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Suhaib Mohammed: How I Became a Millionaire As a Freelance Writer on Upwork

Suhaib Mohammed

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I remember the day I earned NGN182, 600.00 (or $550) in a single writing project on Upwork.

For many online writers from this country, that’s an unimaginable jackpot. It’s like a young student from a public school vowing to get straight As in their WAEC. You hear it, and you automatically think, “Nonsense.”

If you could make 182, 000 naira in a single writing job, you could build a career from your skills. You could quit your day job today, and eat three protein-rich square meals every day. In fact, you could even start traveling within Nigeria for sightseeing in places like Obudu, Tinapa, and Yankari National Park.

Nobody can earn that much. Nobody. Or can they?

When I called my friend and colleague, Jamila, earlier in January, and told her, “I want to earn 1 million naira this year,” she laughed out loud. An average freelance Nigerian writer like my friend would tell me, “Well, you can make it,” even though deep inside their heart they have some doubt. I myself didn’t believe I could achieve that feat.

But I insisted.

I struggled to find gigs using a number of strategies: cold pitching, email pitching, guest posting, etc, I ended up earning NGN0.00 from all of these tactics. I nearly quit freelancing altogether.

Then I returned to a freelance marketplace, thanks to gig economy.

The Upwork Economy
You see, getting a client to hire you online is very difficult.

The so-called “experts” will tell you to start a blog or run Facebook ads or promote your services on Twitter. And you’ll do all these things, spending your time, energy, and resources for years with no result.

But on Upwork?

You’ll get to meet and talk with millions of clients from different parts of the world. The site is competitive, yes, and many clients prefer to hire “native speakers only.” However, with three million jobs posted annually, there is high probability you could get hired—if you put up some hard work and think like a real entrepreneur that you are.

For me, I’ve been on Upwork since 2011, but I quit shortly afterward, as I wasn’t happy with my low earnings and some negative reviews (my terrible writing provoked some US clients). Poor me!
But here I’m again: Back on Upwork, ready to cut my own share of the freelance economy, armed with a new strategy and a bold, clear goal: Make 1 million from my freelance writing business.

Here’s how I work the talk:

The 3-Step Formula for earning top dollars on Upwork

1. Hone your craft
On Upwork, or any online marketplace for that matter, you’re competing with native speakers, smart, Internet-empowered contractors from First World countries. These guys are really deep: They are the masters of their craft, and the only way to win over them is for you to become the master of your craft, too.

Here’s how I hone my writing skills:

• I read three blogs in my industry every day.
• I write 1, 000-word article every day.
• I publish on world-class blogs (Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Addicted2Success.com, etc.) to grow my “writing confidence” and build my brand identity.

Sharpening my writing skills has helped me get many repeat clients who will hire me again and again, making me cash top dollars in no time.

2. The money is in the proposal
How do you convince clients to hire you on Upwork?

Because it’s not easy. With more than 12 million freelancers on Upwork, I’m used to applying for a job alongside other 27 bidders—mostly from the US and UK—all of us vying for one job. One single writing project.
How do I get hired?

After many observations, deep critical think, and sleepless nights, I created my own proposal. I call it my “Winning Proposal.”

I don’t tell a client anything about my experience in my winning proposal.
I don’t brag about my viral post on Entrepreneur.
I don’t tell them that, “I can finish a 1,000-word article in 2 hours.”

Because none of these matter to clients. What did matters to clients is for them to know whether you have the skills required to write their project. So, I tailored my winning proposal to that. See below a sample of my winning proposal:

Hi [Client’s name],

I see you’re looking for an experienced article writer to complete an existing project!

Your work reminds me of one of my previous projects. The client was looking for a blog post in the finance niche that will engage their audience. Knowing that the only way to engage an online reader is by telling them stories that stir their emotion, I wrote succinct words that not only engages but stir some emotions, inspire readers to take action: Sign up to my client’s newsletter.

You can take a look at the article here: [insert the article link].

Will you be available for a quick 5 minutes Skype call/chat?

Cheers!

I earned a lot of jobs from this type of proposal. Finally, I added more services on top of my writing.

3. Offer multiple services
Because I have been writing for quite some time, it was not difficult for me to repackage my writing and content marketing skills and re-position myself as an established content marketer, offering multiple services: from editing and proofreading to copywriting and guest posting to blogger outreach.

It’s all about critical thinking.

The bottom-line
It’s OK to set crazy goals. In fact, it’s OK to make bold, unimaginable goals. Jeff Bezos, for example, the founder and CEO of Amazon, envisioned to build the everything store: selling everything human being can imagine—books, chocolates, CDs, tomatoes, etc.

His idea for an online retail store, which is as vast as the South American river, came to fruition today, and much of it is thanks to his crazy vision.

Next to him, my New Year’s resolution was actually nothing. I set the 1 million goal, and I achieved it.

Add the “Total Billed” $2, 653.33 (that’s the money I earned) with the “Fees Paid” $436.33 (that’s the Upwork charges deducted from my earnings), and you’ll see that I’ve made a total of $3, 086.66 (or NGN1,025767.12).

Goal achieved!

But I’m not just showing you this to brag, mind you. I’m just here to tell you this: Think. Be smart.

Don’t just blame your rich uncle for not getting you a job at NNPC. Build a career from your room and start earning more than an NNPC staff. And the good news is that you can really do it, if you’re willing to put some hard work.

I’m thinking of launching an online course to teach you how to earn top dollars—just like me—selling freelance writing/content marketing services on Upwork.

I have a question for you: Are you interested?

Drop your answer in the comment below. I’ll get back to read them later. Now let me get back to work!

Suhaib Mohammed is a freelance writer and digital marketer. His website SuhaibMohammed teaches the art of writing compelling content that builds businesses. Wanna power your business with compelling content? Hire him now. You can also follow him on Twitter.

42 Comments

  1. Ms B

    January 7, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    I am! I am!

  2. Sussy

    January 7, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    I am interested!

  3. Cozygal

    January 7, 2018 at 11:04 pm

    I’ve not published my collection of short stories because I’ve been scared that it won’t get the acclaim that I hope for it.

    I’ve always considered freelancing. Just two days ago, I still googled, ‘creative writers’, ‘writing competitions 2018’, in search of something that could potential earn me some money.
    I know I really need to be more confident. I’ll really like to earn from writing this year.
    Thanks for this article. I’ll visit your website and be back with the questions.

  4. Tobi

    January 7, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    I am

  5. Smackdown

    January 7, 2018 at 11:51 pm

    I hire freelancers from Upwork all the time, and its hit or miss.
    They key is to make sure you produce quality work, because people can rate you on there. If you get low ratings from people who use your service, that is the kiss of death, and will likely keep you from being hired by others.
    My advice from a customer’s perspective, to help increase your chances of getting more work
    1. Produce high quality work
    2. Be reliable – if you say you will complete something in two days, complete it in that time
    3. Be honest- if you don’t know something, admit it because it will definitely be revealed
    4. Customer service is key – If I find a freelancer I like, I hire them for more projects

    Other websites like Upwork where freelancers can make money:
    1. Freelancer.com
    2. Peopleperhour.com
    3. Crowdspring -graphic designers, web designers
    4. 99designs.com – graphic designers, etc

    Goodluck to all!

  6. Moz

    January 7, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Hi Ahmed,have not be there before,haven’t done that.. and I am so interested,i will appreciate a guide,mentor of some sort. I got caught up with how much you earn that was the first thing that draw me in.. Honestly but in reality aside earning I am a learner at heart and will love to give it a go thanks!

  7. Seriously

    January 8, 2018 at 12:11 am

    This is an enlightening article. I love it. Going over to check out his website.

  8. Mama dazel

    January 8, 2018 at 12:21 am

    See marketing strategy…smart

  9. Sina

    January 8, 2018 at 1:04 am

    This just became the “abuse of upwork”.

    Nigerians will go and destroy

    • Korede

      January 8, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      Lol. You think?! There’s actually nothing wrong, sky’s big enough for all.

  10. segun

    January 8, 2018 at 7:21 am

    I’m interested Bro

  11. Tanonymous3

    January 8, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Bellanaija, have you guys heard what happened to @dunnieoh (dunnie odusanya hasan) of @oloriswim. Allegegedly her husband took over her business page @oloriswim and took down all the 400+ pics. The gist is he is bipolar and they have been covering it for a while. He has now gone bonkers. Pls investigate it and lets know whats up.

    • Seriously

      January 8, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Get lost. Nothing fun about other people’s pain. BN don’t investigate anything. Dunnie Adunsanya always support black businesses and just black people in general. They should keep it as private as they want. I pray, God will help them sort out whatever it is they are going through.

  12. Tanonymous3

    January 8, 2018 at 8:11 am

    Forgive my typos

  13. icontola

    January 8, 2018 at 8:30 am

    i want to learn how to write. I am interested

  14. GYOnlineNG.COM

    January 8, 2018 at 9:25 am

    Well done bro..

  15. Olaoluwa

    January 8, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I am

  16. Mareeam

    January 8, 2018 at 10:47 am

    Here i am again,I have tried freelancing before and it paid well.Sometimes the demands are outrageous from my little experience but i didnt give up.Learning more in freelancing will be a very good idea.Am in on this one

    • Mareeam

      January 8, 2018 at 10:55 am

      I have Many questions for you.

  17. fabulous

    January 8, 2018 at 11:05 am

    I’m interested please.

  18. craftsmancottage

    January 8, 2018 at 11:47 am

    I am interested

  19. The K

    January 8, 2018 at 11:59 am

    I am interested.

  20. Suhaib Mohammed

    Suhaib Mohammed

    January 8, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you for reading and commenting, and for showing interest to learn. I can see, from the comments so far, that the interest is high. I’ll definitely create something for you guys. Thank you all.

  21. Rasheedah

    January 8, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    I’m interested!

  22. 'Diddie

    January 8, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    I’m interested.

    You made absolute sense and freelancing easy.

  23. Prashant

    January 8, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    I’m interested.

  24. OJ

    January 8, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    I AM

  25. Korede

    January 8, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Hi. Here’s my upwork profile link, (https://www.upwork.com/fl/koredeadenuga) I earned over 40k in my first 2 months, building my profile for bigger jobs.
    Thanks for sharing Shuaib, let’s connect, I want to learn from you. Thanks.

  26. Oge

    January 8, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    I am very much interested!

  27. Jamila

    January 8, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Weldone for this incredible piece Suhaib, and congratulations once again for reaching your goal. I’m sure this year will be even better.

  28. Damilola

    January 9, 2018 at 12:40 am

    I’ve done some freelancing work. I enjoyed it. Thanks for this post.

  29. teekay

    January 9, 2018 at 8:00 am

    I’m interested.

  30. Orih Anthoni

    January 9, 2018 at 8:25 am

    very interested.

  31. Emeji Jennifer Ukamaka

    January 10, 2018 at 7:50 pm

    I’m interested

  32. Stanley

    January 11, 2018 at 11:46 am

    I’m interested

  33. employer

    January 17, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Your profile on Upwork shows $3k+ earnings

  34. Adaeze Nzewi

    March 3, 2018 at 10:38 am

    Gee I like your post and the interesting way you make it sound appealling to newbies like me. I’m new to writng and freelancing and would need a whole lot of guide and mentorship. thanks

  35. Grace

    April 5, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Well done sir, I am sure it was a roller coaster ride all through. Please sir I have a question and will appreciate if you answer. How do you get paid? PayPal account in Nigeria is for only making payment , so I don’t know what to do , this also applies to other freelancing sites like Iwriters e.t.c. Thank you

    • Damy

      July 17, 2018 at 3:44 pm

      Admin please answer this

  36. Damy

    July 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks a lot, I just started out.
    Please I need help on payment issues and membership stuffs.
    Or what do you think

  37. Ande Saleh

    March 22, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    I am really motivated going through your article and would like you to mentor me on how to be a successful freelancer. What I read from your article really touched me. I graduated from school some years back, applied many jobs without reasonable source of income. Please I would really appreciate if you can assist to take me step by step from a learner to professional freelancer, thanks.

  38. Omu

    May 14, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Nice post,hope I am not late to the party? Actually, I must be frank to say that your post is quite revealing, inspiring and educative especially for many us whom have never took the time to think on the way out from non-responsive job applications etc. Kudos for the good job. However,my question with regards to joining upwork is how do I get my profile approved? Can you help out on this process?

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