Freelancing has been a fantastic success for me. It has helped me to live the life I have always wanted to. Some of the highlights are:
I have earned six figures annually for the past four years. Since becoming a freelancer, I have earned over $1 million
I bought a $708,436.24 property at the age of 29
I work from home
I drive a brand-new Land Rover Discovery
I have been able to work while travelling the world and staying in five-star resorts
I get to choose my working hours
I lived in The Heron, London for 18 months – arguably one of the most prestigious residential buildings in the world
No one likes a show-off, but I’ve started this book by highlighting the life I lead because this life could be yours. I’m just a normal guy, like anyone else. I never set out to be a successful freelancer. In fact, I never intended to be a freelancer at all; it was only when I started making a sizeable amount of money that I decided to carry on freelancing. Now, it has been my life for the past six years.
I’m not going to write an autobiography – no one is here for that. I will, though, write a short outline of my life to prove I’m just a normal guy, brought up in a poor family, who has received zero help from anyone in his life. If I can be successful, then anyone can.
I was brought up in a town called Dagenham and lived there until I was 24. Dagenham is frequently voted as one of the top ten worst places to live in the UK, whatever list you look at. In 2015, one survey even designated it as the worst.  Imagine being brought up in the worst town in your country! To be honest, I loved my childhood and wouldn’t want to have been brought up anywhere else. Dagenham, though, is a very poor town. By the time I left school, several friends were already in prison.
I never had a dad growing up – he lives in Canada and I’ve seen him maybe ten times in my life. Because my mum had no husband to support her, we moved in with my nan and granddad when I was born. We stayed there until I was eighteen. My mum bought a house when I was thirteen and another when I was fifteen but, for various reasons, we didn’t live in them.
To get a better level of education from sixteen to eighteen, I travelled to a place, called Benfleet, which was two trains and a bus away from Dagenham. Before I learned to drive, this resulted in between three and four hours of travelling each day.
It was my intention to go to Queen Mary University of London. However, entrance required three B-grades at A-level and, unfortunately, I only attained two Bs and a C. Therefore, Queen Mary wouldn’t allow me to study there. At the time, it felt like the worst day of my life. I called up and pleaded with someone at the university to allow me in, but his harsh response was “What do you want me to do about it? You failed to make the grades, not my problem.”
I hadn’t considered not actually getting into Queen Mary and suddenly didn’t know what to do with my life. A friend of mine, Louise, persuaded me to go to Westminster University with her and do the same course she was doing – History. She had been there several times before applying and even said to me, “I’m not going to choose a bad university, am I?” She was a clever girl, so I took her word for it. Turns out it was a terrible university and, two months after starting, Louise dropped out. I applied for Queen Mary again and was able to transfer there for the second and third years of the course. My life was back on track.
However, university was a huge struggle financially. My mum had no money and, despite my dad having promised that he would support me if I went to university, I didn’t see a penny. I was so poor that, one Christmas, an aunt of mine commented that poor people like me shouldn’t go to university and I should have just “got a job like everyone else in the family had done.” That hurt, to be honest, especially on Christmas day.
I lived at home the whole way through university and supported myself by buying stuff from China and selling it on eBay. I didn’t make a great deal of money, but it was enough to get by on. My mum tried to help; she started doing lots of overtime at work but, because of that, she ended up making just over £40,000 a year and the government took my bursary away from me. So, essentially, I ended up financially worse off.
After Queen Mary, I didn’t know what to do, so I started looking at Master’s degrees. They were expensive, especially the course at Imperial College that I wanted to take. That was £19,000. However, I spoke to my dad about it and he said he would pay for the course, so I went ahead and applied. The day that the university required payment, my dad told me that he had been speaking to his wife and, as I had two parents, he would only fund half of it. My mum had recently been made redundant and was in no position to fund anything. I’d only applied for the course because my dad had said he would pay for it. I called the university, and they gave me a week to get a career development loan to fund the rest of it. Luckily, I was also able to secure a £2,000 loan to fund me through the next twelve months. That winter, I tore the coat I had been wearing for several years but, as I couldn’t afford to replace it, I had to make do. When my friends invited me out for lunch, I had to politely decline and pretend that I wanted to spend time studying, instead. I could hardly tell them “Sorry, but I can’t afford to eat.” I couldn’t afford a phone contract and my phone had broken, so I was using a £10 phone that my girlfriend’s sister’s dog had chewed through one night and hardly resembled anything anymore.
Although all that extra study time in the library paid off when I came top of the class, I wouldn’t wish such a lifestyle on anyone. Throughout the course, I often thought of dropping out and getting a job, but that would have meant I had wasted £19,000. To be honest, I didn’t learn much so, while it looks good on paper to have a Master’s from Imperial College, it was a waste of a year and a waste of £19,000.
When the course finished, I picked up two weeks’ worth of work doing research at Imperial College. With the wages from that and by selling some jewellery my mum had given me as a child, I was able to get £500 together to start a website that I sold for £5,000 three months later. At that time, £5000 was a huge amount of money to me.
I then worked for West Ham United Football Club for six months. One of the projects I worked on was the Olympic Stadium bid (while I was there, West Ham won the right to play at the stadium) but, after seeing the plans for how the club wanted to proceed, I wanted no part of it. I had no power at the club to suggest changes and, as a fan, there was no way I could put my name to something that was obviously going to be a disaster. Hindsight proved me right, as it turned out to be the worst stadium launch in history and some problems remain unresolved at the time of writing this book.
I quit, with no job to go to. Google, though, had spotted my CV online and flew me out to Dublin for an interview. My girlfriend at the time had no interest in moving to Ireland, so we agreed that if I was successful, I would do a year in Ireland and then try to get a role in the London office. The interviewer, though, said he didn’t want someone who would only be there for a year so we agreed I wasn’t right for the job.
In preparation for the interview, I had studied all about Google AdWords (now called Google Ads) and taken an exam on it. Previously, I’d had no idea the industry even existed but, afterwards, I started looking for roles in that field and got a job working for a small agency in Essex. They were a great company to work for; they were always giving me bonuses, taking me out for lunch and even offered me a company car, which I politely declined because I knew it would keep me ‘locked’ to the company (they gave it to the web designer instead). The problem for me was that I was only on £22k per year at the age of 23 – I wanted more from life. I hadn’t struggled for four years through university to be stuck on a small wage, a wage that was being made smaller by the fact that I was having to pay back several loans at the same time. At the end of each month, I had no money left. One day, I just handed in my notice – again with no job to go to. They asked me for some ideas on how they could improve the company. I was that annoying person who wrote a list of about thirty things – all constructive – and gave it to them on the Friday. They didn’t take it very well and, on the Monday, they asked me to leave. It worked out well for me, because they were paying me for the next month.
When I posted on LinkedIn that I had left Connected Media, I got offered five interviews that same day and a total of twelve in the same week. I was offered ten of the twelve jobs that I attended interviews for, but turned them down. I hadn’t left one pay-per-click (PPC) agency to just go and join another. I’d left because I wanted to live my dream of launching an internet startup. So that’s what I set about doing. I hired a freelancer from People Per Hour to create a website for me and he prepared a whole timeline. The job would be finished in 30 days. Two months later, there was no sign of the website being completed. The guy vanished for a few weeks and was constantly making excuses about why things weren’t getting completed. I couldn’t just sit there and wait for the site to be finished, so I decided to do some freelancing work until the site was launched. I began to earn good money doing this and I started to see freelancing as a great opportunity. Because I had accumulated some good feedback on both People Per Hour and Elance (now called Upwork), I was getting offered roughly twenty freelance jobs per day. I couldn’t keep up with the demand for my services. Dropping freelancing to work on my startup didn’t seem like a great idea, so the startup was put on the backburner.
Freelancing is honestly the best thing that’s happened to me. In what other job can you earn great money and only work four days per week, with the other day being devoted to side projects? I used to be on £22k doing exactly the same job working for an agency; now I’m consistently earning six figures working as a freelancer. What other job allows you to work all over the world? I’ve been able to watch the England cricket team play in several international series – most people can never afford to do that, and those that can don’t normally do so until they retire. When England played South Africa, I decided the day before that I wanted to go, and a friend and I just booked our tickets and flew out. I remember going to watch West Ham play Manchester United in the FA Cup a few years ago. The next day, I was flying to India to watch the T20 World Cup and an older guy I know asked me, “How the f*** are you able to get that much time off work?”
I get to work for nice people. Being a freelancer, I can choose who I work for so, if I think someone is a dick, I simply refuse to take on their work. When you work for a company, you can’t just turn down work or ‘sack’ a client. As a freelancer, you can. When I worked for a company, if I needed to leave early to take my dog to the vet, it was a big ordeal. Now, I start and stop work whenever I want.
I’ve gone from being brought up in the worst place in the UK and struggling to survive, to living a life most people only dream of. I’ve got a degree and a Master’s, but neither has helped my career. They are both irrelevant to Google advertising, my History degree especially. I only had one year of experience in my field before I began freelancing in it. I’m sure you have more than one year of experience in your field. If not, or if you have no skills you think you can transfer to freelancing, then take some courses, learn a new skill and make that your area of specialisation. Unlike ‘traditional jobs,’ there is a lot less emphasis on ‘experience’ in freelancing – clients just want a job done well. There’s not a single person out there who can’t become successful after reading this book. Still sceptical? Then skip to chapter three and read the list of common excuses and why you won’t be able to use them anymore.
I’m not going to waste your time by promising to make you a millionaire overnight like tonnes of other Facebook ads, courses and books promise but never deliver. Instead, I will teach you how you can earn a good amount of money, every year, for the rest of your working life. This is something that 3.3 million freelancers are doing in America alone each year, according to research by MBO Partners, and you could be next.
If you want to verify anything I’ve told you in this introductory chapter, then feel free to check my company statements. My company is called Veni Vidi Vici Ltd. You can find me on LinkedIn or you can see my Upwork profile by doing a Google search for ‘Daniel Hall Upwork.’ Feel free to check my Instagram (DanLDN88), too, to see all the places I’ve visited.
 *£769,712 = $1,001,707.44 at the exchange rate at the time of writing (18th April 2019). This only includes earnings up to December 1st 2018 as per my company accounts. My total earnings at the time of writing this book are much higher.
 £545,000 = $708,436.24 at the time of writing (18th April 2019).
 Independent. 2015. ‘Worst places to live in the UK: Barking and Dagenham come first in top 10 list dominated by nine London boroughs.’ [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/worst-places-to-live-in-the-uk-barking-and-dagenham-come-first-in-top-ten-list-dominated-by-nine-10442606.html. [Accessed 28 June 2019].
 Forbes. 2018. ‘New Data: Six-Figure Freelancing Is On The Rise.’ [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/elainepofeldt/2018/07/12/new-data-six-figure-freelancing-is-on-the-rise/#5d6152e42a94. [Accessed 28 June 2019].