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EXECUTION Underdog - Attempt to earn €10k in 90 days [Journey]

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UnderdogStrategy

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For a series of reasons I need to earn €10k in 90 days.

As every journey that deserves respect, let's start with the story of my life: so, I was born...
Just kidding, I spare you that.

Strategy

Current assets:

  • Upwork profile with one 5-star review and “Rising Talent” badge
  • One real client project (full website, no upwork)
  • A bunch of “demo” websites for different niches
  • Skillset: web design, web development, Webflow, Figma, HTML/CSS/JS, SEO and I’m getting better at Google Ads (I get into it thanks to Andy Black’s course: MARKETPLACE - Andy's $15/mth Google Ads Bootcamp )

Time
I can realistically put 6 hours of pure focus (time blocking) every day, 7/7.
42hrs/week.



Activities

1. Upwork

Probably my best option.
As I mentioned, 5 star review and Rising Talent badge, hence there’s already something to work with.
With the only job I had I earned 1k in one week, that’s why I feel Upwork can make a good percentage of the results in this journey.

The current hire rate is 1 out of 40 proposals sent and had around 5 interviews so far.

Just finished Lex DeVille’s course: Advanced Upwork Proposals: Tips to 10X Client Responses Fast which I found very insightful. I'll try to apply the new knowledge to improve proposals and increase my chances to land new jobs.

Checking Upwork daily and sending around 3-5 meaningful proposals every day.

2.Web Design Leads with FB Ads
This is a quick operation.
Setting up a landing page like “Web Design for specific-niche” (leveraging the existing project and testimonial), creating FB Ads and targeting everyone who has that job title in their demographics.
Budget: up to €100 of ad spend
Time: 6 hours max


3. Lead Generation Agency: Google Ads Audits

I’m oriented towards building a local lead generation agency, so I want to start going in that direction as well.
This activity consists in finding people who are messing up with Google Ads and letting them know they’re wasting lots of money doing “X”.
I’ll then try to offer a free Audit and eventually a one month trial for management at a low fee.
I’ll start on Monday with 5-10 per day.


4. Lead Generation Agency: The Gift
Pick a niche, pick a city, if it seems exploitable, create a landing page and run the ads till I get some leads.
Try to outreach the related businesses offering the leads for free and open a conversation from there.
This activity is good because I can achieve real results and increase my confidence in selling this service.
It’s risky because I would have to invest some money upfront and no guarantees it’s going to work.



Last thoughts
I think achieving €10k/90 days is possible, but extremely difficult.
The biggest amount of money I’ve ever seen in 3 months has been around €3.5k ←three salaries from a 9 to 5 job.

It would be an extraordinary result and achieving something like that requires extraordinary actions, daily discipline and focus.

Lastly, gotta keep in check action faking and shiny objects syndrome.
I’ve been fooling myself for months. Doing stuff like rebuilding my own site 6 times and such.
I think a public diary might be helpful to stay on track.

Updating daily.
 

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UnderdogStrategy

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Day #1

Some bad stuff first.
I've completely f*cked up my schedule.
After weeks waking up at 6 AM I get back waking up at 11 AM. Gotta say I've been sick this week (not covid apparently) but it's not an excuse.

Good news.
Well, nice way to start this journey.
I got my second project on Upwork!
It's a small and short project (finished in a couple of hours) but I'm happy about it.
More five star reviews and soon I should get the Top Rated badge (hence, get more invitations and get hired more).

Other activities.
Getting organized to perform Google Ads audit and outreach from Monday.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #2
Not much to report.

Upwork was desert, just sent one proposal.
Spent the rest of the day getting organized for Google Ads outreach and watching YT videos about it (...)
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #3
Hustling on Upwork all day.

Sent 6 proposals (it took me hours).
1 interview.
0 new job landed so far.

For one of this proposal I've invested 2 hours creating a demo (giving value upfront).
I've seen the the number of people interviewed for that job post increasing hours after I sent my proposal, but I've been completely ignored.
Honestly it sucks, I felt stupid and like two precious hours have been wasted.
But nevermind.


Upwork game self-analysis.
One of the reason why i lose jobs are my rates.
I set up a job post in my same niche to check out the competition.
I don't stand a chance (on price) against people bidding $8/hr or $12/hr.
Even people from USA or Europe have prices around $15/20 per hour.
My current minimum is $25/hr but I often bid around $40 if the client has a past history of hourly payments around 30 and so.

Second reason, my portfolio sucks.
People around there probably wants to see fancy stuff that gives the "wow" effect.
I just do clean/minimalist/effective websites because I'm more oriented on results, so probably my portfolio just feel average and doesn't stand out.

I will keep pushing on sending proposals, at the end of the day I don't have much choice.
This week's goal is landing a mid-size project (between $500-$1000 minimum).
I can't control that, but I can keep sending meaningful proposals every day.

-----

I also got some ideas regarding how can i get a foot in the door in this market.

First, I can "buy" case studies running campaign for specific niches myself.
I would have to invest money upfront, but if I can generate leads and turn that into a Case Study I'll then have something to use to leverage people in that specific vertical.
And obviously I can try to sell or give away those leads.

Tomorrow I will take some time to get the Google Search Ads certification.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #4
Woke up before 8am, in a matters of few day I'll be back into the 6am morning club.

Start to track time after long time I lost this precious habit.
Tracking time IS the #1 productivity hack.
You can't fool yourself at the end of the day, because it's everything written.
Did the 6 hours of time blocking as planned.

Upwork
6 proposals sent.
Got one invitation to interview, I replied but didn't hear back. Tomorrow I'll try to follow-up having the chat open.
0 job landed.

Local Lead Gen
Got Google Search Ads certification (whatever it might worth).

Tomorrow I'll start doing some market analysis.
I need to find a good niche to start produce leads for.


Keep moving forward.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #5
Unproductive day.
Woke up between 6-7 am and been a zombie all day long.

Upwork was desert, just sent 2 proposals.
0 interview.
0 job landed.

Spent the rest of the time fighting with doubts about what I'm doing.
Not sleeping well always makes my mind weaker.
I'm not comfortable in seeking for PPC clients because I never had real results in PPC yet.
I need to get something to prove myself I can really add value to a business.



2.Web Design Leads with FB Ads
This is a quick operation.
Setting up a landing page like “Web Design for specific-niche” (leveraging the existing project and testimonial), creating FB Ads and targeting everyone who has that job title in their demographics.
Budget: up to €100 of ad spend
Time: 6 hours max
I called off this operation.
The reason is simple: I don't want to work with that niche.
I'll spare those money for a G-ads campaign.

Keep thinking how I can get into the PPC world and making money at the same time I asked myself: perhaps can I partner up with someone who's already in the field? What value can I bring to them (if any)?

With my current skillset I can create pretty good and conversion oriented Landing Pages.
Perhaps someone in PPC would benefit from outsourcing the landing page part to someone who speaks the same language?
I don't know yet. I'll explore the market thoughts about it talking to PPC people around the web.


Tomorrow I need to stick to the plan and having a campaign running by the end of the week.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #6

6 new proposals sent on Upwork.
1 interview.
0 job landed.

I think I found a niche to play with on Google Ads.
CPC is quite good, €0.6, and volumes are promising.



Content Production
Due to the short-term nature of this journey I'm completely ignoring content production.
I believe it to be one of the most valuable activity I could do to get results in the long term.
Is it probably a big mistake? Keep asking myself this question.

Self-Analysis & Harsh Truth (probably Rant)
It sucks.
Almost one week is gone and I don't see any progress, nor the light at the end of the tunnel.
I'm not disciplined. I don't stick to my own plan. I get distracted continuously.
A health issues is getting worst day by day and making things awful: infact, i'm not working out since 2 weeks and working out was the only activity that helped me let the stress out, relax and clear my mind.

Am I giving all I have? No.
Not even the barely minimum.
6 proposals per day on Upwork? And what's that? Just a more action-oriented action faking i guess.

The truth is I don't like deal with people.
I fed myself up with business/freelancing success stories and only common pattern I found is being good with people, or at least talking to people.
99% of myself just want to avoid that part of the equation.
This is the real reason why I action fake.
This is why when I see a notification on my phone, instead of being excited, I deeply hope it's not an Upwork interview, cause I might have to talk with someone on the phone/videocall.
Yeah, that's what really happens in my mind.

I've never been that brilliant in socializing but I could manage it more or less.
After 6 months of no social interactions due to lock downs I feel very very uncomfortable, even more than before.

All of this to say I better spend my days emailing hundreds of people, contacting people on social media, wherever, the point is investing time in creating connection in any way possible. There's no grow inside this comfort zone.
All the rest is fooling myself.

Let me tell you one more thing. I didn't report this.
But I said I would have posted for all the 90 days, no matter what, with honesty.
Even if this is gonna be an awful, shameful journey of daily failures.
Last Saturday I received my first inbound call. I didn't pick it up.
Figured it out later it was probably from the GMB account. I looked up at the number and it was someone with a never-heard-before profession (fb page and all). But it was an inbound lead.
Guess what? I didn't call back.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #7
Every time i rant about something, things immediately get better.
I should rant more often lol

6 proposal sent.
5 interview.
2 jobs landed.

I think the crazy increase in conversion rate is due to changing the profile picture on Upwork.
Yeah, those details can make a huge difference.

Jobs are small and quick, which is good to build more review and connect with more people.

Rest of the day I didn't do that much.
Had a good talk with some forum members and I keep thinking about slim things down, pick one single project and focus 100% on it.

Tomorrow I'll be 100% on the Upwork jobs.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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DAY #8
Focused all day long on a Upwork project (small website design).
Completed and delivered, tomorrow I gotta go through the changes.

Wanted to start the second project as well but we need to figure out some access stuff so I'll start that project on Monday.

Didn't have the time to send new proposals.

Self-Analysis (without rant today lol)
When i have a job, I'm extremely focused.
I crank hours and hours of work without any distraction.

Was a good reminder. Often I say to myself I can't focus, but that's not true: I can and pretty well.

So the reality is that I'm unfocused when i have to work just for myself.
I need to translate this skill to my own personal activities.

"Let's see what happens"
^ this is the new "mindset" i want to adopt.
I have too many ideas but I don't execute enough.
"Let's see what happens" means focus on a specific task/process without trying to calculate the outcome upfront.
Be open, be curious. Just do it and see what comes out of that.
It's "buying data" rather than planning ahead without the data (which is a paradox).

Create a landing page offering a service targeting a very specific niche and reach out to hundreds of people in that specific niche. What is gonna happen?

Contact 100 biz which are losing money on stupid mistakes and offer advice for free. What is gonna happen?

---

Tomorrow I'll try to finalize one of these Upwork projects and send new proposals.
I'll chose ONE "let's see what happens" activity to carry out next week.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Keep it up man! Interesting to see a change in your profile picture could bump your success rate up like that. Maybe its a result of your hustle with getting interviews.

Thanks.

For real, it was surprising.
It makes sense though, it's one of the first thing that people see and it has a huge impact in inspiring trustworthiness.

Perhaps was a lucky shot, let's see next week how it goes.
 

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Speed112

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Honestly it sucks, I felt stupid and like two precious hours have been wasted.

Try not to think like this. No time is wasted. You've at the very least practiced your proposal game which will improve your interview rate over time and increase the value of this groundwork.

One of the reason why i lose jobs are my rates.

If you truly believe this, then why are you in the same price range as all these people? Is that really such a big differentiating factor?

If you bid $40/hr and others bid $5/hr there needs to be a great reason why you're charging 8 times more.

Does your portfolio truly suck? Or is it pointing out a flaw in the market: most people focus on form over function. What if THEIR portfolios suck because they showcase design ability instead of practical ability?

I started off with $15/hr on oDesk writing copy many years ago. I slowly built that up to 25, then 40, then 60, 80. Eventually, I got to 150 and I deleted my account.

I came back years later and what did I do? Start at $15 again fighting for scraps with all the noobs? No, I started at $80 and I still ended up charging people ~150/hr due to charging flat fees. I got projects with 0 reviews, a crappy portfolio that is just text on an image, and really really good proposals. If I charged $30/hr I bet I would've been lost in the sea of competitors and would have had to work 10 times as hard to get those initial clients.

But I'm an expert.

Experts are in demand. I don't need to chase after clients. They should be the ones chasing after me. Giving off this vibe by half-assing certain parts (the ones that really don't matter) and doubling down on the ones that matter (what's in it for them) works just as well if not better than going hard in all areas of your outreach.

Yes, this goes against general advice, of starting off small, building up your client base, testimonials, case studies, then ramp up...

But who cares about that?

Can you offer someone thousands of dollars of value with a few hours of work? If so, then pricing yourself in the same range as the hordes of incompetents who waste people's time and spend dozens of hours building useless trash is probably inefficient.

Something to keep in mind, and probably to aim for when you've got more valuable things to do with your time than writing 2 hour long proposals for $100 projects.

In any case, awesome progress so far. You're definitely going the right way, so keep it up and things will snowball for sure.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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DAY #9
Super short daily update.

Worked on a Upwork project.

No proposals sent.
Got a new interview from a proposal of last week.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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"Your mistakes list should be longer."

Yeah.
Making mistakes is good.
Saying: "i was nervous, i sucked, but I did it" is a good feeling.
The longer is the list of mistakes, the more real action you're making.


DAY #10
This morning I had some free time, while waiting clients input to continue my current Upwork projects (all clients are from US at the moment, so mornings are silent luckily).

I decided to pick one single project from the many I have in mind, and stick to it till failure or success.

Here's how I jump on a new project from scratch.


First, I headed to Asana and create a new project there.
Created a bunch of cards in the kanban board outlining the main phases.
Went into each cards and break it down further, into small actionable activities.
That's all.
lol


I put a couple of hours of focus into it and got Wireframes & Draft of copy ready.

*About this project*
It's basically web design services for a very specific niche.
The niche is hot, trendy, in constant growth since years and kind of blowing up this year more than ever.
It's a niche that can get huge benefits from having a website.
The demand for web design services is also growing, as I observed during some research on the specific reddit threads.
I couldn't find any competitor targeting this specific niche; i mean, there are some, but more generalist and not completely focused on web design & dev for this industry.
Lastly, this niche has a lot of other "digital needs", so I sense an opportunity for growth.
It is worth a shot.

The plan is:
1. Setting up a cool and slim Landing Page (benefits, process, additional services, cta)
2. Run Reddit Ads (very big community there)

That's it. I'll spend a bit of money on reddit ads and see what comes out of that.

----

Upwork
Sent 2 quick proposals a while ago, not many interesting jobs lately.

The main focus of my day was a call with a prospect on Upwork.
It was for a mid-size project.

For who doesn't know, having calls is one the things that scares me the most.
My anxiety rises absurdly.

When the client was up I couldn't jump on the call right away (for my anxiety) so I put it off.
Eventually we had this very quick call (really felt like a job interview).
Dunno, the convo was good but didn't feel like i nailed it.
Probably the client was looking for someone a bit different. Or perhaps was my english?
He closed the call quickly at a certain point just asking to send a full proposal.

Nonetheless, I did it, I felt better after all, and this is what matters.

Here a special thanks goes to @Speed112 , thanks for setting me up lol and share your advices and experiences on the matter. I truly appreciated it.

Let's close this daily update with a good news.
Finished one of the Upwork projects: the client keeps saying he's mind-blown by the results (all his team is); he also started to ask about my availability for another project.

Tomorrow I have to focus 100% on my other Upwork project which I didn't start yet.
I'll try to finish it tomorrow itself.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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DAY #11
I forgot to mention my country's government issued a covid help benefit for small businesses so i got €1k from them.
Not really earned but now I "just" have to earn €9k.

With all the projects got from Upwork till the begin of this journey, I'm at €330 (yeah... nuts).

I can say €8670 left.


---

One Upwork project completed, got 5 stars review and a great feedback.
Client offered me another job, but the price was crazy low.
I got back asking a bit more (anyway we're talking about under minimum wage prices).
Didn't get reply. I move on and if he comes back agreeing then cool.

Almost done with the other project.
I'll finish tomorrow and deliver (ahead of deadline).
Updated the client on the status and asked permission to take care of other issues i found, without thinking about charging.
He agreed and actually offered $100 more for the task. Cool.

Tomorrow i'm 100% on this ^

6 new proposals sent.
0 interview.
0 new job landed.

---


Math, forecasting and strategic assessment


I made some math and I would never reach my goal on Upwork, neither with the best (but somewhat realistic) scenario ever (which is not gonna happen).

I have around 11 weeks left.
Let's say I can put 40 hrs/week in it.
A past project where i earned almost 1k took me 40 hrs, so let's keep 1k/40hrs as standard.

$1000 in revenue on Upwork turns into €472 in profit *gif with someone crying here*

Even being fully booked all the 11 weeks.... (11*472)+1330 = €6522
Too far. Perhaps Upwork is not the right direction.

Let's make other calcs...
Getting job outside the platform means no 20% fee and no need to charge in $.
So with a €1000 as baseline, my profit would be around €750.

It means I need to sell 12 €1000 websites to reach my goal.
I can handle the workload (I imagine these to be biz websites, no ecom or similar).


I don't have a decision yet, just throwing thoughts on the table... but it feels like what i avoided the most cannot be avoided anymore (old gold cold outreaching).
Also the "reddit ads" project can bring leads for this, i'll try that first.

Better sleep on it.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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DAY #12
Short daily update.

Completed all Upwork projects, collected all the money and got the reviews.


I'm done with Upwork.
It just doesn't make sense spent 5 days of work for €300.
I better focus on lead gen.

I'll keep having a look without much effort though, and apply if it sounds like a €1k in profit job.

---

I've started to engage with some people on Reddit, got a chat with a guy and we were discussing the possibility to partner up (him on sales, me on dev).

I'll try post my services in the job-related subreddits, who knows.

Tomorrow I'll focus on the "niche web design project" until completion.
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #13
Unproductive day.
I screwed up my schedule, went to bed super late and woke up at 11am.

Spent hours just reading threads here and action faking trying to solve problems that are not in front of me.

Eventually I force myself to do something and went ahead with the "webdesign niche" project, worked at it a couple of hours.


A Upwork's client from last week hit me back offering me another project: developing a website for $200.
I passed. I'm done with Upwork, as i mentioned yesterday.
 
Last edited:

Speed112

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Is transparency a good thing?
I don't think so.

Why not?

I think this was very insightful and it looks like you're making a lot of great progress even in the days when you're not closing new clients or working on a practical problem you get paid for.

In this convo i was detached, didn't give a sh*t.
Did i make a sale? No. But I didn't waste hours/days stressing myself out for anxiety.

This is the key. Don't sweat it. Who cares? They're just people. Most of them are retards anyway. Some are spiteful, sad, miserable individuals who are eager to get a chance to berate someone for a random reason. Laugh at their suffering and move on, or try to help them anyway.

I still remember a couple of people over the phone treating me like shit.

I had a few calls like that when I was selling stocks when a guy immediately started yelling at me once he realized what I was pitching. He had been burned in the past and didn't follow proper trade principles or and lost... $500.

Instead of feeling bad about it, because I had done nothing wrong, I was trying to help him, so I followed through and genuinely tried to figure out his issue and try to help him. I calmed him down, we discussed his reaction, he realized he was being an a**hole, talked some more, and then ended on good terms.

It didn't lead to anything, but it prevented me from accumulating bad feelings of rejection and ruining my performance for the rest of the day, so it was a good use of time, and I felt like I helped that guy from his anger issues.

I don't know if full detachment and not caring, or being able to dial up and down the amount of attachment is better, but whatever it is I'm sure you're moving in the right direction.

People are people. You're just communicating, trying to discover and engage in win/win opportunities. If they don't appreciate that, it's their loss. They're not entitled to working with you and neither are you to working with them, so if you can't reach an agreement that's life. Next. The more time you spend with the ungratefuls is time not spent with those who appreciate what you do and can help you create the world you want around you.

What happens is that the rage, like a bomb, implodes inside me instead of outside, causing a lot of issues physically and mentally

Sounds like you need to learn to defuse the bomb before it affects you or those around you.

Keep truckin'
 

UnderdogStrategy

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Day #18

No more self-analysis, back to action.

Upwork
I randomly check it out, if there's some job that fits my skillset and it's 1k+ I would apply.
Sent 1 proposal effortlessly, something like "hi, i specialize in what you need, hit me up" and I got the interview in spite of the other 20 to 50 people who applied lol
Tomorrow I'll scope it out.

Niche web design + Reddit Ads
After a bit of self-negotiation I got myself down to finish this project.
Completed the landing page, though not as well done as I planned, and set up the Reddit Ads.
Just waiting Reddit to approve it.
Budget is $80.
I don't have much expectations, let's see.

A clear and humble direction
I won't spend anymore resources in "experiments".
I will stick to do the most reasonable thing, start locally.

I used to have my own website but, due to following the wrong SEO advice, I got penalized.
I didn't even like the name I gave myself so I'll just restart again.

I would use my own name and face, can't recall a single successful person here or in other places who's known as nickname + random avatar.

This business is based on human relationship and name+face matters.

I'll focus on SEO only in my area (start small)
I'll start to create valuable content.
I'll try to get on Linkedin, engage with people and share my content.
Obviously, also, cold outreach.

This means starting small, get something and only then, expand.

The high-level priority now is got my independence back.
Being able to earn the minimum necessary to sustain myself on my own, with my own business.
That would already mean something, a massive improvement compared with where I used to be in the past, and where I am now.
Starting small.

In practical terms, it would require 3-4 website sold at €500, or 2 at €1k, monthly speaking.

"Damn, why didn't I think about this before?"
You know... i've started learning a bit of web development when I was 13yo.
It didn't last long time, like anything else in my life.
Fun fact, I sold a website from cold outreach back then. For real.
I still remember it.
I replied to some announce in a listing website (or i created one, don't recall this detail) and ended up making a website from a physical therapist somewhere in my country.
I didn't really know what I was doing, nor i had real skills, in fact was just a awful BLOGSPOT site lol
Earned €130 from that project, it's a good memory.

What's the point?
The point is the place where I got the deal, so many years ago.. listing websites.
Americans have Craiglist, here's not used but there other similar sites.

Just had a tour around there and here what I discovered:
- a guy who was offering web design services, with his announce posted 3 hours before i checked it out, already had 1k+ visitors (you can see the people who saw the ad)
- you can buy the top position for 1 week for €10. A guy who's currently in top position with the paid option has almost 15k views to his announce

It's huge visibility for little money.
Definitely going to use it.

Another thing I've noticed: lots of people without a job are around there trying to get something, as VA and similar.
I would reach them out and inform about my referral program.
This might help me workaround my poor network using other people's network (paying of course, win-win-win).


Start small, self-negotiation, fix the past
Self-negotiation is extremely important to overcome challenging tasks (anxiety) and to keep myself disciplined.

Along with "start small" I reduced my sessions' length to 40' instead of an hour.
I feel it's much less draining and more manageable.

Bought the Self Authoring program from Jordan Peterson and started it.
It's a good time to go through it and do a serious work on my past.

Tomorrow I'll focus on set everything up and ready to be shared with people (site, social profiles, etc...).
 

UnderdogStrategy

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The journey will continue privately.

I won't update this thread anymore, there's no sense in doing it.

Thanks to the few who were actually reading it.

The end.
 

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