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INTRO Developer from Colorado - hello!

tigerbalm

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 23, 2018
9
9
19
Colorado
Hey there. 27 y/o front end developer (getting into fullstack) from Colorado here.

Several years ago I decided to quit my job in marketing to travel for several months in Southeast Asia. I ended up doing that for sixth months and returning to the job that sustained me through high school and an economics degree (server at a restaurant). After getting fired from that (didn't ID a secret shopper), I decided to make some career moves and get into software development. I attended a bootcamp, came out and got a pretty decent first job as a developer, and left 15 months later to what I thought would be my dream job (engineering-centric company with a commitment to learning and a fantastic salary).

Despite attaining what my end goal was just a few years back - a great position at an awesome company with a higher salary than I ever thought I'd have, I find myself desiring more out of life. As I'm sure happened with many here, I read the Fastlane and Unscripted, and finally had a clear idea of what I wanted.

Where I'm at now: my 9-5 provides me with the income I need to get my ideas off the ground, but I'm happy to put 20-40 hours into said business opportunity on top of the job. I'm hoping to purchase a multi-family unit with an FHA (thanks @G_Alexander) when my lease is up in August with the hopes of living rent free, and in the meantime, and exploring starting a business doing development work, even if it means rolling solo for a while (freelancing I guess).

Some issues / questions I have:

1. How can one differentiate themselves in the freelance development marketplace when there is an abundance of wordpress / premade template shortcuts that achieve what most customers are looking for? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to get into the wordpress / shopify game, but part of me feels that there must be a need for custom solutions built from scratch that I may be missing. Also the low barrier to entry scares me a bit on the Wordpress / Shopify front.

2. How do you approach getting clients having never freelanced before? Do you populate your portfolio with personal projects, offer free services, or other?

3. How do you approach getting clients that need custom needs that necessitate the building of a project from scratch? I'm guessing the answer is to provide value, but this can be hard without knowing the ins and outs of the business that you are targeting, which often is not available.

I'm hoping to start out with some solo freelancing, and scale appropriately once that starts being successful.

I believe I saw that there was a good thread on a web application business somewhere in the Insiders (not Fox's though that one was a really great read), if anyone could point me to that, or any other threads that might be beneficial with regards to development, it'd be greatly appreciated.

I'm excited to be here and benefit from the knowledge to be gained from the community. I appreciate any input / feedback and look forward to further interactions.
 

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Jackmar

Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Nov 18, 2018
8
33
22
Arizona, USA
Hey there! welcome :)

I was in your exact same position a couple years back. ( and I used to work as a front-end dev in Colorado too)

1. There are SO many developers that have an entitled attitude and only do the bare minimum to take home their bloated pay. Both salaried and freelance. If you actually care about the end result, and are reliable and and go the extra mile, thats differentiation enough and you will NEVER lack for clients. I know at least 2 agencies in the Denver area that are dying for a good freelance front-end developer, I've worked with some of their recent freelance hires... It can be ugly. It's AMAZING how much stress this causes them trying to find capable and reliable developers. If they got a cold call/email from someone who could demonstrate sufficient skill with past work (who cares if its professional work, personal work can be just as good for this purpose), as well as really sell themselves as reliable and dedicated, I can guarantee you they would give them a chance.

2 & 3. If you are truly committed to this, give it another year and use the opportunity you have right now at your full time job to crush it. Read and learn as much as you can, form opinions on what feels right to you. Build projects based on those opinions to build your portfolio. Create a JS/CSS library for yourself or others, offer your opinions to your coworkers, do what you can to better the architecture on whatever projects your working. This is going to massively build your confidence. Once you get your confidence up with this stuff, moving onto freelance and selling yourself is no longer a difficult, impossible problem. It will just happen naturally if thats your goal.
 

GoGetter24

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Oct 8, 2017
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1. There are SO many developers that have an entitled attitude and only do the bare minimum to take home their bloated pay. Both salaried and freelance. If you actually care about the end result, and are reliable and and go the extra mile, thats differentiation enough and you will NEVER lack for clients. I know at least 2 agencies in the Denver area that are dying for a good freelance front-end developer, I've worked with some of their recent freelance hires... It can be ugly. It's AMAZING how much stress this causes them trying to find capable and reliable developers. If they got a cold call/email from someone who could demonstrate sufficient skill with past work (who cares if its professional work, personal work can be just as good for this purpose), as well as really sell themselves as reliable and dedicated, I can guarantee you they would give them a chance.
Whenever I hear stuff like this all I hear is "pissed off at price".

To that company that's dying for that type of worker, i.e. wants one but "can't" get one, I hear "wants $200k of work for $50k".

This is more leveled at skilled professionals: pay attention to this type of language, which is proxy language for "want to pay you less", and whenever you hear even a wisp of it, run a mile.

However, to OP: hearing this language is a good sign, because it indicates demand in your area and high prices.

1. Do the most difficult work. High supply means: "easy". For instance, there is a high supply of baristas because it's easy, and a low supply of surgeons because it's hard. So if wordpress is easy (I assume it is from what you say), and that's why there's so much supply, choose something hard instead. The unpleasant, difficult work, that others can't or won't do, which you can then charge an arm and a leg for.

2. Do some work for a charity, since receiving free stuff is normal for them, and giving free stuff to a charity is no indication of quality (versus trying to give free stuff to a business -- which to them means "crap work").

3. Just ask them questions and feed answers back to them. E.g. ask bunch of probing questions, and then summarize back "so am I correct in saying you need...". If you're not correct or don't sound like you know your stuff, you and them now both know you aren't the guy for the job (and you'll get better with practice). But if you get it right they immediately think "this guy sounds good".
 
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OP
tigerbalm

tigerbalm

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 23, 2018
9
9
19
Colorado
@Jackmar Thanks very much for the input, I think you are absolutely correct in your comments regarding crushing it on the job and learning. Sometimes I get carried away with the deep desire to take action NOW (as far as starting a business), but forget also that one can get valuable experience and expertise while on on the job (particularly notable here is the segment on industry experience in Unscripted). I'm curious, did you end up pursuing other things, or end up attempting an entrepreneurial endeavor related to development?

@GoGetter24 I think that your comment about doing the harder thing is on point, it all goes back to doing what has a higher barrier to entry, thank you for reminded me of that. The charity idea is fantastic as well, there is a lot of development work to be done for open source civic stuff which would align perfectly with your comments. Thank you for the contributions.
 

lowtek

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Oct 3, 2015
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Phoenix, AZ
Welcome aboard from a fellow ATHF fan.

1) Be consistent, on time, helpful, and always do what you say you will do. This will instantly set you apart and your customers will care about this infinitely more than whatever tech you are using.

2) You do whatever it takes to get the deal.

3) Just solve one problem at a time. Get the customer first, then figure this part out. You're just stroking yourself off with this one.
 
OP
OP
tigerbalm

tigerbalm

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 23, 2018
9
9
19
Colorado
Welcome aboard from a fellow ATHF fan.

1) Be consistent, on time, helpful, and always do what you say you will do. This will instantly set you apart and your customers will care about this infinitely more than whatever tech you are using.

2) You do whatever it takes to get the deal.

3) Just solve one problem at a time. Get the customer first, then figure this part out. You're just stroking yourself off with this one.
Very good points, thank you for the input. I feel like the plight of the beginner is to jump ahead as I’ve done here, always helpful to be reminded to take it one step at a time.
 

civilpro

Contributor
Nov 20, 2018
22
24
16
Denver, CO
I'd keep the job and focus on building a business that follows the commandments of unscripted. The "dream" of being self employed is a LIE when all you are doing is working a service-oriented business, its just another job where income is limited by time spent working.

The "problem" you are seeking to solve already has thousands of people solving them. You have to find a problem that nobody else is solving.

Personally, if I had your skill set, I would attempt to sell businesses automation services. I personally think most businesses are ditching phone service. So if you can come up with solutions to book appointments, etc, through a website that's a winning business. A lot of companies don't hire secretaries anymore to take phone calls, book appointments, verify info, etc.

I would come up with solutions catering to at first 1 industry (example eyeglass shops). This online software solution could be sold to numerous shops. Customization is the LAST thing you want. You want to sell the same thing over and over, preferably to a niche customer base.

Even typing this makes me think of things I could be creating to cater to my niche. Your niche is NOT web development. Web development is just a means to a solution.
 
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OP
tigerbalm

tigerbalm

New Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Nov 23, 2018
9
9
19
Colorado
I'd keep the job and focus on building a business that follows the commandments of unscripted. The "dream" of being self employed is a LIE when all you are doing is working a service-oriented business, its just another job where income is limited by time spent working.

The "problem" you are seeking to solve already has thousands of people solving them. You have to find a problem that nobody else is solving.

Personally, if I had your skill set, I would attempt to sell businesses automation services. I personally think most businesses are ditching phone service. So if you can come up with solutions to book appointments, etc, through a website that's a winning business. A lot of companies don't hire secretaries anymore to take phone calls, book appointments, verify info, etc.

I would come up with solutions catering to at first 1 industry (example eyeglass shops). This online software solution could be sold to numerous shops. Customization is the LAST thing you want. You want to sell the same thing over and over, preferably to a niche customer base.
You're absolutely right, I was thinking that the business that I had mentioned could have work that is able to be outsourced, but then sourcing and dealing with employees sounds like a logistical nightmare. I was enticed by the allure of the low barrier to entry. I think that the software as a service route is a much better one. Very good point about not wanting customization, thank you for bringing that up.
 

civilpro

Contributor
Nov 20, 2018
22
24
16
Denver, CO
btw I'm also in Colorado;) What typically happens with most solo-preneurs or 2 person companies is that there is some initial success (like the new restaurant everyone wants to try), but after that wears off and the business gets slow they end up working 100 hours weeks.

So owning your own business can actually be more slow-lane than having a job, because you are wasting your youth working.

The only situation where it makes sense to open up a business is if you have people knocking at your door and you have a massive pipeline of customers before the business even opens. Don't rely on hope though.
 

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