We probably heard about the 'American Dream' from movies or books or in different pop culture references, where a person who comes from nothing makes a generational wealth from entrepreneurship or being an entertainer of some sort in the USA. In a stark contrast in the other part of the world, Bangladesh, a significant part of the youth's dream is to become a BCS cadre or leave the country for better opportunities leaving his beloved ones and country. People who come from very simple backgrounds can hardly dream of building wealth for their family, if they plan to stick to honest means. So what is our best hope for building a Bangladeshi dream for our youths? The answer is freelancing.
Bangladesh currently receives several hundred millions of dollars in remittances from our freelancers. With the government and private sector's continuous effort on solving freelancer's problems, the number of freelancers is also rising in the country. According to Bangladesh Freelancer Development Society, the number of freelancers is close to 1.0 million. However, the real number can be much higher. The best part of this is, a successful and wealthy freelancer can work from anywhere in Bangladesh, as long as they have a good laptop and stable internet connection. One such person whose story we will know in this article is Md Rayhan Miya, who is an entrepreneur and multiple award winning freelancer.
Serving clients all over the world from Nilphamari: Md Rayhan Miya completed his SSC from Nilpharami and then went on to study in the top polytechnic institute of the country, Dhaka Polytechnic Institute from 2007 to 2011. He also completed a diploma engineering in computer department in 2012 from the same institute. For the first two years after graduation, he took coaching classes to earn a living for his big family in Nilphamari. His drive was present in everything he did. As a result, he was also a popular teacher. However, his dream became bigger. He always wanted to do something on his own and build a company. His dream has now become a reality. Now he serves clients from USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, Austria, the UK, and etc.
Challenges in his life: Looking back at his life, Md Rayhan Miya says, "We always had money crises in the family, as my father had to support a family of eight people being a humble farmer." But he always reminded himself that he needs to go miles to improve his and his family's life. In his initial days of freelancing, he faced a lot of struggles as it was new to him. A new job is always tough on anyone but that doesn't mean one should give up, he shares. If he had given up through the painful initial days, he would have never received awards such Rangpur Division Best Freelancer Award, BASIS Outsourcing Award 2021 and several others.
He attributes his success to not only his hard work but also his team that he built in 2018. He shares, "A team can make you or break you. It is better to work with a great team of professionals." He has built a small team in his IT company, Sadia IT with around 15 full time people who work with him in his projects as freelancers. One of his brothers is also a top rated freelancer in Upwork. His family also helped him in completing projects, especially his wife.
Sleepless years, rewarding life: The most important quality that any freelancer needs is persistence, he shares. "I used to learn as much as possible from YouTube and I also took proper training from a senior brother who used to be good at freelancing." Another quality he mentions that helped him to build his work profile is to seek feedback from clients to do better. He also shares, "I used to ask several questions and follow up a lot with my clients, this has helped me to understand their mindset, my work and be visible for future work."
Md Rayhan Miya's lifetime earning from Upwork so far is more than US$ 400,000. This is from more than 600 jobs he completed by working a total of almost 8000 hours. Currently his average monthly earning from Upwork is more than US$ 5,000. His total earnings are possibly higher. He has other earnings from Sadia IT venture where he is the founder and CEO and other platforms. With his earnings, he has personally managed to build two houses, two madrasas, helped his other family members to start cattle farming, buy personal cars etc. at his home district Nilphamari. Not only these, but also he regularly helps out people who are suffering in his localities from different things. He shared these not to boast about himself but only to inspire driven dreamers to work diligently as it can give financial freedom to many families around Bangladesh.
Services and core work: Bangladesh is one of the top 10 exporters of online freelancers according to Payoneer. Digital freelancing projects mostly consist of digital marketing, graphic design, SEO, lead generation, web analytics, content writing, software and website development and virtual assistance for businesses and entrepreneurs. Top marketplaces to find freelancing jobs are Upwork, Fiverr, Behance etc. Md Rayhan Miya sources most of his projects from Upwork, Fiverr and Linkedin. Some of them are sourced via his IT firm, Sadia IT that he established along the way.
Md Rayhan Miya, boasts a 97 per cent job success rate, is a highly rated freelancer in Upwork platform. He provides numerous services to his clients such as- link building, b2b lead generation, data mining, data entry, Shopify and Wix based site development, LinkedIn marketing, Email marketing etc. All of these details are available in his public profile at Upwork.
Who won't be successful in freelancing: When asked about this question, Md Rayhan Miya says people who aren't dedicatedly searching for work, delivering high quality work within deadlines, and pursuing mentors and learning from others won't succeed. Freelancers need to be persistent in their pursuit of learning and searching for work for one to two years, at least. In the meantime, if someone can't dedicate full time to it, they should hold a day job and pursue freelancing at night, at the expense of one's sleep and leisure.
Beware of scammers: A lot of people get duped out of their hard earned savings when they take training from fake people posing as successful freelancers. Md Rayhan Miya says, "There are several ways to identify scammers. Such as-- they usually don't have a physical office for their own projects, they don't have professional pictures, some of them don't have their profile updated with relevant details, they don't have proof of their earnings in freelancing platforms, they always paint a rosy picture about freelancing, they offer courses at a very low price." Youths or anyone who wants to learn about freelancing should consult with successful freelancers, search on YouTube as much as possible, find out effective courses if required.
Future plan and advice for others: Md Rayhan Miya has another big dream. He wants to create more successful freelancers like him in Nilphamari. He believes there are many talented people in the country. Sadia IT will play a crucial role here by offering effective courses to aspiring freelancers. When asked about his advice to aspiring freelancers, Md Rayhan Miya says, "You need to be truthful and willing to do hard work for as long as it takes to be successful. Having a strong communication skill in English is one thing you can't do without. You also need to learn the necessary top global skills and be able to work with integrity. Freelancing is not a place to earn quick money, it's rather a marathon."
The writer is studying in the final year of undergrad in Department of Pharmacy at Independent University, Bangladesh(IUB).