Great writing, good work, and obviously talented. But...
"bringing in more than $20K a month for over a decade"
"I started freelancing in the ‘90s and [...] had a full client roster and a multi-month waiting list since I started freelancing."
What - not even one month without work set up for the following month/month-after-next? Or one month in 120+ months where income has dropped below $20k? [A decade ago, $20k was worth even more than now]
Now I've freelanced for over a decade, and my best months have been ~$18K - but my average is a lot lower than that. Short of Mr Jarvis having some advantage -- contacts and a foot in the door, ninja networking skills, or a magnetic personality: how are the above two true?
I'm especially curious as his website doesn't show him as an expert in one topic (per @bdunn et al's advice), but more of a generalist like myself. And generalists aren't supposed to make such money.
[Edit: Redid the currency conversion and upped my best months]
Also, generalist-vs-specialist depends on your perspective. To your clients, you are a specialist. :-)
Err... math is off.
100 (rate) * 7 (full work day, don't get paid for lunch) * 5 (number of days in a week) * 4.3 (number of weeks in a month) = 15,050
That's 15K. And that's assuming you have a 100% full schedule and spend 0 time on invoicing/marketing/non-billable activities. Realistically, you're probably looking at a 10K rate per month with a 100/hour rate.
The only way you'll see 20K is if you're the middle man hiring the help or you're not billing hourly/daily/whatever. Assuming you're not in the business of managing other engineers, not billing on time increments means fixed price jobs.
Unfortunately, there is only a sliver of work that will fit well into that model. Where the job is very well defined, simple enough to do in a few hours, but complex enough that it can't just be handed off to any random joe. Not too many clients with that kind of work on a consistent basis.
So the OP is right, the only way you'll see that kind of money is once in a blue moon, if you specialize in something niche and can charge 250/hour, or if you're managing other people.
Also, I can't speak to how common it is, but in my (albeit limited) experience, a full book is just a bad idea in general. When I have a full book I end up working on the business (invoicing, lead gen, client relationships, bookkeeping, taxes, etc) in the slices of time that I would rather be spending time with my family.
But really, how many startup founders on HN are putting in 35 hour weeks? At $100/hr I don't think $20/mo is easy, but I'd say you could hit it once or twice a year. That's what I mean by "doable."
Last year January, July, October, and December all had 23 weekdays. $100/hr * 9 hr/day * 23 days/mo = $20700/mo. If you have no commute and maybe do a Saturday or two that's pretty doable. I wouldn't make it routine, but I've occasionally had months that busy.
Yes, not all hours are billable, but the non-billable stuff isn't that time consuming:
Marketing: Aren't most freelancers turning away work right now?
Billing: I push the "invoice" button and it's done. 1-2 hours a month.
Taxes: If you're working for yourself you shouldn't do your own taxes.
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to someone. Best of luck to you all.
I know you mention a Saturday, but if you can bill 9 productive hours a day, I take my hat off to you. I could in my early-mid 20's, I can't any longer.
> Marketing: Aren't most freelancers turning away work right now?
Not here in the UK, not the ones I know of (that is, the ones who don't have part-time speaking careers or get featured in magazines).
There was a discussion on freelancing a year or two back on HN where it came out that at a certain level of experience, you're better off bidding by the week, e.g. $5K/week or $10K/week because clients often prefer to think in terms of total project costs rather than hourly contractor costs.
I think the general modus operandi for the freelance economy is the generalists are supposed to find capital and customers, and hire the freelancers. If they do their job right, the generalists (owners) can make a lot of money. They just don't fit as easily into niche jobs.
Sure it depends on where you are, but if you stick with local clients you are always going to be limited (unless you live somewhere like London).
(I'm a generalist, mainly Ruby, and have been freelancing for 18 months. Last month was my best month and I was just short of the $20k mark, before tax)
If generalist don't make much money, and the best you've done isn't to your liking (because more is always better)... Why would you keep labeling yourself a generalist?
Your best month isn't that great. And if you've been at it for over 10 years, you probably have a lot of experience to share. Ever thought about re-assessing yourself, giving yourself the credit you deserve and creating a better pitch for your services?
Because variety and new challenges are the spice of life? All jesting aside, if I had deep passion/believed deeply in something, I would be the specialist for that ("Appointment reminder systems for equine vets") -- but I don't.
This is the best quote I've seen on the subject. Haven't made the transition, and still trying to see what to define myself a specialist as:
"The generalist is drawn to the problem he has not yet solved. His curiosity trumps all else. He feels no discomfort in operating outside of his area of expertise because such an area is broad, shallow and loosely defined. He pursues with passion the new and the different. When the transition is made however, and he becomes used to the benefits of deep expertise—when the client ceding control to someone deserving of such control becomes the norm—he will not be easily enticed back to operating from the powerless position of the generalist. "
> Your best month isn't that great. And if you've been at it for over 10 years, you probably have a lot of experience to share. Ever thought about re-assessing yourself, giving yourself the credit you deserve and creating a better pitch for your services?
Oh yes. Been trying to work out where to reposition myself for 18 months now. I've written out my case studies, talked to clients, but can't find a single thread running through the work that ties it all together :)
At the very top "A FREE EMAIL COURSE FROM THE CREATIVE CLASS"
And at the very bottom:
"FULL DISCLOSURE: THERE'S A PAID COURSE ABOUT FREELANCING OFFERED AT THE END OF THIS COURSE."
And at the very bottom: "FULL DISCLOSURE: THERE'S A PAID COURSE ABOUT FREELANCING OFFERED AT THE END OF THIS COURSE."
I fail to see anything wrong with that. They are giving away something for free in hopes they can sell something else. Nothing wrong with that at all. They are even disclosing that before you join the list, which most people don't. I guess you may not see that before joining but I see no harm.
There is a particularly good reason why the free course in how to be a successful freelancer won't teach you how to be a successful freelancer: If it did then there'd be no reason to buy the paid course.
They ought to be more clear that you're about to spend time on something that they know won't do what it says it does.
Paid yoga classes _cannot_ work. If free yoga lessons were available on YouTube, then people wouldn't buy the paid ones.
Paid water _cannot_ work. If free water was available in your faucet, then people wouldn't buy the bottled kind.
Paying for print versions of Shakespeare _cannot_ work. If free versions are available on project Gutenberg, then people wouldn't pay for it.
Ever think there may be varying levels of success, and the free week-long version gets you the basics (I can touch my toes, Yoga success!), but not yet an expert? Just like every other field of human activity?
It's worked really well. People love the free course, and those who want a more tactics and accountability buy the full course.
If the free course is nothing but the "sizzle" and a giant pitch for something paid, that's a problem. You're probably not going to get many sales for your paid course, and no one's going to refer others to the free course.
But if it's valuable independently of the premium course, and allows the reader to determine if it makes sense to go pro, then it's a win-win for all involved. At the end of my course, I ask people to reply back with what they got out of the free course and what they plan on changing as a result of it — I get a fair amount of awesome responses (which turn out to be great testimonials) from this last email: http://i.glui.me/1A3VNtx
(Brennan, feel free to use as testimonial / ask me to elaborate.)
Like it or not, this approach is popular and effective, b/c email is the killer app.
There's nothing at all wrong with this formula, and IMO it's much "safer" for the buyer.
It's almost as if this course isn't for you, and you've self-selected your way out of wanting it. Fancy that.
If you don't get something out of the email course, then don't buy the paid course.
If you do buy the paid course, there's a money-back guarantee (http://thecreativeclass.io/).
It's zero-risk, free information that can likely help you level up your freelancing. It's the same thing as a blog or other free resource, just packaged in an email course.
That is a very surprising claim. I'd have appreciated if they told us where they got the information.
Companies first came around because someone has to solve the distribution problem. That was such a valuable problem to solve that it shaped commerce and society for well over 100 years. It still shapes society. And it shouldn't. The Internet solves the distribution problem. It makes it so any 12 year old with a net connection can run circles around any mega-corporation when it comes to distributing product from point A to point B. The only place the 12 year old CAN'T beat the corporation is the place that large corporations never really managed to penetrate much in the first place - goods and service which are actually intrinsically bound to geography. You need your hair stylist to be physically near you. You need the plumber to be near you. And those people do not work for a mega-multinational.
And I expect when the change happens, it will only take a matter of weeks or months. There will be a sudden realization on all sides. Companies will realize they can't get ridiculously profitable workers for dirt cheap any more. Workers will realize their company has been playing them like a game - and realize that if they play the company at the same game instead of listening to myths their parents told them - they will kick ass any time.
Zero overhead, zero debt and obligations going up against a large organization who relies COMPLETELY on the ability to hire workers who will accept pay less than 5% of the value they actually earn for the company? It's not even a competition.
I think part of the reason is that freelancers actually do the work; they write a proposal, and then three months later people check what they produced.
So called "white collar" employees, for the most part and in my experience, pretty much sit around doing, well, nothing. They go to meetings, talk on the phone and check out the work produced by various contractors, consultants and trainees, drink gallons of coffee, and that's pretty much it.
This is of course a generalization; people who have physical jobs (moving things or making them) are in a different category, as well as people whose output is somehow monitored, etc.
But in many many big companies there are swathes of people who would be hard pressed to account for any of their day.
And they still get paid, and they still have a job, and they still have colleagues. That's something.
In exchange for that, you take on the high risk of only having 1 business paying you at any given time, and only learning about the world via 1 business. If something goes wrong with that business, or they end up doing things in a way that is not relevant to the wider world, you can get screwed.
One advantage corps have is teamwork. (Maybe I need to get in on some kind of mastermind group.)
Also, the studies might indicated breakdown by profession and how it changed over time... Programmers, graphic designers, writers, etc.
“individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, or project- or contract-based work in the past 12 months.”
That's very vague and broad. I mean even restricting yourself to "real/full-time" self-employed, you'll find out that many truck drivers, most mechanics, most hair dressers, they're all 1099s...
I believe you don't want to/would not send any more emails, ads, any of your product spams etc (since you make clear by saying "that's it") then why not give whole thing at once and without asking for emails?
At the end of content, you could include an extra chapter explaining about paid course. By giving at once, without requirement of email, a lot of people would download the course.
Well it makes for easy ad revenue, but makes it sound SO scammy.
On a related note, a Thinkful alum and I just launched on a guide together highlighting the same process but direct towards the client. As the intro paragraph states, we're hoping to help the client understand the hiring process without any frustration and uncertainty. All feedback welcome.
So the videographer was a recommendation from a freelance friend. My editor I've worked with in collaboration on many client projects, so I know her work is amazing.
The site runs on WordPress, payment through memberful.com, emails go out through MailChimp.
Thank you for sharing, I have signed in.
Definitely one of the best I've seen. Clear, concise, relatable, human, and funny.
I wonder if the classes are like the pitch video?
The classes/lessons are slideshows - as I've found people retain more of what I'm talking about if there are words on the screen.
It's all the same stunning personality though, haha...
I mostly got inspired by this site + http://ivomynttinen.com/blog/freelance-business-report-2014/. Ivo is a fucking beast freelancer.