Want to know what it’s like as a new freelancer? In this podcast, I interview Michael Hill who went through Freelancer Masterclass and is now on his own getting contracts from clients
Get ready for freelancing strategies, hacks and tactics to help you skyrocket your success brought to you by Freelancer masterclass.
All right everybody. Welcome to another Freelancer school. I am Mike Bolton lead instructor Freelancer masterclass. And today we have a special guest, Michael Hill, one of the first students to ever go through Freelancer masterclass. And now he is well on his way to being a very busy freelancer. So I thought I’d have him on today to talk a little bit about the trials and the tribulations of when he decided to join Freelancer masterclass what he got out of it. But don’t mistake this for just a commercial for the masterclass This is for you guys to understand what a beginning Freelancer does what they struggle with. Maybe you identify with some of the things Michael is going to say. And then yeah, we’ll just let the conversation go from there Michael. Welcome to the
Hey, Mike, thanks so much for having me. Now your specialty is marketing, right? Yeah, marketing, just general marketing kind of
starting out, I started out with like doing some SEO, writing some blog articles, and then starting to do email marketing and get into paid ads as well. So you’re kind of trying to find your niche trying to find your what’s what’s making you happy, what really drives your interest, right?
Pretty much because, you know, something like, that was brought to my attention was just like, marketing is such a wide umbrella. So I can’t like be really good at marketing in general. You know, like, I gotta, I gotta really like specialize. So
started with like blog writing, just understand SCV basic like SEO, writing a blog, what that looks like, and then trying to get into more aspects of SEO and then
Client needed email marketing so started doing that and I really enjoyed that. So that’s kind of
where I’m at right now. Sure. Yeah, let’s just take a step back for what before we even met before even found out about Freelancer masterclass what made you decide to want to be a freelance in the first place?
So what I was doing was I was like teaching guitar. I actually graduated in May, this may here. Congrats. Thanks. So, you know, with that I was kind of like just trying differently. Like little jobs. I worked at a restaurant for a little bit and then I was like teaching guitar and that was cool and all but I think when I started thinking more about goals and trying to be like more specific about it, it just isn’t, doesn’t fit into like the bigger picture. You know, so like, I was thinking about starting it like online like, website for guitar teaching and all this stuff. And it’s kind of cool, but it doesn’t have like, like the end goal of me.
making more money for myself being like location independent so to kind of get back to it yeah like I did it because one I wanted to feel like I could make have a larger income and then to I could be location independent. Right so location dependent is huge for freelancers so they can work anywhere in the world so then you came across Freelancer masterclass you you graduated by the way what was your degree and in college? It was in marketing actually, okay. Went to school for marketing and then you decided I did? Yeah, what the heck, let’s become a freelancer. I don’t want to work at a j. o b job. You know, corporate eight to five. So tell me about you took the class, how long did it take you to go through the whole course.
So probably about like a month, month and a half, I think probably could have done it a little sooner. I was kind of juggling other things, but what did help me was I was I always like to like look
And stuff like one and a half speed. So, yeah, I heard your voice like, at super speed. That’s just regular speed though. I talk fast.
Right? I couldn’t imagine listening to myself on one and a half speed. But anyway, I know. So that’s why when i when i hear you now I’m just like, yeah, I’ve heard your voice a lot. So it’s, it’s,
you know, yeah,
that’s one of the things I struggle with. But also one of the things that I think separates me out from others is that I’m passionate about what I do. And I like to just respect people’s time and I just try to get too much information too fast. So I gotta work on slowing down. I do that on stage as well. I have to really, it’s really, you have to talk three times as low as you think you’re talking on stage, which is really an effort for me. When when I perform to like on stage, I would think the song is I would play the song like a little faster sometimes if I’m nervous, right. So yeah, it’s tough because I tend to like remind myself to slow
down or in tap my foot in just be consciously aware that I don’t play too fast. Yeah The thing I think that might be a good podcast in amongst itself is performing on stage but because you know freelancers like to give talks about their expertise sometimes but let’s let’s focus more on on your ability now to be a freelancer that you’ve done with Freelancer masterclass, you you finished up and I know you immediately got a couple jobs right. So I know at least one client you’re working with and you were just telling me before the podcast if you have another maybe a chiropractor you want to work with no need to mention names in the podcast, but so things are starting to roll for you now a little bit. Right.
Right. And something I something I kind of realized. I didn’t really realize this at first, but I think I was starting to be too picky. In the beginning. I was like, oh, there’s like this little job where I’m making like this lower hourly rate than I want to. And I was like, kind of just not applying for those online.
And I kind of realized like
That’s, you know, the alternative is just sitting around and not working or like doing something else, right? So it’s kind of good to be to not be as picky if you’re trying to, you know, get jobs in the beginning. So that’s what I did, I lowered, like, the bar for that to start took on more jobs, whether I was just like writing like few articles here and there, or whatever it was just like whatever I could find.
I would even like, kind of, look it up. I don’t know how to do this. So let me just figure it out and do it, you know, and I always wanted to make sure that
that my that the client I work with, like the day that I’ve meeting their expectations, so you know, obviously,
reputation management is huge, especially when you’re starting out as a freelancer and you’re on Upwork for example, and you want to make sure like that every person leaves you a five star review so you can start to build that up. That’s you know, that’s that’s bigger now today than ever
right though, not only do I want to take on jobs that I feel like I can deliver, but I want to make sure that the expectations are are clear from the start.
That’s a good point. That’s one of the things you learn about is extremely good communication before you even start working with a prospect and a client. What are some of the big takeaways from Freelancer masterclass that has really resonated with you?
So there was a there’s a few things.
I one of the things I liked was the, I mean, just to the general overview, I didn’t know what like a more successful Freelancer was doing. So
it helps to give me like a clear picture about what I’m even getting into, like, I don’t know what I’m getting into. It’s just like, you know, kind of scary and then you’re just like, is this even a good investment right time? I don’t know. So, kind of just starting out and being like, Okay, this is maybe what more of what I can expect the workload and
maybe what I could expect
To make the results I could expect to have in six months or something. Yep. Yeah, no, no, no, go ahead. That was a big one. And then other thing was like the documents. So, like, just generally legally, like, how do I protect myself? I don’t know anything about legal stuff. Yeah. So, you know, just that stuff alone. You know, some legal documents could be so worth so much. Right. I know. Monetary. Yeah. And, yeah. And then when documents I don’t know, it’s like, I didn’t expect that to be a big pain point. But everybody mentioned that. How right No, yeah, I think so. Because like I you know, I don’t know anything about it. And honestly, I didn’t even know really what a statement of work was, like, I got out of college. It was really just like school school. And working in a restaurant. It was just like, I had like big goals and stuff, but I didn’t really know how any way of how to get to them. So yeah, I think one of the biggest differences is, it’s
You’re on how I get to it.
You know, it’s not super clear, but you know, definitely a good start. Yeah, and I was just going to ask you now speaking along the lines of not being super clear, what is it you’re struggling with still or new struggles after that you’ve gotten a few clients now?
Yeah, I think it’s always changing, like, the problems that you’re facing. Right? Which is a good thing I don’t like to like have the same problem where you’re just like, feel like it’s just a constantly the same. So the great thing about starting to do this, like,
work on doing more freelancing is not I feel like I’m not too limited with my potential right now. There’s like a lot of different ways I can go about it. I can try to take on bigger clients.
But But I think right now, it’s,
you know, more recently been How can I make sure these expectations are clear with each client, so that once I’m done with them
They’re happy to pay me. And they want to leave a good review. And it’s really easy for them to pay me they’re like, wow, no, like, it’s definitely worth paying this guy because he’s done great work for me. Yeah. And then you know, on top of that wanting, you know if there’s work that needs to be done monthly, like monitoring their email or something, like they want to choose me for that versus some agency or something, right. So one of the things that you came to me with is you were saying, Mike, I’m going to take on some work and you had this ridiculously low hourly rate and I talked you out of it. I think I told you to double it or something like that. Awesome. Last month. Are you charging more now based on what you originally thought you were going to charge?
I am charging more. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I’m charging more.
I’ve kind of started to like
you said, you know, you said to bring it higher, and I did and I was able to take on some clients.
At that rate, even if I saw like some other jobs on Upwork, and I didn’t have as many clients, I’m still okay to lower it because it’s better than like not having the work, at least, you know, for me right now. Yeah. You know, definitely in the future. When I have more work and I’m
busier and all that kind of stuff, then I can be more picky about who I choose, and then kind of filter out clients who I know I’d want to work with. Exactly. Yeah, I mean, that’s what people ask me, Mike, how do you charge what you charge sometimes I, I charge in excess of $300 an hour for private coaching. And so I’m like, you know what, it all depends on how busy you are. I mean, if you’re in demand and you’re still charging a lot, then then raise your rate again, you know, it’s like there’s there’s always a balancing act there. You rarely see good quality freelancers charging the same rate year after year. They’re always either raising it or lowering it, depending on the ebb and flow of their business. So right now, I think you’re just not charging enough really because you’re trying to find your niche. There’s so much in marketing, like
Like a writer, there’s so much in writing, like, you want to be a copywriter technical writer, you know, there’s a whole bunch of different fields of marketing. Once you find what you really like to do, then you niche and down to that particular industry, or type of client you want to work with, and then bam, then you can charge as much as you want, because you’re driving so much more value because you specialize in that in that area. Right. That’s great. I was, you know, I wanted to know, as far as near keys, you know, I think there’s a lot of things I don’t want to do.
Like, for example, copywriting, like, it’s interesting to me, it’s part of what I do, but I know that more long term, I don’t see myself being a copywriter. Yeah.
I think like for you, I’m curious how you kind of got into your niche of doing now. That’s a good question. I mean, I always liked being a leader ever since I was in the army. I liked leadership. So as a marketing strategist, someone who calls himself a fractional cmo, I’ll go into a company and I’ll be their marketing leader. I’ll
lead a team. And I really liked that aspect. There’s so many people that quote unquote, call themselves strategists. I mean, I just saw this funny report on LinkedIn, like one of the number one keywords in people’s profiles is strategists and in the word executioner, or execute or who wasn’t even the top 100. So everybody likes to strategize, but no one likes to do it. So, one of the things I like to say to clients is that I like to strategize and do which is true. And that’s how I found you know, my ultimately I found my niche by just working with a lot of clients. I mean, when I first got started with freelancing, I was doing SEO work. I mean, just doing exactly what you’re doing right now is just SEO work and just trying to learn how to service clients. And then one day, some clients said, Mike, I have this man, the marketing manager that I want to bring into my company to help some of your SEO work and I just really liked managing them. So then I started getting the project management strategy, and then more, you know, this that whole secret that movie The Secret where, you know, that confidence that
You exude just the client just start coming to you and say, can you help with this strategy? Can you help with this Leadership Initiative? Right? So eventually I just found that you know what, when you wake up one day and realize you don’t know what day it is, if you don’t care if it’s a Saturday or Tuesday, and that’s when you know, you really like your job and you found your niche. Right. Now, I’ve question to a mic. I’m flipping the interview.
Here’s the thing. So yeah, I think more long term, you know, I don’t, it’s not a clear path. And that’s because, you know, I do enjoy what I’m doing now, I want to figure out how to expand more how to make more.
It sounds like it wasn’t as clear for, you know, for you, because it kind of but you know, started to evolve as you can just execute in like, work with more clients. Right. And just kind of with each project, you kind of figure out okay, well, you know, what if I tried this differently, right?
Yeah, yeah, I mean,
Look, I’m I’ve never really settled in my niche. And even though I’ve been doing fractional cmo work for many years now, I mean, my initiative this year is to do more coaching and more public speaking. So your brain will always evolve your interest always evolve, you know,
I can just I can name 10 foods I hated three years ago, and now I love them. So it’s like you’re, your life always changes in the you don’t want to get too settled into your niche, but at the same time, you never want to be afraid to embrace one. So just listen to your brain, listen to your interests, and just go it’s really hard to pick a niche when you’re, you’re like, wow, if I’m only doing SEO now, I’m really alienating a lot of people but you’re not you’re actually bringing more people in because so many people, there’s so much money out there to grab and you just have to align your interests where that money is and then that’s the win win. Right.
Right. And I think 16 million freelancers, you know, Upwork has over a billion dollars of freelance work this year posted for freelancers, a billion dollar Yeah, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be capturing at least 100
Thousand Year if not 200,000. freelancing? Yeah. Well, I mean, to get to that point, you know, something I noticed on my analytics because I, so I’ve made a goal to apply to,
like for, like five
projects a day where I’ll create, like a
new I’m creating my script, I’m changing things in it. And then I’m applying to all these like different jobs every day.
And I’m like, would look at who’s viewed my profile for the week. And I the view that sometimes the views were pretty low. And I think one of the reasons is because my profile hasn’t been, like very,
you know, optimized yet. Yeah, like, yeah, like, I haven’t have like, a huge reputation of saying, Oh, this person may has made like, 100 k on Upwork this year in their job success is 100% You know? So I think that’s one of the one of the bigger challenge
just starting out, too. Yeah, I mean, Upwork the algorithm is, is complex and it’s simple at the same time, I give a lot of tips on Upwork profile optimization, but so many of them aren’t instant. I mean, a lot of it has to do with time. You know, I mean, as you know, I’m on the homepage of Upwork. That took two years for me. I mean, I don’t want to say I was striving to be on the homepage of Upwork. But it took two years for my profile to really be in the top of search results for very common words like marketing strategist, and you’ll get there. But just keep aggressive with applying for jobs. And then make sure that your profile is optimized, like what the tips and Freelancer masterclass said and you’re, you’re on the right track, there’s nothing you can do that will that will stop you because you’re doing everything right. I poured out all my tips in the master class on Upwork. And it’s from years of testing Upwork algorithm on what works and what doesn’t work.
Right, right. Yeah. So I mean, yeah, I mean, it’s really just about you know, me trying to just
Try to just do it trying to just figure out what works for me more in kind of going with it constantly making adjustments.
Another thing I liked about was productivity from the master class so kind of learning how to work more productively something I do now that I’ve changed is if I see my attention like waver from working on my laptop, I’ll just like
take like a 510 minute break or something. Yeah, and it just like a nice quick reset or I need to take a half hour like to go eat or something. And then I’ll come back in I’m refreshed and you know more focus. Yeah, I didn’t touch I did a few productivity tips and hacks and Freelancer masterclass, but ultimately it does warrant its own course I am making
productivity and efficiency course add on for Freelancer masterclass. But, you know, there’s a lot of things in neuroscience I’m obsessed with neuroscience now. It’s my passion in the last, I don’t know year so maybe half a year. But one of the
Productivity hacks is 52 minutes on 17 minutes off, that’s the ultimate focus to get your body in the mind and flow. Flow is where your mind is just like hyper focused on what you’re doing. I have to force myself to take breaks every 52 minutes because I’m really into my work. But honestly, it’s an investment in your time and you do that. And there are timers, there’s, I mean, there’s timers on on apps on phones, but I don’t even recommend having your phone in your room when you’re when you’re working. But you can set a timer like a stopwatch for 52 minutes, and when it goes off, you have to walk away and take a break. And I don’t mean take a break, like check social media, like if you are on your computer, walk away and walk your dog or something like get out of here. Keeping your body your mind and flow. You’ll get more done in a day than you will the most people who will do in two weeks. It’s amazing the difference. So you guys are in 52 off 52 on 17 off. Yeah, I think another thing too is like I think you might have mentioned this too was like meditation a bit.
I did a whole class on meditation. He did. Yeah. So, you know, with that i would i do do try to do that every morning. And I think like, meditation alone has taught totally helps for my focus level. Yeah. Like, I probably have like a DD or something. Yeah, one of the greatest things you could do is meditation. That’s why I put it in. That’s one of the greatest impacts of my freelancing career is when I started to meditate on a regular basis. It’s an investment in your time. It’s not like oh, no, I have to meditate for 30 minutes, or 20 minutes. How do I find time? I actually feel like I get more time back when I meditate them when I don’t. It’s weird. But once you get good at meditating, which takes a couple weeks really, really great. And I’m glad that you’re seeing the benefits of it. I use headspace Do you use anything? Any kind of app on your phone to meditate? Do you use like the paid headspace? Yeah, I just got a year subscription actually. So I actually started with it. I use like the like the free one has like the first 10 classes.
Yeah, so I kind of got that because I was I didn’t even know how to meditate. Like, I was like, What does that even mean? But it’s very subjective kind of thing anyway. Um, you know, I just, it’s, I keep it simple. I started with that. And now I just keep to myself, like all y’all I don’t use it up, I’ll just kind of sit in my chair, you know, deep breaths for like 10 minutes, and then I’ll go into like, thinking of goals, I have visualizing visualization, you know, yep, visualization before the day even starts. Or you know, that’s how I start the day versus even looking at my phone. I won’t even do it until after that, and then like breakfast, and then I’ll look at it later. Great. Meditation is great. It’s free. It’s easy, and you really can’t even go wrong with it. I mean, there’s ways to do it more efficiently than others. But really, there’s nothing that you can like be detrimental and be doing it backwards. So yeah, keep embracing it. Whether it’s self guided or not. That’s great. How can our audience find you online maybe a freelancer wants to hire you for SEO work or some other type of market
So my name is Michael Hill. H, I ll you find me on Upwork offer services for SEO, email marketing paid ads right now.
You know. So that’s kind of where I’m starting out with and been getting doing great with clients, having everyone I’ve worked with has been
really happy with what I’ve been doing. Great. So I mean, I’m excited. It’s really just the beginning. I’m definitely setting big goals for next year, so
awesome. Well, thanks so much for joining me, Michael. And we’ll touch base soon. Thanks so much. Thank you for joining us for freelancing school. Be sure to subscribe to get the latest updates on the show. Go to freelancing Master class.com to become a master freelancer.
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