How To Crush It As An Online Freelancer In Thailand

At least once a week I’ll get an email from someone who bought my How To Become A Freelancer Ebook.

The email usually goes something like this:

“Hi Harvie, I’ve being doing everything you said in the book and things are going well. But for some reason I can’t break past this barrier of charging more than $x for jobs. I just can’t seem to win them. What should I do?”

Most people think it’s because they charge too much, when in reality you can never charge too much as an online freelancer.

Take me for example, somebody pays me $96 an hour to send their email list one email a week:

freelancer earnings

It takes me around an hour or so to write it, and if they have promotions, I usually create a series where I’ll bill them several more hours.

So if it’s not because you’re charging too much, then why can’t win jobs and make $96 per hour or more?

Because you’re not listening to what I told you

In my eBook I stated that the best way to make money freelancing is to eventually leave the freelance platform you’re using and find clients yourself.


Because when there’s no competition your price of $30hr, $60hr or even $96hr doesn’t seem crazy or overpriced.

I hire people on these sites and after posting a job I get about 50 applicants.

48 of them aren’t even worth my time and I skip pass them. These are usually candidates from India and the like who are quoting me ‘amazing work’ for $3/hr.

You pay peanuts you get monkeys – I know that.

But most other clients don’t – because they are stupid.

How many times do you go to work and think that everybody you work with is a fucking fuckwit and you cannot understand how they got hired?

You get my point now?

Many will see your bid of $35hr for creating a logo or helping them with email marketing and they will think it’s too much, because all the other online freelancers are low-balling you at $3-$15hr.

These business owners don’t know any better and will usually go with the cheaper option (unless they are smart, they they’d hire me or you) and get crappy work and then re-hire some other crap online freelancer who produces work just as bad at the same rates.

To make money freelancing – you need quality clients.

After you’ve built up your skills I as mentioned in my eBook, you need and find your own clients by searching the Internet along with using sites like Upwork and Freelancer.

How to find your own clients as an online freelancer

Finding clients is very easy when you do exactly what I’m about to tell you.


Let’s say I’m a graphic artist and web designer and I want to get new clients, what would Harvie do (WWHD)?

I’d look for my target market

Who is my target market? In this example, it’s businesses that generate a lot of business online but have poorly optimized websites that need some TLC.

I’m in the travel niche so I would go and reach out to websites in the same niche. I’d look for the following:

Age of website – the older the website the better. This means they’ve been in operation for a while and most likely have a bigger marketing budget than some new startup.

New websites are generally created by these digital nomads who are working on a budget. Ain’t nobody got time for them.

Social media followers – the more followers they have across all social media platforms is a (weak) indicator that they hold some authority and receive some levels of traffic.

Traffic is key because if the website is receiving a decent amount of traffic it will usually mean they are making money.

If I want to charge $96hr for my services, I must qualify whether the business is making enough money else I’ll be wasting my time pitching them services they cannot afford.

You can also check blogs to see how many comments they get, their Alexa Rank and a bunch of other stuff which give you indicators to how successful they may be.

Must be a small business – Avoid targeting brands or businesses that have so many employees that it will be impossible for you to talk directly to the owner. I always look for small local business in my home town, or in Bangkok.

Smaller businesses are unlikely to have content writers, web designers, marketing experts and the like.

If you use the contact form and get a reply for a customer service staff, you must ask for the email address of the owner, or do some recon on LinkedIn to find their email.

In the past I used to get canned responses from customer support, but I found directly sending a message with the owner’s name in the email and making it very personalized forces customer support to forward it to the Big Boss.

Their website must suck – As I’m offering web services, their website must suck in order for me to fix it.

If you’re a writer, check their blog and see whether it’s performing badly (zero comments, no social media shares etc), or if they don’t have one – even better. When you email them you can state all the benefits of having a blog and how they will make more sales because of it.

Sending cold emails

Now let’s say I’ve found a prospect who needs a website redesign that matches my parameters. At this point is when I’d send them an email.

But I don’t email them with a sales pitch of why they should pay for my services, because that’s too spammy and my email will go straight in the trash.

Almost every single website is getting spammed by SEO services and the like in 2015, if you follow this approach you won’t get far.

Instead, I’ll reach out saying how much I like their website and products (and how I live very close to their business). I’ll make reference to one of their blogs posts and try and relate it to Thailand (or my home city in England) to further show them that I’m not some spammer.

I’ll read their about us to see if I can leverage that into the first email to show them that I actually know a little something about their business and took the time to browse their website.

The goal of this email is to simply catch their attention. The more personalized the email is the more likely they will reply. I found complementing them and putting their first name in the subject line gets a 90% reply rate.

In the second email I’d look at their website and try to find an error. Perhaps a page that doesn’t load, a button that doesn’t work, a typo or anything else that makes them look less professional that they would appreciate.

When they reply to that I’d be like:

“Hey, no problems man, I’ve usually got a sharp eye for spotting problem points on websites. I have a web design and business background, and spent the last 4 years traveling and helping businesses optimize their website so they can generate more leads and customers.

I noticed a few big issues on your site as well, if you want me to run a free audit on your website, you’re more than welcome to ask, I love doing this kind of stuff anyway.”

3 emails deep and I’ve popped them with a sales pitch and they don’t even know.

At this point, I’ve pretty much bent the client over, pulled down their pants, applied some KY jelly and they’re about to be pounded without even realizing it.

de crapi

It’s key that you mention how they can benefit from your help, for example in the email above I stated how I helped someone like them generate more leads and sales.

What business wouldn’t want more leads and sales?

If they want the free audit, you do your stuff and take it from there.

You’re up against zero competition and since you’ve already helped them with a free audit, they will feel inclined to return the favor.

Lead with value first

People on the Internet don’t take shit from anyone. You can’t send spam emails and think that’s the road to success in any online venture.

Lead with value first ( email 2 where I did them a small favor by pointing out a few website issues followed by a free audit in email 3) and they will return the favor. This is known as the reciprocity rule:

Give them something for nothing and you’ll be surprised how receptive they will be.

That’s how you become a master freelancer

It’s important to get started on freelance websites I suggested in my book, but as I also mentioned in the final chapter that the best way to get clients and charge more cash is to find your own clients.

There’s no shortage of them either, just think how many businesses in your home town have crappy websites or blogs or social media accounts that you can improve.

If I’m getting paid $96 per hour to write emails, then there’s no reason why you can’t be paid the same amount or more to create websites, draw logos, help with translation, write articles, code websites, make apps or anything else.

Have a question? Leave a comment below.

8 thoughts on “How To Crush It As An Online Freelancer In Thailand

  1. Paul
    26 December, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Love the advice. I got started a few months ago and have had the exact same problem. I will start using this method in the New Year and will let you know how I get on.

  2. Pat
    29 December, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    In 2003-5 I was employed by several websites to write up comments and keep getting them hits. That was the sign of a successful site, and a couple of those sites had me reachng for an encyclopedia to get info on subjects I knew f*** all about, like bakery equipment, scuba diving, or oil platform maintenence.
    I was paid 50 baht a comment (about £1) and racked up about 100 a day (couldn’t go too OTT)
    I was given long lists of names and passwords of ‘contributors’
    I also wrote up positive comments for eBay sellers.

    Things have of course moved on big time, with ISP addresses all easily available.
    Sadly a few trolls were also in full effect and deleting their crap took up about half of my days

    1. 29 December, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      you’ll be lucky to get more than 10 cents these days for a blog comment, sometimes even less mate.

      £1 a comment is not a bad gig 15 years ago, pretty good coin that.

  3. 11 January, 2016 at 11:25 am

    As a buyer and reviewer of Harvies ebook, the content mills like Upwork are tough going competing against Indians who work for peanuts. Although I have found by working on the content mills that I’ve got ideas for new websites, niche websites, so I’ve built one! I’m a slow writer, so building niche websites maybe a good idea for me.

    I like the idea of finding your own clients, seems to better idea than content mills. I invested in Long Tail Pro, so I might find some niches, search out some sites that need help and see if I can “help” them.

  4. Neil
    2 July, 2016 at 5:31 am

    Just bought your book so I’m curious to see how this works.

    I fell into freelance writing accidently after discovering an old account of mine on odesk/upwork.

    Was going good for the first couple of weeks but one client left an unnecessarily shitty review and I’ve had trouble getting another job ever since.

    1. 3 July, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      Hey Neil,

      If you give them a refund within 14 days the review goes away. Otherwise just create a new account mate.

  5. Steven S.
    25 January, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Imagine 400 or well more bought his book. And everyone is doing the same, maybe in Thailand or even Bangkok. Of course you will need skills in a particular area or maybe several of them. So you are better of starting at any other Location.

    So starting from zero, with no skills(which would be a benefit to freelance work) will take you some years to get there.

    1. 25 January, 2017 at 6:22 am

      Writing work is the easiest, but I think the most profitable is learning online marketing (Google Ads, Facebook Ads etc).

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