You're here: Home » Get Started » 30 Year Old College Student Starts Making $95+ Per Hour Freelancing On Upwork
Get Clients Get Started

30 Year Old College Student Starts Making $95+ Per Hour Freelancing On Upwork

A lot of kids in college don’t even think they’ll make $95 per hour when they graduate.

That wasn’t the case here.

This guy we’re about to talk about — 

He made up to $125 per hour while still in school. Sure, he currently is only making about $95 per hour. But…

How many college students these days expect to make that when they graduate?

It’s a really really huge issue that kids these days are trudging through four years of schools with hopes and dreams of making less than $25 per hour!


But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today.

Actually, this freelancer we’re talking about stated “I’m not here to bash on college in anyway what-so-ever! It’s actually what helped build my skillset to put me in the position I am in today. Was it required? No! Did it help discipline my pursuits? Yes!”

The good news is this…

As a freelancer you can earn more money while you’re in school than most college graduates make when they finish school.

And if you never went to school and you never want to…

Well, if a not-yet-graduated student can make this kind of money…

So can you!

It’s already been done, and the proof is right here in front of us! So today let’s see, talk about, and learn from a guy who went from $10.96 to over $100 per hour as a freelancer on upwork — WHILE HE WAS IN SCHOOL FULL-TIME!

This guy we’re talking about here today…

He went back to school at the age of 30. Before that, sure, he signed up for a few classes. But he never did complete them.

Actually, he went to 5 different schools between the ages of 18 – 30, and he didn’t accumulate 1 single credit.

Lack of willpower? Likely not.

Distractions? Oh for sure. Things like:

Girls. Money. Drugs.

You name it and this guy did it — and did it exceedingly well. Or maybe we should say excessively well? ????

Big problem was…

When you do something SOOOO MUCH….

It kind of gets in the way of your other pursuits. Like college. And like building a lasting business.

But then came the day he was ready for a life change. He was ready to start over.

So he quit everything. He dropped it all. And he enrolled in a California Community College.

He had no income and almost no expenses. He was actually given a place to live rent-free as long as he worked on restructuring his life. School was a part of his plan.

But he just wasn’t happy not making an income either. Sure, his bills were being paid for. But he states now that

“not having an income or the ability to buy my own food was extremely painful to my psyche… it totally clashed with the identity I had of myself.”

He went on to say…

  • It was painful for him to stand next to his father at the checkout line and not be able to pay for the food that he needed to stay alive.
  • It was painful to go out to eat with his mom and not be able to pick up the tab or even offer to pay for his own meal.
  • It was painful to ask for a couple bucks to buy some quick fixes for the couple habits he hadn’t kicked yet.
  • It was painful to not be able to pay for the roof over his own head.

But, even with all of this, he said “it was helpful in the long run.”

It gave him the time to figure out what he wanted to do with his life.

And figure out how to start doing it.

So he started with school…

His school work bordered on an obsession. He was on a quest to get good grades in a false attempt to show his past life failures were all due to his obsessive drug habits.

Now, he wasn’t really thinking that.

But after feeling like he let his entire life spiral out of control, I sure bet he felt he had something to prove to himself, and to the world.

But you can’t just do schoolwork 24/7/365.

He looked around for a job and didn’t get hired at the one place he applied to. And he knew he wouldn’t really be that content or happy working at the other place hiring: K-Mart.

And even though he wanted nothing to do with the businesses of his “past life”…

He knew he for sure had a bit of experience with internet marketing and making money online. He also felt he just might be able to help other people sell their products, or figure out how to market their goods online.

And remember that problem he had…

The no money problem? Here’s how he solved it…

His idea was to become a freelancer so that he could collect a little extra cash while he went to school.

And he knew as long as he could provide real value – and help solve other peoples problems – then he should be extremely successful.

He saw other marketers on freelancing websites and they were making $25, $50, $75 per hour — and a few were even making $250 per hour!

After reviewing their profiles he could tell he knew at least as much about internet marketing as them. Shoot, he even thought that he likely knew more! 

So he posted up his profile on and (this was before the Upwork + Odesk merger) and gave it a shot.

Guess what hourly rate he asked for on his first project?


Like he was an on-sale shirt at Walmart or something! ????????????

But guess what happened?

That “Walmart Special” pricing helped him land his first client! He helped her in just a few short hours, and broke down the steps she should take to get her project live. Even though the steps did not include him, he knew that was the direction she should take with her business.

Talk about providing value right?

But on a more selfish note…

He made himself a promise. A pact with himself.

You see, he saw how much value he could bring to the table when working on things he was passionate about. So take a guess…

Do you know what he promised?

He promised himself that he would raise his hourly rate on every single contract he landed. If the contract was not for AT LEAST the amount of the last contract… then he wouldn’t take it.

And it worked.

He quickly started making more and more! 

$30 an hour…

$45 an hour…

$100 an hour…

$125 an hour…

And you know the best part?

This was just what he was doing on the side. You know, between those school assignments.

And don’t think he let his grades drop either.

Actually — he just graduated last December with a 3.96 GPA. 

Yes, we’re talking about that same guy who enrolled in 5 colleges and never got 1 credit! 

You might be thinking…

“This is all great and fine for him. But how does this apply to me?”

Maybe you’ve already created a list in your head of exactly WHY this person is different than you. And why you can’t accomplish what he did.

You might even be saying:

  • “He had no living expenses”
  • “He had no kids waking him up in the morning”
  • “He was living under his mommas roof with no responsibility”
  • “He already had internet marketing experience”
  • “He didn’t even really need the money… so he could take the risks”

And sure, all of that is true. And yes, your situation is likely very different. 

But that doesn’t at all mean you can’t accomplish the same thing as he did. I mean, technically speaking, this person was spending nights under a bridge doing some pretty hardcore substances just a few months before he started freelancing.

I bet you aren’t doing that right now either. ????

So sure, he had some advantages. But he had plenty of disadvantages as well.

Guess what:

Just like you!

You have plenty of advantages and disadvantages too! We all do.

This story is a fantastic one since it really showcases how ANYONE can do this. His unique situation reduced some of the risk. And that enabled him to try new things to see if they would work.

And as we know by now…

They did work! And we get to now learn from him so that we have a little more confidence as we go out and make it work for us as well.

So let’s put roadblocking excuses to the side. And let’s jump into the mindset that this guy took to accomplish this amazing feat.

And I bet, if we keep an open mind — 

We can learn a tactic or two that will shift some of those nasty negative thoughts into ones that start to help us produce big bucks at this freelance thing.

10 Tactics That Will Help You Start a Successful Freelance Career

1. Start Your Rates Low — Like A “Wal-Mart Special” Nobody Wants To Pass Up

When you’re just getting established as a freelancer — you can for sure offer yourself at sale rates. And you should.

So tell your future clients that  “you’ll soon be working for $75 per hour, but to get yourself established on here you’re willing to work for $enter_your_rate_here.”

Always make sure to justify the price discount as you don’t want to lock yourself in to this rate long term. In fact, the freelancer we’re learning from here would even let his customer know that he would only be willing to work for this rate for the first contract, or the first few weeks.

That way he already built a rate bump into his contract before he even got hired.

2. Make Sure To Mention Your “Sale Price” When You Bid On Jobs

When a store has a sale…

What is the first thing they do?

They obsessively tell you and everyone else about it! They shout it from the mountain tops, they send flyers to every corner of the world, and they even sprinkle the sea with biodegradable announcements.

Haha. The point is…

They let the world know about the sale. So you should do the same. You should tell everyone you’re talking to that you’re offering lower rates to help launch your freelance career.

You can even flat out say:

“Hey I’m brand new on here so I’m currently working for $15 instead of $55. I just really need to land a few good contracts and get some positive feedback so more people will give me a shot, so…”

Now, this obviously isn’t something you include on your profile. But it is something you can use near the bottom of your proposal, or even after your signature line as a PS.

Just make sure you’re talking about it in every proposal that you submit.

Because, If you don’t tell anyone…

 … how will they ever know what you’re willing to do.

And if you don’t explain why you’re offering such good rates then you’ll just look like an inexpensive freelancer that provides low rate work — not worth the time.

Neither of those are positive situations. So make sure you justify your price, explain it, and utilize the truth as part of your pitch.

3. Know You Are Worth Every Penny….and more!

Know your worth. Know your worth. Know your worth. 

If you already have a full time job paying you for this type of work then you likely already know your worth. In fact, you might know you’re worth more than your employer is paying you.

I mean, how can they afford to pay you? ????

Or if you’re just starting out…

You need to figure out ways to know how much you’re worth, and believe it! If you don’t think you’re worth $75 an hour then how can you expect anyone else to think you’re worth that much?

Simply put…

“They won’t believe if you don’t believe”

You have to be convinced that you’re worth the rate. That will give you convincing power over your future clients — so they also will know you’re worth the rate.

One idea to know your worth is to go through some of your competitors profiles.

Once you see someone working for what you want to make and you know you could do work as good as them, or better:

You’ll start to see your worth.

Then when people start paying you the amount you ask for…

You’ll really know your worth. And you’ll start thinking…

“I might just be worth more. :)”

4. Always Spend Extra Time On Your Contracts

In the beginning, you aren’t really doing it for the money. If you used the “I need the review” line in your proposal (like we mentioned above) — what you said is not a sales gimmick in anyway! It’s the truth — you need that review.

So you really need to work hard to make sure EVERYTHING YOU DO is top notch 5-Star stellar.

And I mean everything!

The problem is…

When you’re just starting out you likely don’t know how to deal with clients. You for sure don’t know how to spot troublesome clients. And you may not even have a good way to predict how long a project is going to take you.

This is all fine and you’ll pickup these skills as you go.

In the meantime. Here is the antidote to take care of all these problems:

a. Provide EXTRA value on top of what you promise

b. Be the friendliest and most caring person you can possibly be

When you do these two things…

You build a real relationship with your client. In fact, if you can build a relationship and a friendship with your client…

Who would ever give their friend anything but a five star review?


That’s why you want to shoot for friendships whenever your clients give you the opportunity. Some clients don’t want that at all. That’s fine, be cordial and don’t try to force your way into a friendship.

But do keep your eye out for clients where you can develop a business friendship.

A little side note here…

This freelancer we’re learning from here today self-labels himself as “currently an introvert” and “not the most social and friendly person in the room… ever!”

So don’t think you can’t establish these relationships and friendships with your clients. Really you can. Just make your clients goals your #1 priority and make sure you do anything to help them achieve their goals.

Even if it means spending extra time on the contract. Or delivering a deliverable that wasn’t included.

Now, don’t let clients take advantage of this! But if do it right then…

A trusting friendship will develop automatically.

What comes after establishing a friendship?

Your 5-Star Review!

And that’s worth WAY more than all the money you’re earning on the contract.

It’s that review that’s going to convince the next person to hire you. And the next person. And the next person.

And before longe you’ll have so many people hiring you — you’ll be non-stop bumping your rates until you get to the rate you know you’re worth!

5. Always Submit Your Best Possible Work

Never. Anything. Less. No way. No way.

Spend the extra time. Do your best work. Just because you’re pricing yourself at mismatched sock rates…

It doesn’t mean you lower your standards. 

Not at all.

Your quality does not depend on your hourly rate. So always produce your best quality work and you can check this one off the list.

6. Know That You’re Improving & Getting Better Every Single Second You Work

Take risks. Learn new things. Because really…

Every time you sit down to work — you’re honing your craft. You’re getting better. And you’re learning. Even if it doesn’t at all feel like it.

At times, it may feel like you’re struggling through a task. And instead of going “damn I’m not good at this” just realize that this challenge is exactly what you need to become better. When you rise to the challenge in front of you, produce your most masterful work — it’s this process that elevates your game and improves the very thing you’re getting paid for.

And what’s that mean?

It means each challenge makes you more valuable! It increases your freelance net worth.

Sure, those challenges can be tough to get through. But do know they boost your worth once it’s all said and done. Plus, once you get through it, you can more easily rise to the occasion of the next challenge.

And the next. And the next.

And that’s how you get to $250 per hour! Or more, the upper limit is up to you.

7. Know How Much You Want To Make Per Hour

Know what you’re shooting for! Set your goal. This is essential. Now, you may not tell everyone your goal right away.

In the case of the $95 per hour college freelancer, he actually had a goal of making $250 per hour. Do you think he said this when he was working for $10.96? 

No way.

He presented a lower hourly rate to his clients. And then once he got closer to the goal he was stating then he raised his stated goal even further.

So if you’re shooting for $200 but working for $10 then maybe tell everyone you’re going to be making $50 an hour soon.

Just make sure your desired rate is about 2-3x what you’re currently working for and you should be good — especially in that $10 – 30 range.

Once you get higher then the ratio should drop some. 

For example, our featured freelancer currently states his rate at $125, but he said he commonly accepts contracts for $95.

8.  Make Sure Each Contract Moves You Once Step Closer To Your Hourly Rate Goal

YEP! Baby steps ya hear?

Remember that goal you just set? Now we need to get there. So the way you can do it is by raising your rate with every single contract.


Not for anyone!

If someone is not willing to pay you AT LEAST what you’re currently making — don’t take the contract.

You want to be shooting for the moon here. And the last thing you want to do is accept anything that’s not taking you closer to your goal.

It doesn’t matter if they have long term and ongoing work.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the ideal client and the topic is your favorite.

It just doesn’t matter.

If it doesn’t take you closer to your hourly rate goal then don’t take the contract.

9. Don’t Live On Your Freelance Income — At First!

If you don’t need the income then you’re in a much better position to negotiate. So if you can, reduce your expenses, or don’t give up your job right away.

Get started as a freelancer first and treat the extra money you’re making as a little side income for now. 

Sure, the long term goal might be to turn it into more than just side income. You might even want to quit your job completely — I don’t blame you!

But in the beginning, see if you can give yourself the freedom of not needing the money.

It does wonders for your mindset.

10. Don’t Give Up Until You Reach Your Goals

If you give up on your goals…

You will never reach them.

You are literally the only person in the world with the power to stop you from achieving your goals. Sure, things happen. Sure, life happens. But your life is your life and you have full control over that. 

So stick to your goals. Develop habits, fine tune your skills. And learn as you go.

For sure, you’ll have to pivot and develop a new strategy along the way.

But as long as you don’t give up on what you intend to achieve.

You will get there. 

Are you ready to start freelancing today?

Are you looking for inspiration to boost your hourly rates?

Are you sick of your boss and want to get the last laugh when you hand over your “I QUIT” notice?


Now, let’s take capitalize on this energy and take some immediate action.

We really can learn from this freelancer above. Let’s use him as inspiration to fuel our success. Because, I mean, if a 5 time college dropout that slept under a bridge can achieve success freelancing…

Can’t you?


So, right now, I want to know something. What’s the thought that’s coming to your head and telling you that you can’t do this? And also what’s one thought that’s telling you that you can do this?

Post them both up as comments below. And if you want to go the extra mile — explain why your “I CAN’T” thought is total B.S. Or how another thought might serve you better?

If you don’t discredit your negativity…

I just might reply and give you a suggestion of a new way to look at it that will be more productive to your own success.

I sure as well don’t know everything about life, freelancing — or anything for that matter.

But the freelancer we talked about above…

It was me. ????

About the author

Eric Kleist

Eric is a freelance email copywriter who consistently lands clients whenever he's in the market for more work -- he is also the founder of, and the owner of (a completely undeveloped website that he's trying to think of a BIG idea for). He lives in Boise, Idaho, where he spends his time trying to convince himself that it's "home."