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Why I’ve Stopped Freelance Consulting

John Doherty —  September 24, 2013
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During the fall of 2011 and the first half of 2012, I did a lot of freelance consulting. I did it because I was saving for trips abroad and knew that by doing consulting on the side of my day job at Distilled NYC I could save for it faster. So I took on some clients, some that I did penalty drop analysis for, and others where I built links and produced content for their sites. It was fun, but it was tiring as I worked an extra 10-15 hours per week in addition to 50-60 hours at Distilled plus blogging on this site twice weekly as well as Distilled and SEOmoz’s blogs almost once a month each.

It was a lot. So late last year, I stopped accepting new freelance clients and slowly phased out my old ones. While I had less money in my pocket, I also had a lot more free time to explore other projects that I was interested in.

Challenges of Freelance

Freelance consulting was a challenge for me because of the time factor. When I spent 50-60 hours a week at my day job, I then needed to relax on the weekends. I tried to only do freelance work every other weekend, but then that inevitably meant that I had to spend the two freelance weekends just doing work, or at least the afternoons and evenings of Saturday and Sunday. That was no fun and I missed out on a lot of opportunities in New York City. I also found that it took up a lot of my brain space on the weekends I was not working.

Freelancing can be very challenging for indisciplined folks. In order to succeed as a freelancer, I realized that you need to have the following in line:

  • Driven by money, or driven to make money for a certain larger goal
  • High enough of an hourly rate to make it worth your time
  • A non-demanding day job

I quite simply wasn’t driven by money enough to spend my extra time that I had outside of work doing more work. I needed some free time to stay active and sane after getting off work.

What Instead?

I’m a bad programmer (which is why I don’t do it for a living), but I can get around PHP, CSS, and JavaScript. But my talents come in identifying business models that work and then applying them to new problems.

A few months ago, I launched a service called HireGun. It’s a simple site now, but would you believe that it’s doing some decent revenue with about 10 hours worth of work per month? It’s a simple idea that I’ve launched and am working every day to improve the process and increase deal flow. I bet a number of you who read this, if you work in the inbound marketing industry in SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing, and especially if you run an agency, will be hearing from me soon enough.

So, I’m focusing on more scalable ventures that allow me to put what I know more into practice, make some money, and ultimately stop chasing the elusive algorithm and Google dance, and instead build something that I am proud of and that will provide me certain freedoms I desire.

I Have Availability from Sept 28-Oct 10

While I’m at it, I’m also offering people the opportunity to do pay-by-the-minuteĀ phone call consulting with me. The issue with a lot of agencies is that they work on retainer models (great for revenue, not so great for those in need of a bit of consulting) and therefore those who need an hour or two are left begging a few hours from someone in exchange for coffee or food. And if you’re dealing with people who have read posts like this, this will be hard to do.

So, I’ve become an expert on Dan Martell’s Clarity.fm. Through that service, you can request a phone call with me. As you can tell through my writings on this site, I hold nothing back and will seek to give as much valuable as possible in the time that you are paying for. It’ll be fun, so why not give me a call and we can chat some marketing?


John Doherty

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I'm the Senior Marketing Manager of HotPads.com, based in San Francisco. Previous to Hotpads I worked at Distilled for 2 years as an online marketing consultant. In my spare time I shoot lifestyle photography, ski, rock climb, and update my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

7 responses to Why I’ve Stopped Freelance Consulting

  1. Nice post John. Your situation probably resonates with plenty of SEOs/marketing consultants out there.

  2. Hi John

    Did you not consider just freelancing full time? I’ve stuck with it since 2008 through ups and downs, mainly as I just couldn’t work for anyone else anymore.

    Gonna check out Clarify.fm, I may even give you a call for a second opinion sometime…you cannot usually get that freelancing!

    Good luck!
    Gareth

    • Hey Gareth –
      Thanks for the comment and it’s a great question. Long story short, I don’t want to stay in consulting full time. I could freelance for myself, but I think I’d quickly get burned out on that. I still have a lot to learn so going back inhouse will help with that and I can keep moving forward with my knowledge and experience before doing my own thing someday (not consulting).

  3. Hey John – I don’t take clients either, just no time at all. But we both have great networks for referrals, and should get compensated for those “15-minute conversations.” have you checked out Emissary at all? They vet through EVERYONE in their network, and then you get an invite. http://www.emissary.io/ I just signed up, but it’s somewhat under the radar. It seems pretty neat.

    • Monica –

      Thanks for stopping by to comment :-) I hadn’t heard of Emissary, but I just signed up! It seems really cool and I love the idea of this for connecting people. We’re both connectors, and I think this is awesome.

      Hope you are well!

  4. Many people will be sad on this decision. I am sure freelance has its own pros and cons. But having access to your service was a big plus for all. thanks.

  5. It’s very sad to hear this. Why don’t you consider as a part time job?