I wrote this article when I got out of college in April 2018 which was titled “How to start your hustle in 2018”.
Fast forward a few months, and I’ve been freelancing as a content marketer in Saas and online-business and can confidently say— I started my hustle!
This article is now revised into “How to travel the world and make money freelancing”.
Anyways let’s get started!
Why did I chuck the corporate lifestyle?
I created this infographic to depict the rollercoaster ride my life has been. Furthermore, you can learn all about me on my about page here.
As you can tell — I was pretty damm confused!
In fact, I tried a whole multitude of things only to end up even more confused.
However, this allowed me to understand knew what I didn’t want to do which is VITAL to understand what you really want to do.
Am I really going to use this in real life?
Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life?
Is this the only way I can make money?
Back when I was pursuing the things I didn’t want to do, questions like these were constantly at the back of my mind and especially towards the last few months of college.
I was approaching the supposed reality of getting a “Secure” job in finance and joining the rat race.
And to be frank I was ready to give up and accept this lifestyle.
However, there was always this inner voice:
Mark, don’t do it! There has to be another way!
My search for an alternative lifestyle
This is where it all began.
Instead of giving up like everyone else I decided I would not give up!
I decided to spend every last bit of my college life to find another lifestyle. Every day I spent countless hours researching, reading books, watching YouTube videos — anything that would make sense!
It didn’t take me long to find the digital nomad lifestyle and people that basically leveraged technology to live anywhere they wanted.
Awesome! However, while these digital nomads were traveling the world and making a shit ton of money, the part that I loved the most was — freedom.
- The freedom to live where they wanted
- The freedom from BS corporate politics
- The freedom to choose how they work
This finally made sense!
And more importantly, I was no longer an outsider as there were others like me — people who either quit their job or couldn’t bring themselves to get a 9-5 and decided to pursue another lifestyle.
I spent the next few months in college learning how to make this dream my reality and the rest is history.
But why weren’t more people doing It?
The digital nomad lifestyle or simply freelancing was no secret.
In fact, it was all over the internet like wildfire and literally, anyone with access to it could learn about it!
So why were people still chasing jobs and trying to go about life the conventional way?
This is because this way of living life without terms was against another even more popular lifestyle aka ‘The system’.
A life where you first pursue a lucrative degree.
A degree that gets you one of those “real” jobs.
Then it’s an endless race to the top (corporate rat race).
The end game? Retire at 65 with maximized 401ks to live the average middle-class lifestyle (if you’re lucky).
An Indian Meme for reference. (Beta = Son in Hindi)
This way of living or the system is extremely common in India and everyone seems to be an expert at life and especially when it comes to advising you!
Beta(son) do this MBA next
There’s a lot of scope in choosing science/finance
Do this certification it will give you a better job
The problem is most people have little regard for empathy.
They live a life focused on building vanity metrics — things that make you look good rather than actually being good.
But the real problem is society encourages this!
For instance, universities don’t accept candidates under a certain GPA and this is why we have so many kids hyper-focused on just getting higher grades.
An increasing number of jobless graduates with absolutely no idea of what to do next.
Remote work Statistics that will blow your mind!
Instead of ranting on what’s wrong with the system here are a few facts about the lifestyle I live aka the digital nomad lifestyle.
50% of the Workforce Will Be Remote by 2020 with more and more companies hiring remotely and others favoring freelancers/contractors over expensive full-time experience it has never been a better time to chuck the 9-5 corporate rat race and build your name in the gig economy.
Fun Fact: I made USD 3k$ in 3 months of freelancing working from my laptop with no working hours or relevant education this is two times the average monthly salary of a fresher ($400)
My point basically is chucking the corporate 9-5 for the unconventional freelancer/digital nomad lifestyle was the best decision I ever took sure there were moments where I thought I was an absolute loser but looking back now it was worth it because I get to see some of the best places in the world and more importantly the friends I’ve made.
The reality of “the hustle”
This is where it all begins with a broken laptop and a room converted into a “home office”.
If you’re still reading this you’re trying to live like a digital nomad and escape that corporate lifestyle while this may sound really SEXY and COOL trust me taking this lifestyle is really difficult to crack into especially with all the clutter we have in the world today.
That picture above depicts how serious I was in overcoming this goal of becoming a digital nomad and traveling the world. I had to basically live like a month for 3 months just me my laptop and my room and of course a lot of coffee.
There were times I felt like an absolute loser, times I argued terribly with my mom and moments I felts like giving up and just getting a job trust me this is going to the most difficult phase of your life and you have to have a rock hard will to get through to the other side.
To summarize this is how difficult it is to be a digital nomad/freelancer and skip the corporate rat race:
- You will be lonely because the majority of your friends are going to be chasing jobs or the smart ones already in one.
- You will want to give up either because of losing confidence in yourself after not landing a client or making enough money to justify the lifestyle
- You will have to deal with parents giving you a hard time for not getting a job
- You will have to spend sleepless nights and a countless number of hours learning skills with no guarantee of making any money from it.
Bottom line this is going to be super hard to accomplish your life will be terrible for a few months but once you learn that skill and overcome your fear and gain some confidence and land that first client you will start to get the hang of it and trust me the feeling of accomplishment from that big win cannot be described in words.
“Extraordinary results happen only when you give the best you have to become the best you can be at your most important work.”
-Gary Keller, The One Thing
So what is the reality of “the hustle”
The reality is “The hustle” is not sexy as it is romanticized to be it is in fact a very ugly cut throat lifestyle.
Back in college I associated being an entrepreneur or hustling simply with starting a fancy company and watching the millions flow in. The reality is you’re most not going to be a millionaire (not right a way anyways) this is one of the most competitive and cluttered world in history so it’s going to take some time to build experience and authority to realistically be able to build something great.
However everyone starts somewhere and hustling is that first step you take without really expecting something huge in return it is simply taking that extra step to do things that are uncomfortable in hope of a probable positive return.
Of course there’s a lot more to it but in essence,it is simply ‘winging it’ until you succeed. You can apply it to your job, university and even life in general; everything is a hustle.
Also something I realized early on is if you chase something with a vision stained by ‘making money’ the chase will never end! Find the ‘WHY’ you want to do something rather than how much money you will make by doing it. Instead of thinking how something makes you look on a resume focus on what is the brand you want to build around it.
My hustle: freelancing and how I make money online
At the moment my main source of income is freelancing specifically website development and SEO copy writing. It took me three months to get to this point because at the start I had not the slightest clue about the same. so I simply learned from the Internet.
Read my guide on how to setup WordPress websites without coding.
The amount of information available on the internet is pretty crazy it’s never been easier to learn from the internet and that too for free. For instance I didn’t have to get a computer science degree to learn to build WordPress website nor did I have to complete a certification I simply had to google: “How to build a website without learning how to code” and consume as much as I could.
How did I get my first freelancing client?
If you figured out what your hustle is and you stick to it eventually you’re going to get good enough and people will want to hire you in my case it was freelancing and specifically website development and content writing.
So I focused on creating just one really unique website that would give me the edge over other freelancers.
Branding: MediaBerry (A FAKE digital marketing website)
I wanted to freelance in WordPress website development but had not previous projects so what better way than a digital marketing agency website to create something that showcases everything you can do!
This wasn’t some random website I put in long hours and made sure the final website was something that was worthy of getting me a client in my eyes.
Think about it, why would an employer hire you?
If you answered certifications, degree etc you couldn’t be further away from the truth in fact till now not one client has asked me a single credential. This isn’t college this is real life where results matter more than some fancy degree or certification.
So instead of asking what job or certification or degree you should be doing you should rather ask what can I show to the potential client that depicts my capability to do the job.
Put yourself out there!
If you are in an area that has businesses that would invest in your skills for instance logos, websites etc then reach out to them locally! Make a list of all the potential businesses and call/visit every single one of them. This may seem pointless after a few rejections but the next one could be a success.
If you can’t get clients locally go online
If there’s no success in your local area reach out online by using social media. I used this personally and is a location independent way to get clients.
I posted that on Reddit few months back and it went viral reaching over 11k people giving me my first few clients. This is just one snippet of the times I’ve reached out to people for work.
Bottom line if you don’t have results you have no credibility and if you don’t put your name out by doing the most uncomfortable thing genuinely reaching out you won’t get clients.
Is this lifestyle for you?
I’m going, to be honest, it isn’t for people that can’t compromise.
For instance, I had to skip out on a lot of parties and spend countless weekends locked up in my room getting better at my skill and this is just one of the many sacrifices I had to make. What’s more, everything I own fits in my luggage that means you’ll have to learn to be a minimalist.
However, always remember easy life difficult choices you can party all you want and live that life of escapism like most of your colleagues but if you want to live a life most people can’t live you’ll need to sacrifice early on for something much better later on.