When I first entered the web design world, I felt like a fish out of water. For a long time, I felt like I really didn’t belong.
Admittedly, my background is probably a bit atypical. I wasn’t born a “geek”. I grew up in a military and sports-oriented family.
My first job ever was working construction for my dad. I was a star football player in high school. And, I had a fairly extensive background in sales my first few years in the workforce.
I certainly wasn’t in the Mark Zuckerberg mold of learning to code from age 7. I was 23 before I even know what web design was.
So, there were a lot of things that those who’ve “grown up” in a tech-heavy environment take for granted that really stood out to me.
More specifically, a lot of ideas that get accepted as dogma… that aren’t necessarily looked at the same way by the rest of the world.
ONE of those ideas is incredibly dangerous for your freelance career. I’ve literally watched it kill the careers of some of those most talented coders I know because they refused to change their thinking.
I’ve also watched mediocre coders ignore this dogmatic advice and go on to have fantastic careers without ever really becoming what I’d consider a highly-talented developer.
You gain popularity by doing more work and getting good reviews and recommendations from the clients you work with.
Elance uses a sophisticated algorithm to determine an individual freelancer’s level. You can see this level displayed on the side of your profile here:
This level is important because it plays a major role in how you show up in profile listings throughout Elance. In general, the higher your level the more likely you are to show up at the top of those lists and get seen by potential clients.
How to Consistently Outrank Popular Freelancers on Elance
However, there is an equally important ranking factor that I see many new and even advanced freelancers miss…
This 6-part strategy is what I used to prove all my friends and family wrong when they said I’d never make it as full-time web designer.
And, to be blunt… if your freelance business is based 100% on sites like Elance and ODesk.. you’re being foolish.
You could be working less and making more by implementing the 6 simple steps in this video.
Over time, these steps will start to seem a bit “magical” because you’ll have new business flowing in without a bunch of effort on your part… and a lot of times you won’t even know where it’s coming from.
New clients just show up at your door.
So check out this episode so you can give YOUR doubters the finger once your freelance web design business is thriving:
Some clients just suck. There’s really no nice way to put it. Learning how to expose and avoid them BEFORE you let them hire you will keep you from tearing your hair out (and stave off the gray hair for just a few more years).
Of course, it’s fun to joke about it… but dealing with hellish clients is actually serious as… well hell!
That’s because getting good at avoiding clients who just don’t fit well with your personality and how you operate will help you avoid getting seriously burnt out and overwhelmed.
And, it’ll keep you loving your job which will make you happier (and helps you make more money).
Getting your first PAID web design client is the most important action you can take for your coding career… whether you plan to be a freelance web designer long-term or not.
It’s THAT important because it immediately makes everything much more clear:
You see if you actually like coding
You figure out what your clients expect from you
You understand what to charge and why
And, most importantly… you gain CONFIDENCE. You get to see first-hand that people WILL pay you money to code for them and that you CAN deliver.
On the flip side, NOT getting your first client leaves everything unknown:
You assume you’ll like coding but don’t know for sure
You continue to have no idea what clients really want
You have no idea what you can charge
And, most importantly… you don’t gain the confidence necessary to move forward in your career… and that deep-seated fear about whether clients will pay you and whether you can actually deliver or not… will continue to linger.
I was recently asked: “How do I fill out my profile on sites like Elance and oDesk? How do I fill them out in a way that’s honest but more impressive than leaving them blank?”
Here’s the simplest way I can put this…
Your unique situation can and SHOULD be positioned to highlight your advantages. For example, when I started looking to get hired for freelance IT jobs I was completely self-taught and I believed that was a disadvantage.
I believed coders who had gone to school were in a better position than me and would have an easier time convincing clients to hire them.
But, I quickly found out that clients were often MORE impressed with someone who was self-taught and so I began using that to my advantage.
I would highlight that I was self-taught and I learned by working on REAL projects (instead of fake scenarios in some college “lab”).
And guess what… it works!
Since then I’ve come to understand that whatever situation you’re in… you can position it to your advantage. It’s “all about how you tell the story”… and it’s your job to tell YOUR story and not worry about anyone else’s.
So, how can you tell your story in a way that is compelling… that highlights your unique skills, qualifications and experiences?
Got a Question?
Call (515) 344-3163 to ask me your most burning coding question right now?
Segment 1: Web Design Trends You Need to Watch Out For (2:56)
Several years ago when the “Web 2.0” movement hit, I lost my entire freelance business because I didn’t actually know how to code. I had been using MS FrontPage to build static HTML web sites for clients.
And the move to dynamic database-driven web sites killed me.
That taught me to pay close attention to web trends and to break them down to understand the larger motivations at work. So, I could begin to predict trends and stay ahead of the curve.
In this segment, I break down 8 of the hottest web design trends in 2014 and show you the larger forces at work… so you can begin to predict what’s going to happen and adapt your business accordingly so you don’t get destroyed like I did. (more…)
When I first started out on Elance, I really had no clue what I was doing. In fact, I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. I had this sinking feeling that nobody was going to hire me and I’d quit the whole thing feeling like a failure (and maybe give up on coding for good).
And, at first… that’s exactly what happened.
The first few freelance jobs I bid on I got undercut by another developer willing to do the work for a price so low it made me question if I’d be able to every make any money as a freelance coder.
And it really burned me!
It made me angry that a potential client was willing to give control of a huge chunk of their business (and livelihood)… to the lowest bidder. It just seemed so stupid.
Then, a friend of mine (another coder who was killing it on Elance) showed me what he was doing and how he was able to get clients to hire him over and over… even though he was often the highest bid on the project.
And, he laid out a 3-step plan for me to kill it (like he was) on Elance. Here’s what it looked like: (more…)
remarkable(adj): worthy of attention; unlikely or surprising; likely to be noticed
It was Iraq 2005 and there was a girl I liked. Problem was… so did every other guy. In fact, you could say she was overloaded with guys trying to get her attention. She was gorgeous… as you can see from this picture:
And, she had an intriguing personality. She was the kind of person everybody just wanted to get to know. So, it was no surprise every guy was “after” her.
And, I was stuck.
I wanted to get to get her attention. I wanted to impress her. I wanted to get her to like me. But so did everybody else. And, so I kept trying to figure out…
Build Better Websites Using a Separation of Concerns
Easily one of the biggest mistakes new coders make… inter-mingling content, presentation, and behavior… making it a nightmare to maintain and update your code. In the first segment of this episode of the John Morris Show, I reveal how to avoid that whole mess by building your websites using a “separation of concerns”.
What is MVC? How Do I Use It?
I get this question every day. MVC has become a buzzword in the developer community and many developers have been told they need to build their applications this way… but don’t know what it is or how to do it.
In the 2nd segment of this episode, I answer those questions and show you how to start building your applications using the MVC pattern.
One of the biggest mistakes I think coders make is getting so caught up in the technical side of their coding career that they lose track of all the other (often MORE important) aspects of being a successful coder.
I know I did.
In fact, for the longest time I held this completely erroneous belief that talent trumped everything. That all I needed to worry about was being talented and I’d be good.
Because of that I couldn’t figure out why I started to lose out on client after client and constantly get underbid by coders who I KNEW were less talented.
Couldn’t my potential clients see?
Well, things got bad enough that I eventually had to swallow my pride and figure it out. And, as I did I began to realize that your technical talent is only one very small part of being successful as a freelance coder.