Russell never considered himself an “office drone” — his work at a breast cancer charity felt meaningful. But there was something standing in the way of him feeling truly fulfilled.
“The charity was great, but the commute was awful. I was away from my family for more hours than I was with them, and it felt like half of that time was spent sitting in traffic. I went to bed every night just dreading the next morning. It made me completely resent the job.”
He was desperate for a change — but he’d need to suffer through the commute a bit longer to make it happen.
“My company had been promising me a raise for quite a while. My wife and I planned to use that money to move our family somewhere new. I stuck things out because I knew that as soon as I got that raise, we’d be out of there. I waited and waited but the raise never came.”
Tired of waiting on someone else to bring about the change he so desperately craved, he decided to take things into his own hands.
“I couldn’t stand being jerked around any longer, so I quit. We left without the raise. After the way my office job ended, I knew I wanted to transition to freelancing. I wanted a stable, full-time income, working as my own boss, from my laptop. I just needed to get my foot in the door.”
Not all advice is created equal
Russell wasted no time exploring his options.
“Once we got settled, I signed up for a virtual assistant freelancing course. I did a lot of that kind of work at my old job, so it seemed like a good place to start. As soon as I completed the class, I got on Upwork to see what kinds of jobs were out there.”
Following the advice of several “how-to-be-a-freelancer” blogs, he tried out a few strategies that would help him land his first job ASAP…or so he thought.
“I wrote a couple of canned proposals where I’d just change the name every time I applied to a job. I thought that would save me time. I also charged a really low hourly rate, because I thought it would seem appealing to clients — great work at a low cost.”
As it turned out, though, Russell’s plan was costing him tons of time, energy, and money.
“I actually ended up in a bit of financial trouble because I was just plowing all of my effort into this, and I got stuck in a bog of low-paid VA jobs. I was working all the time, but not even close to making ends meet. I thought, ‘There’s got to be another way to do this.’”
He wasn’t ready to give up. He knew that there had to be a way to make this work — he just needed to find a different approach.
“One day, I came across Freelance To Win and it was just like, ‘Ping!’” I started using the Crystal Ball Technique and right off the bat, I won some great jobs. I decided the Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker course would be well worth it, so I signed up.”
Learning the inner workings of clients’ minds
After finishing Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker, Russell quickly learned how to improve his proposals so they’d get noticed.
“The course helped me learn how to write them so that they’re succinct, easy to write, and actually win jobs. Eventually, I nailed down a system, and now I don’t even have to spend a lot of time on them.”
He also learned another surefire way to attract clients without needing to send a single proposal.
“I totally revamped my profile using the psychology I learned in the course. When a client looks for a freelancer on Upwork, they can see that I’ll add value to their business. I’ve gotten a lot of private invites through my profile alone, so I don’t even need to spend time looking for jobs — clients come to me instead.”
But one of Russell’s biggest surprises came from a simple exercise he would never have expected…
“One of the most eye-opening parts of the course was the exercise about posting my own job from the client side and analyzing the responses. I cannot believe how much I took away from that. I felt like I’ve hacked the entire Upwork code from that alone.”
Russell finally realized he didn’t need to charge peanuts to win jobs. In fact, he has clients banging down his door at his premium rate.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I have almost too much work. I’ve climbed up to $100/hour — nearly 4 times what I initially charged — and my schedule is completely full up with work at that rate.”
He’s learned what it means to really work — and it’s not the same thing as showing up at 9 and leaving at 5.
“When I worked in an office, I was gone for most of the day, but I felt like I was just spinning my wheels. As a freelancer, I’m super efficient with my time — I’m working harder, but I’m also working smarter. If I were to go back to a ‘regular’ job, I’d be gone more and making less.”
Russell found a way to make freelancing fun — exactly the way he always knew it could be.
“I’m not chained to my laptop anymore. In the beginning, I felt like I had to be working all the time just to make ends meet because my rates were so low. Now, my schedule is full, but I don’t need to work all the time because I have so many premium clients. I’ve gotten my work to a fairly bulletproof state.”
Loving everyday life and a bright future ahead
With remote work, Russell no longer dreads the sight of his car.
“I think the biggest change for me is having spare time. I’m not sitting in traffic, literally wasting my day away, five days a week. I have all that time freed up for doing other stuff that I enjoy.”
There is one trip, however, that’s worth a bit of travel time.
“I’m taking my family on a weeklong vacation to Italy. I’m so excited. I’ll take my laptop with me, but just to check in on things. I’ve let my clients know that I’m taking a week off, and they’re all perfectly fine with it. It’ll be nice not to be panicked about work while I’m gone.”
He can also start confidently planning for his future.
“Now that I’ve nudged over the $100 an hour mark, I’m putting money aside for the first time ever. Even when I had my office job, all of my paycheck was going to mortgage, food, gas. Now I have money leftover to treat myself, and my family, and still put some away.”
Russell is firmly planted in his location-independent career, and he’s got the whole world at his fingertips.
“We’re getting ready to move again. This time we’re going to the coast. We finally have enough savings in the bank to be able to choose wherever we want to live. Before, I’d need to take an office job, and probably an extra job, just to be in that kind of position.”
He no longer has to ask for permission to live his life the way he wants.
“At my office job, I always felt like, ‘Oh God. I’ve got to go and ask the HR manager again if I can pick up my daughter,’ or I’d need to ask for time off to go to her activities. I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. I’m available for all of it without feeling like I’m risking my job.”
Now, he makes sure his job works around his life, instead of the other way around.
“My family’s just in the next room while I work. And when I’m not working, I’m playing trains with my daughter or running around the garden. I finally get to enjoy the lifestyle that I’ve earned. It’s just incredible how much things have changed.”