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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?

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.

The Best Countries to Teach English In

Teaching English is a great way to get out into the world while getting paid at the same time. There are all sorts of interesting places that you can travel to. Maybe you already have a country in mind, or maybe you’re still undecided. Either way, here are some cool countries that you should consider checking out! Read more at the bottom of this post to find out where you can find an English teaching position online.

1. China

Big WallChina is a great country to teach English in because they have a demand for teachers that is through the roof. China’s huge population ensures that there is always a large demand for teachers. Salary and job security aside, one of the main highlights teaching here is the low cost of living. Many English teachers receive benefits such as free housing and free airfare.

Estimated salary range : $1000 – $2500

2. South Korea

South KoreaSouth Koreans brag about having one of the best BBQ the world. Not only that, but they have a rich culture and Seoul is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. Unfortunately, if you are set on teaching here, you will have a much better chance to land a job in a city outside of Seoul. Competition is fierce for the teaching positions in this capital city. When you teach English in South Korea you often get paid airfare, free housing and contract completion bonuses. In some cases a TEFL certification is not required.

Estimated range of salary : $1800 – $2100

3. Colombia

ColombiaLots of young and middle aged people are going to Colombia to teach, which makes it number four on this list. The wages aren’t great, but the evergreen Rainforests, stunning beaches South American culture make Colombia a great destination. The country also has a rich history that is still evident in the smaller towns and villages. Columbia has a large community of expats and teachers, which means you’ll always have people to swap stories with.

Estimated salary range : $500 – $1500

4. Saudi Arabia

Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia is on this list because of the huge salary you can bring in as an English teacher. Not only that, you’ll never have to worry about snow and you may even get your own personal driver. The salary is high because Saudi Arabia has a very rigorous screening process. You are going to need at least 4-5 years of experience teaching and a college degree, preferably in English or linguistics. Try applying without it and nobody is going to return your emails.

Estimated salary range : $3200 – $5000

5. Vietnam

Bay in VietnamA country famous for its captivating tropical paradises, Vietnam is a beautiful country to teach in. The salary is high compared to neighboring countries and the cost of living is low. With Thailand and Cambodia being a flight or a train ride away, this is a dream come true for people who love to travel. Southeast Asia has always had a charm that that continually draws in new Westerners.

Estimated salary range : $1000 – $2200

6. Turkey

TurkeyTurkey, where the east and west clash. This place is a wonderful country as it’s between the Middle East and Europe. That gives you a mixed a taste of traditional Middle Eastern culture with some of the nicer amenities of Western culture. Turkey offers an attractive , high, growing job market for English teachers. Istanbul, the only city in the world to have one foot in Asia and another in Europe, is where you’ll be able to find most of the jobs teaching English.

Estimated salary range : $2000 – $2500

7. Spain

SpainSpain is on the list because of the country’s high demand for English teachers. Despite its struggling economy, Spain is still a good choice due to its spectacular architecture, non stop night life, and its fine cuisine. Don’t forget that Ibiza has some of the best clubs in the world if you love to party. To find a good job, head to Madrid during the hiring season from mid-September into October and again in January 3rd right after 3 kings day which is January 6th.

Estimated salary range : $700 – $1500

Finding Work as an English Teacher

Thankfully English teachers are always in demand. You might not get the country you wanted, but you will find a job. The two best resources for finding work are:

Dave’s ESL Cafe International Job Board

TELF Jobs Database

If you’re interested in Russia, be sure to check out my free eBook: Try the Borsch. Inside you’ll find loads of useful information about finding a teaching position in Moscow.

3 Reasons You Should Quit Your Job and Travel

If you get a job straight out of college I think you’re making a mistake. As soon as you start your first work, you’re heading down a path that ends in a lifetime of stagnation. Before you have time to think you’ve got responsibilities, people who depend on you, things happening, and you can’t leave it all behind. Fuck, even just getting a dog can ruin your plans to travel.

That’s why if you’re reading this, and you still have enough leeway where you can quit your job and travel, you have to do it. Travelling is a unique experience and there is no replacement for it. And for all you Americans out there, travelling in the USA doesn’t count. Save some cash and go to Europe or South America. Here’s why.

1. You Meet Awesome People Travelling

Four of Us Having FunWhen you travel you meet awesome people who you instantly have something in common with. You’re both in a foreign country, and you’re both probably there for a reason. Unless you’re my friend Zhena, who picks countries based on the cheapest plane ticket.

Even if you meet other people from your own country, you’re still going to have more to talk about than if you met them at a bar back at home. That means relationships are more solid. Even though I’ve only been travelling for a few months, I already regularly talk to more people I’ve met in hostels, than I do from the first twenty-two years of my life.

2. Learn Something New

I’ve been doing research for a company, and I’ve read fifty personal bios of bloggers in the last few days. One man said that he’s lived in the same fifty mile area his whole life. For a vacation, he goes four hundred miles away, once a year, to the same fucking spot. Every time.

What kind of life is that?

He doesn’t know anything about the world. Reading is great and watching movies is fun, but to actually learn something you have to get out the door and go experience it first hand. When you step off that airplane, bus or train, and breathe in the air of the new city, you always learn something new.

Do you know what Moscow smells like? Or Berlin, Kiev, Miami, New York, Krakow or Prague?

3. You’ll Regret it Later

CrazyStuffIf you don’t quit your job and travel, I promise you that you’re going to regret it later. Money is only cool for so long. Once the charm wears off, you’re left in a house. With a car. And a job that you don’t like. Who knows, maybe you travel and then you get all of that stuff anyways. But at least you’ll have stories to tell.

Don’t subject yourself to a life of servitude. Don’t trade your time for money when you’re young. Get out and do something awesome! There will always be something waiting for you when you get back. But if you don’t go now, if you don’t quit now, you’re going to be forty someday and you won’t be able to. You’ll have kids, a wife, a house, a mother-fucking couch. Once you have it, it’s tough to let it go. Make it easy for yourself. Quit now, buy a plane ticket and just go.

No matter what happens, no matter who you meet or where you go, you won’t regret it.

How to Make Money Online

I’m going to base this entire section on the assumption that you’ve never worked online before. A few months ago I was the same way. That all changed when I read this article. Chase gave me the idea to start working online, and I haven’t looked back since. The difference between Chase’s article and mine is that he focuses on getting a job as a copywriter, while I’ll be narrowing my focus to look exclusively how to start earning money on Upwork. Let’s get started.

1. Sign Up for Upwork

Go to www.Upwork.com and create a profile. When you create your profile you need to take it seriously. A real live human being will actually screen your application and if your profile is incomplete, they won’t let you sign up until you fix the problems. To get it right the first time follow this advice.

*Upload a professional looking picture of yourself.

*List any experience you have writing or doing other online work.

*List real world experience you have in any industries.

*List what skills you specialize in (or would like to specialize in). Some examples include: SEO content, copywriting, translation, creative writing, web design, content marketing, social media expert, graphic design, and so on.

*Look at the picture below, which will give you an idea about how to create a professional, to the point profile.

2. Begin the Application Process

Now that you have a profile it’s time to start applying for jobs. A good place to start is by simply typing in “creative writer” or “content writer” into the search bar. You’re going to find hundreds of jobs, of which you should apply to dozens. Play up any experience you have. If you got an A on a paper in high school for writing about a local event, say you have experience in journalism. If you wrote about about a your grandma who survived WWII, say your talented at crafting personal profiles. If you’ve never written anything in your life, say you’re enthusiastic about learning.

Spend anywhere from five to fifteen minutes on every application. The key here is volume. Every month you can apply to 30 jobs, and you want to apply to all 30 of them. Out of those jobs you’ll probably here back from three or four. Take this seriously, no matter what the wage is. Remember, you’re in this for the long run. In the beginning it’s way more important to get a positive review from a client then to earn a decent wage. For example, which one should you choose?

A – Work your first hundred hours on Upwork and receive an incredible $5,000 for your effort!

B – Work your first hundred hours on Upwork and receive$0 for your effort, but get amazing feedback from three clients.

If you picked B you’re correct. Feedback is going to make or break you. That’s why even if you’re earning $4 an hour you have to act like you’re earning $30 an hour. For me, even with extensive writing experience, I didn’t start earning more than $5 an hour till well after I had put in 50 hours. However, I got amazing feedback, and now I’m up to $10 an hour. That’s no coincidence.

3. Work Every Single Day

The more you write, the quicker you’ll gain experience, the sooner you’ll be able to start earning a decent living wage. If you fuck around and write two hours today, then two hours next Saturday, then a few hours in a month, you will get NOWHERE.

Since my first day on Upwork I’ve had a very simple rule: four hours a day no matter what. I’ve stuck to that rule like a nerd sticks to his girlfriend. The result is that not only have I doubled my hourly rate in two months, I’ve also gained a huge amount of experience in a short amount of time.

On Upwork, the more experience you have the more likely you are to get hired. For example, I’ve now written about the following topics: solar panels, renewable energy, water filters, web design, cloud faxing, healthy eating, losing weight, working out, dealing with peer pressure, Russian women, drinking water, and windows. That means that when I go look for a new job, I already have a huge bank of things I’ve already written about which means that I can ask for more money $$.

4. Apply for Higher Paying Jobs

After you have more experience, and some positive feedback, you can start applying for better jobs that actually pay you a decent wage. Once you reach this point, you want to change your application strategy a bit. Stop sending out applications in bulk, and start focusing on making several applications amazing.

I regularly spend in upwards of twenty to thirty minutes on a single application. Even though I get a response from only one person in five, it’s still worth it. Getting a high paying job is a really good feeling. But you’ll only get it if your application is one point. By the time you reach this point you’ll hardly need my advice. You’ll have enough experience to function on your own, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your income goals.

Bonus Tips

1. Write down your income goals. Not only that, but set dates to reach them by. That will really light a fire under your ass to get on the computer and get hustling. My personal goal is to be making $2,000 a month by my birthday in May, 2016. Also, read the book Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill.

2. Always update your profile to reflect new experience. As you learn new skills, be sure to make that obvious.

3. Go above and beyond for your first few clients. It doesn’t matter how much you’re getting paid, you have to have that positive feedback.

4. Consider creating a website in order to showcase your portfolio. You can check out my website here. I have a full portfolio of what I’ve written and I’m always updating it. I literally only get a few views a week, but it doesn’t matter. Those few views are from high paying clients which makes it all worth it in the end.

5. Move to a cheap country where your dollar goes far. When I was earning $600 a month I was living in Ukraine. Do you know what you can do with $600 a month? Live like a fucking king! Do you know what you can do with $600 a month in New York City? Beg for change during the afternoons. You’re starting to write online so you can travel right? Well you might as well travel to a country where the dollar goes a long ways.