The Truth About Freelance Web Design

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Sam, a supporting listener on Patreon, sent me this video the other day and wanted to know what I thought:

Check out the video for the full story, but let me summarize what I think Mike Locke is ultimately saying:

  • Freelance income is not sustainable and scalable because you’re ultimately just trading time for money like a regular job
  • You shouldn’t focus on it as your end-all be-all for your career
  • Use it as supplement to a job and focus long term on building a product for residual income

Now, while I agree with a lot of what he says in the video and I appreciate what he’s trying to get you to do (which I think is good)… I have to say I disagree with some of his primary points.

The problems with freelancing aren’t freelancing itself… it’s how it’s used.

Let me give you an example.

Shortly after I built Michael Hyatt’s membership site, Platform University, as you might imagine I had a lot of people contacting me to build them a similar kind of site. In fact, so much so, that I came up with a new service offering called a “Clone”. And I sold it for three grand.

Building those sites took me between 4-6 hours.

Because I already had all the code. I wrote down an “implementation checklist” of exactly what steps to take to build the clone. And, I was clear with clients from the start that I was basically giving them the same site with colors and logos changed. No custom coding or any of that.

And they didn’t care. That’s what they wanted.

And, I built a lot of these.

So, if you look at what I made hourly it was somewhere between 500 and 750 per hour. When, my normal hourly rate was around 100 at the time. So, I was making five times my hourly rate on these projects.

And, clients couldn’t care less.

They weren’t paying me for my time.

They were paying me for access (to the code I already had). They were paying me for my expertise. And frankly, most of them were paying me for speed… because I could crank the site out so fast.

So, if you think of freelancing from a purely “hourly rate” standpoint…

Then, sure it’s just trading time for money like any old job. And, doing the math… you’ll probably find it hard to see how you can reach your income goals.

But dude!

If you don’t want to trade time for money… then don’t trade time for money. In fact, go to my “hire me” page right now ( Do you see an hourly rate on there?


I don’t even offer it.

When you start thinking of your services as more than just your time… and start thinking in terms of “end results” and offering them more as products… you can start to see how you can make the kind of income you’re after with freelancing.

And, you can see how easily it can scale.

This is why I harp on “end results” all the time.

You’ll make more money.

You’ll work less.

It’ll be easier to market.

It’ll be easier to deliver.

And (ninja [email protected]# here) if you choose, it’ll be easier to outsource or hire someone to do for you so you can rake in the dineros while you sit at the beach sipping on some rum and Coke.

Can you see what I’m saying?

Here’s one more example…

A few years back, I saw how big the responsive design thing was getting. So, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and I focused mainly on local small businesses. They were easy to sell and easy to make happy.

And, as I started building mobile responsive sites for local businesses…

I developed a PHP “framework” that let me do it faster and faster each time. In fact, by the time I had it fully developed I could go grab a bootstrap template and port it into my system in just a few hours.

Plug in some variables specific to that client and have their site out the door in less than a day. And, it’d be a major upgrade from their previous site.

Now, I know that won’t make you feel better than everyone else because you hand-code every site you build from scratch…

But, it will put food (lots) on the table.

Anyway, I put that framework and a full 3-module course up over on Patreon. It’s called Lightning Responsive and you can get it as a supporting listener 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, source code and exclusive courses on Patreon.

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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