Tsavo was conflicted about his future.
Despite being on track for a lucrative career in law, deep down he knew he wanted something different.
“I had just graduated with a history degree and the plan was to study law. I didn’t really want to go to law school, but I had student loans due soon. If I wanted to do something else with my life, I only had a few months to figure it out.”
One interest he thought about pursuing was website development.
“I’d been building WordPress websites as a hobby since 2011. I tried a bunch of other different things…affiliate marketing, digital marketing, online sales…but I realized that design and development was sort of my thing.”
Sidestepping barriers to entry
Without a formal programming education, Tsavo was worried it would be near-impossible to get a web design job.
“Getting a ‘real’ job as a web designer wasn’t even an option for me. I’m self taught. I didn’t go to school for it, I didn’t have work experience, and I didn’t have a portfolio. How would I even get an interview?”
But with the clock ticking, Tsavo was forced to think outside the box. That’s when it hit him: Maybe he could try freelancing.
I liked the idea of freelancing because here your degree doesn’t matter. It’s not just about school, it’s about ability. The market will decide whether you’re successful or not.
Tsavo wanted to make money as soon as possible, so he began looking for clients on Upwork.
“I was entirely new to the whole online freelancing game, but Upwork seemed like a really good professional platform with a lot of great opportunities. Jobs are being posted like every second. I pretty much just dove in and got started.”
Within a few months, Tsavo was starting to get the hang of freelancing on Upwork.
“I was doing pretty well. I started with small projects and I achieved Top Rated status.”
The fact that he had no professional network and no relevant degree was absolutely no problem at all.
My first 20 clients came from Upwork. There were no referrals or any people I knew personally. It all came from finding clients on the platform.
Still, Tsavo knew he could do even better. He saw competitors charging 2-3x his rate and wanted to know how he could do the same.
“My rate was $30/hour and I’d see designers on Upwork with rates at $60+/hour. I would charge $500 to create a full website, but others were getting jobs at $1,500 and above. I wanted to reach that next level, but I was having a really tough time figuring out how.”
Uncovering a competitive edge
When Tsavo stumbled on Freelance To Win, he started learning about all the ways he could do better on Upwork.
“I came across Freelance to Win and the free content just blew my mind. Danny’s top 5 hacks were amazing. I wasn’t expecting such great tips for free. Each hack email is better than most articles on other freelancing sites.”
Hungry for more, Tsavo considered joining Freelance To Win’s premium course, Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker.
“At first I was a little worried that the course might be only for people just starting out on Upwork. I didn’t know if it would be good for someone like me who’s already had some success on it. Still, I could tell from Danny’s Upwork profile and his writing that he knew his stuff, and I really wanted to learn more from him.”
It wasn’t long before Tsavo was ready to invest in the course.
“I was pretty much set on getting the course for about a week before I actually signed up. It would pay for itself in half or a quarter of a project, so it was pretty easy to make a positive ROI.”
Putting a proven system into action
The SSFU system was exactly what Tsavo needed to supercharge his freelancing business.
“I was blown away with how everything Danny talks about gives you an edge over your competition. And the material isn’t just applicable to the Upwork platform, but freelancing and business in general.”
A big takeaway from the course was a deep understanding of how to attract clients.
“Getting someone to do business with you ultimately depends on how they perceive you and how much they like you.”
Making the right impression is a skill that’s arguably more important than your actual craft!
“Danny has mastered that and he teaches you how to do it in the course.”
New and improved Upwork proposals
After devouring the material, Tsavo adopted a new mindset for writing proposals.
“The proposal lessons are one of the things that really changed the game for me. Before I was basically copy/pasting proposals where I just told clients all about myself. I was doing ok at the lower levels playing it as a numbers game, but I wasn’t coming anywhere close to my real earning potential.”
Understanding how to think like a client was the breakthrough Tsavo needed to get to the next level.
“As soon as I flipped the script and started making it about solving the client’s problems, my freelancing business just took off on Upwork.”
Niching into a “category of one”
Tsavo realized that to create a high-end freelance business, he needed to turn down low-end work.
“A lot of things that SSFU teaches are counterintuitive. You learn things like how to turn away potential clients — which sounds terrible at first.”
Once you start ignoring anyone who isn’t a perfect fit, you can actually make more money.
He credits a large project he recently won to his aggressive positioning, though he admits that it was a difficult transition.
“I just landed a website design project for $2,000. All I really needed to change was settling on a niche. At first I was really scared to pick something specific because you think that if you niche down you’re going to prematurely eliminate most of your potential clients.”
The niche he ended up choosing is extremely specific: a single WordPress theme.
“I ended up niching into a specific WordPress theme called X Theme. Now I have a lot more interest from clients looking for work with this specific theme who wouldn’t have found me if I didn’t specialize.”
Getting clients to come to him
In addition to winning larger projects, Tsavo has also been getting private invites from clients seeking him out on Upwork.
“I just tried it, and if you type in ‘X Theme’ on Upwork, I’ll be the first result that pops up. I now get private invitations specifically for X Theme jobs. I just got my second personalized invitation today where the client addressed me by name and only wanted me.”
Tsavo now considers choosing a niche to be one of the greatest changes a freelancer can make for their business.
“I’m a believer now. I know how powerful it can be to really niche down even though it’s really scary at the beginning.”
A new “Plan A”
Now that he’s found success on Upwork, Tsavo is also reconsidering how it fits in with his future plans.
“I originally got into freelancing to eventually just get a normal job. But now I’m thinking about it as a real business.”
He now hopes to continue freelancing indefinitely.
I have a legitimate opportunity to not have to get a regular job for as long as I want. I’ll never have to work for anybody but myself.