How to Get an Upwork Job You’re Not Qualified For

The toughest time to get a job on Upwork is when you’re just starting and you don’t have any experience. However, even after you get positive reviews and rack up the hours, the next challenge is getting a job that you don’t have any experience with. For example, you do social media management and you work with Facebook. If you want to get into Twitter, you might find it hard to get people to hire you if you don’t have any positive client reviews.

In this article I’m going to tackle that problem, and show you how I was able to get a fantastic job that, according to the description, I was under-qualified for. After that example, I’ll go on to list five tips that you can use when you’re applying for new jobs which you don’t have experience with. Let’s get started!

I’m Not a Copywriter

The job in question stated in the title that I should be a copywriter, and in the description it went on to say that owing to the detailed nature of the project, I should have 5 years experience as a copywriter. While I have 6 years of writing experience, I’ve never written professional copy in my life. With that in mind, this is the proposal that I submitted that allowed me to have the chance to work on a project that I’m thoroughly enjoying!

My Proposal

“Hey, my name is Sam. I’d like to make a suggestion which you are obviously free to take or reject. Break apart this large $8,000 a month project, and assign some of the easier parts of it to me. Or, conversely, let me work on the project with you for a trial month, at half the monthly pay that you’ve suggested here.

Why am I suggesting this?

I’m almost the perfect fit for you, but not 100%. I have a bachelors in psychology, I eat philosophy books for dinner, I live in Brooklyn, and I’ve been writing for five years. But most of it has been SEO articles and web content. So I don’t have the level of experience that you’re looking for. However, I am a solid writer and I’m confident that I can deliver content that lives up to your expectations. In fact I’d love to demonstrate this by working for free for a week. If you think it will work, you can pay me. If not, then we can go our separate ways.

Well that’s my pitch. I’d love to get the chance to work with you, but obviously I’d understand if I’m just not the correct fit.

Have a good day!”

The Response

I submitted this proposal believing there was only a small chance I would hear back from them, because of my lack of experience. However, I was surprised when I got a reply about a week later, and I ultimately got the job. Best of all, I never had to hide anything about myself or my experience. By being fully forthright in my application I was able to speak confidently about exactly what I could and couldn’t do, and I believe that’s part of the reason that I got the job.

In applying for your own jobs for which you don’t believe yourself qualified, here are a few suggestions. Hopefully by following them you’ll find it easier to get more work, and increase your hourly rate as well!

Tips for Applying to Jobs

1. Never lie. If you don’t have experience doing something, don’t lie and say you do. Four times out of five that will lead to a negative result, which can mean receiving bad feedback on your Upwork profile, which is something to be avoided at all costs. Instead, try this.

2. Make an irresistible offer. If you look at my application above, you’ll notice I made it a no-brainer decision for the person who would hire me. I offered to work for free for a week, and I also offered to work at half of their advertised monthly rate.

3. Focus on your strengths. Going back to my first example, if you’re doing well with Facebook management and want to get into Twitter, talk about how well you’re doing with Facebook. Focus on all of the positive results you’re getting and how you’re going to use that experience to be successful on Twitter. You shouldn’t hide your lack of experience, but you also shouldn’t focus on it too much.

4. Consider doing some free work. If you’re really serious about getting work in a certain area, you may want to considering working for free for a while. Regardless of what you do, there’s probably some charity or non-profit that would like your services. For example, in the coming months as I get serious about learning to copywrite, I may contact various non-profits to see if I can write copy for their website. Not only am I helping them out, but I’m gaining positive references and new content to add to my professional website.

5. Take a course. Amazing.com offers great courses, and a thirty day free trial! I can tell you from experience that their courses are incredible and well worth the money. By taking a course you’ll learn a lot about your new field, and you’ll be able to tell potential clients that you have a good idea about what you’re doing.

As always, when applying for a position that you’re not qualified for, you should follow the golden rule. Apply to a lot of jobs. Dozens and dozens, don’t give up. For example, even though I’ve done 41 jobs and have 460 timed hours of work on Upwork, I still only hear back from about every third client. If you’re just starting out that number might be much worse. That’s normal, stick it out! If you want to learn more about writing a good application, check out my popular article: How to Make an Awesome Upwork Application

The Biggest Disadvantage of Being Self Employed

Even though I grew up with two self-employed parents, I didn’t even really get it until I started working for myself. It’s something that you don’t really think about if you work for someone else, but it’s a daily thought if you’re your own boss. What do you think it is? Discipline, hard work, no boss to keep you on track? Nope, it’s…

Finding work.

That’s the killer. Getting enough hours is the bane of most self-employed people’s existence. My friend Sergej who does freelance translation says that he spends 70% of his time translating, and 30% of his time finding new clients. My father, who runs the business Timberbuilt, spends large sums of money to get new clients every year. And he always says to me; “We can handle more work, first we just need to get it.

Employed vs. Self-Employed

In my own experience, getting enough hours to make the kind of money I want has been the hardest part of working for myself. For example, my hourly wage is a respectable $25 to $30 at the moment. That’s great and I’m happy with it, but if I only get 10 hours a week it doesn’t matter how good it is, the guy making $10 an hour, working forty hours a week, is still doing better than me.

When you have a normal job with a boss and a water cooler and coworkers you don’t like, you take it as granted that you’ll always have work. In fact you probably wish you had a less steady supply of the stuff. While I don’t think it’s fair to look at your workload as a blessing, it is something that you might want to appreciate to some degree. You can do your work without having to worry about whether you’re even going to have any hours at all next week.

Is it Worth it?

Of course, there are many self-employed people who never worry about getting hours. They regularly turn down jobs. However, I believe this is something that typically comes once you’ve been in the game a while and the quality of your work is high. If you’re in the beginning stages it’s more difficult. Getting work is a big part of the grind, and the constant search can grow tedious.

So if you’re thinking about working for yourself, or starting your own business, be aware in advance that a large part of your time is going to be spent finding new clients. It’s easier for some people than others, but everyone has to anticipate this arrangement to some degree. Despite this, I think the advantages heavily outweigh the drawbacks, and I encourage everyone to take steps to start their own online business today! You can read my post: How to Make Money Online, or check out all the other resources available on the internet today.

Should You Create Your Own Website?

Having your own website is an invaluable way to market yourself. It’s the 21st century equivalent of a business card. It’s sort of like having a cool Facebook profile, only more professional and you have ultimate control over it. Regardless of the appeal of a large platform like Facebook, you have to accept that someone else will always be in control. At any time they can suspend your account for violating some arcane rule, and there’s little you can do about it. The only reason that will happen with your own website is your failure to pay the hosting fee.

I created this website after reading The Education of Millionaires, a book that I recommend to everyone. Ellsberg suggested registered a domain with your own name and I took him up on his advice. Eighteen months later here we are. But what if you don’t want to write blog posts, does it still make sense to create a website?

Absolutely. Even if you don’t plan to publish content a website can still be your calling card. You can use it to host your resume. If you do freelance work it can be a place for clients to leave reviews. You can use it as a portal to all of your social profiles. If you know nothing about web design it will force you to learn a thing or two. Finally, it will give you control over your image. If you don’t have a website, when someone types your name into Google you’re at the mercy of whatever comes up. Having a website gives you control over your own brand name which is important now, and will be even more important in the future.

Creating a Website from Scratch

Even if you don’t want the hassle of creating a website right now, you should definitely consider doing the bare minimum and registering your domain name. Sites like GoDaddy will let you register a domain name for about $15 per year.

If you’ve done that and you’re feeling adventurous, you can begin the process of creating your own site. There are loads of guides to get you started. Or you can easily go to Upwork and contract the work out. However, I believe that you should give serious thought to designing your own website. It will give you total control over the appearance and you’ll end up learning why things look the way they do. For people just starting out I’ve written the post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though, and there’s a nearly unlimited amount of useful information out there on the internet.

Making Money With Upwork

Working on Upwork isn’t particularly glamorous. There’s a lot of competition for jobs, clients can be demanding, and it’s often difficult to secure long term contracts. That being said, Upwork is still arguably one of the best freelancing websites. There are thousands of jobs and you’re almost guaranteed to find something that works for you. So in this short post I want to talk about what it’s like to do freelance work online, and also how you can get started today.

The Advantages

For me the biggest advantage of working through a freelance site like Upwork is the freedom to work anywhere in the world. My office is my laptop and I’ve done work in half a dozen different countries. On a freelance site like Upwork it’s taken for granted that you’re not going to be in the same time zone as the person hiring you. Some of my best clients are Australian and when I’m in the United States there’s a massive time difference. We make it work.

Another advantage of the freelance websites is that there are always jobs out there. Because of the global appeal you’re always going to be able to find work. Sometimes you might have to work for less than you want, or deal with an unappreciative client, but you will still get paid. This is another good point. When you run your work through Upwork the payment is all but guaranteed, taking away any of the risk of someone cheating you. Since starting nearly a year ago, I’ve been shortchanged a grand total of $40. Peanuts compared to the thousands that I’ve made.

The Disadvantages

Upwork is one of the worst sites for freelancers, except for all the others. The first issue that comes to mind is the unfair metric that they use to rank freelancers. You get a job success score based on client feedback, and some other magic-voodoo formula that Upwork refuses to reveal. If you happen to get on the wrong side of this formula you’ll find yourself with a low job success score which can make it very difficult to get work. I work around this by telling clients to actually read my feedback which helps a lot. But if you don’t have much feedback it’s harder.

Another disadvantage is the pay schedule. Once a client approves the work that you’ve done, it can still take anywhere from three to ten days to get paid. This seems absurd to me since the money essentially sits there, totally cleared by the client, while you stare at it and wish that you had it.

Finally, Upwork’s global reach is both a blessing and curse. You’ll be able to find work from clients all over the world, but you often have to compete with people from places like Bangladesh and India who will do work for way less than you can afford to. In my opinion the solution is to always to focus on quality. With writing that’s easy since somebody who grew up in New Delhi is never going to write as well as me in English. For other jobs it may be more difficult, but I believe it’s still possible.

Closing Thoughts

It’s tough to be totally clear about finding work on freelance job sites. On one hand it’s the easiest way to get started working online, but on the other you have to give up anywhere from 10 to 20% of your salary to the site, along with the other disadvantages I just ranted about. For me then the takeaway is this. Upwork is a great place to get started but I think that it has to be a means to an end. I don’t want to be working with them in 2017. I want to have learned enough skills that I can either successfully market myself through my website, or I can find full time work with a marketing firm. The day that I can tell Upwork to go to hell will be glorious, but I’ll also be very appreciative for the fantastic opportunities that it’s given me.

I’ve made it easy to learn more with my post: How to Make Money Online. Also, you may want to check out another post that I did detailing all the different types of freelance work that’s available: 7 Great Ways to Make Money Online. Finally, if you want to start freelancing on Upwork, be sure to read: How to Make an Awesome Upwork Application.

7 Great Ways to Make Money Online

One of the coolest aspects of working online is the variety of work out there. You can take almost any skill and turn it into a marketable product that somebody will pay you for. I love to write and I make my money from writing. However, you don’t have to love tapping on a keyboard to make money online. Here are a couple of other options.

1. Poker

I love poker to death and I’m one of the worst players in the world. Two years ago I played poker every day for seven months. Even after all that I wasn’t any better than when I started. It’d be easy to call me stupid if it weren’t for the fact that in every other area of my life where I’ve practiced consistently I’ve shown corresponding growth. Just not poker.

If you’re not like me though, and you are good at poker, you can make a living at it online. It will take a while though. Depending on your natural talents, you’ll probably have to practice for at least six months, maybe a year, before you can make a consistent profit every month. If you’re good at it though, and you’re ready to put in the hours and practice hard, playing poker can be a solid way to make money online.

2. Web Design

My ex-roommate from Moscow just created his own webdesign business with a few of his buddies. If their website is any indication of the product they’re capable of delivering, I’d say that they’re in for a bright future. It’s interesting to note that my ex-roommate doesn’t have any serious web design experience. Like me, he’s messed around WordPress and can handle himself with CSS, but he certainly didn’t study computer science at university.

What’s that mean for you? Well if you’re good at webdesign, it means you should say goodbye to your boss and freelance it. If you’re nervous about finding work you can always seek out jobs on Upwork. However, I believe that the real profits lie in creating your own website and then finding your own clients. Tough, perhaps. Better than working for a someone else, definitely.

3. Graphic Design

I paid Bryce $200 to design the front banner and logo for my website. How many hours did it take him? I have no idea but he got it done in less than a week. That means that he only needs to get five jobs like mine every month and he’s already at $1,000 a month. Do you think you can design a logo and front banner as well as Bryce did? Well then why are you not already making money online?

There is always a demand for graphic designers, and despite the competition I believe that you can always find a way to make money. If I were doing graphic design, I would create a “makeover bundle” which would include a new top banner and a logo and would cost $150. Then I would email this deal to 100 bloggers and see what the response is. I’ll bet you easily here back from 10 of them, and if you score half those jobs that’s already $750. As you get better you’ll be able to do it faster, get more clients, and make more every month.

4. Translation

My buddy Sergej is the first person who turned me onto the idea of earning money online in the first place. I met him at a hostel in Kiev and we pretty quickly bonded over the fact that we both speak Russian and we both came from similar backgrounds. We only got to spend a few days together because I left to begin volunteering at another hostel in Kiev and Sergej went back to Germany.

By the time we met up a few months later, Sergej’s translation business was flourishing and he had a month where he nearly reached his goal of making $2,000 a month online (we have the same goal). He’s told me that he makes most of his income translating from English to German and German to English. He said that it took him a few months to gain the clients and reach a point where he was consistently making more than $1,000 a month online. Now he’s got it though and he’s got his eyes on the next goal. If you know two languages you can do the same thing as Sergej. It’s decent work, and you can do it anywhere in the world.

5. Teach ESL Through Skype

If you like to teach then this is for you. Teaching through Skype is a great way to earn an income from anywhere in the world. The economics aren’t fantastic, but you can easily make enough money every month to travel comfortably. Three one hour lessons a day at $10 an hour and you’re already at $900 a month. One of the cool things about teaching via Skype is the entry barrier is low. You don’t have to have months of experience or a teaching degree. If you’re a native speaker of English, you should be able to find regular work without too much trouble. Check out Preply to start marketing yourself as a teacher. Incidentally, if you want to study a second language, Preply is also the best place to find a teacher.

6. Social Media Expert

I’m good at using Facebook and getting lots of likes on my pictures and photos, but I really don’t like Twitter. However, I think that having a Twitter account with a bunch of followers would be a great social proof for my blog. Who is going to gain all those followers though? It sure as hell isn’t going to be. I’d way rather pay someone to manage my Twitter account then to learn how to do it effectively myself. Do you want to be that person? If you promised me a good result in the long term I’d be willing to pay up to $20 an hour for this service. Do you realize how many other bloggers would probably do the same. Imagine that, if you’re very skilled with social media you can make money online by playing with Twitter and Facebook.

Imagine if you do this for a while and get really, really good at it. Do you know that every single large corporation has a social media account on almost every platform? Who knows for sure, but you have to guess that they pay people a considerable amount of money to run these accounts. You can do this work. If you put in the time and get good enough, there’s no reason you can’t make money online working as a social media expert.

7. Writing

Save the best for last. Just kidding, I know some people hate writing. I used to make hundreds of dollars a semester in college because of this. However, if you like to write, there are so many opportunities out there to make money. I write SEO articles, which are usually around 700 words and take me about 70 minutes from start to finish. If that doesn’t suit you though, you can also write: eBooks, novels, newsletters, press releases, emails, fliers, advertisements, website content, product descriptions, and so on.

What I like about writing is that there is a direct relationship between my level of skill and the amount of money I earn. I think my monthly income right now is fair, and it’s a good reflection of how much I’m actually worth. In six months though, after I’ve written another 150 or 200 articles and I’ve gotten wicked good at it, I know that my paycheck will represent my skills. As for serious cash, at the top of the food chain are the copywriters. These guys are the cream of the crop (the good ones at least) and they make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That’s what I’m aiming for. I love to make money online, and if I can make enough to buy my dream car, well I think that’d be pretty damn cool.

What do you think, are you ready to make money online? Or maybe you already are you want to share your story. Leave a comment below, I’m interested to hear how you bring in the cash every month.

The Future of Web Design is Today

The World of Tomorrow from FuturamaThere are some new tools available today that make web design so ludicrously easy that anyone can do it. If you work online then understanding how to build a website is a huge plus. Not only is web design fun, knowing how to do do it yourself will also save you hundreds (thousands) of dollars.

Thanks to some incredible new products, you no longer have to actually learn CSS or HTML in order to create something beautiful. In a way that’s sort of sad as they are the foundation of the web. On the other hand, if you have more important things to do and just want to make a cool website then you’re in the right place. The easiest way to start is with a WordPress theme. Here are two of theme that I’ve found to be particularly outstanding.

X Theme

This website is running X Theme, as are thousands of other sites on the internet. The cool thing about X Theme is that because it’s so versatile no two websites end up looking the same. You can make something sleek like this, something new age like this, or something totally minimal and artistic like this.

The short code system makes it easy to layout pages. There are also more than 30 really well designed pre-made demo themes. X Theme looks great on a mobile phones which is important because Google checks your website for mobile compatibility. If you fail to meet certain criteria you’re ranking can go down and you’ll be less likely to get organic search traffic.

What I love most about X Theme is the fantastic support. You can post a question (or multiple questions) and within 24 hours someone will answer them in detail. It’s reason enough to buy this theme, especially if you’re new to web design.

Advantages

-Fantastic support. I’ve never had a question that an X Theme support representative didn’t answer within 24 hours.

-Huge basket of pre-made themes. These give you a great opportunity to start with a well built site skeleton and customize from there.

-X Theme can be customized to your hearts content.

-At $64 it’s probably the cheapest outstanding theme you can buy.

Disadvantages

-If you prefer to make tweaks with CSS then X Theme isn’t the best option. You can’t access the source code which makes it about 700% more difficult to mess with, then say a different theme like Genesis

-Some questionable default options, like having a black background automatically appear over all pictures upon hover. Who thought that this would be a good idea?

Divi Theme

Divi Theme is a work of art. It will give you the tools to make the coolest website you can imagine. When I was looking for a new theme a few weeks ago I started drooling when I found the Elegant Themes homepage. I didn’t spend more than 10 minutes looking at all the details before I bought Divi for my writing portfolio. Best decision of my life.

What Divi does it bridge the gap between a professional website and an amateur website. That is, Divi gives you more of an opportunity to make a professional looking theme then has ever existed before. That hinges on some knowledge though, which is why I don’t think Divi theme is perfect for everyone. If you’ve never designed a website I believe that X Theme is better. It’s easier to navigate, it’s intuitive, it has fantastic support and the provided demo themes are a life saver. However, if you have some idea what you’re doing, then Divi theme is probably the best choice.

Advantages

-More tools than you’ll ever be able to use. Sliders, FAQ boxes, opt in forms, contact forms, loads of icons, full width headers, secondary menus, the list goes on.

-Well thought out page design tool. This tool makes it a breeze to create pages across your website. It works so beautifully too, I’ve never had a problem with it.

-When you buy Divi theme what you’re actually paying for is a subscription to Elegant themes. That means you can download any theme from their website. That’s a really good deal.

Disadvantages

-If you have no experience with web design, you’ll probably find Divi isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, the demo pages are stunning and beautiful, but when you’re staring at a blank page and have no idea where to start it’s a different story.

-It’s $89 a year for the middle package which includes all the plugins. You can pay $69 a year for just the theme without plugins, but then you won’t get Divi builder.

-The support isn’t as good as X Theme’s.

Two Themes Not Worth Your Money

Genesis

StudioPress (the people behind Genesis) used to be responsible for some of the greatest themes. Lately though the competition has gotten fierce. In the last few years some incredible themes (X Theme / Divi Theme) have been released. They make Genesis look like a kid that forgot his homework. It’s like going to a drag race with a Ford Focus intending to beat a 1,500 HP Nissan GTR with a turbocharger the size of a small oven.

ZigZagPress Themes

There’s no reason to buy a theme from ZigZagPress. They have a beautiful website that makes all their themes look great, but it’s just glitter. Once you actually take your new ZigZag theme home and get it unwrapped, you’re likely to find out that it’s quite a bit less fantastic then you were expecting. If you like themes from ZigZagPress, get Divi instead.

The Best THING Ever

I want to introduce to you the greatest addition to webdesign since the invention of WordPress. Once you begin designing your website this tool is going to dramatically improve your life. As soon as you realize just how amazing it is you’ll wonder how people ever designed websites without. As much as I love Divi theme, the driving force behind the cool design of my writing website is this tool.

For $30 you can get CSS Hero, which is going to radically alter your web design experience. It allows you to make changes to your website and see the results in real time. This. Is. Amazing. If you’ve never designed a website before you cannot appreciate what a wonderful idea this is. It makes your life easier, shaves hours off the development process, and allows you to do in 5 minutes what used to take an hour.

If CSS Hero cost $100 I would pay it. Your site is going to come out so much better because of it that’s it’s worth any price tag. Check out this video to see it in action. It’s produced by the wonderful saints who made the plugin, so it’s biased. But it also shows exactly what the plugin is capable of, no bullshit.

Advantages

-Makes web design a joyous, beautiful process. It can literally turn a twenty hour job in a three hour job.

-It works really well.

-Fair price tag.

-It will allow you to build a professional looking website without having to hire a professional.

Disadvantages

-With a standard license you can only install it on one website.

-It has been known to not play well with some themes.

Get Started Today

With all of the amazing options now available I hope that you’re convinced that there has never been a better time to make a website. With no experience you can now craft a site that looks good and functions well. Just five years ago this was very difficult for somebody without web design experience. If you’re ready to get started, there are a few things you should do. First, read my post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners. Next, make the difficult choice between X Theme and Divi Theme. Finally, grab CSS Hero and get to work. I’m interested to find out what you end up creating!

3 Downsides of Freelancing Online

Earlier I wrote about how awesome it is to work online. You can work from anywhere in the world, you don’t have a boss, you can earn a healthy amount of money, and so on. That’s fantastic and I meant every word of it. There are downsides too though, and it’s only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve really started to notice them. If you work online, can you relate to any of these?

1. Lack of Client Communication

For me, this warrants spot number one. When I wrote about having clients (and not needing a resume) I was looking at as a major positive, and I still see it that way. However, the flip-side is that when you have lots of different clients, not all of them are going to treat you as you might like.

The best clients provide feedback and answer your questions in a timely manner. The worst don’t say anything and never return your emails. I’ve found that most clients fall somewhere in the middle. They’ll usually answer your questions, but not all the time. What I’ve found is the absolute worst though, is when a client stops giving you work for no apparent reason.

For example, I’ll turn in a few articles, the client will thank me (or not) and then I won’t hear back from them. That leaves me in a mental fog. Did I fuck up somehow, are the articles not what they wanted? Or is there just no more work right now?

Not only is this taxing mentally, it also makes it difficult to plan ahead. At the moment I have contracts with guaranteed work for the next month. Everything else is always on the chopping block. This is opposite of a traditional paycheck, which arrives week in and week out. I believe this is something that all self employed people experience, whether you work online or not.

2. The Need to Constantly Find New Work

I imagine that this will change in the future. As I continue to work online I hope to pick up steady clients and find more consistent, reliable work. However, at the moment I spend several hours a week looking for new work. There are two reasons for this.

As I mentioned above, sometimes clients leave me out in the rain. I deliver a product and then don’t hear from them again. Especially frustrating since I actually work really hard on every single article and I crave feedback. If they have a problem, I wish they would tell me! Every month a certain small percentage of my work disappears like this.

Sometimes it’s the other way around though, and I leave a client. The best example of this is a job I quit last week. I was working for Udemy, looking for email addresses of technology bloggers. It was stable work at $11 an hour. Comfortable, ridiculously easy, and I was good at it too, routinely beating their average time requirements for finding a certain number of addresses. However, the work wasn’t furthering my career. I could do it for 100 hours, earn $1,100 and still be in the same spot as when I started.

That’s different then writing articles. Every article brings me one step closer to achieving my long term goals. With every article I gain a sliver of new experience, I have something new to add to my portfolio and I learn a bit more about SEO. You don’t get any of that when you’re searching Google for Bloggers. That’s why sometimes I quit jobs, even good jobs, in order to find work that will bring me closer to achieving my goals. Giving up the short term to further the long term is great, but you still need to find new clients when you do it.

3. Explaining to People How I Earn Money

Seriously though, this gets old. Typical conversation goes like this (usually in Russian since I’m in Ukraine, but I’ll write it out in English).

“So what do you do for a living?”

“I write online.”

“You mean you’re a blogger?”

“Well, sort of. I write articles for different companies around the world.”

“You studied this in university?”

“No, I just started doing it four or five months ago”

“What do you write about?”

“Ummm, well I wrote about bedbugs today, but yesterday I wrote about a motel in Australia.”

“Wow. That sounds…. Cool!”

Eyes glazed, no comprehension. I’m fairly certain that half of the people I talk to think that I’m making this shit up. They probably think that every day I actually sneak off to go work in a factory or sell hot dogs on a street corner. It’s outside of most people’s reality that some guy from Australia who I’ve never met and will never meet is willing to pay me $20 an article to write about his motel.

A Freelancer’s Lifestyle

That, in a nutshell, is what I find difficult about working online. Number three isn’t really that bad though, just sort of annoying. I don’t think people take me seriously when I tell them how I earn money. They think I’m a fruit, or that I just don’t want to tell them what I really do.

All things considered I really like working online. I’ll take these downsides any day versus the drawbacks of previous jobs that I’ve held. If you want to find out how you can get started, read my post: How to Make Money Online. In the post I break down the procedure of finding work online into a series of easy steps. Anyone can do it, so long as you want it bad enough. Are you ready for something better?

5 Great Places To Live For $1,000 a Month

,

If you work online you know how awesome it is to travel while still earning a weekly paycheck. However, when you’re just starting out you probably won’t be making lots of money, which is why I’ve put together this list of cities. You can have a great life in any of them for less than $1,000 a month, I’m going to Phnom Penh and Bangkok myself this winter. Have a look at the list below, and if you want to start earning money on the internet, check out my article: How to Make Money Online.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

A beautiful statue of a flying angel in Argentina

This is a no brainer, especially if you live in Canada or the United States. Buenos Aires is one of the cheapest cities in Latin America. It’s a hub for festivals and one of the most attractive places in the entire continent. You can expect great bargains on rent, delicious food, awesome wine, and lots of opportunities to set up a businesses.

Becoming a legal national of Argentina may prove to be somewhat a challenge, but if you overstay your visa the fine will only be around $40, regardless of how long your offense is for. However, you should be aware that Argentina has very strict import rules, and the country is in a deep economical crisis. It could collapse at any moment so plan accordingly.

Guanajuato, Mexico

The city of Guanajuato is packed all year around, especially during the festival season. It’s an optimal place to live due to its geographical landscape. The highland keeps the climate pleasant all year round, so you’ll never have to worry about air conditioning or central heating. Apart from the cheap cost of living here, the Spanish inspired cuisine is respected around the world due to its spicy taste and economical price. 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

A large group of monks sitting together in orange robesCambodia is a great place to live because it’s secluded and cheap. Phnom Penh, as well as the whole of Cambodia, offers a business visa that runs as low as $280 per year. When that expires you may renew it without leaving the country. If you want to live downtown you’ll only need to fork out about $500 in rent a month. If you’re earning $1,000 a month, you’ll have a cool $500 left over every month to spend on whatever you want. If you take a trip to the coast, you can find hostels directly on the ocean. Working online has never been so awesome! Check out HostelWorld and you can find hostels for less than $5 a night in Phnom Penh. 

Bangkok, Thailand

Getting into Thailand is somewhat a challenge due to restriction laws on visa, but once you get there, this is really the place to be. Bangkok has a reputation for exotic Asian cuisine and economical prices. The cost of living is lower than other developed cities and you can easily afford your monthly rent in Bangkok for less than $400. The transportation, food, health care costs are all very reasonable. $1,000 a month and you can live whatever kind of life you want.

Kiev, Ukraine

A large statue in Kiev, Ukraine that shows two men holding up an emblemKiev is my second home in Europe for a good reason. It’s cheap, the people are fantastic, and there are about a billion cool things to do. Including getting your head lit on fire, which is not something you can find in just any city. You can stay in an awesome hostel here for $7 a night and you can buy at beer at almost any bar for $1. If you want to stay for a while you can easily rent an apartment downtown for less than $400 a month.

Coming to Ukraine is painless. If you have an American or EU passport you can stay for 90 days without a visa. Getting an official Visa for longer is difficult, but it’s Eastern Europe and there are always ways to bend the law with some well placed currency. The biggest drawback is the general lack of English. On the the other hand, it’s a cool chance to learn a bit of Russian.

Your Job Success Rate On Upwork

Is a fucked representation of how well you actually do your job. That’s because Upwork takes into account several different factors when calculating this score. They don’t go out of their way to tell you this and I think it’s an unfair system. I’ll tell you what happened to me, and hopefully you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Yesterday my job success score was 96% and I was proud of that. Four clients have left me feedback and every time it was five stars. So a near 100% job success score seemed to be reasonable. Today I checked and my success score was a lousy 82%. What the hell happened?

How Upwork Calculates Your Job Success Rate

Obviously the first thing I checked for was some dismal feedback. I’ve buggered up a job or two (bound to happen after securing nearly 20 contracts) and I thought that maybe a scathing review was responsible for it. Nope, nothing of the sort. Still feedback from just four clients, all of it still five stars. What the hell is going on?

mark-13Well it turns out that having extended contracts (with no activity) can drag down your score. That is, you score a contract, do some work, and then the client never closes it. It just sits there. Doing this can drag down your job success score. Call me out of line, but this seems totally inappropriate. How does having a sitting contract have anything to do with my success or not?

Furthermore, I have two contracts that the client simply won’t end. I did the work for them, they were pleased, and that was that. However, even after multiple emails they still haven’t ended the contract. Maybe just laziness, maybe they don’t look at their Upwork messages anymore, I have no idea.

So what’s happening is that we’re being punished for something that we have no control over. You cannot physically force a client to a close a contract. So it sits, then your job success rate goes down. Upwork thinks this makes sense?Complaining aside, what steps can we take to avoid this problem?

How to Keep Your Job Success Rate High

1. Ask a client to close a contract the second it’s finished. This is important because a client is still going to be in contact with you, and he’s going to remember who you are. The longer you let it wait, the harder it becomes to get a client to close a contract.

2. Don’t bid for work that you’re not confident about. I get it. You’re applying to a bunch of jobs and hoping to get some work. In that quest you might apply for jobs that you know aren’t a good fit. In the short term this is fine, and you’ll get a few short term dollars. Long term this is actually a really bad idea. You’ll probably end up with either bad feedback, or you’ll just do half an hour of work and it will end up looking bad on your profile. Bid for work you know you can do, and you know has long term potential.

3. Avoid applying for jobs with a poorly rated client. If a client has a bad rating, he earned it. He is probably difficult to work with and he probably leaves unjust bad feedback. Even if the job seems sweet, the potential loot isn’t worth the hassle of dealing with a jerk, and getting poor feedback as a reward.

Goodbye Upwork

A kid has fallen from his skateboard and can't get upUpwork is a great place to get a start but I don’t think it’s a long term solution. I don’t want my success to be dependent on some retarded Upwork policy that devalues my profile because some client won’t answer my emails and cancel the contract. That’s my definition of not fair. So instead of bitching about it (anymore than I already am) I’m going to take positive steps.

My site, Epoch Writing, is mostly an online portfolio at the minute. I want to develop it into more. I want it to be a full fledged sales site. I want clients to look at it, read what I have to say, then hire me. In six months, I don’t want to have to search for jobs on Upwork. I want to find my own clients and have them pay me through PayPal (goodbye 10% off the top, hello reasonable 3% PayPal fee).

I’m not saying that you need to make your own site as well. We’re all in different situations. But what you should definitely be aware of is that Upwork can and will arbitrarily fuck with your profile. And by doing so, they’re changing your potential to find the best contracts.

Top 10 Quotes from Andy Frisella

The 1st Phorm LamborghiniI know that Andy didn’t make his millions working online. But he did make millions, which is pretty cool. He worked his ass off for it too. Sleeping on couches, credit card debt, shitty life and all that. Now, 1st Phorm (his supplement company) makes him enough money that he can afford to put decals on cars that we can’t afford. He’s not shy about sharing the secret to his success either. Ready for it?

Hard work.

Like I said, cool dude. Follow him on Instagram and check out ten of his best quotes below.

One

“When most people think “success” they think money, cars, houses and material things. And regardless of what some will say…there is nothing wrong with desiring ANY of those things. However…that’s not success.”

Two

Real success is working for, helping and showing others how they can do the same. No matter what level you are at, there are people that look up to you. They want to know how they can do what you are doing. Help them! It’s your obligation and purpose.”

Three

“Inspiring and helping others is a way to give real meaning to your life. It’s a way to live forever. No matter what you accomplish, how much money you make, how many cars you buy or houses you own…your life will be very empty if you don’t commit to helping others achieve their goals and improve their lives. Someone inspired you, now it’s your turn.”

Four

“I have mistakes that have cost us millions of dollars, but the reality is, now I have got a PHD in entrepreneurship. What would you rather have?”

Five

“A lot of people think like: If I do all this work and what if it does not happen? No, if you make a plan and you do the work, it will happen, there is no question.”

Six

“Kill anyone who gets in your way… Just kidding, don’t ever do that!”

Seven

“A lot of people think that managing people is just something that comes with the boss, where you have people who work for you just because they are getting paid. But if you want to create a very successful fast growing company, you have got to get everybody to paddle the boat in the same direction because they are passionate about it, not just because they are doing it for the paycheck.”

Eight

“Dream so big that everyone thinks you are crazy, no matter what they think about it. The only person that limits you is the person that stares back at you in the mirror every single day.”

Nine

“Be brave enough to go after what you really want, be strong enough to pick people up and bring them with you.”

Ten

“You are the only one who can stop you.”

 

What is a SEO Optimized Article?

I realize that some people reading my blog might not know what a SEO optimized article is. Since I’m going to be talking about them quite a bit in the coming months, I think it will be helpful to give you a quick definition. After this article you’ll have a better understanding of what a SEO article is, and how you can use them to make a decent living.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Who are the search engines? Well Google is responsible for a majority of traffic. However, some people also use Bing and Yahoo. These search engines have a tremendous, nearly unfathomable task. There are trillions of pages on the internet, and the search engines need to index (find) all of it. Naturally this a momentous task, and one that’s never over.

Fortunately, as a human being with feelings and a pulse, you can help the search engines out. You can do this by writing a clear article that answers a problem (A SEO optimized article). Let’s look at an example. Recently I wrote a post called: Improving Your Website’s User Experience. Here’s how I optimized it for SEO.

1. The article is filled with hyperlinks to different websites. You can find this in the post you’re reading right now as well. You probably haven’t noticed how many links I’ve already embedded (six so far) but they’re important. They connect this article to other websites, and make it easy for users to navigate around the web.

2. I used the main keyword (user experience) repeatedly in the article. This increases the chances that Google will display the article higher up on a person’s search results. And if you’ve ever used Google, you know how important it is to be displayed among the first batch of search results.

3. It’s useful and well written. Honestly, this is what it really comes down to. You can stuff an article with keywords and hyperlinks till your blue in the face. If it doesn’t solve a user’s question or problem, it won’t rank high. Notice that in this article, by the time a person finishes reading it, they will know how to improve the user experience of their website.

So to summarize, an SEO article is written specifically to be posted online. It includes hyperlinks, it answers a person’s Google search (How can I improve the user experience of my website), and it’s well written.

Why People Pay For This

People pay me (and thousands of other freelancers) millions of dollars every year to write SEO articles because they work. A website populated with SEO articles is going to rank higher on Google’s ranking then a website filled with mediocre content. That means more organic traffic (free traffic from the search engines) which means less money spent on advertising.

The question is then, now that you have a better idea of what a SEO optimized article is, do you want to try writing one? If you like to write, hate working for other people, enjoy travelling around the world, and think that Seth Godin should be our next president, then you’re probably ready to start. First read my article: How to Make Money Online, then read my article: How to Make an Awesome Upwork Application. The opportunity to work online is there, are you ready for it?

How to Make an Awesome Upwork Application

I’ve applied to more than 90 jobs on Upwork. Sometimes I’ve gotten the job, and most of the time I haven’t. That’s the way the game is played, and it’s why Upwork gives you 30 new applications every month. Below you’ll find some tips about making a great Upwork application. If you don’t want tips, and just want some examples, look at a big list of my successful applications. If you have no idea what Upwork is, read my post: How to Make Money Online.

Let’s begin.

1. Apply for all 30 jobs, every single month. Now matter how amazing your application or profile is, applying to jobs is a numbers game. The more applications you have floating out there the better your odds. You might be surprised what turns up. I’ve had clients contact me weeks after I submitted an application.

2. Make sure that the hourly rate on your profile and the rate you submit on your application are in the same ballpark. Maybe you submit $15 an hour on a job application. The client sees this, looks at your profile, and sees that your hourly rate is actually $8. He’s going to ask what gives, and throw your application away.

3. DO NOT copy and paste applications. This is a retarded strategy. You should be customizing every single application based on the client’s job description. When I needed someone to speed up this website, I posted an application on Upwork. Guess who was rejected immediately? EVERY SINGLE PERSON who started their application with “Dear hiring manager”.

4. Ballpark your application with the job description. If the job description is long and detailed, you should make your application long and detailed. If the job description is three sentences, writing three paragraphs probably isn’t the best idea. This depends though, and should be taken as more of an idea then as a general rule.

5. Make your first few sentences STAND THE FUCK OUT. You want to immediately grab a person’s attention. Almost without exception, I start every single application with:

“Hi, my name’s Sam and I’m the perfect person for this project.”

Maybe it’s corny, but 90% of the time it’s true. Clients can look at my profile, see my perfect rating from past clients, and realize that I really am the perfect freelancer. Another strategy that I would suggest is to customize the opening sentences specifically to that job. Let’s look at an example. This is my successful application for my highest paying job to date ($22 an hour). In the job description, the client mentioned that he needed some technical articles rewritten. So what do I talk about in my second sentences?

Hey, my name’s Sam and I’m the perfect person for this job. Here’s why:

1 – I have extensive experience with rewriting technical product descriptions and documents. One of my current jobs involves improving mechanical engineering product descriptions. My client is pleased with my work, I invite you to look at the feedback on my profile.

2 – I write SEO articles on a daily basis. I’ve written in more than a dozen niches already, and that number grows every month. I can rewrite keywords with proper weighting, add internal and external links, define H tags, specify image, write title tags, and write Meta Descriptions.

3 – I’m a native English speaker from New York. That means my grammar is always perfect.

4 – I’m a professional writer who takes my job seriously. I’m always available via Skype or Email and I answer promptly.

5 – My writing is clear, concise and to the point. I’ve been writing daily for years, and that shows.

I invite you to check out my online portfolio at:

www.DaggerWriting.com

I’m looking forward to hearing back from you!

Sam

6. Mention past experience. That’s what I did in the above application, and I believe it’s why I got the job. Always play up any experience you have. A client doesn’t want you to be learning on the job, he or she wants you to be the master.

7. Create an online portfolio. There is literally NO EXCUSE to not do this. You can sign up for a free Blogger or WordPress portfolio. Better than nothing, not nearly as good as… Hosting your own portfolio website. For example, my site is Epoch Writing. I’ve written more about web design in my post: 4 Web Design Tips for Beginners.

8. Never plagiarize. This has nothing to do with filling out an application, it’s just general advice. If you plagiarize and get caught, your career is over. The client will leave you feedback saying you did it, you could potentially get kicked off of Upwork, and so on. It’s never, ever worth it. If you don’t know how to complete a job without stealing someone else’s work, you shouldn’t apply in the first place.

Summary

Forest Gump saying wordsLike Forest Gump, that’s all I’ve got to say about that. Out of everything here, I think the most important point is number one. You should apply for a lot of jobs. Even with a great application, you’ll still only hear back from about 1 in 4 clients. Maybe even less, that’s totally normal. As a rule, if you’re spending less than 10 minutes on an application you’re doing it wrong.

Also you can find loads of my successful applications that I’ve copied word for word from Upwork. Feel free to copy, steal, paraphrase or do whatever you like with it.