Dear Freelancers, Be Smart – The World Will Be Yours!

Dear Freelancers, Be Smart – The World Will Be yours!

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 in Marketing, I’ve started learning coding. I always tried myself. I have always had an allergy to coaching centers. So I purchased some books and started reading them.

To learn PHP, I went to a senior who is a 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 at 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 willpower.

Though I opened my oDesk account in 2010 and tried a lot, 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 in life and quit trying on oDesk.

I have a friend (Kamruzzaman Monir) who was inspired by web programming. We both tried to do some courses together but didn’t get that chance. Whatever, my friend’s cousin was inspired by my friend. All 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 $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. Since 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 a 4.99 rating out of 20 jobs.

I never take pride in the money that I earned, neither I measure success by the amount of money only. I believe the amount of money is a part of the success story, not the story itself. I measure the 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 into the 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, letters of appreciation, and bonuses. I find it encouraging when seeing that my clients consider my opinion and make me a decision-maker.

Well, I no longer spend much time freelancing because I don’t want to earn money only. I want to earn money by reshaping the world that will benefit a human beings. Freelancing career, little university experience, and most importantly the influence of the office where I work encouraged 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. Our four siblings studied at the same time, and we know how much dedication my parents made for us. My parents didn’t get a 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. The question is how!

If you really want to build a freelancing career, think BIG. Say, you’re 25 now and you’ll work for the next 25 years in freelancing. If your plan is that, you should focus on the asset that will help you pass on the next 25 years. In freelancing, we know that knowledge and experience are the only assets. 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 dollars don’t have any value if you’re not happy with your work.

2. Ensuring minimum amount of money for survival: In 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 nowadays. 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 the rest of the time in 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 to ask Google, always. I’m always grateful to Google. All clients are not the same. Try to understand them first, then behave. Be responsible, never avoid your mistakes. If you make mistakes, 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 my 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 with your co-workers. Don’t think you’ll be a loser if you help co-workers. Actually, it’s better for you. Always appreciate good work. Be honest with yourself, your co-workers, and your 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 things could be ensured if your knowledge of English & technical knowledge of your working areas is good. For English, my suggestion is to watch English movies with subtitles 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 a basic idea of 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 for you. If you focus on your work, you’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 has 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 yourself. 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!

Nur Hossain

Co-founder, Codist

Head of Tech (Virtual), Tandemic, Malaysia

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