Freelancing on Fiverr While Going to College Full-Time with Olivia Kelliher

Olivia Kelliher is proving you don’t need 8-hours per day to make freelancing work. As a full-time college student and student athlete, Olivia is able to make side hustling a reality with just one-to-two hours of spare time per day. Which should tell you, any time management excuses holding you back from freelancing – throw them out the window! Here is the interview I conducted with Olivia below on my podcast.

Alex: I am very excited to welcome on my friend who I met through the internet, another freelance copywriter and social media marketer, Olivia Keller. I met Olivia at the start of 2021 when I was trying to make a Clubhouse group of fellow copywriters so I found you on Instagram and I’m so glad that I did. Olivia has gone on now to grow her TikTok channel to over 363,000 followers and you did it in like five months, which is incredible. And she’s done this while diving deep into freelancing, affiliate marketing and social media strategizing. I love it. Olivia. Hi.

That’s like my, my little blurb I like to write about everyone give everyone a little praise. Alright, so before we dive into all of the cool things you’re doing in the gig economy, I love that you’re a gig economy opportunists like in the in the most meaning of that word. I love that you are doing this while you go to college. And I can see your dorm right behind you right now. So how has this all been, you know, freelancing, affiliate marketing, doing all this stuff, and also being a student?

Olivia: Not easy, that’s for sure. If you’ve been following me for a while now, you probably haven’t seen me posts that frequently the past like two months, because it’s definitely a huge adjustment going from like summer vacation, where I’m not doing anything, I can just focus all of my business to back to like engineering classes and like focusing on that stuff. And it’s like, it’s definitely two different worlds. But it’s totally possible to make it like one, you just have to find the time. And that’s the biggest thing is time management. And I feel like I’ve kind of cracked that down a lot. But I’m also in this like, weird shift right now with my business. So like, I’m not really sure what I want to be posting right now. But it’s definitely weird. It’s not easy, that’s for sure. And I mean, if you’re working a nine to five job, it’s probably the same for you as well. You just gotta, you gotta manage your time, right? And figure out when you can squeeze in like, even like 20 minutes to just, you know, make a Canva design or write a quick blog post or something like that. You can find time to do it.

Alex: I sometimes feel like people think that 20 minutes isn’t enough, right? They I feel like in their head, they think they need like two hour blocks to be able to make this work. But that’s just not true. You know, the 20 minutes add up, you do 20 minutes here or there. Next thing you know, you did an hour and a half still today, when you had the time to do it. So I love talking to people who are making it work would how many hours per week would you say you put into your businesses while you are a student?

Olivia: It definitely varies week to week, depending on like tests, and I’m also an athlete. So like I have practice and like, you know, beats on the weekends. So like, I’d say probably per day, I try and put in at least an hour. And like I said that’s kind of not really bad. But I’d say for the past like year on average, I’d put in like an hour of work per day.

Alex: Yeah. And I mean, that seems to be enough for you, you know that that seems to be enough to get anything off the ground. I always say that in my videos. I’m like, Guys, you only need an hour per day. And I don’t think a lot of people don’t take that seriously. But you have to look at it from like the habit standpoint, right? Like, if you do an hour per day, that’s still, you know, 30 hours a month. And that’s still something. Yeah, exactly. You know, and it adds up. I mean, I think people get worried with Fiverr, for example. So you have one gig on Fiverr right now, do you ever run into a situation where somebody places an order and like you just can’t get to it in time because of your tests?

Olivia: I did have a lot last year. So that’s when I opened up for my head blog post production sales copy. That’s when I ran into a lot of problems with it. Especially the people like I clearly put in like my description like, please message me before because I know that there will be people that won’t do it. Yeah, like if it’s the 24 hour ones. I’m like, Man, I really just wish that you didn’t purchase this right now and that you talk to me first but you still find time to do it and God bless my boyfriend like he would help me sometimes even though he had no clue what he was doing like he would take on sort of My assignments for me are right for me like some of the research portion. So yeah, those first few beginning months, like when people just randomly place orders and they were kind of like jerks about the orders too, then like, that’s when problems will come up. But somehow I made it work.

Alex: That’s cool. I see. Now you have a social media account or content calendar planning gig up? Yeah. And how many days do you have to deliver that gig?

Olivia: I think it’s seven days. Because I’ve been like doing a lot more with like, content planning recently. Like, that’s just the stuff I’m good at. I enjoyed copywriting but it just like didn’t really stick with me too much. I definitely love the social media stuff way more. So that comes naturally to me, like I can make a content calendar for someone in like, half an hour, and I’ll still have a few days to deliver it depending on, you know, what their businesses if I’m familiar with it or not. And I’ve actually had more people reach out to me off of the platform than on Fiverr. I don’t think anyone’s actually ordered a content calendar from me on Fiverr it’s been off the platform, people have found me on TikTok, which is kind of cool.

Alex: Yeah because then you don’t have that 20% fee. When you were starting on Fiverr with your copywriting gigs, did you feel like it was like a slow startup at all? How do you think you got those first clients? Did you have a lot of work in your portfolio? Were you like really aggressive with messaging people?

Olivia: So when I started out, my first order was from my boyfriend. And then my second one was from my sister, just to get a feel for the app. And like I heard, you mentioned it before. So I was like, you know, just five bucks if you don’t mind doing this, it would mean the world to me. So I had them order from me first. And it was like two weeks after I had those two up that I got my like, first real order. And it was for product description for like, a baby bag carrier, something so random that I was not expecting at all. And then the guy ends up liking my work. So we ordered for me two times again. But after that one person, I think it was like maybe another two weeks before I started getting more consistent orders. But the algorithm definitely picks up when people are interested in you, that’s for sure. Because like once you have one going or two going like I was up to 13 orders at once, once December came around, it was so much.

Alex: Yeah. And it’s social proof, right? Like people want to see that. You either have five star reviews, or they can see how many orders are in a seller’s queue. So I think when they see that they just feel better. I mean, I would be the same way right? Buying from someone like, if I see all they have done five star reviews, I have 10 orders on their queue like clearly, they don’t suck. That’s matters to me. But that’s cool. So you would say like you approached it from my tip of have like friends or family leave the first reviews and then keep going?

Olivia: Yeah, that worked out best for me at least. So that’s cool.

Alex: Good to know. So I’m also just curious, like, at your age, you’re so young, and you’re in college, you know, what, what made you like want to start being in the gig economy? Like how come you don’t just want to wait till you graduate?

Olivia: Well, I got bored during COVID. That was the first thing. And then the second thing was like, my financial aid for junior year, I think yeah, Junior year would have been junior year was very, very messed up. And I was like, There’s no way I’m going to be able to afford school this semester. Like, I really do want to finish my degree like, yeah, my degree is one of those that I actually have to go to college for if I want to do engineering. So I was like, There’s no way I’m gonna be able to pay for school. So my goal is to just, you know, make $30 a week, some of it will go towards, you know, textbooks and stuff. And then the other half will go towards going out with my friends in the weekend. So that was kind of my motivation for starting. I didn’t ever expect it to blow up into being an online influencer, whatever you want to call it. Like, I never thought it would hit this point. But yeah, I was just hoping to make some extra side cash for school. And then I realized very quickly that it could be something way more if I put like the time and effort into it.

Alex: Has that success you’ve had in the gig economy while you’ve been at college changed your perspective? Has it changed? Like, how you think about college or what you want to do when you graduate? Or are you still like on the same path?

Olivia: Yeah, it really has. This could be like a two hour long conversation itself, but it’s definitely made me realize that there’s choices out there for you. I think a lot of people, including myself, like I love God bless my parents, I love them with my entire heart and soul. But like, I really, really wish that I took a gap year when I graduated. Because I enjoy engineering. I enjoy what I’m doing. I don’t know if I want to do it right away when I graduate. It’ll definitely be something I’ll have in my back pocket one day or even just combine the skills that I have right now. with, you know the degree, not really sure. But for anyone that’s listening, I guess just, you know, there’s tons of different options out there for you and you’re not going to know your passion at 17, 18 years old, like you can have an idea. Like, I didn’t think I hated social media so much before this entire thing. And it just so happens that like, I found along the way that I love creating videos like that’s just something I enjoy doing YouTube and Tik Tok, and like Instagram reels and stuff like that, that’s something I really enjoyed. And I never would have known that unless I was doing this now.

Alex: How are your dorm-mates and classmates and stuff with all of this? Do they know you’re like this? You know, how did they take it?

Olivia: So a lot of people I didn’t tell anyone in the very beginning that I was doing anything like this. The only people that knew were my boyfriend and my sister, I didn’t even tell my parents until like, March or April. So it was a solid like nine months later that my parents found out. And then I had that one video of like the coloring books blow up on Tik Tok. And some people found me that like I hadn’t talked to in a long time. And then that other video of me talking about how much money I made, which, oh, God, that’s a whole other conversation as well. Haters online are the worst. That video blew up. And that was a video that surprisingly reached a lot of people in my area. And I don’t know what it was. But I guess the video really got shared around between my friends and stuff. And then everyone was like, Oh my God, what do you do online? What is this and it was like sort of embarrassing, but at the same time, it was like really kind of cool. Those people were reaching out to me about what I’m doing. And one of my friends actually got started on Fiverr. Recently, she’s filling like, nursing stuff. PDFs to come from like that. Study Guides. But yeah, it’s definitely been a weird experience. For sure. I don’t know if my roommate knows we haven’t really talked about it. We’re not super close.

Alex: Oh, man, I remember College. Honestly, I just partied the entire time. Like, that’s why I admire what you’re doing. I never would have done this stuff. You know, 21 year old me was like, only concerned with making sure I got to class on time. But then also making sure I went to a party every single night.

Olivia: That’s not me haha.

Alex: And that’s probably a good thing. No, I like that. So that’s good. They pass it around, and they’re like, look at Olivia, look at how hard she’s trying. I could imagine that.

Olivia: 1000% they do behind my back. I’m not gonna deny that at all. Like, there’s definitely people who, and I think this whole journey is kind of made me realize who my real friends are. Yeah, for sure. Like, cuz. I’ve had people make sarcastic comments at me about it. And in the back of my head, I’m thinking, Well, I’m not gonna come out of school with a ton of debt now because of this. But yeah. Yeah, I do. I do. That’s the nice thing. Like, it’s very uncomfortable. And I mean, like a lot of people have reached out to me about like, getting started on Tik Tok and like, confidence on camera. And like people like finding them work or at school. And I’m like, Look, it’s gonna be a very, very uncomfortable situation and beginning but you’re going to learn very quickly that you’re going to have more people that actually care what you’re saying, and people that are just trying to bring you down, and you’re gonna bond with those people. Like, I found you online, I found a bunch of other people who just like, you know, you have the same mindset. And once you find those people, you’ll click and everything else will just take off. You know, there’s always going to be haters in your life and most fake friends who are just going to try and stay with you because you’re making money or you’re famous or like, you know, you’re doing all this stuff.

Alex: That’s like, it’s incredible. You’re learning all this so young, people will always say to me, I’m 28 like, Oh, you’re learning all this so young. But I’m like, No, you’re learning this like so good that you’re so mature to get all of this still in college. So I’m like so excited to see you know, once you graduate all the stuff that you’re going to do with all this because you have such a head start on like everyone that I’m sure you will probably be retired by like 32. If I had to guess it now are you still doing the affiliate marketing? Because I know you were like really big into that on TikTok for a while.

Olivia: I am. That was one of the reasons that I actually stopped posting on social media a lot was because there was a huge surge of affiliate marketers. But with that came a lot of people who did not understand what it was and basically refused to understand what it was like the real affiliate marketing, not like MLM sort of stuff. So there were some companies that I ended up dropping for, you know, other reasons and I enjoy doing it. It’s just it wasn’t I didn’t want to be known as just the affiliate marketer. Like there’s some people who have been running with that business and like it works out really, really well for them. But for now, I think it’s something that you need to supplement with your current business that you have, and I didn’t like just relying on essentially one company for a lot of income in the beginning, and then people, you know, being like, Oh, well, you’re not actually affiliate marketing, you’re just part of this one company. And it’s like, no, I’m actually doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes. But I didn’t like that perspective. And it also is just kind of showed me that like, I didn’t want that for the rest of my life, I want to build something else, and then have affiliate marketing on the side because it is very lucrative, and but it’s not really meant to stand alone in the beginning.

Alex: Yeah, that’s, that’s interesting. You say that, because I do it to the side of my other stuff, because these brands give me these links. And I’m like, I’d be stupid not to post them out there. But so far, like the income that I make from it even still isn’t quite a like full time, you know, a full time hustle, type of thing. I know, obviously, if you were to go check out like Adrian Brambila below his content, I’m gonna have him on here. It’s absolutely a full time gig for him. Because I mean, I don’t know, what does he do, like 300 companies?

Olivia: 400? Companies? Like yeah, insane with it. I couldn’t. But he’ll get paid ads. So like, it’s kind of like really automated at that point.

Alex: Yeah, so many YouTube pays so much better than Tik Tok does and a lot of ways you know there are brands though that will pay good money to be featured on the channel on tick tock, but yeah, YouTube. Monetization i I see. I’m like, Okay, this is if only tick tock paid at the same proportion that YouTube pays for. I’m like, I would make so much money on tick tock. Yeah. I do my affiliate marketing through organic content posting. Because I’m actually scared of paid ads. Like I’ve never even run any for my own stuff. That’s not how my brain is. And I’m very nervous to like, throw $2,000 behind ads. I don’t know. It’s just not my thing.

Olivia: No, I get that I that’s like the one area of social media that I’m just like, I need to take some training on it before I do it. Because you’re gambling with your money if you don’t know how to do it the right way.

Alex: I think sometimes, like Facebook almost makes it too easy to get on there and like click a button and you know, reoccurring like oh, it’s only $100 a day on my credit card. And then next thing you know, they bill you, you know, two months from now on, they’re like, hey, you spent $6,000 on an ad that never worked?

Olivia: It’s a dangerous game to play if you don’t know how to do it, right.

Alex: Okay, so let’s I want to talk about TikTok. How fast did you grow it? Tell me the timeline? To 300k?

Olivia: So I officially started my TikTok in December, like late, December, I think after Christmas of 2020. I opened up an account, I was like, You know what, I’m just gonna make a video kind of vlog. My journey was more for like self reflection on everything that I’ve been doing just to keep track of it. And I think I had like probably 20 followers for like, a month straight. It was just kind of like, there, I only posted like two or three times, I didn’t really care for it at all. And then in January, in February, I like started posting consistently. So that’s when I say really started my Tiktok was February. And then a four month. So February, March, April, May. So in May, middle of May, I ended up with 300,000 followers on the app.

Alex: I know, I remember I checked. I was like, holy crap, go Olivia. Oh, my God. Like, I know you were crushing it too. I would go on every day I saw you were posting a lot of content.

Olivia: Yeah, yeah. But looking back on it, it wasn’t the content, I definitely veered away from my original goal with it. And I kind of wish I did it differently. Part of me is like, wow, I have had all the success and all these followers now. But part of me is like, I feel like I have the followers that I don’t really want. Like, I like the side hustle economy. I think it’s really cool for someone my age, but I feel like I get a lot of people on there who just aren’t really interested in like the whole, actually making money and actually starting a business. It’s just like, get rich, quick stuff. And I know, I feel like I built that image on myself. But I’m not super proud of now.

Alex: Yeah, so you’re kind of paused at it right now. Because you’re trying to figure out what you want your new brand or your new niche to be. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I wouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself with it. I wouldn’t worry about like, why they followed you in the first place. I would just kind of come back whenever you’re ready to and looks like if they fall off, they fall off and if not cool, you know?

Olivia: Yeah, so many YouTube pays so much better than Tik Tok does and a lot of ways you know there are brands though that will pay good money to be featured on the channel on tick tock, but yeah, YouTube. Monetization i I see. I’m like, Okay, this is if only tick tock paid at the same proportion that YouTube pays for. I’m like, I would make so much money on tick tock.Yeah, no, I agree. I’m trying to figure out where I want to go next with it because I don’t want to keep posting side hustle stuff or like, you know, that’s just not really what I want to do in the future with it. I really want to start something more solid that I can continue to build on. But yeah, I guess a lot of people were interested in side hustles in the very beginning.

Alex: Yeah, I get a lot and I’m kind of bored with so much of the stuff that I post, it’s just tough because I can see it’s helping so many people. In like the past two months have also been just like reflecting on where I want to go with everything. Because don’t get me wrong. Everyone listening to this like yes, Fiverr is amazing. I’m always gonna be like here to help you guys with Fiverr, I’m never leaving. But there’s so many more sides to me and things that I’m interested in as far as business goes that it’s like I too, I’m like, I don’t know if I want to always be known as the chick that talks about gigs on Fiverr.

Olivia: Yeah, that’s that’s where I’m at right now, I don’t want to be the affiliate marketer that like, you know, talks about. I want to be known for something different. That’s kind of a journey that I’m trying to figure out right now.

Alex: Yeah. So alright, let’s say someone’s listening to this and they want to grow their TikTok to 350k. In four months, what would be some tips, you’d give that person on how you did it?

Olivia: Post consistently. But yeah, I know, that’s probably like the number one tip that everyone hears, but it’s so true, I was posting probably three or four times per day in the beginning. And my strategy in the beginning is one that I still use now. And it’s basically of those four videos or of those three videos that you post post one that’s kind of like a clickbait video, like, for me, it would talk about money or you know, talk about something that’s just going to grab someone’s attention. And then you’re going to get those haters in that video, but you’re also getting a lot of people that ask questions. And what you want to do is make those last two or three videos, answering those questions, because then it shows that you’re providing value to your audience, and that you actually genuinely care about what you’re talking about. And you’re not just like, talking about how much money you make or how quickly you lost weight or like, whatever it may be like, it’s actually something worth following you for.

Alex: That’s really good advice, because I’ll do that too. You know, occasionally, it’s like that’s the name of the game. You do have to do that clickbait stuff because I’ll get on there. I’ll do a three minute video. Step by Step How to on Fiverr it flops so bad because nobody comments because it’s not comment worthy. You know, maybe they watch it, but it just flops to the next video. It’ll be seven seconds. It’ll be me looking at the camera being like, your nine to five is robbing you, period. And then everyone wonders, what does she mean? Like what are you talking about?

I feel like to me, though, that’s the side of all of this that I don’t like because like I’m not actually salesy person at the end of the day, anyone listening to this podcast, you can tell I’m really just an educator that likes to help people and to talk with people and hear about their experiences, and I love learning, but I’m really not salesy. So I don’t really want to get on there and be like, You guys have to check out my online course. I’ve like never said that once in a video ever.

Olivia: Yeah, no, I get that.  And I mean, I still am making like, crazy amounts of money without I haven’t posted in months, and I’m still earning like tons of affiliate commissions from stuff but like, it really is, like, I’m telling you right now, if you’re not into affiliate marketing, you guys, if you’re listening to this, like definitely take advantage of some of these different companies that have affiliate programs. Yeah, but like, I’m honestly not a super salesy person, like, I just wanted to vlog my journey and like, show people that it’s possible to like side hustle through college, if that’s something you want to do. And you get all these people coming in the comments that are like, You have no clue what you’re talking about. And it’s like, yeah, well, my bank statement says otherwise.

Alex: Make that a t-shirt!

Olivia: And it’s like, yeah, I’m still learning. There’s some stuff that I don’t know. And maybe you do know, something that I don’t but like, don’t try and put me down because I have success. Like, I’m just trying to help other people find it too. You know, yeah.

Alex: You could totally write a book. I feel like it would do really well called, like side hustling through college. I feel like that so many people today, the student loans, you know, in our country, it’s out of control. People don’t know what to do. And I went to college, I was tutoring I was working like all these odds in a job to do what I could obviously didn’t pay anything like what this stuff online pays. Now, that was like 6, 7, 8 years ago. But I feel like a lot of people would read that book, I feel like a lot of parents would buy it for their kids on like their 18th birthday. And like, give it to them for Christmas and be like, please read this so I don’t have to pay for your college.

Olivia: Yeah, that I feel like parents just need to sit down with the kids and like actually discuss all this stuff. Because it’s crazy, like, even after, like, even after all this, like, you know, I’ve had this great success in the past like year in a few months, but like, even after all this, I’m still coming out of school with like, $40,000 in student debt, which is ridiculous. And it’s like, I’m not able to pay all that off in like one lump sum. So I’m gonna have like, no interest and like, it’s gonna add up real quick. And, you know, I’m blessed that I have this side hustle, but there’s a lot of people who just don’t realize it until they get that first, you know, monthly payment they have to make and they’re like, oh, boy, what do I do?

Alex: Would you say cuz I know you said you’re going to college for a degree you have to go to college for, would you say that college is becoming more, you know, obsolete for other types of majors? Like would you want encourage more kids to take what was it called? What’s that year called? Rest year?

Olivia: Gap year?

Alex: Gap year, would you encourage more people your age to take a gap year because college isn’t actually like as important for a lot of other careers as it as it used to be?

Olivia: Yeah, I think unless you’re going to school for like engineering doctor, lawyer, you know, that sort of stuff. Don’t go to school, unless you’re going through, like a military contract, like my boyfriend’s, he’s political science, he was very blessed that he got a contract in the military. So he owes them like, eight years, but he didn’t have to pay for school, unless you come on with athletic scholarship, or the school just gives you a ton of money. Like don’t, don’t do it, you guys, because the stuff that you learn is not applicable to real life. Like even now, even with my engineering classes that I’m taking, I feel like, probably like 80% of the stuff that I’m learning is not going to actually be applied to like my first engineering job. If I choose to get one, you’re going to learn on the spot for a lot of these places. It’s just, it’s a huge money grab, in my opinion, you know, like, like, my last semester, like I supposedly had a $35 fee on my, my tuition because there was a hole in the wall. And I’m like, I didn’t make that hole in the wall. But I have no way of defending myself and I pay an extra $35 which is it’s just stupid stuff. Like,

Alex: Like, I it makes me upset when I see what Gen Z, you know, first Millennials now Gen Z’s are being released into their 20s. With so much debt, that you almost can’t then go experiment in the gig economy, you know, that I do recognize I went to a state school to make sure that my student loans were as low as they can be. Because I do recognize, you know, if you get released into the world with $100,000, in student loan debt, you know, you don’t have that same freedom to go check out Fiverr. And I always think about now if I could do it all over again at 18. I feel like I would just start using Canva and like selling like ebook covers on Fiverr. I feel like anyone can just like yeah, use Canva make money.

Olivia: Oh, 1,000%. Yeah, Canva is an amazing tool. It totally is. I don’t even use the paid version. I love it.

Alex: Me too. Oh, yeah, whenever I go on, and I’m like, This is an incredible tool that so many people can make money using it. And you don’t even need to say to the client, like, oh, I don’t have a graphic design and design degree. I am using Canva. And like, they still don’t care. They just want their stuff. Exactly. That’s all like that’s all that matters. I was gonna ask you because you have in your bio on one of your things that you’re a social media strategist. So if someone was listening to this, and they want to pick let’s say, two social media channels to really focus on for either making money or growing their own business in the next year, what would those two be in your opinion?

Olivia: TikTok and YouTube?

Alex: I knew you were gonna say that.

Olivia: I have my tea with Instagram. TikTok number one, of course, I don’t think they’re going anywhere for a long time. Everyone’s just into the short video. The attention span of the average person is like seven seconds nowadays. You know, people are looking for that short, quick content. Nobody’s really looking for like readable posts so much anymore. Like, you know, you can make some like Canva posts, you know, for like, quick graphic designs, but like, nobody really cares about that anymore. They’re looking for like video content that they can consume. And I say YouTube as well because typically what happens is people find people on like, you know, TikTok, or Instagram reels, their short form content they really like and then they’re more apt to go over to YouTube to watch their long form content. Like I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Matt and Abby, the husband and wife who were like young, they’re on Ti Tok. Okay, yeah, a lot of people will find them on TikTok, and then they end up going and subscribing to the YouTube channel and they have like a ton of followers on the YouTube channel now because of it. They all started on TikTok. So, yeah, turn that short form content into longer form stuff and then you can end up making money off of YouTube as well.

Alex: Yeah, YouTube pays so much better than TikTok does and a lot of ways you know there are brands though that will pay good money to be featured on the channel on TikTok, but yeah, YouTube Monetization. I’m like, Okay, this is if only TikTok paid at the same proportion that YouTube pays for. I’m like, I would make so much money on TikTok.

Olivia: I am with you on that one.

Alex: Well Olivia, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me today! I feel it’s going to be very helpful to readers.

Olivia: Of course.

To listen to the full episode with Olivia Kelliher on the Freelance Fairytales Podcast, click here. Reviews are appreciated!!


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