Can You Really Make A Serious Living Freelancing?

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Last week, I had a the chance to sit down with Ed Gandia, a self-taught six-figure (not B.S.) copywriter to do a bit of mythbusting about earning enough to live really well in the world as a freelancer. And, here’s what unfolded:

You can learn more about Ed or check out his book at:

[FTC disclosure: Ed is a friend of mine. He’s got more hair left than me, so I may be a little jealous and that might affect my feelings about him and his book. Speaking of which, his book totally doesn’t suck, but I should probably let you know he sent me a copy for free, which is almost as good as paying my mortgage. Well, it would be, except I rent. I guess I’m also feeling a little guilty now about asking Ed to pay my kid’s private school tuition in exchange for this post, specially since she goes to public school. Ed may or may not also make great pizza. I don’t know. But, if he sends me a free one chances are I’ll eat it, and if I write a review, I’m hoping it won’t be biased.]

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21 responses

21 responses to “Can You Really Make A Serious Living Freelancing?”

  1. Hey I got a free book from Ed too! No, I got it from the Wealthy Freelancer’s and I have more hair then you both but I am not boasting. Both Jonathan and Ed are great examples of how to make a living and a life that is worthy of praise. Oh, I did get a free book from Jonathan’s publisher too. But, I am not biased both books are great. Read them.

  2. Ed Gandia says:

    I DO make a great homemade pizza. Legendary. Happy to FedEx a pie to anyone who talks positively about my book.

    BTW, video broke down at the end. So here it is, the ONE piece of advice I’d give someone looking to go solo or already solo:

    Be very clear about what you do, for whom, and why you’re different. What the world really needs is freelancers who are clear about the value they deliver, what they bring to the table… and why their background, experience, skills, training, aptitudes are the best fit for prospects in a particular industry or who looking for a particular set of deliverables.

    Define those things clearly and you’ll be WAY ahead of your competition.

  3. Great interview! I agree with Ed that if you can make 1/2 of your income on a part-time basis, then that’s a good point to take the leap full-time into the freelancing career. That’s exactly what I did too.

    • Ed Gandia says:

      Yup, it can be a tough call. Especially if you have a lot at stake (you’re the sole breadwinner, you earn a high income at work, etc.). However, this “trigger income” can be one of maybe 4 ore 5 good indicators as to your readiness to make the leap.

  4. Ed and Jonathan,

    Great interview! And congrats, Ed, on all of your accomplishments.

    Life is what you make of it right? Let’s hope you stir up the pot enough to get people changing their lives!

    Keep up the good work man.

    • Ed Gandia says:

      I hope so, man! I’m getting tired of the mainstream media focusing on what’s wrong with the freelance movement. Fact is, there’s a lot more that’s right with it. The trick is to find ways to maximize your income for every hour you put in. I’m not saying you should charge by the hour. Just saying that one of your biggest goals should be to earn more in less time. There are many ways to do that, regardless of your field. Make that happen and you suddenly have the freedom and flexibility you need to have a life.

  5. Great interview ed

    I really liked this point you put out in the comments “Be very clear about what you do, for whom, and why you’re different.”

    I definitely see that problem all the time when I am trying to put some work out there and hire freelancers. Many people are trying to compete on being the same as everyone else but “better quality.” I think competing on quality is fine – but you’ve got to be able to somehow qualify why your stuff is better. Is it because you have a better education? Perhaps you’ve traveled and your sensitivity to cultural issues? Experience with all types and sizes of projects?

    If on the other hand anyone out there is hiring software engineers and wants a good one – but you won’t ask me to qualify what that means – rest assured, if you hire me, I’m better 😉

    • Ed Gandia says:

      SO true, Sid!! I’m glad you pointed this out. 95% (or more) of freelancers are trying to compete and platitudes such as “great service,” or “hypnotic copy,” or “clean design” (or some variation of these. These mean NOTHING to your prospects. Instead, we should be looking at our backgrounds, experiences, unique abilities, past successes and creating compelling reasons why we’re better suited. Takes a bit of work and thinking to do that. But the results more than make up for the effort. That’s why I no longer think of my colleagues as competitors.

  6. WOW! Great advice, I loved this interview. “Getting comfortable with the anxiety” really sums it up for me, it’s nice to know others work hard and reap the rewards for their work.

    Videos like this help me realize where I am at in my career so I thank you both, keep up the great work!


  7. I promise, I really will come back and watch the video because it sounds great, but I just had to thank you for the disclosure.

    I talk like that sometimes when I’ve had one extra whiskey. Or when some regulatory body has had one too few.

    Enjoy the pizza.

  8. Fiskerejser says:

    hi, it was really worth reading your article on Freelancing & watched the video,it was very educative. Thank You!

  9. Vicki says:

    Cheers fellas, very interesting stuff. Nice to stop past and be encouraged by Ed’s story.

    I do exactly the same thing but in Mallorca, also entirely by accident initially. But I love it. LOVE it. What a great way to earn a living!

    Keep on keeping on.

    V x

  10. Robert Homes says:

    Thank you for the recomenndation. It’s a really interesting blog and I’ll buy the book aswell. Freelancing For life!

  11. […] @caitlinmoran I see your aquatic centre and r… on Twitpic 2 Tweets Can You Really Make A Serious Living Freelancing? Last week, I had a the chance to sit down with Ed Gandia, a self-taught six-figure (not B.S.) […]

  12. Thanks for this interview! My favorite part was about the difference between a freelancer and an entrepreneur, and how each leverages their situations differently.

    Just starting out here and learning lots!

    -Loretta W.

  13. shanna says:

    thanks jonathan and ed for the interview–it played nicely with my morning cup of chai 🙂

    when i took the leap my path followed a similar trajectory. I worked for nearly two years full-time while ramping up to a near full-time side biz. eventually, when it came down to turning away clients or quitting my job, the choice for me was clear–quit the job!

    that was five years ago, and although i have weathered some ups and downs, i can’t imagine NOT running my own show. i do miss the free office supplies, though 🙂

  14. Ed, thank you so much for emphasizing the anti-hourly mindset. We nudge all our clients to stop selling hours and start selling outcomes. I’ve reached the point where I don’t work with prospects who insist on hourly rates.

    Your explanation that when we quote an hourly rate, then immediately answer the ‘how many hours?’ question, we’re already quoting projects: that’s just great.

    For the pizza, I’ll take chicken with green apple and alfredo rosemary sauce on a thin crust.

  15. Amy Oscar says:

    Just letting you all know that I quit my job to become a writer – but not a freelance writer, a book author. As you recommend, I made sure I had a freelance gig to cover half of my expenses. Four years later, I say: Thank God (and thanks to the editor who gave it to me.) And since we are into full disclosure here, it didn’t hurt at all that my husband is both supportive and financially solvent. Quitting and claiming my freedom – and my writing voice – was the best decision I ever made… period.

  16. @Amy—smart bootstrappers have an income, so it’s great that you took the leap and it doesn’t diminish your accomplishment in the least. Look at how many people have the financial circumstances to take the chance, yet never do.

    It’s definitely harder when you don’t have that choice; we were sent back to the entrepreneurial world with virtually no notice and no income or savings, and that’s a much tougher gig.

    Do it the easy way, on your own schedule and budget, if you can.

  17. Hi Ed,
    Great interview and thanks for emphasising the point about not going down the hourly rate route….that’s too much like ‘body-shopping’ in interim and consultancy speak. To make it as a freelancer and to earn more in (possibly) less time with more flexibility, freelancers need to focus on results and value and not how much per hour. If you have a prospect that wants an hourly rate then we should be advising them to employ someone.

    Thanks again,


  18. Having read my fill of “How to Make a Million…” books, I was a bit skeptical when I clicked on this link. But knowing Jonathan’s ethics, I knew you would prove me wrong. Ed, your integrity and authenticity came shining through. it was so refreshing to hear you reframe wealth in a more holistic framework. Look forward to reading the book and recommending it to my clients.