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?
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.
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).
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!