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The life of a successful freelancer is hard, but tremendously rewarding. Without 9 to 5 hours or a boss breathing down your neck, you can pretty much do as you please. You can work how you want, when you want, where you want: in an office, at home, or from a beach in Barbados, assuming you’ve got a laptop and reasonable Wi-Fi signal!
As glamorous as life as a top freelancer might seem, there’s no denying that lots of hard work and unflinching dedication are required to achieve success. With good ideas and tenacity, however, the returns can be massive, both in terms of earnings and job satisfaction.
Below, we explore the lives of 9 freelancers who have reached the top of their game. All have achieved success through the internet, mainly blogging, an avenue which is open to everyone with access to a computer (that means you!) Hopefully you’ll be inspired by their stories and respective achievements to start blogging yourself, or if you’re running a blog already, you’ll be able to learn from the best in the business.
1. Darren Rowse
Darren began his ascent into blogging superstardom back in 2002, when he started his own personal blog as a way to share and discuss things between friends and colleagues. Its popularity grew and it started to receive several thousand visitors each month. Soon enough, Darren started to earn a living from it, largely through AdSense and the Amazon Affiliate program. He quickly set about establishing over 20 different blogs to experiment with various income streams and advertising systems.
Today, Darren runs several extremely successful blogs, including Digital Photography School, his most popular blog, which receives over 1 million visitors each month. He also runs TwiTip, a blog for sharing Twitter tips, and b5Media, his most ambitious project yet, a blog network consisting of hundreds of blogs and independent bloggers. He’s also set up ProBlogger.net, a site for those who wish to learn blogging skills, and ProBlogger.com, a paid for site which promotes collaboration between professional bloggers.
2. Yaro Starak
Yaro has come a long way since creating, managing and selling his first website, MTGParadise.com, a hobby fan page devoted to the card game, Magic: The Gathering. He learnt his trade as an internet entrepreneur by setting up several websites in his native Australia, including BetterEdit, a proofreading service for students, and Student-Marketing.com.au, a university campus poster advertising service. He even ran an English school for many years.
Today, Yaro lives to teach others the secrets of his success. He does so through Becomeablogger.com, a great site packed with video tutorials teaching people how to create their own successful blogs. He also runs Blogmastermind.com, the next step for bloggers who are serious about making money, and Membershipsitemastermind.com, which teaches people how to create a successful membership site. Entrepreneurs-journey.com, another of his creations, ties all of his websites together and tells his own personal story.
Collis, yet another Australian entrepreneur, cofounded no prescription viagra Envato, in 2006, with his wife Cyan. Envato is a factory of sorts, churning out hundreds of well-designed and profitable websites, specializing in marketplaces, communities, blogs and educational sites. Among Envato’s most successful creations is ActiveDen, a marketplace which specializes in the buying and selling of royalty-free Adobe Flash and Flex files. It is home to a large community of Flash designer and developer members as well as the largest Flash library on the web.
Other popular Envato websites include WorkAwesome (a resource for those who want to succeed in the workplace), FreelanceSwitch (a place for freelancers to share advice, chat, collaborate and look for work) and Creattica (an inspirational design work gallery). Collis’s huge success can largely be attributed to his wide skills set. Not only is he an ideas man, he’s an expert web designer and Photoshop user who can bring ideas to life.
4. Jon Phillips
Jon’s the lead designer and founder of SpyreStudios, a design agency based in Montreal, Canada. He founded the company back in 2007. SpyreStudios.com not only acts as a portfolio for Jon’s work, it is home to a very popular blog, which attracts clients and random readers alike. As well as collaborating with the best bloggers and social media strategists to create amazing websites, SpyreStudios offers a
WordPress consultancy service for those wanting to build or boost the performance of their own blogs.
On the side, Jon also runs Design Newz, a site featuring a wealth of useful information and articles written by web design experts. It’s updated regularly with around five to ten new articles and tutorials each day. As if Jon couldn’t get any cooler, he also plays guitar in a great Montreal-based heavy metal band.
5. Jacob Gube
In 2008, when Jason Gube founded Six Revisions, a weblog for designers and web developers, he didn’t think for a moment that it would become the success that it is today. A designer and developer himself, specializing in front-end and PHP development, Jason has managed to drive traffic to his site and make money in the process by ensuring that everything posted is interesting, relevant and useful.
Jason keeps a close eye on his site’s comments section and reacts accordingly, offering tips, tutorials and resources that are in highest demand. He also gives away the odd freebie here and there, as his way of saying “thanks” to his loyal readership.
Founded in 2006, Smashing Magazine is a brilliant weblog for designers and developers with tons of information about the latest trends and techniques. Vitaly is not only Smashing Magazine’s founder, he’s the editor-in-chief, and is personally responsible for the quality of articles published on the site, all of which are manually hand-picked and quality controlled.
Just this year, Vitaly made a leap into traditional publishing with the Smashing Book, an in-depth guide to best practices in web design. Inside the book, you’ll find technical tips on coding, usability and optimization; advice on typography, colors and branding; as well as a look behind the scenes at Smashing Magazine. The book’s full of contributions from industry experts, including Jason Gube.
As well as being a self-proclaimed “web geek”, Chris is a UK-based professional blogger, internet marketing consultant, entrepreneur, new media industry commentator, journalist, speaker, trainer and author. In 2005, Chris founded OQIM, a company which helps individuals and businesses use online media more effectively. Chris is a prolific writer, posting regular articles on his own website (chrisg.com), his personal blog (chrisg.org) and various other sites including ProBlogger, FreelanceSwitch, Threadwatch and ASPToday.
When he’s not blogging, you’ll find Chris speaking at major internet marketing, blogging and new media events such as WordCamp and Affiliate Expo. Somehow, besides all this other work, Chris has managed to co-author a book with Darren Rowse entitled ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.
8. Brian Clark
Brian founded Copyblogger in January 2006. It’s since become a huge success, attracting 100,000 subscribers and 240,000 visitors each month. It was identified by The Guardian newspaper as one of the world’s 50 most powerful blogs and gets glowing endorsements from BusinessWeek and Technorati.
Brian’s fantastic site is intended for those people wanting to boost the success of their website to get more traffic, attract links, gain subscribers and sell goods. According to Copyblogger.com, this can best be done through compelling content and copywriting, which anyone can learn by following the articles which are regularly uploaded on the site.
Chris Pearson is a WordPress master. He runs Pearsonified, a weblog devoted to helping people build and run successful WordPress blogs. Every article, trick and tip that Chris uploads is picked apart, discussed and analysed by a thriving online community. Chris also runs DIYTheme, a WordPress theme marketplace.
Unsurprisingly, Chris uses his vast WordPress knowledge to design themes, some of which are available through DIYTheme. Chris is big on themes which look amazing without skimping on usability. Currently, Chris is promoting his
new theme called Thesis, which is used on such revered sites as Laughing Squid and Copyblogger. It offers excellent SEO and in-depth, user-friendly customisation.