It's always inspiring to see fellow Upworkers doing well for themselves. Morgan Overholt -- founder of Morgan Media LLC, -- provides high-quality, concierge-level graphic design services for her clients.
Her agency -- based out of Miami -- works with the likes of Centers for Disease Control Foundation, Air Force Aid Society, and GoTrax.
In case you were wondering, this entire post was triggered thanks to her blog post on how she made $400,000+ (Now, 500,000+) on Upwork in 4 years flat.
Morgan is a self-described small business evangelist. With almost 20 years of experience in graphic design and sales, she decided to take the leap of faith and push herself from being a solo-freelancer side hustle into a full-time business in 2017.
Apart from providing a concierge-level service for her clients, she still does freelancing on Upwork (which accounts for approximately half of annual revenue) . She is a regular contributor for Business Insider and Collective. Her "blogging bug" extends to Medium, as well.
On Upwork, she is a Top-rated Plus freelancer (and has been maintaining that status for a while now) while she is also "Expert-Vetted".
At the time of writing this (things change quickly on Upwork), those are the most coveted and the highest badges freelancing professionals get on Upwork.
Dang, she is busy, isn't she?
Morgan's success was not an overnight phenomenon though. The roots of her success come flowing from her insistence to spend time on the Internet, hogging the family LAN line, and working on her "Harry Potter fansite".
Little did she know then that all of this would lead her to her success today (or maybe she did).
Morgan Overholt's success has a few lessons for all of us.
Here are some of them:
Freelancing Is Hard-work, a Full-time Gig, and a Serious Business
I see (and I personally know) several people who treat "freelancing" as a part-time thing.
There's nothing wrong with part-time and there's no need to take an unnecessary risk by "quitting the job", "living on noodles", and "moving in with momma".
It's the "part-time mentality" that's wrong (not how you approach your gigs). The kind of thing that goes, "let's see if it's real", "does it really pay?", and "Let's do it for 50 minutes a day and see what comes of it".
Freelancing is harder than your day job. It requires serious commitment. Freelancing demands a whole set of skills on top of the actual skillset that defines your profession.
You won't ever find incredible success stories of those who do freelancing for 1 hour a day. If you see claims like "Make $5600 per week with just 1 hour a day", you are in for a scam ride.
Freelancing success comes to those who risk (& sweat)
Morgan is a great example of this.
Success comes to those who take risks. Going from solo-freelancer side hustle to full-time endeavor?
That's a huge risk by itself. Moving from a full-time one-person business to hiring others as a part of her team?
That's another risk.
Success comes to those who are not afraid to fail and learn from their mistakes because you will do it 100% of the time anyway (just like Morgan did).
I know I made several mistakes and I continue to make them (for various reasons).
Freelancing = Provides Even More Opportunities
You don't always have to do just freelancing the entire time or for your entire life. Morgan decided to slowly morph into a full-time design agency, yes. But she has at least 3 more spheres of work parallel to her main line of work.
For instance, she has a Patreon page where she has membership levels to help coach freelancers who are looking for help.
I did mention that she has another blog called TheSmokies -- which is completely different from her main source of income.
While my main brand is fetchprofits (which has been an agency website and a blog for a long time), it's soon going to be an academy where I teach online courses on digital marketing.
I also run TrooperTribe to help freelancers learn the nitty-gritty of freelancing.
I know freelancers who sell eBooks and sell actual books.
Thanks to freelancing, some people get opportunities to speak. Others start podcasts, launch popular YouTube Channels and more.
Your freelancing journey can take you anywhere you want to go. The question is: Where do you want to go?
Stop sweating the small stuff
I often hear several freelancers complain about (applies not only to Upwork but several freelancing sites):
"Freelance job boards are crap. You don't make money there"
"Upwork charges 20% of every dollar I make"
"I don't get as many clients as I need on Upwork"
"Clients are cheap"
Most of these are all excuses.
Let's dig in:
If freelance job boards are crap, how did Morgan Overholt make $500,000 in 4 years? This averages to $125,000 per year before taxes (and other expenses).
That's decent for Morgan (and she lives in the United States).
I only made $125,000 on Upwork so far. Did you know that I could retire with that money right now (I invested most of it and I could live on the returns alone)?
About the 20% fee that Upwork charges, Morgan has this to say:
"I’ve incurred about $50,000 in fees after nearly four years on Upwork, and a $50,000 expense on $500,000 is what I would call an excellent ROI. (That’s a 90% profit margin. Other industries would KILL for a 90% profit margin!)"
Think of those fees as the "cost of doing business". In any case, this cost that you worry so much about is actually less than the cost of doing "any" business whatsoever.
For everyone who ever wondered how much freelancing makes, whether freelancing is legitimate at all, and for the skeptics out there, I hope Morgan's story will only inspire you.
Follow Morgan on Twitter. Do send her a Tweet.
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