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The 80/20 rule of web development

I once did this YouTube video.

It was called the “Exact PHP Skills You Need to Learn to Get Paid to Code.” The idea was there’s all these things you think you need to learn or you get told by some ranting know-it-all that you need to learn…

But, in reality…

You only use a small fraction of those skills on a regular basis.

So, I made a list of the things you’ll use most often as a PHP developer.

The things that make up 90% of the coding I do.

Variables, arrays, loops…

That sort of thing.

It’s been funny to watch the comments over the years. Predictably, a hoard of know-it-alls have chimed in with their “but, but”. “You need to learn OOP and form security and Laravel…”

It always turns into this massive “wish list”.

And sure… learn those things.

But, that wasn’t the point.

The point is… what’s the absolute bare minimum to get started?

Because, the reality is with any language or technical skill, there’s a 20% of all the skills you could learn that you’ll actually use 80% of the time in your work. So, why learn some random thing you’ll use twice a year… when you’re starting?

And ignore or spend less time on something you’ll use over and over again?

You shouldn’t.

Of course, the trick is figuring out that 20%.

Which was the point of the video.

Thankfully, most people get it.

I’ve had probably 10 times as many positive comments like this:

“I’ve been coding for two years, read almost every book you could read cover to cover. I knew the languages and even how to use them, but I felt as if I had to be perfect and and that I needed to remember every tag, property and function to be considered a professional. I was anxious that my skills were not up to par, but listening to your podcast had helped me realize I have the skills to be professional web developer. Thanks man.”

Which was the entire point.

To free you up from that “perfection trap”.

Thinking you need to learn 1000 things before you can get hired.

You don’t.

In any case, I think that’s why my students tend to have success coming out of my PHP course. Because, I teach them the things that they’ll actually use in their jobs, not 1000 obscure things they’ll use once or twice…

But, that make me look smart.

I don’t care about me.

It’s YOU that matters.

Anyway, if you wanna take my PHP course, you can get access to it for nothing over on Skillshare. And yes… when you’re done with it, you can jump into my PHP OOP course and the other advanced PHP courses I have, as well.

They’re all over there.

And, you can access them all for free.

Link for all the details on how is here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John

March 21, 2019

JMS389: I Grew My Business 500%

Just uploaded a new episode of the podcast. Here’s the breakdown:

When it comes to freelance marketing, this is the most important thing I can teach you. It’s not sexy or flashy. In fact, it’s a lot of hard work. But, it’s the one thing I know I can rely on year after year, no matter the scenario. And since I started doing it, my business has grown over 500%. So, take it for what it’s worth to you.

Give it a listen here: https://www.johnmorrisshow.com/jms389-i-grew-my-business-500/

March 20, 2019

Why you’ll never make it as a developer

I was watching this YouTube video the other day.

Guy was a home-builder and he was talking about siding… some of the stuff he does to insulate and protect homes. And, when you look at his stuff, the finished product, it’s obvious… guy knows what he’s doing.

The homes look amazing.

The videos are really good.

He has several hundred thousand subscribers.

It all seemed amazing.

And then, you check the comments…

What a horror show. 300 response threads of people arguing over what he said at 5:18. Or, one-liners like “Idiot”. Several hundred comments and there were maybe a handful of positive ones.

Even though the like to dislike ratio was extremely positive.

Video had millions of views.

That should tell you something about people.

This is something you’ll have to face as a developer. A client, a co-worker, a customer, friends, family… as someone who creates things and puts themselves out in a vulnerable way for others to evaluate…

The majority of what you’ll hear will be negative.

It took me a long time to figure that out.

I used to get so upset and insecure about it.

When I’d create some thing, proudly show it to a client… and they’d give a quick “Oh nice.” And then rattle off a list of 10 things they’d like changed or “fixed”. It’s tough. But, you gotta learn how to handle it.

Primarily, you have to learn how to ignore most of it.

You can have all the talent in the world.

But, if you let other people’s opinions get to you…

You’ll never make it as a developer.

You’ll drive yourself nuts.

The big key to that is having your own perspective.

Developing your own opinions with time.

Having your own standards.

Being an artist with what you do.

When you do that, you naturally don’t worry what others think.

You only really care about what you think.

Because your standards are higher than theirs.

In any case, take that for what it’s worth today. Just struck me as I came across the video. I remembered all those little moments of pain I went through and how learning to ignore them made such a difference in my career (and life).

Speaking of careers…

If you’re in the learning phase of yours and HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, OOP or MySQL is on the list, let me give you a hand. My curriculum on SkillShare will teach you those things and more.

And, you can get access to it for free.

All the details on that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John

March 8, 2019

What languages and frameworks to learn as a new developer

One of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Effective People” is:

“Begin with the end in mind.”

When you do, what you need to do now becomes much more clear. It’s the same with your web development career. A lot of people ask me what languages they should learn and what order they should learn them in.

The real answer is:

I don’t know.

That depends on your end.

Here’s what I mean.

If you want to work at Google, for example, Golang might be something you wanted to learn since it’s developed by Google. If you want to work at Facebook, you might dive into learning Hack and React.

But, if you’re a freelancer…

None of those languages will help you all that much.

A lot of start-ups use Node.

Java is big in the corporate world.

See where I’m going with this? Depending on what career path you want to take, different languages are going to be more or less important. The truth of this is there’s no one path… contrary to what some of the know-it-alls in the dev community say.

But, even taking a step back from that.

Frameworks and applications affect this, too.

If you want to work with WordPress, you’ll need to learn PHP.

If you really like Django, then probably oughta learn Python.

Node, Angular and Vue? Learn JavaScript.

The thing to think about is this:

“On a daily basis, what are the kinds of projects I want to work on? Who do I want to work on them for? And, what tools do I want to use?” When you figure that out, the languages you need to learn become obvious.

And no.

Your answers probably won’t be perfect the first time.

You’ll try this and hate it.

Realize you love this other thing you thought you’d hate.

Etc.

But, if you just keep assessing it.

Keep asking the right questions.

You’ll settle into a groove.

The one thing you absolutely DO NOT want to do is waste your time trying to find the “one right path” or over-worrying about career prospects and all that. COBOL is almost 60 years old and largely obsolete.

Yet, there’s still over 1,000 COBOL jobs on Indeed.com right now.

In any case, if you think it through and HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and MySQL are in your “stack”, then check out my curriculum over on SkillShare. I’ll teach you all that and you can get access to it for free.

Link for all the details on that is at: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John​​​​​​

March 7, 2019

What my dog taught me about making more as a freelancer

I took my dog to the vet to get spayed the other day.

The week prior when I called, I got a masterclass in selling your services.

As I explained what I needed, one of the first things they asked me was, “Is it a stray?” Our dog, Marley, is. A neighbor rescued her, but wasn’t able to take care of her, so we took her from him.

Because of that, the animal clinic gave us 40 bucks off.

That’s lesson #1.

The hook.

When I called I was just gathering information. I was going to call a couple clinics in the area, compare prices and then set an appointment with one. But, once they offered me that deal…

I just went with them.

A lot of the clinics probably offer similar discounts, but it was a surprise to me. And, gave me a compelling reason to just go with them right then and there and not hassle with calling around and comparing prices.

I was already “getting a good deal”.

Then, came the cross-sell.

“Has your dog had a rabies shot?”

Damn.

No.

I should do that, too.

Then, when I dropped her off for the appointment, I had to sign a surgical release. The clinic (brilliantly) mingled that release with the contract for their services and included 4 optional additions to the services.

Blood work to check for any problems.

Heartwork check.

Pain medication to take home after the surgery.

And, post-op laser therapy to help everything heal faster.

Two of which I opted for.

So, they took me from “just looking” and planning on comparing prices to not only a client, but one who opted for a cross-sell and two upsells. And, I appreciated and enjoyed every part of it.

Because they were all things I wanted.

All they had to do was ask.

And, of course, know their clients so well they knew exactly what additional services to offer and how to pitch them. But, here’s the big lesson I want you to take away from this. It’s an animal clinic.

A service that’s, frankly, kinda boring.

Been around forever.

Nothing super “secksy” or exciting to sell.

And, this stuff works to perfection for them. And, that’s the point. When it comes to selling your services, there’s very little new under the sun. You could be selling inter-galactic, hyper-transport beams…

Or sand.

What works… works.

You just have to know it and then apply it.

And, that’s what I teach you in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. Those tried and true fundamentals that aren’t necessarily rocket surgery or some shiny, flashy, “brilliant” gimmick… but work no matter what services you offer.

And, we talk about hooks and cross-sells and upsells…

And, how to do them right.

Getting referrals.

Turning one-time clients into repeat clients.

Handling contracts and payments.
On and on and on.

Anyway, if you wanna learn those fundamentals, you can get access to the course for nothing over on SkillShare. As a teacher, I can give an *exclusive* 2-month free trial of the site. Just join the trial, take the course and cancel before the trial is up…

And, you never pay a penny.

Simple, simple.

In any case, link is here if you’re interested: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/freelance

Later,

John

March 5, 2019

How to price your freelance projects

Another common question I get, this time from Gary:

“Sir, I’m a self taught web developer with no job experience. My question about freelancing is how to price a website? For example do I need to let the client pay for the hosting website and etc.”

Perceived quality.

Note the emphasis on perceived. Here’s the analogy I use. Imagine you need to get a medical procedure done. So, you go to the nearest clinic. As you pull up, you notice the clinic is in a sketchy part of town.

The parking lot is cracked and littered with trash.

The clinic’s sign is old and missing letters.

The front door has big, iron bars on it.

Once you get inside, you see the office is dirty. The carpet is stained and ripped in spots. The receptionist is rude and unkempt-looking. The doctor comes out and his clothes are wrinkled. He’s got a stain on his shirt–

So, at what point do you say, “Oh hell no!”

Now, notice…

NONE of the things I mentioned had anything to do with his SKILL as a doctor. Instead, they were all “circumstantial” factors that make him look unprofessional and, therefore, unskilled.

He could be the best doctor for 100 miles.

But, you’d probably never get far enough to find out.

THAT is perceived quality.

Your website, your profile picture, your portfolio, the content you produce… every little thing a potential client sees in relation to you goes toward how good they PERCEIVE you to be… the good and the bad.

And, that has a huge impact on what you can charge.

Fact is, if you do all these things right…

You can charge way more for the SAME service…

Than someone who doesn’t.

So, don’t waste your time trying to find some “intrinsic” price for a particular service. Freelancers in the same market, offering the exact same services charge vastly different prices. And, perceived quality is a big reason why.

But, that’s 1 factor.

Competition also matters.

More (quality) competition means tighter pricing.

There’s also differentiation.

Do you stand out in some way?

But, here’s the more important point. Pricing is actually just one aspect of the thing that really matters… and that is the OFFER. It’s not just what something costs… it’s also “What am I getting? How is it delivered?”

It’s the client’s internal ROI gauge.

And, learning how to craft compelling offers is one of the most important and lucrative things you can learn how to do, as a freelancer. Because when you get it right, you not only make more, but selling your services actually gets easier.

In any case, I created a whole course on this.

That’s how important it is.

In it, you’ll learn what I call the “Fiverr Method” which is step 1 in how you package your services to make them more appealing to potential clients. Also, the 3 different pricing strategies you can use to beat out your competition.

How to KNOW, not guess, what the right price is.

Plus, how to build out your product line…

To methodically build a diverse and stable freelance income.

Anyway, the course is the first installment in my Freelancing 101 series and you can get access to it for nothing over on SkillShare. Link for all the details on the course and how to get free access to it is here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/niche

Later,

John

March 4, 2019

What tricks most NEW developers

There’s a saying:

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”

Wise words particularly for new developers. By far, the most common questions I get about becoming a developer relate to getting started… what languages to learn, courses to take, tools to install, etc.

But, the truth is…

Picking “right”, on any of these questions, is not what separates successful developers from unsuccessful ones. It’s having A plan and executing on it, not spending forever devising the “perfect” plan.

Take Lynda.com, for example.

When Lynda Weinman first started the site back in 1995, it was built to let her communicate with people who’d bought here book, Designing Web Graphics. By 1997, it morphed into a sales site for in-person classes.

It wasn’t until the dot-com crash that they considered doing online video.

In 2001, after the crash, business started to slow up.

They were forced to lay off 75% of their staff.

And, THAT’S when Lynda.com, as you probably know it, was born. Then, in April of 2015, it was acquired by LinkedIn for 1.5 billion. Point is, her plan wasn’t perfect. But, she got started.

And evolved and adapted along the way.

THAT is the name of the game.

So, early on in your career, you should be dabbling.

Trying all sorts of things to figure out what you really enjoy…

And, what you’re really good at.

ACTION brings clarity… not endlessly thinking and re-thinking.

In any case, this is why SkillShare is so appealing to me, especially for new developers. Unlike Udemy and other similar sites, you get access to the entire library of courses for a low monthly fee.

So, you can dabble without worrying about wasting a bunch of money.

Or, obsessing over which courses to take.

It’s like the “Netflix for online learning”…

And, a perfect fit for today’s constantly-evolving technology environment.

Anyway, if you wanna give it a try and get FULL access to all 21,000 courses, including my own web development curriculum, I can give you an *exclusive* 2-month free trial of the site.

Link with all the details on that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare.

Later,

John

February 11, 2019

How to start your web development career on a rock-solid foundation

Two terms you’ll want to write down for today.

First one: Skill-Stacking.

You know this, but probably haven’t thought of it this way. A lot of developers ask me what they should learn. The real answer: ALL of it. The more skills you stack in your arsenal, the more valuable you’ll be to employers.

And, more importantly, the more adaptable you’ll be when s!@# changes.

And, s!@# changes… a lot.

You shouldn’t be stingy about what you learn in the beginning.

Learn it all.

Stack, stack, stack.

Second term: Credibility-Stacking.

This one I don’t think near as many people think about. A lot of times you’re just desperate to get a job or get paid to do this. But, you need to have discipline. And, patience. Stacking your credentials properly early on will make this WAY easier.

There’s several different “categories” of credibility to stack.

It starts right off the bat with your training.

If you’re going to a college or university, pick one with a prestigious name. Or, clout in the industry you want to get into. Going to the #1 tech school in America sounds way better than going to A school with A tech program.

Think strategic right from the start.

Next companies and clients.

Really think about who you work with.

Pick companies with a brand name or clients who are well-known. Yes, I know… you gotta GET those jobs. But, here’s a simple one. IBM tends to hire like crazy, hires junior developers with little experience and has a good brand name.

So, if all else fails… apply there.

Next is volume.

Saying you’ve built 113 membership sites has a certain ring to it.

An whiff of credibility.

You don’t need to tell anybody that 60 of those were sites you built just to build so you could say you built 113. Actually build them and do the work… but a build is a build is a build is a build.

In any case, hardly anybody thinks about this stuff.

But, the start of your career shouldn’t be about money.

It should be skill-stacking and credibility-stacking.

Do it. Do it aggressively. Do it right.

And, by year 5… things will start getting REAL easy.

AND THEN, the money will come.

Anyway, you know the drill. I’ve got a curriculum of coding courses if you need help learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP or MySQL. CSS Grid, AJAX, CSS transitions, OOP. Whatever. It’s all there.

And, you can take it for nothing on SkillShare.

All the details on how are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John​​​​​

February 7, 2019

How to THINK like a developer

What makes a developer truly a developer?

I’ll give you my answer in a second.

But think about that as you read this…

So, I got this email question from Mike:

“I’m stuck at a beginner level. I’ve followed tons of tutorials and did a 3 month full time web dev boot camp. But I cant seem to get past the hurdle of being able to write a program myself. I consistently fail interview tests as my programming logic skills are low. I seem to be stuck at this beginner level. I need to learn how to think like a programmer…. Any ideas or tips?”

Think about that.

It actually doesn’t make sense, does it?

How does someone spend that much time learning and still not be able to sit down and crank out an application? Shouldn’t be that way. And, I’ll just tell you from the emails I get… he’s not alone.

Is this something YOU have struggled with?

If so, let me tell you how this happens.

It’s one of the “dirty secrets” of the coding tutorial industry.

I know that sounds a bit “Ok, whatever”…

But, I really, truly believe this.

It’s the problem with project-based courses, which I absolutely think have their place, BTW. But, when you follow along as someone else builds a program, you don’t have to solve all the little programming problems that come up.

They’re solved for you.

It’s very rare that an instructor even mentions those problems…

Let alone makes YOU solve them.

They just run through the code and show you what to type.

A good one might mention them off-hand.

But, almost nobody labors over those points.

Because, frankly, coding students don’t like it.

They don’t think they need it.

When they absolutely DO.

So, what happens is you never learn how to connect problems to applications and vice versa. That’s WHY you can go through a crap-ton of training, but feel lost when you sit down to write an application.

If all you’ve ever done is project-based courses…

Or, haven’t specifically learned application design…

Then, you’ve actually never done this part of it.

And, here’s the kicker… that’s the most important part.

This is the analogy I use…

Imagine a painter who learns all the technical parts of painting a landscape. Trees, mountains, water, grass, etc. That’s good. You need to know those. But, will knowing those make you good at composition?

At putting all those things together into a painting…

That elicits emotion?

That makes people say “WOW”?

That has a perspective?

Does a well-executed tree make someone a true ARTIST?

It’s part of it, but it’s not all. It’s not the main thing. It’s the ability to capture moments and elicit emotion. To have a point-of-view AND THEN be able to execute on that point of view.

It’s having an “eye” for it.

It’s similar with web development.

What makes you a developer…

Is your ability to identify problems.

Come up with new ideas for solving them in better ways.

AND THEN, execute on those solutions.

And, that’s what you miss with most project-based courses. To me, the answer is to learn application design. To understand how to connect problems to their solutions and how to design applications from scratch.

This is precisely why I named my OOP course, Build Professional Applications With Object-Oriented Programming. Object-oriented programming IS the/a method for application design. And, a damn good one.

When you understand it…

And, how it connects to object modelling.

And, database structure.

The code almost literally writes itself. Again, I know that sounds hypey, but that’s WHY so many people swear by OOP. Because, it gives you a way forward for designing your applications.

You don’t have to guess.

Or wonder.

Or stare blankly at your code editor.

You know where to start and how to proceed at every step.

There’s still problems to work through.

Always.

But, you have a road map for how to get your application built.

Anyway, all this is what Lesson 11 in my object-oriented programming course takes on. Teaching you how to design applications in the most scalable, modular and efficient way possible.

If you’ve found yourself dealing with “blank screen” syndrome…

I truly believe this will help to cure you.

In any case, you can take the course for nothing over on SkillShare. All the details on the course and how to get free access are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/oop

Later,

John

February 4, 2019

Read this before another developer ruins your website

That’s the headline.

Of the most effective services sales page I ever ran. In fact, I ran it for years on my site before I whittled down to just one client. It’s easily brought in tens of 1000s of the greenbacks for me.

I don’t care what kind of web development you do…

This should be your headline.

It grabs the reader by the eyeballs…

And, forces them to read.

Because, it’s every client’s worst nightmare.

It’s like a car wreck, they can’t NOT look.

And, it works no matter what kind of services you offer.

Of course, you gotta follow it up correctly; otherwise, your potential client will quickly lose interest. So, next comes the “horror story”. For me, it’s Inc. Magazine and how they spent 2 years try to get their site built.

Went through several developers.

Spent lots and lots of money.

And, still had nothing.

This makes the fear REAL to your potential client.

Imagine being a client and hearing Inc. Magazine had that much trouble.

It makes your biggest fear suddenly very real. Now, at this point, you have them hooked and they’re in for the long haul to read your services page. But, you’re still not done. What comes next is the most crucial part.

It’s the transition from just scaring the crap out of them…

To actually selling your services.

AND, making your ad something they want to share, in and of itself.

With co-workers, employees, colleagues.

They’ll actually share YOUR ad.

It also establishes the criteria by which they’ll evaluate YOU as a developer. Criteria YOU get to establish. And then, conveniently meet in the rest of your sales page. “Set ’em up and knock ’em down” as they say.

At any rate, I just added a bonus lesson to my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course that’s specifically for web developers. In it, I go through the services page I used all those years and the psychology behind it.

Plus, I give you the Word doc with all the copy in it.

If you’re a freelance web developer, you don’t want to miss this.

You can get started with the course on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/freelance

Later,

John​​​​​

February 1, 2019

JMS388: Global Game Jam and Staying Focused In a World Full of Distractions

Just uploaded a new episode of the podcast. Here’s the breakdown:

Do you know about the Global Game Jam? It’s a challenge/event to create games in one weekend in hundreds of locations worldwide. Anyway, chat about that and how to stay laser-focused in a world full of distractions and chaos. Specifically, that focus is NOT about discipline or will power and the 3 things you need to do to stay focused no matter what’s happening around you.

Give it a listen here: https://www.johnmorrisshow.com/jms388-global-game-jam-and-staying-focused-in-a-world-full-of-distractions/

January 25, 2019

Finding the perfect freelance clients

Back when little JMO was just a freelancing tadpole…

I made the mistake virtually every new freelancer does. That makes freelancing 10X harder than it has to be. Awful clients. Projects you hate. Getting paid pennies. It’s easy to see why so many people give up on it.

My mistake was taking any and every client I could.

I built a weird e-commerce app for a guy.

Jackin’ around with creating PDFs in PHP for another.

Hacking WordPress for yet another.

I didn’t enjoy any of it. So, I procrastinated HARD. Clients got pissed. I had to refund a couple, because I just couldn’t bring myself to finish. And, they weren’t paying me much to begin with.

It was miserable.

Then, I built a membership site for a guy.

And, I really enjoyed it. 

And, I decided to do only that… not out of some genius insight about marketing or freelancing. But, because I was just sick of doing all the other stuff. But, what I discovered is that the more I just built membership sites.

The less I procrastinated.

The more I got paid.

The easier getting clients became.

And, the happier I was.

It all went hand-in-hand.

That’s the trick. The first big step as a freelancer. Figuring out your niche. That “magic” elixir of what you love doing, that you’re good at, that others are willing to pay you to do for them. 

That’s when the freelance “dream” becomes real.

And, it take some thinking…

And, some experimenting.

Trust me, you’ll be 1000x happier as a freelancer if you spend some time figuring out what your niche is… instead of doing what most do, which is either just be a “generalist” who tries to be everything to everybody.

Or, focus only on the muney.

And, try to grunt your way through it.

In any case, once you figure out what your niche is, NOW you need to find those clients… who want exactly what you have to offer. Fortunately, there’s a simple way to consistently find your perfect clients on Upwork…

The largest freelancing platform on the planet.

The exact kinds of projects you want.

The exact budget.

The highest quality clients.

I show you the strategy I use to filter through all the trash on Upwork to find the diamonds in the rough… in lessons 4 and 5 of Module 3 in my Freelancing on Upwork course on SkillShare.

And, it’s more than applying a few search filters.

It’s an entire strategy for consistently finding the best projects at any given time. Since, there’s always so many projects in and out of Upwork.

Anyway, you can start taking the course on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/upwork101/

Later,

John​​​​​​​

January 13, 2019

The perfect freelance service to offer clients

The offer is crucial.

You can do everything else right, as a freelancer, but if you screw up the offer, you’ll have a miserable time getting clients because they simply don’t want what you have.

This is why I rag on the “generalist” web developer approach so much.

Most FREELANCE clients don’t want that. If they did, they’d hire an employee. They want a specialist to build them XYZ thing. That change in offer, alone, has helped 100s of freelancers I’ve taught.

Here’s a perfect example.

After I built Platform University for Michael Hyatt, I started to get a bunch of people contacting me to build them something similar. So, eventually, I added an official service to my services page called a “Clone”.

And, I sold a ton of these things.

In fact, these were the easiest money I made in my entire career. I had all the code already. So, they only took me a couple days to build. And, people were paying 3K+ for them (and, telling me I should charge MORE).

But, before I built that site for Michael…

I never would have thought of “Clone” as a service anyone would want. Nobody probably would have. But, at that moment in time, it was the perfect offer to a specific group of people.

And, I capitalized.

That’s how powerful “the right offer to the right people at the right time” is.

It will make or break you as a freelancer.

So, don’t just slap up some services you “think” people will want.

Research it.

Think about it.

Spend time on it.

Learnt the skill of crafting compelling offers.

It makes the rest of  your marketing way easier.

And, it will pay big dividends when you get it right.

Of course, one of the big things people ask me when I bring this up is “How?” How do I craft an offer? What do I research? What things am I looking for? How do I know when I’ve got it right?

There’s a litmus test I use.

A way to know when you have the perfect offer.

I used it as a freelancer.

I use it as a teacher.

It’s THE thing I use to decide what to offer and when… even now.

In any case, I teach you what it is and how to apply to your freelance services about 2 minutes into Lesson 3 in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. If you wanna make sure you’re always hitting your freelance offers just right, give it a watch.

You can start taking the course on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/freelance

Later,

John​​​​​​​

January 10, 2019

Family as your first freelance client?

I was reading this Instagram post from @martin_lasek.

(I definitely recommend following him, BTW.)

And, his advice was to let family be your first client to help you get comfortable working with clients. And, one thing he said jumped out at me:

“Believe me the fact it‘s family doesn‘t make them an easier client it just makes it easier for you to enter the field of project management, delivering and actually finishing it.”

Man! Is that so true?

And, I’ve been back and forth on this.

Family CAN be a great first client.

And, it can help give you that jumpstart you need.

With something to put in your portfolio.

Experience.

Etc.

But, you really have to be careful. Because you can quickly ruin a relationship and get discouraged as a freelancer if you don’t do it right. So, I’ve developed some “rules” for working with family.

Follow these and you’ll get the experience and portfolio items you need…

Without making Thanksgiving dinner as uncomfortable as a giant in a clown car.

1. They’re a client.

Once you decide to work with a family member as a client… they’re a client. Throw ALL your expectations about how they’ll behave out the window.

Because THEY will.

At the end of the day, they want their thing built.

And, if you don’t deliver or mess it up.

They won’t like it.

So, treat them like any other client.

2. Scope, scope, scope… and then more scope.

The #1 issue you’ll face with family members as clients is scope creep. “Come on, bro!” “Really, sis? You can’t add just this one more thing?” “Come on, son. I did everything for YOU growing up.”

And on and on.

Families are masters of guilt-tripping each other.

They WILL do it to you.

So, take this as a challenge to learn how to manage scope creep.

Keep THEM on task and you’ll have no problem with regular clients.

3. Exit strategy.

What if things go to hell? Bring this up BEFORE you agree to work with them. Tell them this is your first time doing this. You might just screw it up. And, decide on how you’ll exit the agreement if things go wrong.

This will save your relationship with them.

It helps manage expectations.

And, gives both sides a way out.

It’s uncomfortable, but crucial.

So, there you go.

If you do those three things, at a minimum, you’ll be much more likely to have a good experience, learn a ton and build up your portfolio while working with someone you know and trust.

Oh and charge them.

Something.

It can be 10 bucks.

Doesn’t matter.

Make them pay.

You’ll thank me later. 😉

Of course, at some point, you’ll want to move into getting regular clients. A portfolio, experience… those will help a ton. But, you still have to learn the SKILL of getting clients.

Where to find them?

What to offer?

How much to charge?

Persuading them to hire you.

It’s a skill just like learning how to ride a bike or coding out a CSS grid. Once you learn it, you can USE it again and again to get you the clients you want. In any case, that’s what I teach you in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course.

The SKILL of freelancing.

Best part… you can take it without paying a purple nickel over on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/freelance

Later,

John
P.S. Or if you prefer Patreon, you can find the course here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/beginners-guide-21994444

January 4, 2019

Big project managements lessons from building a tiny house

Do easy things WHEN they’re easy.

I’ve always been the “I’ll figure it out” type. It drives my wife nuts. She’s more of a planner. She likes to know how, when, where…

Every little detail.

Me? I usually just wing it.

I think a lot of developers are this way.

Goes back to the “smart” thing.

You KNOW you will figure whatever it is out.

BECAUSE, you’re smart.

So, meh…

Of course, I’ve had plenty of moments in my career that have slowly cured me of this. The project for Michael Hyatt was a big one. I was just gonna “figure out” the responsive stuff later.

Then, users started complaining and all eyeballs turned to me.

That wasn’t fun.

But, a recent one… I think a DEFINITIVE one…

Was with this house.

We had to trench in the water and electric lines. And, there’s a pole and a water meter both about 150 feet from our house. Problem was… we didn’t do it until halfway through the project.

Because, we weren’t sure where we were going to put the bathroom.

Which is where all those lines would come IN the house.

So, by that time the house was half built…

And, we couldn’t trench underneath it.

And, we needed to.

So, we had to do that part by hand.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever dug a 2-foot trench into the rock-laden Missouri ground in the middle of winter… but, if you want a test of your manhood…

Anyway, it took us about as long to do that 10-foot section of trench…

As it did the other 150 feet we could do with the trencher.

Had we planned better and made some decisions earlier…

That 10-foot stretch of trench would have been easy.

But, we MADE it hard.

Since then, I’ve been on a “how can we make this easy” kick.

Point is…

Yes! You are smart.

You can and WILL figure whatever it is out.

But, everything doesn’t have to be hard.

Apply that intelligence to do some pre-planning.

And, ask “how can I make this easy?”

I don’t make promises a lot.

But, this I can promise you…

You DO that with your projects…

Your life WILL get easier.

And, a lot less stressful.

Speaking of making things easier…

Same goes for learning web development and freelancing. You don’t have to make it hard by going it alone. There’s plenty of help out there to teach you what you need to know to make a damn good living doing this.

And yep!

I think my training curriculum is one of the better ways to do that because I work hard to go beyond the surface of just “what to do”… whether it’s learning a language or setting up an Upwork profile… and teach you WHY.

So, you’re empowered.

And because you can get started with the curriculum for NOTHING over on my FREE tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com

But, whether it’s my curriculum or someone else’s…

You don’t have to go it alone.

Find a good teacher.

And, dig in.

And, make it happen.

In any case, take all that for what it’s worth.

Later,

John

January 3, 2019

The hardest lesson I learned in 14 years as freelance developer

I’ve always been smarter than most of the people I know.

It might sound arrogant, but it’s just something I’ve always known. I was constantly told how smart I was growing up. All the things I’d do with my life because I was smart. How “easy” I’d have it.

After a while, I started to believe it.

And, I began to believe that “being smart” meant I was destined to be successful.

That, one day, it’d just happen.

By 28, it hadn’t happened.

And, I remember I would sit there and stew over it. “How can all these dumb people be so successful? I’m so much smarter than all of them and here I am broke. What is wrong with me?”

Man, what an arrogant prick!

But, I remember the night I broke.

It was in a New York City hotel. 

It was for a mastermind that I felt like I had played a big part in making happen. And, I’d watched a client of mine profit off it while I played errand boy all day. I felt like such a chump.

Which IS an extremely jaded view of what actually happened.

But, that’s how I felt at the time.

And, to make matter worse…

I had to go to THAT client, like even more of a chump, and ask for an advance on my per diem for that trip. Because, I was so broke, my wife and kids were out of food and had no money to eat.

It was like everything hit me at once.

I couldn’t help it.

I just started crying uncontrollably.

That was the day I said, “Enough is enough.”

That I was going to stop WAITING for “it” to happen.

And, I was going to MAKE it happen.

I was going to stop sitting around whining about “I’m so smart, why can’t I make it?” And, I started valuing hard work, persistence and patience over intelligence.

And, when I started doing that…

That’s when things started happening.

I came across this quote, recently, that really sums it up for me:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

Man, that hits hard, doesn’t it?

If you’re someone who’s always thought of yourself as smart… and that your intelligence would carry the day. To realize, it won’t… necessarily.

That it’s possible to be super smart and a complete failure.

More than possible… it’s common.

My point is this…

How smart you are isn’t as important as you think it is.

It took me an emotional breakdown in a hotel, 1000 miles from home (while my wife and kids went hungry) to get that through my thick skull.

Please, please, please…

Don’t let it get to that point for YOU.

As we roll into 2019…

Make a commitment to MAKE “it” happen.

To forget about how smart you are.

And, embrace persistence and hard work.

Don’t wait around for your life to happen.

Or, assume “I’m smart, so one day…”

It won’t.

In any case, if you’re a freelancer or web developer, I’m here to help. To take my 14+ years of doing this and pass what I’ve learned onto you. So, you don’t have to go through what I did.

And, that’s what my training curriculum does.

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL, freelancing and more.

And, you can access it ALL without paying  a single penny on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com

But, whatever you do…

Make 2019 the year you MAKE this happen.

Later,

John

P.S. If you prefer Patreon, you can get access to all my courses, plus even more “unofficial” tutorials and videos here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/patreon.

January 2, 2019

If you want friends, be unsuccessful

Just read this tweet from Ed Latimore (former heavyweight boxer):

Groan at that if you want, but it’s true.

For me, one of the major turning points in my life and career is when I stopped seeking out friends and instead sought “allies”. An ally of mine, Michael Skye, taught me this. And, it can be life-changing.

A friend is someone who comforts and consoles you.

They excuse and justify your shortcomings for you.

They’re rationalize your failures.

They’re good to have in your life.

You need that, sometimes.

But, if that’s ALL you have.

You have no one to hold you accountable to your best self.

That’s what an ally is. An ally doesn’t accept you for who you are, but sees you for what you could be, what you WANT to be. And, they hold you accountable to continually seeking and honoring your best self.

They push you.

Challenge you.

And, don’t make excuses for you.

When you fail and seek their comfort…

They give you none.

Instead they ask, “Now what?”

And, I’ll just say this. If you want to be successful and actually achieve the things you want in life, you NEED allies in your life. In fact, the more I’ve invited allies into mine, the more successful I’ve become.

So, while you’re thinking about 2019…

And, all the things you want to accomplish…

Make “more allies” one of them.

That one resolution, alone, can help you achieve all the others.

In any case, that’s how I see my role for you. I’m not your friend. I’m your ally. Which is why I hammer away at the excuses and the bullshit. I won’t let you off the hook. I won’t rationalize your shortcomings or failures.

I see you for what you could be.

And, I’ll continue to do so for as long as you listen.

Anyway, if starting a freelancing or web development career is in your plans for 2019 plans, I really do believe my curriculum is one great way to make that happen. My freelancing courses are top-ranked on SkillShare.

And, my web development courses the same.

And, you can get started with them without paying a single penny on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com

But, fair warning…

There’s no hand-holding.

I will challenge you throughout.

If you’re ready to take that challenge and make 2019 happen…

Let’s get started: https://johnsfreetuts.com

Later,

John

P.S. If you prefer Patreon, you can get access to all the same course, plus all my unofficial courses and tutorials there. Learn more about that here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/patreon

January 1, 2019

How to Get Freelance Clients to Pay You More

I got this question on a video of mine:

“So how do you get the to pay for your larger fee vs the guy who will do it for 300.”

I get this a lot.

The “low-baller” problem.

So, what I wanna share with you, today, is a dead simple way for not only dealing with low-ballers, but also be able to raise your freelances fees at will… and, not have clients think twice about it.

And, it starts with a simple change in how you think about.

Why do people buy a Rolex watch when a Timex tells time just the same?

Why buy a nice car when your Yugo will “get you from A to B” just the same?

If you need a mechanic, do you choose the lowest price with no regard for quality?

People pay more for stuff all the time. YOU probably pay more for certain things regularly and don’t even realize. Do you buy Coke brand soda… or do you get the generic “Cola”. Why?

People don’t buy on price alone.

Regularly.

The thing YOU have to do is to establish yourself as a “product” worth investing more in. Because everything else equal (quality, service, etc)… YES! A potential client will go with the lowest price.

You haven’t give them a reason not to.

Your job is to give them reasons to spend more with you.

Think about it this way…

If you need a medical procedure and you came across a doctor’s office. Out front, the office has a beat up old sign, half broken off. The parking lot was all cracked and crumbling. The front door had a crack in it.

And, it just looked like a seedy place…

But, they had the lowest price…

Would you get your procedure there?

Why not?

THAT is your answer.

You have to make your “office” look pristine, clean and new to potential clients.

AND…

Position your competition as the “seedy office” with the cracked front door.

That’s your job as the marketer of your freelance business.

You do THAT…

And, you do it well…

Clients will pick you over the “guy who’ll do it for 300”.

And, they ‘ll happily pay you more when you raise your prices.

That’s the WHAT to do.

For the HOW… well, that’s what I teach you in my Beginner’s Guide to Freelance course. It’s all about positioning, marketing and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche so clients see you as that sparkling new “office” they can trust.

You can get started with the course for nothing over on my free tutorial site here: https://johnsfreetuts.com/freelance

Later,

John​​​​​​​

December 20, 2018

Web development isn’t that important

For real.

Think about it.

When you lay your head down at night and think about all the things you want for your life right before you doze off… yeah… you dream about PHP 8 I’m sure. You see yourself chained to a desk, typing code…

THAT’S what you really want outta life.

Uh-huh.

Or, Thanksgiving.

When you’re sitting around the table with your family, big spread of food you’re about to rip into and you’re telling everyone what you’re thankful for… I’m sure it’s “Well, I’m thankful for CSS transitions, React… definitely react… Node…”

No!

Of course, you aren’t.

Cause you’re a normal human being.

Not some code-obsessed psychopath.

Point is… coding, web development, design… all of it… is a MEANS to an end. Not and end in and of itself. The trick is not to fall TOO in love with learning it and become a permanent student.

Like I see so many do.

Learn it.

Learn it quick.

And, USE it to build the life you REALLY want.

With the things you’re REALLY after.

House, car, husband/wife, kids.

Whatever that is.

Coding is your vehicle to get it.

Don’t forget that.

That’s also why my coding curriculum is designed the way it is. To help you learn how to code FAST. To teach you the “muney-makers” you’ll use over and over in your career so you can get hired, get clients or build that next big app.

HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL… freelancing.

It’s all in there and you can get access to it for nothing on SkillShare.

All the details on that are here: https://www.johnmorrisonline.com/skillshare

Later,

John

December 17, 2018

Gutenberg is a clunky, horrible mess

Spaketh the troll:

“The only thing laughable here is this smug, horrible take.

That’s what cracks me up.

Gutenberg is a clunky, horrible mess. I can see how the childish building block approach might appeal to an arrogant prick like yourself who believes that every sentence deserves a new line, but to real content creators who actually know how to write, it’s a nightmare. An actual blog, an actual article…something you clearly know nothing about, since you’re committed to this self-congratulatory “I’m smarter than everyone else” drivel you laughably call a blog.

I’m sure you’ll offer up some snarky reply about how it’s for developers and whatnot, forgetting that it’s also about the end-user and content creators. Of course, looking at what you’ve designed here, it’s clear that you don’t really know much about quality content or good design. More’s the pity.

In short, your take is bad, and you should feel bad. Sadly, you won’t. You’ll dismiss this as “hating”, just as you’ve dismissed all the valid criticisms of Gutenberg because, I don’t know, using it makes you feel special, important, and superior? I’m only guessing, but based on the attitude of this post and others you’ve made, I feel it’s a pretty accurate one. But hey, you do you, pal.”

–Troll

Oof!

The lady doth protest too much, methinks!

Anyway, notice how there’s no actual explanations here. No reason why. Just “it’s a clunky mess”. One bumbling line about “every sentences deserves a new line”… as if that has anything to do with Gutenberg.

Anyway, this is when you know you’re on the right track.

When, this is the best someone can up with.

Funniest thing is…

I guarantee this “real content creator” will be typing his blog posts in Gutenberg in less than a year from now. In fact, most of the Gutenberg “haters” will. It’s just how this stuff works.

Although, there probably still IS that one guy using Windows XP.

Anyhoo, t’aint no sweat off this gander’s back.

Keep using that clunky old editor if you like…

With your T9-enabled flip phone…

Riding your horse and buggy “into town ma”…

To pick up some spears and loin cloths…

Ok, ok… I digress.

Anyway, if you ain’t into all this debating and just want to dive into Gutenberg without having to learn “yet another piece of software” all on your own, my new Beginner’s Guide to Gutenberg course will show you everything you need to know.

And, access won’t cost you a buffalo nickel.

Deets on that are here: https://skl.sh/2AQpjNj

Later,

John​​​​​​​

December 9, 2018