Freelancer Story: “Find your niche. Stick with it. Get good at it.”

   

Meet Ashwin; Google Partner, HubSpot & Bing Certified PPC expert.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into freelancing?

I am Ash and I am an end-to-end digital marketer — and that means I help clients set up their websites, do blogging, manage social media accounts; plan and execute their email marketing campaigns, help clients with marketing automation; help deploy Paid advertising campaigns; build landing pages; and more.

I run an agency fetchprofits.com to help clients profit from their web presence.

About 12 years ago, I had a day job but it wasn’t well-paid, given my lifestyle (Like, $250 per month won’t do good for anyone anywhere). So, I was forced to look for ways to capitalise on my skills. I started looking for clients who might be looking for help with writing blog posts (or anything) on Craigslist. That’s how I got into freelance writing (and I still do it today).

Much later, I joined many freelance job boards, including PPH.

What was your previous job before deciding to go freelance?

My first job was that of business development manager (fancy way of saying sales guy) at an Insurance company. I then worked with Standard Chartered Bank before going full-time into freelancing.

How did you come across PPH?

In 2013, I read someone’s blog post that listed out many job boards where you could get freelance jobs from. That’s how I came to know about PPH and I joined Immediately. 

What was your first job like on PPH?

My first job on PPH was for me to write up a few blog posts on the subject of Internet Marketing (something that I was — and I am — passionate about). I made a whopping, wait for it, 20 GBP off that gig. The job itself went smooth. A simple request for 2 blog posts or so, delivered in 24 hours flat, and this got me my first pay on PPH.

What is a typical day like for you?

Although I am a freelancer and an entrepreneur, I like to be organised and I hate wasting time. So, despite the freedom that freelancing gives me, I pretty much go about my days like an hourly contractor.

I wake up every day at 5.30 AM. Get to my office (a shared office space for startups) by 8.30 AM and work until 9 PM.

Early mornings, I try to catch up with some quiet reading and planning for the day. I then ride (on a bicycle) to work (takes 45 mins).

My days always start in this order:

Hustle: Spend the first one-hour placing bids, applying for jobs, sending out cold emails.

The rest of the mornings are always reserved for writing — blog posts for my blog, then more blog posts for my agency’s blog, and other blog posts pending delivery for clients.

Lunch: 15 minutes to 20 mins

The rest of the day: Other pending projects, more hustle.

When I get home, I continue working for a while (since most of my clients are on the other side of the world). I close the day at 11 PM sharp and I hit the bed.

How does freelancing compare to a 9-5?

A 9-5? A job, you mean? What’s a job?

I’d never, ever, go back to a 9-5 job.

I’d not even consider it for all the money in the world. I hate office politics and the idiots you’ll have to end up working with. Also, what you make each month is a joke compared to what you could do with freelancing even during your worst months. Jobs don’t let you be yourself. They don’t let you grow as much. You don’t get to learn outside of what your “job description” is, and on top of everything, you are never really “secure” with a job as most folks like to believe.

What benefits have you found by using PPH?

PPH was actually more expensive (fees at 15%) when I joined than it is now. Those days PPH’s competition (other freelance job boards) charged a monthly fee + anywhere from 8 t0 15%. PPH was flat at 15%.

Today, however, those other job boards are even more expensive than PPH ever was. Plus, the quality of clients (although I don’t get that many now, for my own reasons) is high compared to some cheap freelance boards out there (not naming them).

PPH was – and still is – an amazing platform to help productise your services with Hourlies. This was, in fact, the foundation idea which is now helping me plan my future (see below).

For a long time, PPH also had a cool program where you’d invite external clients onto the platform and you don’t have to pay PPH fees while you get the best of the platform to use while working with the client – like the escrow system, recurring billing, milestones, and more (I am not sure if PPH still has this program now).

On a personal note, PPH helped me tremendously (and they don’t know it yet) by sending in some free credits (to apply for more jobs each month) exactly when I needed them the most. They came in, just like that, like an angel.
I am forever indebted to PPH for that.

What does your future hold? Where would you like to take this?

From freelancing as an Individual, I am now freelancing as a fast growing agency (it’s still the same but with some additional help when needed). The future will be producticing my services. Also, I’ll be launching several spinoff brands under my flagship agency brand which will focus on providing a very specific digital marketing related service for a fixed price or a much smaller recurring payment model.

I’ve decided to do something big with the rest of my life – with or without freelancing. I am pushing my self-imposed boundaries, challenging myself to do things I never did before, and trying to find a way to find happiness without tying it to money and anything materialistic.

While I’ll still be freelancing for the rest of my life (as far as I could fathom), I want it to work on my terms.

What are your top 5 tips for freelancers who are new to PPH?

TL; DR: What you get out of PPH is what you put into it.

Whether you are new or a veteran, these tips help:

  • Always be hustling. Regardless of whether or not you hear back from clients, always keep placing proposals. You’ve got to put in the hustle to expect anything out of PPH itself. By 10 AM each morning, you should have sent out at least 10 pitches, bids, or applications per day. Period.
  • When writing proposals, write like you are writing to a friend (only with some respect thrown in for good measure). Be professional without exception. See if you can find out something about the clients (a name, a website URL?).
  • Getting projects can be hard or easy – depending on you – to get your first clients on PPH. Clients are picky, choosy, and discerning (unlike other marketplaces). As with most things, perception matters a lot. Have something to show clients. Writer? Make sure you have a blog and then showcase other blog posts you published elsewhere. Web Designer? Build real websites and put them up on Behance or other places where they showcase websites. No excuses for this one.
  • Put some personality into your proposals – don’t just go “me me me me” like most people end up doing (in spite of knowing well that it won’t work as much)
  • If and when you get projects, over-deliver. Exceed expectations. Hit the ball out of the park – all of this, much before the deadline.

What are your top 5 tips for your particular role? 

I am a freelance writer. So, if you strip away all the marketing thing about me, I have a few very specific tips for writers. It took me more than a decade to realise this, but I am hoping you don’t have to waste all that time. So follow this:

  • Never work for free (only rarely does it have its place and you’ll know it. In fact, raise your prices right now. Take your existing fees. Add 50% to every price point on every service you provide. Then, increase that amount by another 15% percent.
  • Put your foot down and fire clients who treat you bad, disrespect you, don’t pay you on time (or even worse, not at all), and don’t ever get into hostage situations with them.  Either they work with you on your terms, or they don’t. There’s only one rule for clients from hell = say goodbye, forever.
  • Maintain a blog and do guest posting. There’s nothing that affects clients’ perceptions as much as your own work (published on your blog) and on other publications. When you are well-known, you command more respect, more pay, and no one screws around with you. Plus, it has many other benefits and you already know those (like you could be invited to co-author another blog, start a business, become a partner, affiliate marketing, speak at an event, and more)
  • There are lots of “writers” out there. Honestly, most of that writing is pure, unadulterated crap. With so many non-writers and writers competing with you right now, it helps if you zoom in on a speciality. Like, I only write on business, technology, and marketing. Nothing else. So, find your niche. Stick with it. Get good at it. Charge a premium when you get there.
  • You can’t always be “writing” for others. While you are freelancing, find other things you could do with your precious writing skill: teach online, run a blog, do coaching, get into consulting, sell info products, write books, self-publish Kindle books, etc. You get the drift, right?

What web browser do you use?

I keep shuffling between Safari and Chrome 🙂

If you were an animal, which one would you be and why?

A lion. Although I am nice and charming, I am also rebellious by nature. I demand respect — for me and everyone around me. I deserve the best for myself and I wish everyone around me gets the same.

The world today is a jungle, and if it were, I’d rather be on the top of it all.

Like a Lion is.

What do you think of Ashwin’s story? Please leave messages of support for Ashwin in our comments box below!

If you’d like us to feature your story, please contact us at community@peopleperhour.com.

Ashwin

Google Partner, HubSpot & Bing Certified PPC expert

Hyderabad, India

Overview: END-TO-END DIGITAL MARKETER

HIRE ASHWIN

6 Comments

  • Elora Bhattacharjee

    Hi Sir. Really happy for you that finaly you got what you were searching for. Hope you remember me.

  • Ash

    Thank you for reading and commenting, Elora. Of course, I remember you 🙂

  • Sarah

    Just started freelancing myself. Thank you for giving plenty of sensible advice. 😊

  • Hetal

    All in a word ‘waow’, goodluck!

  • Ash

    Thank you Sarah and Hetal 🙂

    Ash

  • Anthony Tornambe

    Great tips.

Post A Comment