Okay, there was probably a post that explained what you mean here and I missed it. How does "I cost more?" become a specialty?
There is a process to getting business, it's called 'sales'. Take a reputable sales class (3 or 5 days or so). It'll set you back $5k-$10k, and it'll push you way outside your comfort zone, but it works.
Getting business isn't that hard: first, you identify your customers. Then you think of a way how to find those people/organizations. Then you contact them, and set up appointments. Lastly, you convince them (during the meeting) to buy your product (where 'product' can be software you've already written, software you'll write or man hours you'll spend working for them).
The above of course skips over many details. But the point is - selling stuff is not 'luck' or 'magic'. There is a process, although of course it has to be tweaked every time. All you have to do is learn it.
Patrick was about as well known on the Business of Software message boards as you are on HN when his consulting career started. Those boards no longer exist and were always smaller than HN. Prior to consulting he held what is probably the lowest- status job in software development. What do you think the secret ???'s were for him?
Here's the 200+ point annual report he did with story of him quitting his day job:
I'm sure if you look the previous reports up they'd be similarly high ranked.
What do you think it is?
That's why my best guess is "luck" — because I've never heard anyone say anything about what they did beyond, "Eh, I found good clients and became a successful consultant" or "I did not find good clients and struggled in my consulting career."
When I say you mostly make your own luck, I was referring to making decisions and choices so that you don't end up with only a car or a goat as your choices.
I think this is good life advice in general :)
Getting the car past 50% isn't always the desired goal. :)
Unfortunately for me, I'm purely a technology guy, not a people person.
This is bullshit. People can change. You can change yourself. 'I only do tech' is an excuse to not have to go outside your comfort zone. Of course it's a big change. Of course it's scary. Of course you don't know exactly how to get from A to B. But just giving up with a 'this is how I was born' is defeatism.
I think I spent too much time as an employee, a relationship in which every increase in salary needs elaborate over-justification. Consulting isn't like that.
I think the key idea here is that you can change who you hang with in consulting. The world is a really big place, and it's filled with some people who are willing to pay a lot for the particular services you offer, and a lot of people who are not willing to pay a lot. Raising your rates just means that you will self-select for engagements with the people who are willing to pay a lot.
When you're an employee, your pool of opportunities is significantly more limited, at least unless you're willing to change jobs. So it's a lot harder to convince people to pay you more.
The key mindset shift you need is the ability to a.) put yourself out there and let yourself be found by the folks who are willing to pay a lot and b.) say no to the people who are not willing to pay a lot. (Also c.) get laughed at by folks who think it's ridiculous how much you're charging.) This is uncomfortable for a lot of people; it's still uncomfortable to me, which is why I'm not a consultant at this point, although it's also a very necessary skill for a startup founder and so I'll probably have to learn it and make peace with it anyway on my current trajectory.
When you apply to a job, they see you as a permanent cost center and not as an immediate way to grow their bottom line. In this case the negotiation changes to a large degree. I suppose it's possible to transfer the conversation during a salary negotiation so that you are selling based on the points above, but I think that's much easier said than done.
I think this constantly recurring point about raising rates is based on people who sell consulting services having a larger-than-necessary gap between what a company would pay for the outcome and what they are charging.
There has to be a limiting factor somewhere.
One of my fiancee's B-school professors specializes in pricing theory. He can make several million dollars in one consulting engagement, because he tells companies where they should price their products to maximize revenue, and so he just needs to charge some fraction of ($new_revenue - $old_revenue), which is usually measured in millions.