How This Graphic Designer Leveraged The Freelancing Platforms To Start A $5K/Month Agency

M Waseem Aziz
Founder, ArrowUpz
$5K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
5
Employees
ArrowUpz
from Bahawalpur, Pakistan
started May 2019
$5,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
5
Employees
1
followers
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How This Graphic Designer Leveraged The Freelancing Platforms To Start A $5K/Month Agency

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, my name is M Waseem Aziz, the founder, and CEO of ArrowUpz. I started this company to help people who need some digital work to be done by some of the greatest remote workers.

Primarily, I started working as a freelancer on different freelancing sites. I started with my Graphic Designing skill. But having an entrepreneur mindset, I was not limited to that skill only. During my career, from 2019-2022, I learned a lot of different skills, whether it be digital marketing, SEO, or some video editing work. The key point here is to master one skill but also gain knowledge in other fields so that you can outsource some tasks to double your earnings.

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See that?

So my flagship products spin around different digital services. I remember the first payout for being a graphic designer was around $250. However, adding other services boost my revenue to $5K/mo.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Back in 2019, I started to work as an individual freelancer and was barely making $400-800 due to the limitation of time. As I started to grow, I refused a lot of new contracts as I could not handle those contracts alone with being actively working with other contracts.

I realized I couldn’t expand my business if I worked alone. Later on, I started to accept all the contracts that came to me. However, I handle a few contracts myself and the rest of the contracts are being outsourced to my team. I usually love to outsource through different freelancing sites like UpWork and Fiverr. I made a contract with them on a commission basis which helped both of us to earn half an amount with a single client. These team members may increase or decrease based on the workload we have. Since I hired them on a contract basis, I won't have to worry about paying every month whether I have worked for them or not. This strategy proved to be the turning point and I noticed a gain in my revenue now.

Back in 2021, I formed ArrowUpz as I thought it was the perfect time to create a product as I already gained some experience handling all those different projects.

Another reason to create this company is to bring in more contracts directly outside of the freelance marketplace to save a 20% cut from the revenue charged by those freelancing sites. With some marketing tactics and organic traffic, I started to gain some business through my website now.

Now I am making around $5k selling services only.

Back in the starting years of my career, whenever I worked, I made money. Because I had two hands, one brain, and very limited time. This led me to think and work on a system that helps me to make money while I’m not working.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

As I have to launch my agency, the very first thing we need is a website. Luckily, my brother, who is a developer, created a website for me and I helped him with its design and content-related tasks. So the website creation process doesn’t cost me, however, I paid for the yearly hosting and domain fee which was around $100 for the first year after the discount.

If you are going to start the same type of company then you may have to pay additional charges of $200-500 for your website development process, apart from those hosting and domain fees. We are lucky enough to save that cost.

Initially, we started with three services i.e Graphic Designing, Web Development, and Video Editing. Later on, we add almost every service. With the addition of other services, we are now highly likely to be hired by anyone who is looking to get his work done in any of those mentioned fields.

Here are some of the screenshots for different payments:

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1 Month Earning From Service Selling From One Platform

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1 Month Earning From Service Selling From Another Platform

The most challenging part we face after launching our business is maintaining its reputation and the reviews our clients give to us. My job is to make sure that whatever task the client gives to us, it should be completed on time with 100% quality. Furthermore, we give revisions so that the project ends up with good feedback and reviews.

Describe the process of launching the business.

The launch was amazing because I already have some clients whom I’m working with. I was quite sure that this company is going to boost up in a couple of months because of references from my clients.

When I launched the company I already had 100+ clients from different freelancing sites and a few of them are long-term clients. On the day of my launch, I reached out to my clients and informed them about the extra benefits (extra services) if they hire me through my website. Because they trusted in me, they agreed and boom, we have now clients out of those freelancing sites.

Clients were also happy with my launch as they don’t have to go here and there to different freelancers for their tasks. They can enjoy each service they need under one roof. Being the CEO of the company, I also have to make sure that new business always comes in. To manage that I started to run ads on Facebook and Google.

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This company was not funded by anyone else. Whatever I earned through my freelancing, I always reinvest that many. The habit of reinvesting helps me to boost my business and brings in more traffic and customers.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I was aware of the fact that no one is going to trust me without any previous work proof or feedback. To cover this up, I prepared myself to reach out to my previous clients with whom I was already working on freelancing sites. They know me very well and this helped me to gain some amazing feedback for my company. With their references, I already started to close hundreds of dollars in deals.

With time, I have a lot of recommendations for my company and enough for me to start running paid advertisements on Google and Facebook.

If I break this down in percentage, then 60% of the client we are getting is from freelancing sites. With 50% of those clients, I try to keep them on the freelance platform to build up my portfolio of good feedback, which helps me to grab more clients. With the rest of the 50% of clients, I try to drive them outside of the platform.

I also use those feedback to run ads on Google and Facebook hence 30% of the customers we get are from running ads, and the rest 10% of the clients we get are from our website's organic traffic. The repeat ratio of the client is around 54% as compared to getting new clients.

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Recommendations from clients

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An example of Facebook ads

I want to minimize the cost of ads spent. To cover this up, I started to bring organic traffic through my blog post and small YouTube channel. I set up my email opt-in on my website. As I started to gain traffic on my blog, I started to receive emails from the visitors who signed up for it. This helped me to create some relationships with them and the majority of them turned into customers.

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Among those 414 subscribers, only 15-25 converted as my clients. The rest of them are enjoying my content-rich emails, which ultimately pitch them to buy my services.

On average I always try to handle 40-50 clients per month. However, these numbers always go up and down based on the workload.

The best strategy to get your customers to your doorstep is to work on organic traffic. It won't cost you any money, but it will always help you to make money.

To keep our customers turning back to us, we always try to offer them the relevant services. It works the same as when we purchased bundles (Toothbrush + Toothpaste). Similarly, if a client demands us a logo design, we offer them a business card too. As business emails look good on business cards, we offer them website designing and development services and the workflow continues until he purchased those items which he is dependent on us to manage. We then charge them on a monthly subscription.

It all started with the best strategy and if you believe in the right strategy it will work for you the same. This business model doesn’t cost much at all but it always pays more than we expect.

Like with the subscription model, the customer will always stick to you if you provide them with quality work. In our case, our subscription model helps them to maintain their business every month. This subscription can be subscribed for a few specific services like ads management, content writing, customer support, YouTube video editing, website management, and a lot more similar services.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

This business will never let you down as per my experience till now. New businesses are set up every day and a few other businesses are looking for different services that I am offering right now, so there is no downfall at all. As long as the businesses in this world are carried on, my company will run along with them.

For the future or maybe the next year, my revenue may increase to 2x to 5x depending on the strategy, hard work, and consistency I and my team will put in.

The best strategy to get your customers to your doorstep is to work on organic traffic. It won't cost you any money, but it will always help you to make money. You can easily offer your services or products to that traffic and they will always be happy to buy them from you since they trust you and your brand.

You can generate that traffic by working on any of the social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Linkedin, or even with your website. The more you work on those platforms, the more audience and exposure you will get.

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An example YouTube channel having traffic and links to my products in the description

I always think of long-term goals. The reason is that both the long-term and short-term goals will take the same time, strategy, and hard work. So I think it’s better to proceed with long-term goals first. That's the same I did for my company ArrowUpz.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I have learned and experienced a lot of new things, however, here are the two main points I want to mention:

  1. Never rely on one income source.
  2. Increase your revenue by creating a team.
  3. Your social presence matters the most in today’s era.

Back in the starting years of my career, whenever I worked, I made money. Because I had two hands, one brain, and very limited time. This led me to think and work on a system that helps me to make money while I’m not working.

Here comes the company formation and adding team members to my company. Now I have a great number of hours in a day to work, more than two hands and brains which ultimately increases my productivity and revenue. I learned how the other companies are doing the same and it also proved to be a great advantage for me as well.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I have been using the following tools:

  1. WordPress for website.
  2. Hostinger (for hosting) and Namecheap (for domain).
  3. Convertkit for email marketing.
  4. Loom for recording videos.
  5. Skype and Zoom for messaging and calls.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Besides reading books I prefer to consume video content. I have learned a lot from Dan Lok, Ali Abdaal, and other YouTube channels. To keep myself motivated, I usually watch the success stories of other entrepreneurs and set goals to follow along.

The most influential book I read so far is Rich Dad Poor Dad and every entrepreneur must have to give this book a try.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Not giving it a try is one of the major reasons people hesitate to start their company. They are afraid and think that if they fail, they will lose. Whereas they don’t know if they fail, they will learn that this method doesn’t work for them and they should try a new one.

A famous quote from Thomas Edison is: “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”

Keeping that in mind, if you believe in your strategy and planning, you should take a start. Either you will learn that your strategy and planning won’t work, or you may succeed.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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M Waseem Aziz, Founder of ArrowUpz
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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