Mechanical Engineer From Montana Finds Lucrative Side Hustle on Upwork

I just got this email from Dan: 

“I’m starting to do really well in my freelancing career, and it’s mostly thanks to you. Just today, I reached a 100% job success score on Upwork. I just wanted to say thank you, and share my story with you. Read it if you’re interested, skip it if you want (I get it, it’s long), but either way I think you deserve to know how big of an impact you’ve had on my success.

I just checked: I’ve been following you for over 3 years. I’m a mechanical engineer, and 3 years ago, a year out of college, I decided I wasn’t making as much as I wanted, so I started looking into things I could do on the side. Web development came up, and I decided that would be a good fit since I had some programming experience from college. I found a few of your videos (HERE) and blog posts (HERE) when I was looking for tutorials, and I subscribed to your email list for the Skillshare subscription (HERE).

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that being a web designer takes some artistic abilities (or at least an eye for color and design), which I didn’t have. That idea eventually fizzled out, and life got busy so freelancing was off my mind for a while.

Meanwhile, I was still subscribed to your email list, and although I wasn’t planning on being a web developer, I found your emails interesting, especially about freelancing in general. It didn’t take long to realize web development wasn’t the only way to freelance, so I started reading all your emails about freelancing (SIGN UP HERE) through the lens of a mechanical engineer, thinking about starting a freelancing business. It took a while for anything to come of it, but that was a game changer.

About 2 years later, I was 3+ years into my engineering career and working for a company where I knew my salary wasn’t going up anytime soon. I also had some time, so I talked my wife into letting me get a CAD software subscription and try my hand at freelancing in my spare time.

The initial investment was $810 for a 3-month Solidworks license, which was scary at the time. I really dug in to your guides about using Upwork (HERE) to get clients, and within a couple of weeks I had a few projects. I quickly learned what you meant by good clients vs. bad clients, and I had some of both. Once I got to a point where I knew I could at least break even, I wasn’t super motivated to get more projects because I had a few bad experience with clients. I also had a lot going on, so I was content to just work a few hours a week for one main client and make a few hundred bucks a month of profit. Not a great business plan, obviously, but I was content

A few months ago, my wife got accepted to medical school and we relocated to a different city, where I got a new job. Needless to say, our living expenses skyrocketed, and I knew I was going to have to be a lot more intentional about freelancing to make it work.

Fortunately, with all of your help, I was in a good position. I hadn’t really screwed anything up on Upwork, and I had a decent rating. No bad ratings, just a few projects with no feedback that took a long time to complete, which apparently the Upwork algorithm doesn’t like. I was getting a job invite every week or two, and I was landing most of the projects that I applied for. That’s all thanks to your awesome proposal writing strategies (HERE).

Within a few weeks, my rating was up, and I’m now getting 2-4 job invites a week! My portfolio isn’t even that good. My website is sparse. I’m not even looking for jobs anymore. I’m only putting 10-20 hours per week into this, and working full-time. I’m at a point where I know I could get enough clients to do this 40 hours a week and make as much as I make at my day job and freelancing combined if I really wanted to. I really like my day job and the stability it provides, but it’s nice to know I have that option.

Seriously, this is thanks to you. I haven’t done everything you suggest (I’m just starting to get into content development, I haven’t put much work into my portfolio, and my website barely meets the minimum requirements), but every single thing I’ve tried that you recommend has been a huge success. How to interact with clients. How to set rates (HERE). How to write a good proposal (HERE). How to build a strong Upwork profile (HERE). The list goes on.

Anyway, that rambled on way too long, sorry. The point is, you’re awesome. I’m a huge fan. Thank you for taking the time to put such great content out over the years, and doing it in a way that’s so genuine. That’s working. That’s what kept me coming back. Keep up the good work!”

Here’s the class Dan took: The only difference between you and him, right now, is he acted on it. Will you? 



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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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