You are a lot like a supermodel

Quora is amazing.

Want to know what it’s like to have crippling social anxiety, have flown a bomber mission, or become extremely rich and then suddenly lose all the money? There’s probably someone who has had that experience and written about it on Quora!

The other day I stumbled into the “what’s it like to date a model” thread. I’m happily married, but couldn’t resist reading through the thread.

I learned what a supermodel is. I had assumed this was a super good-looking model, but that’s not so. From that Quora thread:

She was also spending all of her spare time trying to “make it” as a supermodel, which for those who aren’t familiar with the industry, doesn’t mean “extra-good-looking model,” it means models who have the brains to figure out that they have to leverage their looks into building themselves into a brand and business before their shelf-life runs out.

This part reminded me of freelancing. I’ll try not to stretch the analogy too far, but freelancers are a little bit like models who need to become supermodels…

Freelancer –> “Superfreelancer”!

How long can you be a $100/hour software developer or designer? A $60/hour writer? A $40/hr social media consultant?

For some people, that situation works for the long term. If that’s you, great!

For others, that situation has a shelf life that’s around 5 or 10 years. 5 or 10 years before you need to find a more reliable way to bring in clients, a way to increase profitability, or both. 5 to 10 years before your skillset becomes highly commoditized and reduces in value.

If you like the idea of building a team, that’s one way out of this situation.

But if you’d rather take the solo approach, the path to becoming a Superfreelancer usually involves the following elements:

  1. Figuring out a higher value market position, and developing a marketing approach to help you move to and dominate that new position
  2. Replacing the hourly billing pricing model (artificial rate ceiling is the biggest of many problems w/hourly billing) with something more profitable (flat project fees, recurring arrangements, retainers, etc.)
  3. Leveraging products, unique intellectual property, or training to increase and diversify revenue can help you with #1 on the list above. If you can see the “use by date” on your freelancing efforts coming up, start moving towards Superfreelancer status sooner rather than later.

Hold that pose! Now give me that Superfreelancer smile! Bigger!! Bigger!!!

Want to stop competing against every other developer?

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