I love that I can still give attention to my photography. I have a good balance. And in the future, if we ever want to move somewhere new – even very far away – I can keep my existing freelance clients while I establish a new photography business.”
He makes sure to leave plenty of time for leisure as well…
“Today I’m watching the India cricket match. India is actually Pakistan’s biggest rival, but Pakistan is already going to the finals. It might be a little confusing, but I’m rooting for India to win today so I can root against them in the final. Can you imagine? I’m spending the day rooting for a team I hate. Freelancing lets me do that.”
Best of all, Shajee is just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his potential, and there’s truly no end in sight.
“One of the best things that’s come out of freelancing is that now I have time and money to invest in myself. I’m using my freelance earnings to take more online courses. I want to start a new online business and give myself a third stream of income from work I love to do.”