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Let me tell you a story. My story. About freedom.

This happened last month, but I feel like it was just yesterday because the time has been much more memorable.

About me
I’m a marketer working from 9 to 5 in Saigon. And yes, it’s boring just like every office jobs you ever encountered. I’m a travel-addict guy and being in the same place for over one year in my 24’s was slowly killing me inside. I can’t remember what was the last time I did something for the first time. And that’s terrible.

I want to quit. Then my fear of being poor and insecure hit me hard in the head. I always wanted to be a life experiencer and travel the world. Every person has their own good stories, and it needs to be heard all over the world. That’s my dream. Imagine everyday of your life is a whole new day, adventurous and wild, travelling to listen to the world, connecting people from all over the places. In the end, it’s the breath-taking moments that count, not the years you are surviving on this planet.

Unfortunately, I was struggling to make it happen. Until…

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I enjoyed working in a beautiful rainy balcony in roof top of Saigon

Random Strange Event

I came across just a random strange event in Saigon, Vietnam. It was a Facebook post about working with foreign clients and earning US Dollars. Being curious and adventurous, I asked: “Why not?” My heart felt there’s something more than that, and it will change my life forever. So I join in and start to find out.

The first meet up is on an old traditional coffee store, Cafe Mai. It has a beautiful scenery from the second floor. After waiting for 2 hours (my mistake, I thought it was 3pm but it turns out 6pm), a lady named Charmaine comes in and starts the talk-show. She firmly introduces herself as an agency which mainly teaches people on how to become freelancer. Her agency works with Western clients and has wide-range freelancers spread across the Earth. I believe she can also have freelancers in Mars too, if we have people on Mars.

The course will happen within 2 months, every Tuesday. It consists of strict curriculum and hand-on projects for us. The most astonishing idea is that there are many jobs I could do freelancing beside writing, designing and web developing. It’s virtual assistant, video editor, customer service agent, sale & marketing expert, accountant & consultant…. It likes we can make a whole company just from freelancing. And the best part is: I will earn more than 8 times here. What a deal!

Maybe I’m an old-fashion guy, but knowing this make me feel like I can just travel and do all the jobs on the go. Maybe I can finally pursuit my dream…

The price fee for the course, however, makes me re-thinking. It’s not that cheap for a Vietnamese with an average job in Saigon. Consider it’s an investment, I could get all the money back after 7 articles, which is a fair deal. Or not, maybe Mrs. Charmaine is a scammer and she totally could take all people’s money and run away. How could somebody you just met demand a big cash from you? How could you just give it away with a single meet-up?

Then I think. And I make my choice.

First Training Session

The first training session happened  a week after. I got to meet all other friends whose I would be working with in this course. Turns out freelancing is not that lonely. Normally freelancing means working alone, but with this special treatment from Charmaine, we will work together as a team. This will reduce the stress from work, and you can also meet many people like you, who want to be free.

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I’m doing the work in a backyard garden

First, we explore in detail the freelancing jobs like virtual assistant, video editor, customer service agent,…. Each coming with special detail and requirement, but not too different from the full-time jobs.

Then, we start to create Upwork accounts for finding a jobs and building our personal branding. Personal brand is extremely important as clients will consider your profile as more trustworthy or capable if you show them your previous work. Moreover, connecting with Miss Charmaine’s Upwork account will make me more credible and easier to get the first few jobs online.

Another small but vital thing is that you should get a professional name and email. Language barrier maybe hard for you to reach out to clients if they can’t contact you just because they can’t remember your name. Make it as easy for the client as possible.

Frankly, I enjoy the training. Mrs. Charmaine is nice and passionate about what she does. Having a dedicated trainee and a clear structural outline make you feel more confident to work with client. She also brings some drinks and lovely cupcakes to help us enjoy the session.

After the end of the 1st session, each will be assigned a homework for our next session. Mine was to contact my first client to get the requirement. And terrible things start to happen again.

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I’m doing my homework in an art gallery. You might ask why, and I will ask back:

Why not?

Second Training Session

This session requires client’s brief about task, and with this task, we can sit together and have some thorough discussions about how to do it in the best way.

Unfortunately, I completely forgot about the homework and didn’t send an email to the client until there’s only one hour left before the session. I was panic as I come to the class, and worried I won’t got any things to do. But this time, Mrs. Charmaine helps me once again with her generosity. She has prepared an alternative task and allows me to work with it. Awesome Charmaine agency!

But Miss Charmaine is a professional trainer, and she has me understand that we should follow discipline and respect the training, or else it would be useless and we won’t become a good freelancer. Having discipline is the first thing you should follow.

I start to review the brief carefully and understand comprehensively about the task. There something unclear about the brief, so I discuss with Miss Charmaine to clarify what would need to be done. Everybody also start to have conversations with their clients through Skype, and after a while we all come to agreement on eạch task. Being in a state where you understand the requirement completely to avoid wasting your time is essential. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” said Abraham Lincoln.

Lastly, we follow the instruction for creating Paypal accounts and linking to our local bank account. Then the second training session has end, and I have learnt a lot.

In the end, I just spend two days working and learning with Miss Charmaine, so there will not have many things to say about the result. But I strongly believe with my relentless effort and Charmaine’s dedication, someday my dream will come true. There’s a lot of work to do, good things don’t come easy. From now on, let’s keep moving forward, and don’t ever give up! I will update you after the end of the training course.

Guest blogger Arah has kindly written this post for me on the training course in Ho Chi Minh City that I am running for aspiring freelancers and teaching them how to work with Western clients and earn USD.

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