How To Be A Creative Hustler

How To Be A Creative Hustler

When I was 18 I applied to Harvard.

Being one of 20k applicants with less than a 10% chance overall, I had to find a way to stand out.

Most people look towards the obvious; having great test scores, well written essays and recommendations, and a well planned application.

While all of these things are necessary, they don’t make you stand out.

A lot of kids had these – that’s why they were applying.

So I focused on something else – my patent.

I few summers earlier, while working at an engineering lab, I worked on a project where I developed a water storage and delivery device for soldiers to use remotely in the field.

It ended up getting patented.

Mind you, this device was never actually used, and I received all of $200 for it – but for a high school student’s summer internship it was definitely unique (the prior summer I worked at the movies).

So I centered my application around this, sending in a bunch of extra materials including designs, press write ups, and a recommendation from my boss.

I refer to this not just as hustle, but creative hustle, because there’s a lot of people out there hustling (in this case getting good grades and recommendations), but only a few people think about how they can stand out from the upper echelon by being different.

Recently, in my reading I’ve come across a few instances of entrepreneurs doing the creative hustle dance, so to speak, and I wanted to highlight them here for a little inspiration.

Daniel Dipiazza Earning $23k In 4 Weeks Off eLance

Perhaps the one thing harder than getting into Harvard is winning a proposal on eLance.

I’ve posted jobs and received over 100 submissions in just a few days – for one slot.

To top it off, not only do you want to win the proposal, but you want to do it at a rate that is fair for your time, while competing against dozens of low ball offers.

So, what does it take to get your proposal accepted on eLance?

Many would state things like having a personalized pitch, a credible profile with 5 star reviews, and hundreds of hours of experience.

But as someone who has posted dozens of jobs, I can tell you – that’s the norm.

I found this article from Daniel Dipiazza over at Rich 20 Something and was blown away.

Daniel was trying to pitch a design company on eLance, and he quickly realized how difficult it was going to be:

“The minute I logged on to Elance, I was met with the crushing realization that there were literally over 200,000 other freelance designers (most of whom were more skilled), all looking for the same jobs at the same time.”  – Daniel Dipiazza

However, that didn’t stop Daniel from coming up with one of the most creative hustle approaches to eLance I’ve ever read.

The full article puts it best, but let me summarize it over the course of a few steps:

  1. First, he creates a dummy account to solicit proposals for the types of job he is going to want to apply to. This is a way for him to analyze the competition and understand what the best proposals are like.
  2. Then, he creates a procedure for picking the proposals to apply to that are most likely to go in his favor (think high rate, from the United States, with a low number of already submitted proposals).
  3. Next, he crafts the ultimate personal pitch by leveraging the power of video proposals (a very underused tactic on eLance).

“You know what I noticed after reviewing all the pitches I received during my test? There was not ONE video proposal. Not a single one. I don’t know why this is…Either way, since I’d determined that building a relationship was the fastest way to book a job, and face-to-face is the fastest way to build a relationship, I started testing video proposals.” – Daniel Dipiazza

Here’s an example of one of his videos:

Long story short – things went really well for Daniel and his design company.

Vincent Nguyen Landing The Internship Of His Dreams

How would you like to live in beautiful Philippines while working the internship of your dreams?

This was the opportunity Vincent was faced with when he applied for The Empire Flippers Marketing Apprenticeship.

Vincent threw himself up against 27 other candidates, many of whom more experienced, to land a spot.

How did he do it?

“I noticed that their application asked for a 5-minute video, which gave me a great idea.

I kept studying the post where they listed out what they were looking for. There had to be something there that could help me.

You’re going to be reaching out to a ton of people.” 

Boom. I found my way in.

I figured if I reached out to dozens of famous entrepreneurs in their field then they’d have to pay extra attention to me. So I sent off personal emails to both entrepreneurs who knew me along with people who had never heard of me.” – Vincent Nguyen

Vincent went on to get dozens of entrepreneurs film a short video endorsing him for the internship. Some of the names mind you include Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, and John Lee Dumas.

In short, this is no small feat.

What I particularly love about this success story is that Vincent actually integrates some of the key asks of the internship INTO the pitch itself, proving upfront that he is the man for the job.

Dave Landing A Guest Post On ArtOfManliness

Art Of Manliness is one of the top men’s lifestyle blogs on the internet, literally receiving millions of pageviews a month.

Getting a guest post there is HARD. Many have tried, few have succeeded.

But Dave is one of them.

Dave is a travel blogger at The Quest For Awesome.

So how does Dave go about getting a guest post on one of the most popular blogs on the internet?

Well, when we think of getting a guest post, we generally recommend the following:

  • Engaging with the blog author
  • Putting together a well researched pitch

And for any normal blog, this would probably be enough.

But Dave wanted to stand out.

“In order to stand out from the crowd I decided to send them a hand-written Breaking Bad postcard from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is where the show was filmed.

The postcard was a picture of Walter White’s driver’s license and it worked out nicely because not only does the postcard fit in with travel, but since it’s a postcard, I didn’t have to worry about them not opening it or throwing it away with the junk mail.” – Dave From The Quest For Awesome.

And it worked.

The results?

15,000+ social shares on the guest post and 40,000+ pageviews, 12,000+ unique visitors and almost 800 new subscribers to his blog.

Not bad for a postcard.


As much as it is difficult to understand – sometimes hard work isn’t enough. There are a lot of people out there working hard.

Few, however, are working hard and creatively.

I believe anyone could have done what these three guys did – but they didn’t, and that was the difference.

Do you have an example of creative hustle?

David Schneider

Dave is an author at Ninja Outreach and has a passion for digital marketing and travel. You can find him at @ninjaoutreach and [email protected]