This article is written just to motivate new freelancers by sharing my own life story. I’m not a big or iconic person in freelancing industry but a happy one. Seeing a post of a freelancer on facebook, I thought I should share my own story and this is the output of my attempt.
I didn’t know what freelancing is. I just knew that I love computing. After getting admitted into the Business Faculty of Chittagong University to pursue BBA on Marketing, I’ve started learning coding. I always tried myself. I always have allergy about coaching centers. So I purchased some books and started reading them.
To learn PHP, I went to a senior who is well-known freelancer in our country now. He told me that you cannot learn PHP, it’s really tough. Hearing that, I was really shocked. And I can still remember the nights that I couldn’t sleep at just thinking about PHP. There was a vacation of a month in my university and I struggled that whole month to learn PHP.
Within two months or three, I was able to develop my first website based on PHP. I showed him there is nothing “impossible” if you have determination and strong will power.
Though I opened my oDesk account in 2010 and tried a lot of, I didn’t get any job because my knowledge was too poor at that time. Again, I tried myself and there was none to help me out, so I was frustrated at some point of life and quitted trying on oDesk.
I have a friend (Kamruzzaman Monir) who was inspired for web programming by me. We both tried to do some courses together but didn’t get that chance. Whatever, my friend’s cousin was inspired by my friend. On a sudden, Monir came to know that his cousin got a job on oDesk. My friend thought if his cousin could learn from him and manage a oDesk job, why doesn’t he. So my friend started trying and got some.
My friend’s question – “If I and my cousin could get oDesk jobs, why don’t you?”. This question really inspired me to restart trying on oDesk in 2012.
I started trying in August, 2012. This time I was successful. My first job was of $1. Then I never looked back – Alhamdulillah. That foolish business student who knows nothing about computing is a full-time programmer (junior) now!
In 2013, I was hired by a Malaysian company though as a full-timer. From then, I’m still working at the same company. My Upwork profile has 4900+ logged-in hours. I’m one of the top rated freelancers having 4.99 rating out of 20 jobs.
I never take pride in the money that I earned, neither I measure success by amount of money only. I believe amount of money is a part of the success story, not the story itself. I measure success of a job by four things – 1. How much I have learned, 2. How much I have earned, 3. How much my client is happy, and 4. How much I’m happy.
I take pride in “Doing what I love to do”. Now I can do what I want, there is none to control me and my action. Yes, I have some mentors but they aren’t my boss. Even I never addressed my CEO as sir or boss. I also take pride in bringing some people in freelancing industry, my elder brother is a full-time freelancer now, and so is my elder sister. Some more friends will also join near soon.
I really feel happy when I see that my clients are happy with my work. They appreciate my work, they offer me more jobs, letter of appreciation, and bonus. I find it encouraging when see that my clients consider my opinion and make me a decision maker.
Well, I no longer spend much time on freelancing because I don’t want to earn money only. I want to earn money by reshaping the world that will benefit human being. Freelancing career, little university experience, and most importantly the influence of the office where I work at encourage me to be a tech entrepreneur. I’ve some crazy ideas that I’ve been working on now.
I always wanted to be a FREE man, and yes, I really am. I tried and I have built up a freelancer profile. I wanted to work for my land and I’m doing that now.
You might think I’m from a high-profile family. No, I’m absolutely not. I’m from a lower-middle class family. My father was a fourth-class govt. employee and mother was a housewife. We four siblings studied at the same time, and we know how much dedication my parents made for us. My parents didn’t get chance to have primary education but I’m proud of them – they are the best parents in my eyes.
I’m telling so many things just to make you believe that “Yes, you can DO if you WANT”. If a business student from a poor and illiterate family can do, why don’t you? You just need to be smart. Question is how!
If you really want to build a freelancing career, think BIG. Say, you’re 25 now and you’ll work for next 25 years in freelancing. If your plan is that, you should focus on your asset that will help you pass on next 25 years. In freelancing, we know that knowledge and experience are the only asset. So, my opinion is, please don’t go after money at the beginning. Focus on learning initially, at least for five years. If you can make a strong basement in the first five years, your next 20 years will be awesome, believe me – I guarantee you (in sha Allah).
In the first five years, your sole focus should be on two things –
1. Choosing correct sectors and working in them: this is most crucial. If you cannot decide what fields you’ll be working in, you won’t be able to be a good freelancer. Maybe you’ll earn good but you won’t get happiness and success. Billions of dollar don’t have any value if you’re not happy with your work.
2. Ensuring minimum amount of money for survival: At the beginning, I also did some data-entry jobs just for survival but they never interested me. And I don’t do any data-entry jobs now-a-days. I get some good job offers that are not of my chosen sectors, so I always try to get someone else to do them. So, you should spend some time just for making money for your survival, and invest rest of of the time on learning that will help you in the future.
Use Google, it’s your best and smartest friend. If you want to know about something, your first action should be asking Google, always. I’m always grateful to Google. All clients are not same. Try to understand them first, then behave. Be responsible, never avoid your mistakes. If you make mistake, try to fix them yourself first. If you cannot, let your client know the true story. Be patient. I started learning in 2007, created oDesk profile in 2010 and got first job in 2012. Don’t disturb clients for jobs. keep in mind that they must contact you if they need you. Be quick in reply. Check Gmail every hour. Learn from your mistakes. Cooperate your co-workers. Don’t think you’ll be a loser if you help co-worker. Actually it’s better for you. Always appreciate good work. Be honest to you, your co-workers and clients.
I strongly believe 50% of success depends on communication skills. So you need to be an awesome communicator. To be so, you need to ensure two things – 1. you need to clearly understand what your clients say and 2. your clients need to clearly understand what you say. Both thing could be ensured if your knowledge on English & technical knowledge of your working areas is good. For English, my suggestion is to watch English movies with subtitle and reading out English newspapers. Yes, your clients may many new things that you never heard. Once found a new word, just Google it. You will be able to gather basic idea on the new term and then talk with clients. Never ever talk blinds, you must be responsible for your every word. So, be careful!
Last but not the least, never focus on money, focus on what you love, what you do. If you focus on money, you cannot love your work. As a result, your work will not be the best of you. If you focus on your work, it’ll be able to do your best. Your best work will definitely help you reach your dreams. Keep in mind that the world still needs millions of qualified freelancers. I’m a hiring manager of my company that have already spent $275K+ on oDesk and we don’t get qualified freelancers when we need – believe me.
Be positive, learn from every success and failure. Keep faith in you. Today or tomorrow, success will be at your door.
I believe there will be a day when Bangladesh will have no freelancers and we’ll hire US / European freelancers for our work. Be smart! Wish you all the best!
Head of Tech (Virtual), Tandemic, Malaysia