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I Made $4800 in January 2021

Hello freelancers,

It's time for the first update in 2021.

If you're not familiar with these posts, I'm documenting m journey from $5/hour Fiverr code monkey to $100/hour consultant.

You can check out my previous updates on my profile or visit archive on my blog.

Although January was a wild month in the world, I had quite a chill one.

I've restructured the deal with Client #1.

Some pretty interesting projects came my way.

And I started making my own product.

Let's get started with the update.

TL;DR I made $4800 for 12 days of work on one project. I have two other projects in the pipeline.

Projects

Client #1

I've already mentioned that Client #1 got funding. Now that they have money, we decided to restructure our deal a bit.

The First thing is that we switched from charging by the hour to charging by the day. Client #1 currently occupies three days in the week.

Next up we switched from $35/hour to $400/day.

Leads

Two people reached out this month.

Coincidentally, they both work in finance and want to create their own SaaS product to escape the grind.

I've had a total of three meetings, two of which were introductions, and one deep-dive.

Lead #1

Lead #1 wants to make a sales team performance tracker that integrates seamlessly with Stripe. The budget is around $5-$10k.

I had an introduction meeting with him where I asked if we can get in touch in a week after he creates some mockups so I get a better picture of his vision.

I've sent one follow-up email to which I haven't got a reply. I'll send another one in the following days.

Lead #2

Lead #2 wants to make a platform for discovering new food products. The budget is up to $5k.

I had two meetings with him.

It's the same situation as with Lead #1 where I asked for a mockup before I give out a quote.

I received a mockup this week, had a deep-dive conversation to find more about the project, and I've written him a proposal in Bonsai.

Bonsai notifies me when someone sees proposals and I got an email that he saw it. I'll follow up with him in a couple of days.

I have no preference on which project I'd rather work on.

My Product

After talking with these two leads, I've realized that I can win the project even if they don't accept the first proposal.

If they reject the first one, I'll propose another one which will be 10-15 hours shorter but I'll ask them to buy a license for a SaaS starter.

But there's a problem with that plan. There is no a good SaaS starter kit for Django and Vue.

My current favorite stack for bootstrapped products like these is Django + Vue.

I've tried to find a SaaS starter kit for this stack but couldn't find a good one so I've started writing my own.

I introduce you to Get Django SaaS. An opinionated SaaS Starter kit for Django and Vue.

So far I've:

  • Put up an email capture website
  • Ran ads for the product
  • Setup backend and frontend base projects
  • Bootstrapped base layout for frontend
  • Written email/password authentication system on the backend
  • Created login and register page

Some things I still need to do before I can call this an MVP:

  • Wire frontend auth with backend
  • Write a system for CRUD scaffolding
  • Add email integration with MailChimp and EmailOctopus
  • Integrate billing with Stripe and Paddle
  • Design and code common components a customer can choose from to customize the base look
  • Add teams and email invite system
  • Documentation, documentation, and more documentation

After I implement all this I'll see whether it will fly and if there are freelancers that are struggling with the same problem.

You must be asking yourself: "Hey Adem, it's awesome that you're building your own product but how did you validate this idea?".

  1. There's a ton of SaaS starter kits out there so there's a market for it.
  2. I'm scratching my own niche. One famous SaaS starter kit is Laravel Spark and its creator, Taylor Otwell, said that he'd be fine if no one was buying it since it's helpful for him. I'm going with the same approach. Even if I don't get any customers, I'll still have an awesome starter kit for future projects.

Expenses

Moving on I'll include my expenses for the month.

| Expenses | Amount |
|--------------------|---------|
| Transaction Fees | $259.50 |
| Taxes | $495 |
| Retirement Fund | $154.5 |
| Ethereum | $320 |
| HelloBonsai | $19 |
| Namecheap | $8 |
| Github Sponsorship | $5 |
| Patreon | $13 |
| Total | $1274 |

Detailed breakdown

Client #1 uses Deel to process payroll. I get paid via SWIFT so the transaction fees are SWIFT fees + my local bank fees.

Lucky for me, in Bosnia taxes are pretty low and they come at a bit over 10%.

Each month I have to contribute to the retirement fund a small amount of $154 to be eligible for a pension when I get old.

I buy ETH each month to get the advantage of dollar-cost averaging and compounding effect. This is not an opinion on what should you invest in. I'm breaking down my business expenses because my crypto investments my other pension.

Hello Bonsai subscription costs $19. Worth every penny.

I bought getdjangosaas.com from Namecheap for $8.

I spend $18 supporting some creators and open-source contributors for the hard work they're doing.

Conclusion

January 2021 was one of the better months I had.

I've made $4800 gross. If we factor in $1274 of expenses, my profit is $3526.

If you want to read these updates as soon as I write them, you can sign up for my newsletter.

Want to read previous updates? Visit Archive.

  1. 1

    This is amazing stuff @AthosBlade. Laravel has a SaaS-starter kit where you might be able to draw some inspiration. Check out Jetstream and Laravel Spark.

    Congrats again on your success. Read some of your posts in your Archive and they are gold!

    1. 2

      Thank you.

      That's very kind of you to say it.

      I've heard a lot of good things about Spark and heard word Jetstream here and there but never looked into it.

      Seems cool.

  2. 1

    This is so inspiring. Happy to see a fellow vue+django dev thriving. I've done some freelance work as a side hustle but never actively. I'd like to pick up more work and find quality clients. Any tips on how to go about this?

    I've been blogging for a while now and the site gets fairly good traffic but It's mostly developers and not clients.
    https://lewiskori.com

    1. 2

      Thanks Lewis!

      Here'are few tips I can give you based on your website:

      • Be more specific. There are a lot of people who can "code everything and anything" but people are looking for people with specific knowledge in one area. For e.g. if your brain hurts, do you go the doctor that cures everything or neuro-specialist?
      • Look for clients in communities such as IndieHackers, Reddit, and Hacker News but look for them in the comments section.
      • Benefits over features. Based on your website, I get a feeling that you're branding yourself as "someone who can write code for anything you want". Instead, I'd brand myself as "developer who can solve your problems using Django" for e.g.

      Hope this helps,
      Adem Hodzic

      1. 1

        Thanks for this. I appreciate you replying.

        • I see your point and it's valid, I'll have to sit down and evaluate a niche in line with my interests and one that's in demand.
        • Yeah that's what I'd been doing and it's not so effective. It can also get taxing as you can't really concentrate your marketing or scouting for leads in one area but rather a wide pool. I'll rebrand this for sure.

        Thank you :)

  3. 1

    Wow man, this is a great idea. Respect for doing this! I'm a freelancer too with some years of experience, but still it was an interesting read. It inspires me.

    1. 3

      Awesome to hear that Matt. It means a lot that my content motivates someone.

      You got a website where I can check you out?

      1. 1

        Not yet! I mean I have my static site with portfolio/work process but I still have to start a blog in this way. But after reading your post I'm thinking of creating it :) it seems way more interesting than a regular blog

  4. 1

    Wow it's amazing! We were talking about this with a friend, that many people just share the income, not the expenses. So it sounds nice that someone makes millions, but ten if they spend those millions on advertisements, to barely cut even then it's worthless. I am happy for your progress and keep up the good work! My business: www.locospartygame.net is quite different, yet your journey inspired me a lot! Thx!

    1. 1

      Thanks, Archie!

      Yeah, I've also didn't include expenses at first because I've thought nobody was interested in it.

      Then I started diving deep in r/juststart and a couple of other income reports and noticed that a lot of people are actually including expenses.

      You learn as you go I suppose

  5. 1

    Awesome month and great work. Do you use other Bonsai features other than contracts and proposals? Thank you

    1. 1

      Thank you, Vincenzo!

      Yeah, January was one of the better months.

      I think I'm using all features in Bonsai that you get in $19/month tier but contracts, proposals, and invoices are the most used.

      Especially invoices. I don't know if you can do this via regular PayPal, but with Bonsai invoices you can just whether you or your client pays PayPal fees (which are btw outrageous)

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