freelancing tips

Winners vs losers in freelancing

Winners don’t sell themselves short.

Winners don’t expect other people or platforms to do it for them.

Winners don’t make excuses.

They don’t whine and complain when Upwork changes its fee structure or starts charging to bid on jobs. They don’t immediately blame “crappy clients” when a project goes wrong or they don’t get hired.

Not because these aren’t true.

Sometimes they are.

But, because they’re not productive.

They weaken you as a competitor.

Like a basketball player blaming their loss on the refs.

The refs could’ve been terrible. Doesn’t matter. Win anyway. That’s what the greats do. That’s what the people who succeed in everything they do.. do. And, that’s the mentality you’ll need if you wanna win big as freelancer.

Because, like it or not, it’s a competition.


I know it’s a quaint notion people have to, today. That “we’re all in this together” and “there’s enough for everybody” and “we don’t have to compete”… so said the guppy.

But, sharks know…

Every client, every project.

There’s 10, 50, 100 other freelancers competing with you.

To win, you have to be aggressive.

If you’re afraid of that, freelancing is NOT for you.

In any case, I know 99% of freelancers will roll their eyes at this or latch onto one little sentence to “get offended” by and completely miss the point. Good. Not everyone can be a shark.

So, if you have eyes to see…

Really dig into this.

And, find all the little anti-competitive beliefs, ideas and emotions you have and eradicate them from your thinking. There’s no more important and effective advice I can give you to win as a freelancer.

Of course, that’s also why my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course is so popular (96% positive review rate on Skillshare). Because, it’s not just a collection random gimmicks and “tricks”.

Don’t get me wrong.

There’s plenty of skills and techniques in there.

But, it’s MORE than that.

As K.L. says:

“The bonus section on Scope – The cure for fear of failure has the most impact on how i view freelance web developer. I too have the fear on whether i should embark on this endeavor as a side business whilst maintaining my full time job. John has expertly and through his experiences shared his most honest view and i’m thoroughly convinced that i too can be successful as a freelance web developer by taking the necessary steps in his course.”

And, let’s be honest.

FEAR is the big monster in all of this.

It’s the real thing that holds most people back.

Which is why I tackled it head on in that lesson and give you a practical strategy to deal with it… beyond just “gutting it out”. Anyway, the course is up on Skillshare which means you can get free access to it…

With the exclusive 2-month free trial offer I can give you.

The link for all the details on that and how to get free access is here:



April 30, 2019

I just slaughtered this guy’s Upwork profile

Got this comment on YouTube:

“But do you think this is a good profile? I don’t want to bump my profile here just like that, but if you could check, perhaps you could use me as an example 😀 But this is what you mean following your advice, right?”

I took a look and…


Sometimes, I hate being the bad guy…

But, no.

Not even close.

But, I feel like it’s my job to be ruthlessly honest so you can get better, because me filling you full of hot air and telling you it’s great (when it’s not) won’t help you get more IT work… it won’t put food on the table.

Anyway, he said use him as an example…

So, I did.

I made a video tearing his profile apart…

And, how he should change it.

If you wanna watch the whole gory mess, it’s here:

Just be sure to chase the kids out of the room…



May 26, 2017

What’s Your Worth As a Web Developer?

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I met my wife in Iraq.

Now, if you know anything about the military you know that there’s usually about 50-100 guys for every 1 female. And when you’re in another country, locked on a base… well you can imagine…

She was clearly the prize.

So are you.

I’ve ran across this several times throughout my career. There’s a tendency among business people (your clients) to under-value developers. To look at you as a dime a dozen… and not always treat you with respect.

You can hear it in their condescending “just do what I said” tone.

The way they shoot down your warnings and recommendations.

And how they often claim all the credit for the success of a project.

It can be quite infuriating.

Truth is, though… some developers are a dime a dozen.

Skill is one thing… but there’s way too many who don’t communicate well, are hard to work with, moody, insecure and just a general pain in the you know what.

(I know… I get a lot of hate mail from them!)

But, when you really know what you’re doing…

It’s a whole different game. You command respect… not because you demand it but because your clients recognize they damn well better listen. You know what you’re doing and they better pay attention.

YOU are the prize.

And, your reputation will precede you.

Clients (bosses, customers, whoever) will recognize the significant role you play in their projects. They’ll give you the credit you deserve. And, by the way, they’ll pay you well for it.

There’s two lessons in this:

First, your job is to know what the hell you’re doing. That’s your focus. Putting in the hours and energy to make sure your skillset is up to snuff. That when you walk in that room or jump on that call… you know… your s!@# is straight.

And then being confident and knowing… that you know what you’re doing.

Not faking it. Being it.

Not pretending… but doing.

The second lesson is remembering YOU are the prize.

Because when you really know what you’re doing… you are.

You’re not a dime a dozen. You’re the gem. The flower among the crap. And, you must refuse to let clients treat you any other way.

I’m not recommending being an a-hole.

But, have boundaries. Know your worth and don’t be afraid to own it. Because, the truth is, really good developers…

Who know their s!@#…

Who communicate well…

Who aren’t a pain in the rear to work with…

are hard to find. And, if you are one… you deserve to be treated as such.

Don’t forget that.

Now, if you want to get your PHP skillset up to snuff, I’m just about to release my PHP 101 course over on Patreon. Consider becoming a supporting listener at the “Exclusive Courses” level and you’ll get access to it here shortly. Join up at

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

June 9, 2016

The 12-Step Freelance Profile Template: How to Write a Services Sales Page That Gets You Hired

I remember what it’s like. When I first started freelancing, I had no clue what to write on my profiles and services page. What was I supposed to say? What questions did clients need answered? Was there some big secret?

In an earlier LinkedIn post, 5 Pages Every Web Designer Should Have on Their Website, I mentioned the 10 questions you need to answer on your profiles and services pages (and I’m still shocked to this day how well this works).

Let me now go deeper into the full 12-Step Freelance Profile Template I use, cover the ten questions your clients need answered, and share the tricks I’ve learned for answering them in a compelling way so clients say YES to hiring you:

If you’d like access to the exact template I showed in the video, become a supporting listener on Patreon at the “Template Level” and you’ll get this one plus each new one I release very month. Go here:

1. Above the Fold

It’s estimated the 80% of website of visitors (even today) don’t scroll. So, all they see is the content that appears on screen in that first “fold” of your web page.

That makes it incredibly important real estate.

I suggest watching the accompanying video for more on this, but the thing you want to do here is give your site visitors your “best shot”.

  1. Summarize the main points of your offer
  2. Hit them with your best sales points
  3. Give a strong call to action

It’s likely most won’t scroll beyond to the rest of your page… unless you give them a good reason to dig further.

2. Who Are You?

Make no mistake… potential clients want to know who you are. People buy from people… and people they trust.

If you’ve followed my relentless advice about creating content to attract potential leads and build trust by giving them “results in advance” then they’ll already have some sense of who you are.

But, it’s also good to take it a bit deeper and get personal. I like to start my profile pages and bios with this line:

“Hey, I’m John Morris. I’m a freelance web designer of 10 years from Omaha, NE. I’m married with four kids and I’m a rabid Husker fan.”

Simple, but it accomplishes a few important things:

  • “I’m a freelance web designer” communicates that I do what they need and I’m likely available for hire.
  • “of 10 years” subtly communicates experience and stability.
  • “from Des Moines, IA” communicates I’m an American because right or wrong many clients are looking for someone from the U.S.
  • “I’m married with four kids” speaks to reliability and a reason to deliver because I have mouths to feed.
  • “rabid Husker fan” communicates some personality and a special affinity from anyone who happens to like the Huskers, as well. (There’s lots of us, ya know!)

So, those three simple sentences communicate a lot and do it in a way that is subtle and likely to get past your client’s “skepticism radar”.

3. What Do You Do?

Again, specialization is something I harp on constantly.

Saying you know PHP, HTML, CSS, MySQL, etc… means nothing to most potential clients.

Plus, every other web designer and developer on the planet says that same thing.

To stand out, you need to position yourself as a specialist. Now, understand what I’m saying here because I get a lot of people who misconstrue what I mean.

I’m NOT saying you should only a very narrow skill set. I’m saying in your marketing, you should position yourself that way.

You should learn everything you think is important for you to know. But, when you market yourself and sell your services, you want to position yourself as a specialist.


  • Specialists naturally stand out among the sea of “me-too” developers
  • Specialists naturally get paid more
  • Specialists are often appreciated more for their work
  • Specialists only work on projects they enjoy and are good at
  • Specialists can change what they specialize in to fit a changing market

Specializing will make your life a heck of a lot easier and you’ll make more money.

So, in this section of your profile, bio, etc… you want to talk about your specialty. You want to cover two things:

  1. What you do
  2. What you don’t do

Each is equally important but I often say that I spend more time telling people what I don’t do than what I do do.

On my own hire me page, you’ll notice that I spend a good portion of my introduction video talking about the projects I won’t work on.

Clients actually appreciate that because it naturally positions you as someone who knows what he’s good at and does that one thing extremely well. It creates a deeper level of trust than somebody who pretends they know how to do everything.

4. What Work Have You Done In the Past?

Your portfolio is the single most important piece of “on-site” sales material you can have. Clients almost always look for your portfolio first. THEN, if they like what they see, they might read your copy.

But, if your portfolio stinks… no amount of slick copy will change their mind.

Now, if you’re a seasoned web designer with a number of projects under your belt, then you simply need to put your best work on display.

But, if you’re brand new and don’t have any clients… that’s okay. Nothing says your portfolio has to be filled with projects you did for clients. A portfolio is about showing off what you’re capable of.

So, build up a bunch of samples that showcase your talent and use those as your portfolio. They can be made up companies or a “study” of what you would do for an existing company.

Then, your clients will be able to see what you’re capable of and make an more informed decision about whether or not you can help them.

5. What Do Your Past Clients Say About Your Work?

This is the second most important piece of “on-site” sales material you can have because clients don’t just want to see what you can do… but also what it’s like to work with you.

  • Are you a pain in the butt to work with?
  • Are you reliable?
  • Do you communicate well?
  • Are you open to ideas?
  • Can you adapt to change?

These are some of the key non-technical questions clients will have about your character and you want to work toward having testimonials that answer these questions.

It’s one thing for you to say you’re reliable but if you have a real client testimonial that says it, that’s much better.

If you’re new, you likely won’t have these from web design clients. However, you can acquire testimonials from people you know or have worked with who can speak to your character.

For example, I served 11 years in the Army. Do you think that my direct supervisor’s comments about my work ethic during those 11 years would be relevant to someone looking to hire me?


Just make sure you don’t pretend these are client testimonials. Be upfront and let people know these are general testimonials and be sure to include exactly the context in which that person knew you.

Then, over time, replace these with client testimonials.

6. What Are the Benefits of Your Services?

When you consider the context of someone who’s viewing your profile or services page, you’ll notice there’s two primary things you’re really selling:

  1. You. So, why they should hire you.
  2. Hiring. That is, why they should hire anyone

Try as you might… to target as efficiently as possible, your sales pages will inevitably have people with two different mindsets:

  1. Someone who already knows they want to hire someone and they are just figuring out WHO.
  2. Someone who is still a bit uncertain about hiring someone (vs doing it themselves) but would hire if presented with the right who.

The mix is substantial enough that it’s worth taking some time to sell the idea of hiring an expert in the first place.

And, that’s when you get into talking about the benefits of your services. Here’s where you get to hit them with a 1-2 punch of why they should hire AND why they should hire YOU.

So, why should a client hire a professional?

It’s worth taking some time to think about this on your own because it helps you more clearly see what your core value proposition is; however, here’s a few reasons I’ll share with you:

  1. They’ll get their project done faster
  2. They’ll avoid the potential for serious mistakes
  3. They’ll be able to do things they likely wouldn’t do themselves
  4. They’ll avoid hassling with technical stuff that frustrates them
  5. They’ll have re-course if something does go wrong

And, there are plenty of others. The key is to speak to benefits not features. Notice I didn’t say anything about SEO, optimized code, responsive design or any of the other buzzwords you’ll find on many freelance profiles.

That’s because those things mean nothing to potential clients. For every one of those buzzwords a client will ask themselves, “What does that mean?”

So, just skip the middleman and answer their question the first time.

Once you’ve sold them on hiring then you can sell them on hiring YOU. Again, you want to stick to benefits not features… and you want to look for things that make you unique AND better.

Now, keep in mind EVERY developer will say:

  • I’m talented
  • I’m reliable
  • I communicate well

And, so on. Saying those things alone won’t make you stand out. You need a way to distinguish yourself. One technique I like to use is the “Weird Personality” trick.

So, instead of saying “I’m reliable”… I say “Blame my 11 years in the Army, but I have this thing about doing what I say I’m going to”.

That stands out more because there’s something unique to my experience incorporated into it. How many other developers have spent 11 years in the Army? Some, but not many.

And, people naturally associate reliability with the military, so it bolsters the claim.

Another way to do this would be instead of saying “I’m detail-oriented” you might say, “I’m a bit OCD… so yeah… me and details we’re like this: ||”.

It add personality and gives a subtle element of proof (someone who’s OCD will obviously pay attention to details). Again, these things alone won’t win you clients but they’re just enough to set you apart from what everyone else is saying.

And, when you couple them with a great portfolio, testimonials, sales copy, etc… they add up to make a difference.

7. How Much Does It Cost?

Own your pricing.

Never put yourself in a position where you feel ashamed of your pricing. You’re worth it!

Not only will it show to your clients and cause them to get antsy about working with you, but if you’re charging people more than you think you should, you’ll start to feel REAL guilty. And, it will kill your productivity.

Either lower your prices or own them.

Chances are, you’re not charging enough, though. It’s a major problem in the web design community. Designers and developers who aren’t sure how to market themselves and lower their prices to ridiculous levels to get clients.

Let me state this unequivocally so there’s not mis-understanding:

NEVER, Ever Compete on Price

As long as you’re a web designer (or in any services industry, really) don’t do it! It rarely works and you’ll make yourself miserable.

How do you figure out what’s the right price? I ask myself two questions:

  1. What’s everyone else charging?
  2. What’s it worth to me?

You DO need to have a sense of what the market price is. If everybody else is charging $3,000 for a site and you charge $5,000… unless you’re bringing something compelling to the table you’ll likely struggle.

Then, you have to ask yourself if the market price is worth it to you. I’ve turned down plenty of projects because the going rate wasn’t something I was willing to accept for the work.

8. How Is It Delivered?

Have you every bought anything online? Especially, outside of a big trusted marketplace like Amazon?

Maybe it was some obscure site or a seller you don’t know on eBay. Do you remember what that was like?

I remember the first time I bought something from It’s a legit site and a Google Trusted Store, but it just looks like a rip-off waiting to happen.

I obsessed over every detail of their TOS, checked all their security badges and ready every detail of how my purchase would be delivered.

I’m guessing you’ve experienced this before.

Now, put yourself in your client’s shoes. They’ve found somebody they know nothing about online and are about to drop several thousand dollars to have you build their “baby”.

You NEED to tell them exactly how you will deliver!

Tell them step-by-step how the process will go, at what points you’ll make sure to communicate with the, what will happen if something goes wrong, etc.

They need re-assurance.

And the more detail you can give them, the better. Then, make sure you actually DO deliver in that manner.

8. How Are Payments Made?

Here’s what I used to do:

  1. 10% for me to start doing anything.
  2. 60% once I have it built and they want it on their servers
  3. 30% once everything is done

First, ALWAYS have a contract. Don’t do anything until you have a signed contract. Then, still don’t do anything until you get 10% down.

I didn’t start anything until I got that 10%. There’s too many people out there who don’t have the money and will waster your time. If they’re serious, they’ll have no problem paying the 10%.

I don’t care what they tell you! If a client won’t pay you 10% upfront, they’re NOT serious.

Move on before they waste your time.

Also, I NEVER build on a client’s servers. Once something is on their servers, it’s their property and you can’t legally remove it without their permission. You’re asking for disaster if you build on a client’s servers.

Build on yours but make it available online so they can see and use it for demos. They’ll be more comfortable because they can actually see what you’re building, but you’ll eliminate the risk of them not paying.

They had to pay another 60% for me to transfer it to their servers.

Once that payment was made, I moved the project to their servers and if they run at that point, at least I’ve got 70% of the payment. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than 0%.

I helped them with any setup and polishing that’s necessary and once they were satisfied with everything, the remaining 30% was due.

While I have had clients disappear after the second 60% payment, I’ve never had someone have me help with all the setup and polishing and then NOT pay the final 30%. If they’re going to run, it’ll be once it’s on their servers.

Did I mention… NEVER put a client’s project on theirs servers until you have a majority of the payment!

Finally, this entire payment schedule should be in your contract. If you don’t have a contract, here’s the one I use: Contract Killer.

10. What Happens If Something Goes Wrong?

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

At some point in your career, something will go wrong with one of your projects. It may be your fault; it may be your client’s; but ultimately it doesn’t matter.

You need to have a process for handling issues.

Now, if you use the payment terms I laid out previously you’ll eliminate 90% of your problems. If you or your client backs out at any point, you’ll know exactly where you’re at in the process and whether or not a payment is due.

I should mention that I make my 10% upfront payment non-refundable. That way, if my client backs out after I started I’m not completely out of luck.

That said, you make sure you want to address explicitly how you handle issues. Think of this as your guarantee. What do you do if something happens:

  • While you’re building their project?
  • After it’s on their servers?
  • Months after the project is complete?

Address each possible scenario and specify in advance how you’ll handle those scenarios and alleviate your client’s fears upfront.

11. How Do I Get Started?

Finally, tell your client exactly what they need to do next. Don’t think this is obvious. You need to include language on your services page that tells them exactly what to do.

Often times, this will involve a potential client sending you a quote request. Make sure your quote request form is simple.

Your goal is to get submissions so don’t make it like crawling over hot coals covered in shards of glass!

12. FAQs

Another one to dive into the video on, but even with everything you’ll now have covered in your sales page some people will still have questions.

Make sure you have a way for them to get those questions answered.

Whether an FAQ section, a contact form or both (recommended) you’ll want to tie up any last objections and push your prospect over the edge to hiring you.

So, there you go. Use this 12-step template and follow the advice I’ve shared and you’ll be light-years ahead of most of the developers you’ll be competing with for clients.

If you’d like access to the exact template I showed in the video, become a supporting listener on Patreon at the “Template Level” and you’ll get this one plus each new one I release very month. Go here:

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

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May 19, 2016

JMS081: Stop Freelance Clients From Lowballing You On Upwork

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Do you judge a suit by the tailor’s bill or the fit and finish of the clothes themselves?

Do you judge a car by the MSRP or how it feels when you hit the gas?

Do you judge a dinner by the cost or the taste and tenderness of the steak?

I get this all the time…

Freelancers who complain about freelancing sites like Upwork because clients always go with the lowest bidder.

And, so-and-so from XYZ country can afford to low-ball me… yada, yada.

Look, price is as big of a problem as you allow it to be. Clients aren’t focused on cost… they’re focused on risk.

If all the reviews of a particular movie say it’s terrible… you’re probably not going to drop 13 bucks on it. If your friend tells you the steak is bland, you probably won’t let go of 20 dineros for it.

If you’re on a freelance site and have no job history, no testimonials and no portfolio, a client probably isn’t going to risk a few grand on you.

They see you as a risk.


Once you can lower your perceived risk, price becomes less and less of an issue. You become the “safe” option even though you might cost more.

How do you lower your risk?

Lots of ways:

  • A killer portfolio
  • A sound job history
  • Raving testimonials

But, those are the ones you already know…

Here’s an even simpler one for the noobs:

Help them.

Let them actually experience working with you. Provide advice IN your bid. Create content on outside sites like YouTube and StackOverflow and push them to your profile page on Upwork.

Anyway, I get into all this in the video I just released on Patreon called: The Upwork Checklist. Step-by-step instructions on starting from scratch on Upwork.

Get that sucker as a supporting listener on Patreon:

And in case, you’re doubting… you can do this. I’m no genius and am able to do it… heavens know you can too because you’re likely much smarter than I am. Just go for it.

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

May 5, 2016

The Strange Ethics Of “Sleazy” Sales People You Should Steal

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I was Al Bundy.

The first real sales job I had was selling shoes. And not the Foot Locker type selling… it was the shoe-shining, feet-measuring, shirt and tie type shoe-selling.

I learned more about people, psychology and selling than I could have in a PhD.

I was fortunate that my boss was a good dude. Probably the most honest, direct yet compassionate guy I’ve met. And, he taught me the “ethics” of salesmanship.

As an employee, we spent time wearing every single shoe we sold in the store.

And, he didn’t force you to sell the ones you didn’t like. He only wanted you pushing the shoes you really believed in… because he knew what every good sales person knows…

You’ll never be good at selling something you don’t truly believe in.

Having sold everything from cars to shoes to knives… I can tell you it’s 100% true. Or to put it another way:

It is my moral and ethical obligation to sell you stuff.

No joke.

Now, I know your head might have exploded so let me explain.

Every single day, I get people who unsubscribe from this (totally dope) mailing list and leave me messages like this:

“…all of your emails are just a bit too saturated with offers for my liking. Everything you say just feels like a lead in to a sales pitch.”

Or this…

“You spam me with useless marketing rubbish or some link to some discounted service or course all the time.”

Or my favorite:


My response?


And, that SHOULD be yours too.


Do you believe that what you have to offer will help people?

Whatever you offer. Development services, a coding course, the Sock Buddy…

Seriously, that’s a thing.

Dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s like this 3 foot tall contraption that’s supposed to help you put your socks on easier.



If you DO believe in what you’re offering… it’s your MORAL and ETHICAL obligation to sell it as hard as you can to those who need it.

What’s the alternative? Keep it for yourself?

Uh selfish.

Oh, give it away free…

Right, right. Except you won’t be able to put food on your table so you won’t be able to continue to give it to people, you’ll then be forced to do something else TO put food on the table and millions of people will miss out on it.

The only way to continue to help the people who need what you offer most sustainably is to sell it to them.


That’s why I chuckle when I get these messages.

Soooooo short-sighted.

And frankly not people I can help.

I’m glad they’re gone. We’re BOTH better off.

Now, here’s the thing…

The skillset YOU have is incredibly valuable.

Just think about what you can do with it.

Websites have been used to gain attention for very important causes like hunger, poverty, AIDS, and all sorts of things. They’ve been used to employ millions of people around the world. They’ve helped bring important news to light that literally changes the world…

What YOU have is immensely valuable.

And, it’s your DUTY to sell it to others.

Don’t forget that.

Don’t be shy about selling yourself.

Don’t feel bad about taking money for it…

Now, if you want to up your skills to a level you can be proud of and truly believe in then I strongly recommend this:

The design section of this course really sets it apart. Heck that part alone will make you so confident in your skills you’ll be hunting down new clients like a bloodhound on a fresh scent.

And frankly, you owe it to yourself to do this and get that life you dream of.

But, more importantly… you owe it to the people you can help.

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

May 2, 2016

Quitting Your Day Job

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I came across this story the other day about a woman who was arrested for defecating on her boss’ desk after she found out she won the lottery.

Don’t lie… you’ve thought about it! 🙂

I had to look this up to see if it was true. Turns out, it wasn’t… dangit! I’m actually shocked it wasn’t. I mean… who hasn’t thought of making an “epic” exit to their day job. I know I used to.

Thing is…

You don’t need to win the lottery.

Or put another way, you already have the winning lottery ticket. Yeah, yeah… sounds cliche but it’s true in this case.

Think about it…

What do you think the world will look like ten years from now? 20? 30? Consider what it looked like just ten years AGO. Or 20. Or 30.

Nobody then could have fathomed the world we live in now.

Technology, whether we like it or not, is the future. The internet, whether we like it or not, is the future. YOU, whether you like it or not, are the future.

The skillset you’re chasing is the bedrock of what’s to come.

You shouldn’t forget that.

And, you shouldn’t sell yourself short. I’m not going to tell you what to do with your life but I do think it’d be a bit of a waste for you to spend your time and talent making some else wealthy and successful.

That’s why I’m such a big proponent of freelancing.

Because YOU control your own destiny.

YOU decide what you make.

YOU decide when you work and on what.

And, you make yourself wealthy.

And look… it doesn’t matter if you’ve tried it and didn’t have success. Just like learning how to code, it takes a minute. And, there’s plenty of non-developer “gurus” out there giving bunk advice.

Advice that doesn’t work for developers.

And, they wouldn’t know because they’re not developers.

It’s not your fault if you’ve listened to them and struggled. They make a good case… until you actually try what they advise. Then, it all comes crashing down.

Anyway, I want to help.

That’s why I recorded a full 40-minute (ish) video on what to do to get started AND have success as a freelance developer.

It’s how you can start building your own little empire.

And, you can get it as supporting listener of the John Morris Show on Patreon. I’m putting the final touches on the editing and will be uploading it soon so be sure to jump in right away.

Go here:

P.S. When you get over there be sure to select the “Exclusive Courses” option to get access to the video when it’s released.

P.P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

April 28, 2016

Why I Just Deleted 12,499 Email Subscribers And You Should Too

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I just deleted 12,499 people off my email newsletter.


If you know anything about email marketing, you know that’s somewhat like lopping off your left arm.

I spent a lot of time and money attracting those 12,000 people.

In fact, I’ve been hemming and hawing around about it for the last few months because it’s such a big thing to me.

But, I had to do it.


Dead weight.

Of those 12,499 people, exactly ZERO had opened any of my emails in the last 6 months. I know. Makes you wanna cry for ol’ JMO.

But don’t.

I actually feel relieved. Because of WHO’S LEFT!

I know THEY are serious.

And, that’s who I want to work with.

This is an important lesson for you. Not every client or job is right for you. Some will be an enormous pain in your butt… and not worth the time.

You have to be willing to let them go.

Bye Felicia!

As the kids say.

If you don’t, they’ll drag you down, make you miserable and cost you tons of time and dineros. Let ’em go.

Find your niche and focus on the people you can help most.

Your “tribe”.

And, that’s why knowing what your niche is so important. Critical for making the big bucks and being happy doing what you do.

In this month’s Patreon-only ecourse, I give you my 3-step method for find your niche. And it works every time.

Save yourself a bunch of time and headaches, become a supporting listener and get access to the course here:

See ya over there!

P.S. If you liked the show, give it a like and share with the communities and people you think will benefit. And, you can always find all my tutorials, podcast episodes and more on, @jpmorris on Twitter and

April 25, 2016

[Quora] How Do I Get Clients on Upwork Like I Used to On Elance?

I was recently asked to answer this question on Quora and it’s something I get asked quite a bit:

I used to be very successful on Elance, but the same profile/strategy is performing poorly on Upwork. What are the possible reasons for this?

Here’s what I think you can do to win on any freelance site, including Upwork. Upvote if you get value from it:

First, I’d want to know what your strategy was. It’s possible that it was something that exploited how Elance worked that’s now been shored up with the migration to Upwork. If that’s the case, then it’s just important to understand that is the limitation of gimmicks.

That said, I’m assuming that’s NOT the case so let’s dive into some of the reasons why it might be different and what you can do.

1. Competition. The stats I can find show that Elance was around 2 million freelancers in 2013 and oDesk was about 3.1 million. Even when they became Elance-oDesk, you still had two separate sites and so on Elance were competing with roughly 2 million other freelancers.

Those numbers have grown and the sites have now combined and Elance-oDesk (now Upwork) reported 9.3 million registered freelancers in 2014. So now you’re competing with roughly 7.3 million more freelancers.

So, it’s just a lot more competitive now.

2. Rich Get Richer. It’s always difficult to get inside the inner workings of sites like these but if you try to sift through the public statements they do make, I believe it’s pretty clear that Upwork is focused on helping the “cream rise to the top”. That is, surfacing what they consider the best freelancers on their platform and displaying their profiles much more prominently on more searches even if they’re not 100% relevant.

Of course, relevance is always important and I’ll cover that but Upwork seems to be less concerned with it and more concerned with surfacing high quality freelancers. This is quite a bit different from Elance. I found on Elance that I could rank for searches even if I wasn’t always the highest rated developer based on how I targeted my profile with keywords, skills, etc. Upwork still has that a bit, but it seems to be less effective.

So, what can you do?

Read the full answer here

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, you can invite me to answer it over on Quora, tweet it to me, or join me LIVE on Periscope every Tuesday for my WebDev Q&A.

November 6, 2015

7 Smart Productivity Tips For Freelancers

I hate Facebook. Seriously. But, I love it. I get to keep in touch with all the most important people in my life… but it can so easily suck away my day.

Email, YouTube (oh god!), Clash of Clans (insert demon face)… as a freelancer my time and income are intimately linked.

And, if I blow a day watching 50 Cent interviews on YouTube or building the “perfect” base on CoC… I lose money.

Here’s seven of the best productivity tips and resources I’ve found to STOP me from doing this day after day (after day):

5 Apps To Boost Your Productivity As a Freelancer


While being accountable for your own productivity is a daunting task, in this day and age, it’s totally manageable. For those of us with untraditional careers, there are plenty of resources available to keep us motivated and organized. After all, as the good people at Apple told us numerous times in the year 2010, “there’s an app for that.”

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How to Organize Your Writing Workplace for Better Productivity


This problem is not new, and everyone looks for tips and tricks on better blogging, reads guides, searches for inspiration, etc. But do they realize the decision they seek is right in their backyard? It’s all about writing workplace organization.

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10 Productivity Apps Every Freelancer Needs


In today’s digitally powered world, online tools abound that can address a great many of the typical freelancer’s productivity, workflow, organizational, and intellectual needs. A well-curated selection of apps, websites, and software provides additional arrows in your creative quiver—not to mention sanity.

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Productivity for Freelancers: The one key to doubling Your free time and Your income!

kaboompics.com_Car key in hand

Do you want to get more done in a single day than most freelancers do in a week? If you struggle with productivity – as most freelancers do – the steps laid out here could easily do this for you. Turning you into a productivity machine.

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Ten Productivity Tools Every Freelancer Must Know About


It may not be a walk in the park, particularly if you’re just starting out, but freelancing becomes bearably easy if you’re equipped with the right tools to do the right jobs. Just like plumbers have their own special tools to take the edge off usually backbreaking and challenging work, so do freelancers. Below are ten of such tools:

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Productivity Tips for Freelance Web Designers


Today we are sharing tips and guidelines that will increase the productivity of a web designing freelancer. In order to become a successful and reliable freelancer, it consist of consistency and determination.

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31 Marketing & Productivity Tools That Every Freelance Graphic Designer Should Use


In order to help you allocate more time to your creative designs, we’ve created a list of useful tools that many small businesses are already using. We hope that you’ll use them too and save time in order to optimize your creative performance.

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Now, you (and me) have no excuses. Do me a favor and share this with someone you know needs it.

Yeah, it may rob them of a day of watching those awesome totally inappropriate Thug Life videos on Facebook… but it may just help put a few more benjamins in their back pocket. (And, I’d love you forever too of course.)

November 4, 2015

How Important Are the oDesk Skills Tests?

Do the oDesk skills tests really matter when you consider the answers are available everywhere on the web?

Thing is, the upside of getting high scores on these tests is very limited; however, the downside of NOT having them is enormous.

Here’s what I mean:

Do the Tests Matter?

They matter in the sense that if they’re not there clients will wonder why.

Imagine a client looking at 10 different freelancer profiles. Nine of them have a PHP test with a score in the top 1% and one of them doesn’t have it at all.

That will stick out to them and could be enough for them to pass on your profile.

So, the prevalence of the tests on freelancer profiles makes them important have.


Click here for my full list of web developer resources including my top recommended courses and tools.

You Won’t Instantly Get Clients Hiring You in Droves Because You Pass the PHP Test

The upside is very limited. Clients will see it, like that it’s there but it won’t do a ton to convince them to hire you.

Think of it as a hedge.

The tests are about eliminating a negative not generating a positive.

Especially, since a lot of clients know the answers are available all over the web. They don’t put a ton of stock in it.


This Brings Up a Larger Issue

The truth is… there’s not ANY one thing on your profile that will suddenly make clients trust you enough to hire you.

It’s about ALL the things.

It’s about:

  1. Specializing and make a very specific offer on your profile
  2. Creating congruence among all the items ON your profile

Meaning, everything on your profile should be relevant to the specific offer you’re making.

Your headline, service description, photo, tests, certifications, job history, portfolio, testimonials… all of it.

I purposefully keep things I’ve done off my profile and website because it’s not perfectly relevant to what I’m offering.

Makes sense, but here’s the thing…

To Know and NOT Do Is Really Not To Know

I’ve mentioned a lot of this stuff before. Some of it I even harp on in almost every podcast I do.

The problem is, I see so few people still doing it… and it’s so fundamental to having success as a freelancer.

So, I challenge you to put this into action:

  1. Identify your niche. What specific offer can you make to clients?
  2. Upgrade your profile. What changes do you need to make so everything is relevant?
  3. Bid on RELEVANT jobs. What relevant jobs exist NOW that you can bid on?

Start doing these things and you should see more success.

April 22, 2015

How can a newbie freelancer become popular in freelancing websites?

Watch on YouTube:
Listen on SoundCloud:

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…


November 18, 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?

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Photo by: Kat Ter Haar

August 6, 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?

April 22, 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.

April 7, 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.

March 27, 2014