How I Reached USD 1, 000 On Upwork After 74 Hours of Total Work Billed

how to be be a freelancer on upwork


 I don't know anything about software programming, website design, financial accounting, video & photo editing. I love to blog on my own site but writing articles for another site - I don't think my grammar is enough. My skills are so limited. However, I never gave up in finding where I am good at. 

My journey to freelancing life was never easy. In fact, if given a chance to do it over again - I will do it right. I have so many regrets of that until now that it is way too late to do it or I cannot make up for it anymore. I wished I continued my health insurance as soon as I quit my 9-year old job in the BPO company and learned to live according to how I earn.  However, taking the path to freelance life is still the best decision I have ever done to myself. I was so totally burnt out of working during graveyard shift for so many years and at the same time required to work during holidays. At first, I liked it because I am paid more. This means I can buy more things I desire.

Until it came to the point that I realized life is not all about making money and working in an environment where I am no longer happy anymore. The tasks are very repetitive, the traffic going and back home was killing me, the scheduled breaks that need to be followed strictly, and the management is always raising the metrics whenever we hit the certain percentage of getting extra commission.                

As early as 2009, I got bitten by the travel bug and found passion through blogging. I needed more vacation leaves and started going crazy about meeting people from all walks of life. I only see same faces in my previous job for 9 years! I got tired of sharing their own stories of the routines of being a mom, a dad whose trying to escape the husband image outside his house and more. 

After stalking my favorite travel blog for years (reading their blog post one after another religiously) of these two women backpackers who quit their jobs in the same industry, I took the risk! At first, I wanted to do some online jobs part time while I do my call center job. It failed because my full time job is sucking the energy in me that after work, I just want to sleep and rest. 



The start of my Upwork journey  
July 2014 -  I signed up on Odesk.com which is now called Upwork.com. Whenever I meet freelancers, most of the time they mention this freelancing site so I think it must be the best! That time, I still don't have the courage to live my office cum night shift job. I am too chicken to get out of my comfort zone. I am staying in a condo unit shared with friends and at the same time coworker in my office job. I am afraid if I fail, I will not have money to contribute. They'll kick me out for sure.

I was not sure of what kind of service I am going to offer. I have no other particular skills aside from the ones I acquired via my BPO days - call handling (customer service & sales), email and chat support.  These are the skills I have added. I did however included writing since I love to English class. I excel in this subject better than Math and Science. Over my dead body, I will not get another remote job of doing the call handling part. I hand enough of customers yelling, cursing and crying over the phone. 



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Quitting a job that I hated so much
One day, I woke up feeling like I cannot stand it anymore. It seems I have to drag myself to work already. I feel like I am killing myself every second while I do this work. The next thing I knew it I just passed my resignation paper to my boss. The only reason I mentioned is that "my heart is no longer here in this job".   

Failure at first try
Knowing a bit of pay-per-click marketing, I started to sell tour packages in exchange of meager commission by partnering with travel agencies. I was making a decent money - in fact bigger than my already big salary back in my BPO days.  However, two failures came. I screwed up my budget doing ineffective campaigns and a tour operator ran away who owe me big money. 
    
October 2014 - Super broke, I went back to call center industry because I have no other skills that I can use to work under another industry.  


Going back to a job that I cursed to not to work again was like working in hell. I was not performing well. I cannot reach the passing scores for my metrics. I was not happy at all. I was alway absent or late because I was either traveling or joining blogging events around Manila. I was like in a prison every single second. I wanted to break free as soon as possible!     

Quitting the job for the second time
Through blogging I made good connections and opportunities came one by one. My first break is getting an all expense paid trip to Cambodia to review a party hostel. I made a good impression with the British owner that he offered me a job post of being a Social Media  and Content Manager. The pay was enough to start over a freelancing career. At first, it was 40% percent travel writing, 50% posting on all social networking sites and doing ad hoc tasks for the brand. Eventually, I knew I cannot do writing for a living which is weird because I am into blogging. He then changed my job descriptions - I did the social media management entirely.
         
November 2015 -  For the next year and a half, I felt happy working and learning about social media slash digital marketing at the same time. I learned so much and met so many people in the blogosphere, travel and tourism. 

June 2017 - It's a company's decision to end my contact with them because they needed someone that should do my tasks and be based in Phnom Penh. They preferred a Western person so I did not insist.


Broken hearted because I lost my first ever remote work that I love so much, I didn't feel like finding new clients directly. I remembered I have an old profile on Upwork that I haven't used for more than 3 years! I checked it and see if miracles do happen. That is to find clients through this platform. I think what's good in using third party freelancing sites is that there's no attachment or whatsoever that can happen. Once the job is done - it is all done. 

July 2017 - A guy setting up a new travel website about Italy contacted me to scrape content about trip itinerary for  $25. Upwork fee has a cut of 20% so I was paid only USD 20 which is roughly Php 1, 000. An ordinary person here in Manila makes Php 1, 000 for a day and a half of his/her work so not bad right?


The idea of offering travel research came from my travel blog. I am doing travel recommendations here, why not do the same for others?
August, September and October - NO gigs came. I didn't know what to do to notice me. I have so little skills and I have only  ONE past client who voted me 4.80. 

November 2017 -   Three clients knocked: a lead generation task, Instagram profile searching and destination research. The latter is a travel website based in the US. My per hour was USD 8 including Upwork fee but this client offered me to work for USD 10.40 per hour. This is around Php 500 PER HOUR. Here in Manila, a half day of work in a regular office is this price while on Upwork it is only an hour of my work.

Fast forward to today, this client has been the longest that I worked with. Since reaching USD 500 goal, Upwork has charged me less from 20% to 10% already.  Aside from destination research, I do virtual assistance, social media management, blog management and social media influencer scouting.     

I'm currently a top - rated Upworker with a 97% job success rate.  My main skill is to do travel research.  I also do virtual assistance to busy entrepreneurs, social media & blog management to brands and influencer scouting for PR agencies. I never thought of these skills when I started. I learned these skills along the way. If I can, you too! 


By the way, this USD 1, 000 is only for my Upwork clients. I also have direct clients I work with :)  I have heard from my fellow friends who wanted to start their Upwork career but they say it is too hard nowadays. I am just lucky that an old profile I signed up way, way back is something I will treasure for life. I also plan to focus full time on Upwork platform. If I was able to make USD 1, 000 for the first 74 hours, I can multiply that moving forward!

2 comments

  1. I really enjoyed this article. Its awesome to see people getting out of their confort zones and taking chances. great job.

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    Replies
    1. Hi kelly, sorry I just read your comment. Thank you so much and wish you the best :)

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