When Marian graduated from college in 2009, the economy was still reeling from the recession.
Like many graduates at the time, Marian soon learned that landing a job would be quite the challenge.
“After graduating, I really wanted to get into publishing because I’d always wanted to be a writer. Problem was, I didn’t have any experience. I applied to jobs for months and months but I couldn’t get anything.”
Unwilling to give up, Marian created her own website and played around with Facebook ads to try to get the attention of hiring managers at her dream company, Harper Collins.
“I never did get a publishing job, but one of the directors at Harper Collins contacted me and asked, ‘Can you do Facebook ads for us? We don’t know how this works.’ And just like that, I had my first ever freelancing client.”
Winning that first job helped Marian get her foot in the door and, before she knew it, she’d stumbled into a new career. She was thrilled about the freedom and flexibility freelancing offered — but there were challenges she hadn’t anticipated.
Feeling stuck in her career
After freelancing and working in marketing and tech for years, Marian started to worry about getting pigeonholed into a single industry.
“The problem is that once you’ve built up a freelance business, you get most of your clients through referrals. So one tech client leads to two more tech clients, and then four more tech clients…But I didn’t want to work with just tech people.”
And then there was the nagging reminder that — even though her career was progressing — she was getting farther and farther away from her dream of becoming a writer.
“I just didn’t want to do social media anymore. It wasn’t creatively fulfilling and it wasn’t the type of work I had dreamed of doing. I wanted to work with local entrepreneurs — people who loved their work, but didn’t know how to share their story online. But I knew there was no way I would get referred to those jobs through my tech clients.”
Giving Upwork a shot
Marian knew she needed a simple way to attract the kind of client she wanted to work with. But she was skeptical about using Upwork to build a freelancing business.
“I’d heard so many things about Upwork. I used to think, ‘I’m not doing that…I’m not a commodity. I don’t want to write articles for $5.’”
But after signing up for Danny’s Upwork Hacks and reading some of the Freelance To Win success stories, she reconsidered.
“I decided to take Danny’s course not because I thought I couldn’t get clients on my own. It was because I wanted better, more interesting clients. I wanted the coffee shop, the diamond seller and the real estate agent. I wanted to branch out and get experience in different types of writing.”
Despite having no experience on Upwork, she was able to quickly put the proven Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker system to use.
“I actually went through the course before I even had an account on Upwork. I finished the course and within 3 days, got my first $95/hr project with no reviews, no experience, nothing. It was just my third proposal and I’ve been golden ever since.”
No $5 articles here
Marian’s first Upwork job wasn’t about tech and didn’t have anything to do with social media marketing. It was all about telling the story of a small business — exactly what she wanted to do.
“My first client had a really interesting project. He sells handmade leather journals out of his studio in Santa Fe and he wanted someone to write his ‘About’ page. He has this really amazing story about how he got into his art, the process of making his journals, and how his company came to life. I had a ton of fun doing the writing.”
Even though Marian was the highest bidder and had no Upwork reviews, the client was happy to pay her full rate of $95/hr.
“He said, ‘You know, you’re more expensive than the others. But I sort of feel like you’re the right fit for this.’ So he paid me about $400 for one page of website copy.”
The client was so happy with Marian’s work, he even came back for more. “He asked me to write 10 emails for him and paid me another $700 to do that.”
Best of all, it was exactly the type of work she loved doing.
“I got to talk about writing, art, and his story. It was everything that I loved minus everything I had hated when I worked in tech. Back then I was talking about technology, click-through rates, and marketing all the time. I didn’t want to write about that stuff anymore.”
Learning to charge what she deserves — and get it
As a freelancer, Marian had always struggled to value her work appropriately and justify her high rates to clients.
“I wanted to be able to sell myself in a better way. I’d never been good at negotiating. At all my previous jobs, I had to fight tooth and nail to get a tiny little raise.”
That’s why the negotiation techniques and mindsets taught in Secrets Of A Six-Figure Upworker have been a game changer for Marian.
“Now, I’m able to fight for my hourly rate and articulate why I’m worth it. If the client isn’t ready to pay me what I’m worth, I can say “no’ and walk away knowing that better clients will come.”
Sticking to her guns has even paid off in unexpected ways.
“Last month a client balked at my new rate of $115/hr, and decided to go with someone cheaper. A week later — after they’d done a poor job — he came back and said, ‘Can you just do it, please?’ Before SSFU, I probably would have caved on my price, but now I know when to just say no.”
Marian is also enjoying the benefits of getting repeat work from the same clients — so she can spend less time looking for new ones.
“He’s actually turned out to be a great client. I finished the landing page and he was amazed by the work. So he also hired me to redo an entire website.”
Now that she could attract new, interesting clients who would gladly pay her high hourly rate, Marian decided to take her existing freelance business a step further.
Growing her freelance business on Upwork
Marian had initially discounted Upwork as a place where low-paying clients go to find cheap freelancers. Now, she realizes that stereotype was dead wrong and she’s glad she gave it a try.
“Within five months of joining Danny’s course, I’ve had 15 clients and almost every single one of those clients has hired me multiple times.”
Being able to choose from thousands of different clients and projects on Upwork has added more enjoyment and variety to Marian’s career and day to day work.
“A lot of my Upwork projects have been for things I’ve never done before. I’d only ever done one or two different kinds of copywriting, but now I’ve done at least 12.”
The variety has also given Marian the potential to grow her business even further.
“I’ve got a lot of different pieces to show to potential clients. For example, before Upwork, I’d never written 60-second animated explainer videos. By now I’ve done 5. That’s really cool because I can add a whole new arm to my business that I didn’t have before.”
And her clients aren’t just in tech anymore…
“I’m working with so many different clients now — an artist, a wellness coach, a diamond company, a real estate agent. They’re everyday entrepreneurs who just want to do the work they love but can’t talk about it. I get to tell their stories and that’s really fun.”
With Upwork, Marian’s freelancing future is looking brighter every day.
“Danny’s course changed the way that I value my services. When I’m talking to clients on the phone, I’m able to articulate how much a project will cost. So I’m charging more and I’ve doubled my monthly income off of Upwork too.”
The perks that drew her to freelancing in the first place — being able to live and work from anywhere in the world — are still there.
“Not only am I able to have a more flexible, wealthy life right now, but I can actually look into the future 1, 5, or 10 years from now and know that I can buy a house with my husband anywhere, without having to pick a city just because of my job.”
On top of that, Marian knows she has plenty of options to continue skyrocketing her career while growing her family at the same time.
“Now, if I feel like it I can take a year off when I decide to have a kid. I won’t be tied down to how much parental leave my company offers. I can be at home with my child and rest assured that I’m making money.”
Best of all, Marian’s seeing no limit to what she can do — she can just keep learning and keep growing.
“I feel like suddenly I’m not tied down to anything. I can make any choice I want about my career and know that it’s gonna be successful.”
You can learn more about Marian’s work on her website, Oh Hai! Copy.