Tom Hirst

Freelancer web developer

URL: Tomhirst.com

I’m a freelance web developer of over a decade. I work from my home office with people around the world to develop custom WordPress and JavaScript websites.

Business Summary

Business modelFreelance

No. of employees: 1 + other freelancers on occasion

Location independence: Yes

How much time spent working: Flexible

Revenue:  100k+

Based on passion: Yes,  love programming, but I also love writing about business. Developing websites is my primary source of income, but I’m ramping up the latter too.

Background:

  • Hobby
  • Passion
  • Location-independent entrepreneur

Related Topics:

  • Freelancing
  • Web Developer
  • Coding

How Tom makes 100k+ Building
custom WordPress sites & guiding other freelancers

Tell us a little about yourself and what you’re working on right now?

On the web development side of things, I’m working on a lot of custom headless WordPress projects right now.

This involves taking my experience with WordPress and coupling it with up and coming, modern JavaScript front end tools and frameworks.

Gatsby and Next.js being my favourites right now.

Using my experience as a freelancer, I’m also writing a lot in an attempt to assist others; whether they’re thinking about going freelance or are already freelancing.

I get a lot of fulfillment from helping others through sharing my thoughts, which has lead me to write one book on freelancing, with another close to release.

10 Steps To Becoming A Better Freelancer – https://tomhir.st/10-steps

Pricing Freelance Projects – https://tomhir.st/pfp

What’s your back story and how you got into this space?​

I got into freelancing remotely straight out of University.

I applied for a job locally as a web developer and didn’t get it, so I thought I’d give freelancing a try.

11 years later, I’m still going!

I usually work from home, but having the flexibility to pick up my laptop and go anywhere in the world to work remotely gives me an awesome sense of freedom and opportunity.

What makes your business unique or different from the rest?​

In terms of service differentiation, I always specialised in WordPress.

I think that what makes any business unique is the people within it, so I owe a lot of my success in freelancing to my own personal individuality.

The same goes for every freelancer really!

What were some of the greatest challenges you struggled with? And how did you overcome it? ​

Scaling as a freelancer is tough.

You need to wear many hats, but the greatest challenge I had to overcome was taking efficiency seriously.

Structured days, routine, learning how to maximise my output – this was something that I found really hard in my early years in business.

Now, it’s something that I pride myself on. 

I take efficiency super seriously while working so that I can take my downtime super seriously too!

What made this an easy source of revenue for you? What motivated you ​

I had an interest in creating websites from an early age, so the pursuit of more skills in this field came pretty naturally.

I wouldn’t say it was easy however. It took a lot of work and continues to do so to hone my skills.

Where do you see yourself and the business in the next 5-10 years?

I still see myself creating things for the internet.

Whether that be websites directly, I’m not too sure.

I really enjoy the education side of what I’m trying to build, so I would guess that I’ll be going more down that route as the years tick by.

Which part of your business do wish to automate or have already done so?

I automate a lot of my billing processes. Invoice creation, sending, chasing.

One of my favourite things to do is schedule sending emails too.

As I build out my digital product library of freelancing books, I’m beginning to leverage automation even more for things like download confirmation emails and ongoing marketing.

Is your business location independent? Could you tell us more about it? If not location independent, why don’t you do it?

I’m location independent in terms of the work I do, but I’m not location independent in terms of my family.

Although I could work from anywhere in the world, and sometimes do, it’s not a viable permanent option as I have a close family.

We’re settled in the area in which we live too.

How many hours do you spend per day working on your business? How did you make your day more productive? ​

Anything between 0 and 10. It depends how I’m feeling.

My productivity in general comes from a focus on balance.

If I work too much, I can’t be productive, so working more hours is pointless.

Keeping level by taking adequate time off is the key for me.

What would your advice be for someone who’s just starting out?

Start small.

Don’t look at the end goal, focus on the small minor incremental improvements you can make to take you a step closer each time.

What were some of the mistakes you made? If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?​

I’d learn what my true value to my clients was before I gave prices for work.

What is your biggest takeaway from starting the business?​

It’s harder than you think and “success” takes longer than you think to achieve.

You need to be able to stick to doing one thing (or a handful of similar things) well for a long time.

Resources & Mentions:

Things we have talked about above, or recommended by interviewee.

  • You can check out my blog, www.tomhirst.com/articles
  • And my free book that gives an overview of what I do to make a success of freelancing: tomhir.st/10-steps
  • List Item I also have a book on Pricing Freelance Projects that you can get here: tomhir.st/pfp

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