I left my corporate job in 2017 so I could create a different life for myself.
I wanted to travel and work and explore the world while earning from my laptop. But the thing is, I wasn’t some young backpacker with youth on my side, ready to live on Acai fruit bowls and good vibes for the next few years.
I had already worked in banking for just over 8 years and I had bills to pay and a near future to save for.
I had 2 objectives:
- Earn money remotely
- Earn enough to travel and save for my future too
Starting at $15 an hour as an Online Proofreader
To be completely open and honest, the rate I started as a freelance remote worker was quite low. Like $15 an hour low.
I made this as an online proofreader. I proofread the dissertations and journals of university students.
I found jobs by placing a flyer in various universities and then word of mouth meant I could rely on referrals.
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Moving on to charge more as a specialized proofreader
I realized I could leverage my background in law and finance and proofread technical documents in these fields. This meant my rate increased because people paid for my expertise and knowledge in this area.
But I ended up getting bored with proofreading documents all day and started looking for other online jobs.
Something I wished did early on was to take a proofreading course. It would have accelerated my learning and earning potential quite quickly.
An online teacher earning $18 an hour
I did a quick and easy 120-hour TEFL online and I started working as an online teacher teaching English to Chinese kids online. I heard about it from someone on Facebook and decided to give it a try.
To be honest, I was thrilled that someone was paying to chat away in English from the comfort of my own home. The school provided the teaching materials and I just turned up and taught!
I have fond memories racing down a mountain in NZ after a big hike, so I could make it back in time for a lesson. My hair was often still freshly wet from a shower as I logged into the teaching portal to teach alphabets to Chinese kids.
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I wanted to earn a more flexible income
Teaching online gave me the location flexibly I desired, but I yearned to have the time flexibility too.
What I mean by this is, being able to work where I wanted but also WHEN I wanted TOO.
Teaching online means, you have to be available at a designated time when the student is also available.
I wanted to be able to work like crazy for one week and then gallivant and hike in the mountains another week, with no restrictions.
Starting as a freelance writer with no experience
That’s when I started getting interested in freelance writing.
I spent ages trying to find free information on how to become a freelance writer with no experience and got nowhere.
Thankfully I stumbled across this life-saving freelance writing course for beginners.
3 weeks later I had 3 new writing clients.
It was at this point I started racking my brains to think about how I could increase my rate. I was sick of working so much, just so I could cover my bills.
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How I increased my rate as an online teacher to $40 an hour
I had a look at online teaching profiles and noticed all the well-paid teachers were experts in Business English and IELTS (an English exam)
It made sense for them to charge more as students who needed help in these two areas had specific pain points, they needed solving i.e. passing an IELTS exam, passing an interview at work.
The urgency meant students were more willing to pay a higher rate.
So, I upskilled.
I spent a week watching Youtube videos and reading about IELTS exams and also, I also took a reasonably priced IELTS course.
I then sat down and planned 10 Business English lessons using my previous experience working in the bank.
An IMMEDIATE increase in demand for my teaching services.
I had so many bookings I had to continually increase my rate.
I ended up with an hourly rate between $35-$40, and students were more than happy to pay this, as I was the key to them passing a job interview or IELTS exam.
Note- My rate continued to increase, and I have some specialized clients that pay $80 to $100 an hour now.
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Increasing my Rate as a Freelance Writer
I then started thinking about how I could increase my rate as a freelance writer
I had a lot at some writing job boards and noticed the better paying writing jobs were in finance or digital marketing.
I decided to conduct a test to see if I could be paid more as a finance writer.
I drafted 3 finance-related writing samples and used them to apply for finance writing jobs. I then quoted triple my normal rate.
They hired me with no hesitation. I actually got the feeling that they felt I was undercharging.
Increasing my rate to $100 per hour as a remote working coach
Due to this wonderful blog, I often get messages from you lovely readers asking for help and advice. I always reply to emails but sometimes it takes me ages, as I am juggling other aspects of my life, like paying my bills and saving for my future!
I noticed some readers really wanted advice on how to work remotely and save more and offered to buy me dinner or coffee in exchange for my time.
But here is the thing, I barely had time to have dinner with my own family! And I don’t like coffee….
So, I tried something
I said ‘Sorry I’m not available for dinner but if you need specific advice that will help your situation, my rate is $xx. You will get a personalized coaching document and tailored advice to your circumstances’
The people who were really determined to learn how to work remotely, saw my coaching fee as a small investment to change their lives.
I wish I had a coach when I started my remote working journey! It would have saved me so much time and stress.
Increasing my rate to $500 an hour running workshops
At the start of this year, the idea of running a workshop terrified me so I listed it as a goal to achieve.
I read a really good article by a Malaysian personal finance blogger on running a workshop and copied it word for word.
Then COVID-19 hit and I had to delay the event.
Many of my Instagram followers (I don’t have that many) kept asking if I could run an online workshop and in the timeframe of one day I:
- Created a poll on Instagram to test if there was the demand
- Created a free flyer on Canva advertising my workshop
- Uploaded it on my Instagram and Facebook
- Within 24 hours it was sold out
Since I already knew about the workshop content, creating the slides didn’t take me long. I held the event on Zoom.
I earned $500 in one hour, but I could have earned way more because I capped the participant number.
ZERO, as I conducted the workshop from my laptop in my apartment, using the knowledge I already knew.
So, where to from here?
Well, I am enjoying this whole $500 an hour malarkey but I am conscious it is active income. This basically means it is income that I only earn if I am actively working.
I want to create move passive income streams so I can earn while I eat .. or hike! If I figure the secret sauce to this, I will share it with you too!
In essence, these are the things that helped to increase my rate as a freelancer and how you can too:
- I niched down and tackled customer pain points
- I took courses and upskilled
- I dropped low paying clients so I could hunt for a better-paying one
That’s it really. No secret mystical recipe bottled up in the form of an expensive course. Just my insight on how I did it and how you can too!
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