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John Morris

I'm a Developer at WishList products, creators of WishList Member, instructor for the WishList Member Certified Developers program, and creator of numerous WordPress plugins and PHP applications.

WARNING: Are You Ruining Your Career by Following This Common Piece of Freelancing Advice?

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.

Here’s how it works…

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January 9, 2015

How can a newbie freelancer become popular in freelancing websites?

Watch on YouTube: http://youtu.be/RpgTS3VZltA
Listen on SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com

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:

Elance Level

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…

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November 18, 2014

My Closest Friends Said I’d Never Make It as a Web Designer… Then I Did This!

In this episode of the John Morris Show, I teach you how to use Elance and ODesk to build a successful freelance web design business.

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:

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September 10, 2014

How to Avoid Clients From Hell BEFORE They Ever Hire You

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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).

Of course, having been at this for 10+ years…

I’ve had my fair share of clients from hell…

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August 21, 2014

How to Get Your First Web Design Client (Step #2 is especially important)

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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 learned this the hard way…

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August 12, 2014

How to Position Yourself to Get More Freelance Jobs

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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?

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Photo by: Kat Ter Haar

August 6, 2014

Most Web Designers Don’t Do This… But It’s How I Get 99% of My Freelance Jobs

Most freelancers and web designers immediately roll their eyes when I say the word, “branding”.

Mostly because they’re thinking of big brand branding done by companies like Coke or McDonalds… that’s “not meant to actually make sales”.

Yet, “branding” is how I get 99% of my clients.

In fact, you’re here reading this right now because of the “branding” I do.

So, if you can put aside all the mis-information you’ve probably heard about the word “branding”…

Check out the video below and let me show you the #1 thing I do get more freelance IT jobs:

July 31, 2014

The Most Important Freelance Job Getting Activity You’re Not Doing

Most web designers don’t this. Most web designers think it’s dumb or not necessary. Most web designers roll their eyes when I bring it up.

Most web designers are also BROKE.

There’s one single thing I’ve done that most other web designers don’t do (or don’t do that well) that brings me 99% of my freelance jobs…

And, in this video I’ll show you what it is (and how to do it RIGHT):

photo by: Dan Moyle

July 28, 2014

2014 Trends That Could Make You Obsolete, Should You Use Code Frameworks, and How to Attract High-Paying Clients Using Content

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.
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May 5, 2014

How to Get Hired on Elance and oDesk

Why You’re Not Getting Hired on Elance and oDesk

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:
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May 2, 2014

Be Remarkable… Or Don’t Be a Coder

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:

sonja

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…

How do I stand out?
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April 24, 2014

Separation of Concerns, MVC, and How to Get Started as a Freelance Coder

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.

How Do I Start Getting Freelance Clients?
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April 22, 2014

Why Does Coding Take Forever to Learn? You’re Making THIS Mistake

This cost me 4 years of my life…

4 years I could have been doing what I loved for a living…

4 years I could have been living well instead of struggling to make ends meet…

4 years further down the road to success I could be right now…

I regret those 4 years every day of my life because the mistake I was making is SO easy to solve… and it was a mistake I didn’t have to make.

In this episode of the John Morris Show, I’m going to share with you what that mistake, why almost EVERY coder makes it, and how to quickly get over it.
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April 14, 2014

Have You Lost Your Passion for Coding?

Ever felt unmotivated or uninspired while working on a project?

You felt it at first… you were super excited to get started… you felt like you could take on the world…

Then, about halfway through it was ALL gone.

No passion. No inspiration. No motivation.

It happens for a reason.

It’s not chance or luck. It’s not a fluke… or even something you necessarily did wrong.

And, there IS a way to fix it.
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April 7, 2014

These 5 steps fast-track your coding career

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.

WRONG!

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.

Eventually, I discovered what I call “The 5 Stages of Coding Career Development“… and man did my life change.
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March 31, 2014

I Was Lost and Didn’t Know What to Do Next…

A few years ago, I was really lost in my coding career. I had spent so much time mastering the technical aspects of coding that I never gave any thought to my career as a whole.

And as I was becoming more and more comfortable with the technical side, I began to wonder…

What’s next?

Where do I go from there and how do I get there?

As I searched for answers, I discovered what I call the 5 stages of coding career development.
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March 27, 2014

How to Set Yourself Apart and Get Clients to Chase You

Several years ago, I was in a really tough spot with my freelance coding business. I kept getting undercut by low bidders on Elance and oDesk and it was hurting my family financially.

Then, I discovered a little-known strategy for branding yourself as a coder.

Now, I turn down more work than I accept, clients gladly pay my fees and, I’ve left the Elance bidding wars behind forever.

In this episode, I share that same strategy with you and show you how you can implement it in your freelancing business.
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March 24, 2014

How I Get Clients to Chase Me

Notes:

  1. Here’s the link to Michael Hyatt’s FREE Platform Revolution Series: http://j.mp/1gaFYwX
  2. The transcript of this video is posted below for your reference

As coders, we all want more money…

We all want more freedom… to NOT be chained to our computers 24/7… to work with clients we like and care about… to be able to travel and spend time with our families…

And, we all want to have more impact… to work on projects that really matter… that make people’s lives better… and to be able to turn down projects that make our skin crawl…

The problem?

All the competition!

Anyone who’s ever been on Elance or oDesk or any of the other freelance sites knows just how bad the bidding wars can get.

And, how frustrating it can be to watch the project you really wanted to get snatched away by someone willing to do it for a ridiculously low price.

And to know full well that coder will probably never deliver on that project… and certainly not with the kind of quality you would have.

But, when you’re one face among a sea of other me-too coders… there’s no way for a potential client to know any better.

To them, there’s very little difference between everyone bidding on their project… and when left with that uncertainty… they always go with the lowest cost… because it’s the lowest risk.

If you want to build the kind of trust in advance that your ideal client will need to be willing to invest more money in you… you need to set yourself apart.

In fact, you need to set yourself apart in 3 very specific ways:
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March 19, 2014