Newbie Pinoy Freelancers Share Their Top Tips in Landing Their First Premium Client

Quick Navigations

6 Freelancers Share How They Landed Their First Premium Client

One survey found that 59% of freelancers are living paycheck to paycheck.[*]

Freelancers, particularly, freelance writers are earning low rates at less than $10 per hour.[*]

Almost every freelancer gets to encounter low-paying clients, especially during the first year of their career.

Most will suck it up…

But you know what, 99% of the time, it’s not entirely the clients’ fault.

This may sound surprising, but we, freelancers, are also to blame…

All because we let it happen.

So if you’re sick and tired of lowballer clients who demand a lot, then good news…

Today’s the day when you’re gonna say NO to these low-paying projects (well, that is if you’re ready to change your situation).

See, to go from $100 to $1,000 is simple.

Simple, but not easy.

So let’s take a look at these 6 freelancers and see what changed so they closed their first premium client.

  • Mindset Shift # 1 – On your freelancing profile
  • Mindset Shift # 2 – On your English skills
  • Mindset Shift # 3 – On your approach and networking
  • Mindset Shift # 4 – On your services
  • Mindset Shift # 5 – On people you work with (aside from your clients)
  • Mindset Shift # 6 – On the newbie freelancer mindset

Mindset Shift # 1 – On your freelancing profile 

From sharing 1 good unit (a 10-year-old laptop) with her husband for client work to buying an Asus ROG Zephyrus S17, Delta headset, and Gladius II mouse…

(cue gamers’ jaws dropping)…

Read on to discover how Lanie optimized her profile differently that helped her close deals worth up to $4,000.

How did Lanie do it? 

Lanie isn’t new to freelancing.

She’s catered to different clients from the US, Europe, Canada, and Middle East. It was only when she joined the TRIBE that she was finally able to close bigger deals.

After she optimized her profile, she started attracting clients who happily paid up to $4,000 to work with her.

This time, she thought about the why behind her profile optimization.

Doing this made her clients feel she was an expert, to the point that clients would want to stalk her.

Take a look at her LinkedIn profile and see for yourself.

The banner is optimized with what she does, where to find more details about her, and a little note that she’s fully booked for December 2020, which is a nice touch.

Her bio also communicates what she does for clients—she helps increase webinar conversion through savvy tech solutions.

Lastly, her ‘About’ profile presses on her prospect’s pain: the revenue-repelling tech fiasco that happens during a live launch.

And she enumerated specific scenes of how it could go wrong and how this affects her prospects’ ROI (return on investment).

Your freelancing profile, whether it’s on Facebook, LinkedIn or UpWork can already position your services as premium IF you do it right.

As Chris Andreou and Jaxson Khan, founders of brands that helps companies with strategy and communication, said,

“We think that emphasising your client work [on your profile] like this is a great way to allow your prospective customers to see themselves working with you easily. 

They might think ‘oh, he already does this for a very similar type of business.’ Or ‘they’re already working in my vertical, that means I could easily get references.’ 

If you position your client work this way, you might find that more clients come quickly.” [*]

The takeaway: Make your freelancer profile about your clients. Remind them of their pains and tell them how you can take them all away. Optimize so it truly speaks to your clients that they can’t help but do what your Call-To-Action or CTA tells them to—send you a message, book a call, or download your lead magnet.

Mindset Shift # 2 – On your English

Communication is often seen as key to seal a deal with prospects.

Since freelancers usually deal with international clients, you probably need to master the English language to succeed…

…or not.

No English? No problem!

That’s the motto of Mary.

She joined the TRIBE just 7 months ago but is already closing deals worth $67,000 within two months—all without perfect English.

How did Mary do it? 

Mary has hopped from one call center to the next (4 companies) in a span of a year.

One common reason behind her abrupt stay: Her English is “broken”.

And as the breadwinner of her family, giving up is not an option.

So you might be asking, “Does that mean she took English lessons?”

Not at all.

So how did Mary pull it off and close deals worth $67,000?

Mary’s weapon is her unwavering drive…

The more she gets rejected, the more excited she gets to face challenges and prove others wrong.

And this kind of mentality helped her see those “rejections” as a training ground for her to achieve something bigger.

Her perseverance to learn brought her to LinkedIn… and her online presence led her to the TRIBE.

Inside a supportive community of freelancers, she regained her confidence.

Her teammates were there to answer her questions on topics she had no clue about, from questions about SaaS (software as a service) and hopping on discovery and prospecting calls, to how to approach CEOs.

With the TRIBE, she also discovered her niche—lead generation for web and app development companies.

In the process, she also decoded the secret to closing clients—not overthinking things.

“Simplehan niyo lang pagkaintindi. Masyado tayo complicated mag isip..Intindihin in a basic way. Wag kang malula.”

Now Mary might not be a master of the English language used by CEOs and business owners around the globe…

But she can communicate in a simple and direct way.

And she doesn’t allow her niche to intimidate the way she deals with prospects.

As long as she extracts what her clients need and as long as “alam kung ano’ng trip ng customer”, everything’s A-okay.

When asked what makes her confident, she said her teammates from the TRIBE are always there to back her up.

Her shortcomings with the English language were not a problem.

And if all this sounds unbelievable, here’s a video interview of Mary.

This is another testimony that your skills, experience, credentials, and portfolio has nothing or little to do with your ability to build a profitable freelance business.

The takeaway: Her non-fluency in English may have stopped her from achieving her call center goals but Mary didn’t let that define her success. In the same way, your drive to succeed is more important than mastering the language. Of course, it’s a major plus if you have a group of people who are ready to fill those “weak” spots for you.

More advice from Mary as a newbie:

“Kahit baguhan ka lang, kahit kalaban mo legit na expert… Kahit bago ka lang dapat confidence level mo mataas kasi maniniwala sila sa’yo na expert ka talaga… 

Simplehan mo lang ang ganap mo sa buhay.”

Mindset Shift # 3 – On your approach and networking

From getting crickets and angry replies to his cold emails to getting inbound leads…

Jo Bo, a seafarer, realized what he’s been doing wrong when reaching out to prospects…

Now he’s getting $1,000 months from 1 client alone.

Plus, he has enough time to grow his freelancing business while being physically present with his parents at home.

How did Jo Bo do it?

Winning his first premium client was like battling an angry sea…

It was an agonizing expedition he had to go through or else he wouldn’t make it.

His journey in a quick plot:

“Ecstatic to start freelancing — no progress — tried luck in MLM — went back to freelancing  — got 1st client.”

Jo Bo was enthusiastic when he started…

He imagined how freelancing could change his life, his parents’, and how he wouldn’t have to go back on a ship to make a living.

His positive words were, “Game na! Bawal mag quit!” 

But he did.

When he didn’t see results in weeks, he shifted his focus to MLM.

When he didn’t get traction in MLM, he went back to freelancing.

This time, he figured out what he was doing wrong

So he changed the way he talked to prospects.

And that was what it took for him to start getting replies, calls, and paying clients.

At first, his client was willing to pay lower than what he aimed for.

But because of his learnings from the TRIBE, he was able to raise this to his happy price.

He explained to his client,

“I love that you want to get me as your writer but I think my value is way higher than that because *show articles.*

I’ve been doing this kind of writing since 2016 while I had my full-time job.”

Lo and behold, it impressed the client.

The takeaway: There are lots of takeaways from Jo’s story, but what ultimately kicked his biggest roadblock to the curb is learning an effective way to approach prospects. Talk to people without the intention of closing them as clients. Just be genuinely interested in them and their business and offer ways to help. The project and money will follow.

Mindset Shift # 4 – On your services

JC was not getting results as an Amazon product researcher for 9 months.

He admits to being disorganized when it comes to his marketing strategies, 

“Sabog sabog yung offer ko kahit sino na lang. Tigas ng ulo ko eh wala akong clear market.”

Good thing he changed his ways and finally snagged a premium client a few months later.

Now, JC has a team of 4 Virtual Assistants (VA’s) and video editors to support his 5 clients.

How did JC do it?

Long story short, JC offered a brand new set of skills.

Changing the skill you offer to clients was really scary at first.

But JC knew he needed to do something different if he wanted to get results,

“Pero I decided to pursue to try lang. Pero this time confident ako mag connect. Not sure pero this time kahit wala akong gaanong sa alam sa video editing basta alam ko lang yung offer ko at skills ko.”

He was not that proficient in video editing, but he can cut and trim.

These skills might seem basic, but you’ll never know that these are the exact skills that another person is looking for.

After 2 weeks of connecting or CCPP.. “nasungkit din”!

And that’s the start of his freelancing success.

In fact, like what happened to JC, your freelancing services will evolve as you grow. You might find yourself adding new methods or providing complementary services, or maybe even do a productized version of your services.

But this is another topic for another day.

For now, if you have yet to snag that premium client, go back to your services or your offer.

The takeaway: When nothing’s going right and you’re sure you’ve tried everything, try tweaking or changing your offer. Just remember, you don’t need to have a BIG offer that promises the moon.

As with JC, his basic editing skill was actually a game-changer for course creators, his target market. And because his service or offer is what his market needs… it was enough to charge a premium rate. 

Mindset Shift # 5 – On people you work with (aside from your clients) 

Meet Adam who admits he’s not that consistent in his freelancing biz…

But is now earning a 5-digit premium fee… per week.

How did Adam do it? 

Adam’s straightforward answer: referrals.

Did he close the opportunity during a call? Nope.

Did he send them proposals a few days after the call? Nope.

Did they ask for his rate? Nope.

But he was the first person in my mind of his referee, a project manager of his past client.

And the multi-billion pharmaceutical company that would like to hire him already knew about his credibility and work quality even before interviewing him.

“Nakwento na pala nung nag refer sakin. They also checked my LinkedIn account, saw my published works (my portfolio), and even read a few articles I wrote about data analytics.

My online presence already did the pre-selling for me. [See Mindset Shift # 1]

Mas najustify pa dahil sa the way ng pagkwento ng referral ko on how I worked with them.”

Adam wasn’t afraid of charging high for his skills because he knows his value.

And you shouldn’t be too.

Because here’s a fun freelance client fact from Brennan Dunn, a freelancer coach:

“So savvy clients, almost all of which were business owners, knew that it can’t hurt to ask for a discount.

But what I’ve come to discover (which I’m guilty of myself) is that almost all of us cave and lower our rates when asked.”

Clients haggling are normal, but stand firm because as Brennan observed,

“Almost everyone who asks for a lower rate will pay what you originally quoted.” 

The takeaway: Always give your best-est in every project. You’ll never know who’s watching. And never underestimate the power of referrals. As for Adam, he won the trust of a multi-billion pharmaceutical company through word of mouth. Once you set your credibility in your field, it spreads like wildfire in the industry. Treat each project like you’re working for a $10k client and you might just reel one in.

Mindset Shift # 6 – On the newbie freelancer mindset 

Irish Ann is a newbie who doubted her skills…

But instead of altering the external, she chose to reshape something within.

She chose to just show up and ditch the “I’m not good enough kasi baguhan ako” mentality…

Good thing she didn’t give up on her skills and market because she’s on fire right now, closing clients left and right. 

She stresses this,

“Madalas, we want to change external parts of our lives/business when dapat yung sarili natin binabago natin. 

How did Irish Ann do it?

Picking a new set of skills and starting from scratch isn’t bad (see Mindset Shift # 4), but Irish Ann felt that it wasn’t the right solution that time.

The newbie freelancer negativity?

That kind of thinking pulled her down and held her back from climbing up the success ladder.

Now that she showed up with a brand new mindset… everything seemed to work.

“I had to let go of my fears. Sabi nga ni Angeline S Viray, everything that you’ve always wanted is on the other side of fear. Hanggang ngayon, may fears ako pero onward we march talaga. Do it scared, sabi ni Jessica Gulapa. 

So tuloy lang. 

Hangga’t sa weekly na may DC, hangga’t sa naka-3 proposals in one month… hangga’t sa nakapag-close na.”

Now that she’s learning to let go of her fears, she was able to savor her victories…

Closing a client,

“Closed a deal with a $695 monthly retainer + 10% commissions! AND received my upfront payment of $1,499 wooh inuman naaaa”

And giving her mama a beautiful smile,

The takeaway: When something’s not working in your freelancing biz, check yourself and your mindset. Once you take care of that, remember your brand new thinking should always come with a brand new course of actions.

For Irish Ann, when she debunked the idea of “newbie = hindi magaling, newbie = low paycheck”, she accompanied this new perspective with showing up everyday.

What’s stopping you from closing premium clients? 

It’s time you find the answer to this question.

You are capable of earning premium. You are worthy of that high-paying deal. You can close premium clients just like pros in the biz, even if you’re a newbie.

You just have to figure out what mindset shift you have to work on. Start with these:

  1. Your freelancing profile is more than just a bio. Done right, it pre-sells your premium services. It conditions your prospects that you’re the expert who can save them from the problems that keep them up at night and they will pay your happy price for that.
  2. You don’t need to have perfect English to close premium deals. Don’t let it stop you from reaching out to CEOs, business owners, and global clients. Know your weaknesses and partner up with someone who can fill that gap with you.
  3. The more you sell, the more you repel. If you have this goal of closing every prospect you talk to, you’ll end up with a network full of potential clients who don’t want to work with you. Build rapport. Be genuinely interested. And offer value instead.
  4. Always test your offers. If something’s not working, you need to do something else… either change your skill, talk to a different market, or change the positioning of your offer. With research, patience, and the right strategies, you’ll uncover the perfect offer for the right market.
  5. Doesn’t matter if you’re working for a $100 or a $10k client. Deliver every project with the highest quality. You’ll never know who’s watching. They are potential referrers of your freelancing business.
  6. Make sure YOU’RE not stopping yourself from earning premium. Root for yourself. Believe that you’re worthy of earning premium pay. Be confident that you’re capable of delivering quality work like a world-class freelancer.

If you’re ready to step up, deal with the uncomfortable, and finally charge clients the value you think you deserve, put your happy price on your next proposal.

Just like what we do inside the TRIBE.

And if you want to discover more about how to build your freelancing business the right way…

Click the button below to join The Freelance Movement Community.

Aiza Coronado Domingcil

Aiza Coronado Domingcil

Aiza writes onboarding emails that help SaaS teams get their users from sign up to success. She used to be a generalist copywriter before she joined SPAG, the first ever TRIBE that John put together. She’s also a mom of a bouncy little boy who adds a bit of crazy, but tons of love, meaning and inspiration to her freelancing days. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.