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Success Story: New Freelancer scoring a $24,000 a month contract

I’d like to introduce you to someone who is sharing a success story – you can read all of my other ones here.

I offer career & money coaching here. If I can’t help you, I will say so upfront especially if it is not in my area of expertise (e.g. real estate investments), I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money.

This is 100% in her words:


I am a healthcare provider and my starting salary after graduating with my Doctorate degree was $140,000. I joined a large corporate institution and fell into a comfortable routine of a decent high-paying job. In my sector, CA labor law is really strict and we’re classified as non-exempt employees aka hourly positions that are entitled to overtime pay, required rest breaks, and meal periods.


With overtime, I was easily making $160,000/yr.

Three years later, I was presented with the opportunity to join a startup. I was being recruited by a former colleague who had left the large corporate institution we worked at together. He said he approached me because he remembered me for my work ethic. He needed someone who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, who isn’t intimidated by limited resources, is extremely scrappy, humble, empathetic to patients, etc etc. It was a reminder that hard work pays off and IT WILL SHOW.

But. Yes, there’s a but.

He only offered me a salary of $120,000/yr with equity. Like, wut.

The startup had just received their Series A. What is Series A? What is equity? What does that equity percentage mean? I had questions. Lots of questions.

I did a bunch of research. Talked to a bunch of friends and colleagues. Weighed the pros and cons.

  • What is the overall compensation package?
  • What is the vesting schedule? Company valuation? Strike price? (What is this language?)
  • What kind of experience am I going to gain?
  • How’s the work life balance?
  • What is the company culture like?
  • Can I afford this pay cut?

After some back and forth (I countered), I still accepted at $120,000 but with a little bit more equity. I figured the experience would be worth it and I had an out from a stuffy corporate structure. A year later, I got a promotion and was bumped up to $135,000. Meh. By that time, I was already feeling burnt out.

About 3 years later, I decided it was time for another adventure. I was on the job search again. I didn’t find anything that I liked – none of the job postings were interesting to me, so I decided to CREATE MY OWN as a consultant. Yup, I was gonna be my own damn boss.

I networked. I sourced. I sent cold emails to CEOs of companies who I thought I might want as clients. I just needed that first client. I wasn’t even sure what I was even going to consult on.

Within a month, I filed for a LLC, found that first client, came up with a project proposal, and negotiated hard. The end result: $24,000/month.

How exactly did I make this happen?

I talked to people. Specifically other consultants. In all industries.

I’ve been following Sherry on IG for a few months (one of the very few personal finance accounts I actually DO follow) and quickly figured out she is a force of FIRE (haha, pun intended). When it comes to career stuff, I typically know how to handle myself but knowledge is power and I like to be informed.

Especially when it comes to salary negotiations. So knowing that Sherry is also a consultant in STEM, I naturally referred to her blog on how to ask for money.

I was already doing my own research and it seemed like the consensus was to double or triple your normal hourly rate to account for taxes and overhead. And the rate that you come up with is going to obviously reflect the value that you place on your work.

I had several conversations with Sherry via IG and she was so, SO helpful in providing advice and insight on her experience. Topics ranged from negotiation strategy, what to look for when it came to signing contracts, clauses to look for, etc. I was a complete noob and she was so supportive and sweet in answering my questions.

Now, let’s talk numbers. This was the whole negotiation process:

Original ask: $250/hr for a 32hr/week commitment. $350/hr for anything beyond that
Client’s verbal counteroffer: Flat rate of $6000/week

I told the client to get it closer to $7000/week and we’d have a deal.

Client’s email counteroffer: $44,000 for a 2-month commitment = $22,000/mo.

I did the math real quick and was like, wait, that’s $5500/week, which is even lower than what the client originally counteroffered verbally. What happened to that $500/week?! That would be $4,000 on the table.

The rate was knocked down just enough for me to almost think I shouldn’t bother asking. Nope. It never hurts to ask. The worse is that they say no.

I wrote back to the client and said I’d be onboard immediately if the fee is amended to $48,000 for a 2-month commitment = $24,000/mo = $6,000/week AS MENTIONED per our phone convo.

The client responded the same day and said LET’S. DO. IT.

And just like that, I got my $4,000 back. JUST FOR ASKING.

If there is anything I’ve learned in my career, it is if I want to be treated like a boss, I gotta freaking ACT. LIKE. A. BOSS.

Was I nervous? Yes. Was I afraid that the client might just call off the deal? HELL YES. But I would kick myself later if I didn’t try.

All you have to do is try.


Loved this? You can read all of my other Success Stories here.

I offer career & money coaching here. If I can’t help you, I will say so upfront especially if it is not in my area of expertise (e.g. real estate investments), I don’t want to waste anyone’s time or money.

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