This One Piece of Advice is All it Takes to Become a Successful Freelancer [Video]


Let me guess.
You cannot stop thinking.

Cannot stop thinking of how amazing it would be to live a highly successful freelancer’s lifestyle.

Well, as you may have guessed, you are alone no more!

Today I am here for you! I want to give you only one piece of advice. Yes, only one, yet a highly valuable piece of advice.

Today I am not here to teach you anything from a book,nor am I interested in giving you a speech about life.

Today I want YOU to take action. I want to see you get real results.

And because of that reason I am ready to start whenever you are.

Numerous times I have heard crazy advice. Especially advice for those who want to become a freelancer.

People keep saying that the most important skill to become a freelancer is…being a great business person.

Then followed by something like…you have to be good at keeping good relationship with clients.

Yes, it all sounds just fantastic and it definitely is essential if you want to be a highly successful freelancer.

But there is something that comes before that. Something that I would not call an essential skill to have.

“Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one’s self?” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Instead I would bravely name it: “The Ultimate Skill To Have In Order To Become a Highly Successful Freelancer.”

Without this skill you will not even be able to get yourself started. You will not get any further than having a wish.

Having a wish that goes something like: “I want to become a freelancer, so I can work only when I feel so.”

Avoid upsetting yourself and find out the truth.

What it Really takes to Become a Successful Freelancer.

Find Out How Close You Really Are

Answer to the 1st Question:

If you are self disciplined you would tend to get on with whatever it is you need to do, because you would fear of the consequences of not doing it, rather than just feeling guilty.

Answer to the 2nd Question:

If you are self disciplined it tends to be very hard to distract you.

Even if your friend asks you out for a drink you would still make sure to get the job done before enjoying any short-term pleasures.



  1. Joel

    -I would continue with the project and finish it.
    -I have discipline, but I think I need more because I sometimes get distracted easily and not finish the work.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Joel

      I totally understand where you come from.
      And actually I was in a similar situation myself.

      So the best advice I can give you to change it.
      Is leave some distractions on. Like email notifications, Skype messaging, etc.

      And train yourself to resist checking them out right away.
      Instead force yourself to finish what you started and then go and check it out.

      It worked for me so I that’s why I can suggest that to you :)

      • Joel

        I can actually ignore that but for example I start a project and can’t finish then I have some free time on other days and instead of finishing it I do other non productive things but I am working on that.
        Thanks for the reply.

  2. Kazi Touhid

    Hey dude ……………..thanks for the video. I was really frustrated for few days as I realized that I don’t have any control on my daily life. I work on oDesk as a web researcher but I want to make more money so I decide to learn web designing . My aim is to become a creative web designer but my daily time consuming social works like watching movies, playing games, Facebook was killing my time…………..but after seeing this video, I understand that I lack of “self-discipline “.

    Now I wanted To Ask You James:
    Is it hard to become Web Developer and Web Designer at the same time .

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Kazi

      Sorry for my delayed response.
      I’m really glad my video helped you to realize where the problem is.

      And just to let you know, you shouldn’t cut those relaxing times out completely.
      They are needed to recover and to keep the right work – play balance.

      But only as long as you have them in within moderation.

      Now your question to me Kazi?
      It’s not hard at all I would say, especially if you learn as you go.
      I personally started by customizing different WordPress websites.

      So going through the code and using a bit of Photoshop really helps you understand how it works.

      That’s why we here at 1WD focus on WordPress.
      It’s a great way to learn web development whether you are a beginner or an advanced developer.

      Have you worked a lot with WordPress or not yet?

  3. Alex

    I really enjoyed your article, I also wrote down your advice: self-discipline (I think I will write it somewhere I can always see it). I think I already knew it (somehow) but wasn’t practicing it as I should. Now on I will have in mind the importance of getting job done in appropiate time to keep clients happy and improve my profesional projection.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Alex
      Thank you for your comment mate :)
      Really highly appreciated.

      Also great to hear you realize the important of being highly self-disciplined.

      Now If I Honestly Ask You Alex
      Do you consider yourself enough disciplined or not really enough?
      Be 100% honest to yourself :)

  4. Wendy

    Good key advice. Self Discipline — Moderation — Long-term Goal–
    Got It!!
    Thanks again for the article. Keep it coming.

    • James Richman

      Hi Wendy

      I’m so, so sorry for my late reply.
      Very nice to know you enjoyed the article.

      But I Have a Question For You
      How self disciplined would you consider yourself Wendy? :)

      • Wendy

        Well, I completed an entire degree online going full time the entire time. I quite a part time retail job just to dedicate more time to learning how to be a better graphics designer/web designer. I spend a large amount of each day learning something new via books and tutorials. I’ve found that while others started learning coding when they were in high school, I’ve only started learning with in the last year. I’m in my early 30’s so I feel behind but still giving it my best effort anyway. So to answer your question, I think I’m pretty disciplined. I would do more if not having to divide my time with my duties of being a parent. However, family is important to me so I carefully balance all of it. –


        • James Richman

          Wow Wendy
          Everything you just described certainly makes you very self-disciplined.
          I believe in order to be self disciplined you got to have a strong goal and that “Bigger Picture”

          So because you are so self disciplined I’m sure you have this vision, this “Bigger Picture”

          So Can I Ask You Now Wendy?
          How would you describe what is this “Bigger Picture” for you?

          • Wendy

            What is the bigger picture?

            Well for me the bigger picture is to get my career going and reaching a point of income that comes whether or not I am working on a site. I can’t wait to get the point of being confident in knowing how to design, code and create web pages. I really enjoy the creativeness of designing. I get frustrated with myself at how slow it takes me to get some of this. However, I guess I have to give myself some credit because there is A LOT to learn. Rushing to learn too much creates an overload and then nothing gets learned.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Kimberley

      You are totally right ! :)
      This video was supposed to make me look freaking hilarious.

      And why didn’t you watch the video yet? Any excuses?

      But Kimberley
      Can we have a deal here?
      Watch the video, reply to this comment how hilarious do you think I am then :D

    • James Richman

      Hey Kevin

      Thanx a lot for your kind words.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the video.

      I Want To Ask You Kevin
      So what exactly did you learn then? :)

  5. This is really a wonderful stuff thorough which many freelancer or the people who are willing to become freelancer can get many informative tips. Thanks for sharing this.

    • James Richman

      Hey Paloma

      I’m glad you enjoyed this video :)
      And thanx a lot for your comment.

      Also Can I Ask you Paloma
      How long have you been a freelancer or are you only thinking to become one?

  6. kristina

    I have a question for you (please reply).

    I am not Hindi guys (not english) so communication is going hard for me. I even don’t get English education.

    Now If someone pay you better then how you make a long term-relationship. I means If my client pay me well and If they move to someone who work at less price then it’s would be loss for me.

    How I can make long-term relationship with my clients.

    • James Richman

      Hi Kristina

      Sorry for my delayed reply.
      I’d say it’s quite easy here.

      You have to make sure your client understands one important thing.
      Which is – Your work is based on quality not on budged prices.

      I can definitely recommend you to read this great article by Jacob Cass
      How To Sell The Value Of Design

      Once You Finish Reading It Kristina
      Please tell me what you think ;)

  7. To become a successful freelancer we need to find the right market who want to use our skills. I think is one of the best. Hehe. :)

    • James Richman

      Hey Angelica
      Thanx a lot for your comment.
      You’r totally right.

      There are so many freelance webdesigner with great skilss.
      As well as great education and experience.

      But they have kind of slowed down at the moment.
      Just because they can’t seem to find the right market for them

      Angelica I Have a Question For You Now
      Do you believe you have managed to find the right market for yourself?

  8. pian

    the thing that makes me distracted are: internet (i live on the office (and have 24/7 high speed internet connection), games, manga, anime,…well, i think self discipline also related to our ability to keep focus (might be? wrong?) and self control…
    or might be those 3 are the same thing?

    • James Richman

      Hi Pian

      Thanx a lot Pian for sharing your distraction with us.
      And I must say these are very typical distractions.

      And actually even for myself I’ve struggled with it a lot before.
      Everything that The World Wide Web can offer always used to distract me.

      Now Have You Never Thought Pian?
      To just try and set a completion goal for you.
      Just for an instance. I’ll let myself play that game for 10 minutes only after a half an hour work.
      Does this technique not work?

  9. Alisa

    Great article and video. Keep up the great work because we all appreciate what you do for us.

    • James Richman

      Hey Alisa
      Nice to see you here again :)

      Thanx a lot for commenting.
      And I’m very glad you enjoyed the video.

      I Wanted To Ask You Alisa
      Now after watching this video what did you realize?
      Are you self-disciplined enough or not really?

    • James Richman

      Hey Ogunnaike

      No problem at all mate.
      It was my pleasure.

      And thank you for commenting.

      I Wanted To Ask You Ogunnaike
      After watching the video did you understand how self-disciplined you really are? (or are NOT?)

  10. Thanks for sharing this excellent article. A good quality freelancer must should to keeping good relationship with clients.I like this video also.

    • James Richman

      Hi Shakir

      You are totally right mate.
      Keeping good and solid relationship with clients is crucial.

      I hope you manage to have just that good :)

      Also Shakir What If I Asked You
      What makes you self-disciplined?
      Or maybe you think you are not even enough self-disciplined?

    • James Richman


      Thanx a lot for your comment mate.
      Highly appreciated.

      I’m very happy you find the video useful.

      I Wanted To Ask You Sivaramasubbu
      How seld-disciplined do you think you are?

      • Sivaramasubbu

        I think your self discipline concept is good. But I never concentrated on improving my self discipline. I strongly believe in a thing that if we follow our passion, all good qualities will follow us. I am very passionate about design, so i think i am very much self disciplined when i sit and design something :)

        • James Richman

          Hi Sivaramasubbu

          Actually you made a really good point here.
          The more passionate you are the more self-disciplined you will become.

          But in many times for many people it’s not the case.
          So many of us are easily distractible.

          Can I Ask You Sivaramasubbu?
          Even tough you are highly self-disciplined do you think there’s nothing that could distract you?

  11. Veer Havik

    UR dead sexy, dude! I was hoping that shirt was going to come off after the coat ;)
    Great advice too. I tend to go too far in sacrificing myself for the client when they want to make change after change that isn’t in the agreement. So I need to work on that part.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Veer

      Thanx a lot for your comment, very honest and interesting :)
      Only if every man on this planet had a fur coat like this.
      Mmmm and that fur hat.

      You are right Veer, being flexible is important.
      But never let your clients use you.

      Now Regards This I Have a Question For You Veer
      Have you never thought of introducing an extra payment for any extra changes a client requests?

  12. pian

    dude, you,re awesome!
    i’m working on a publishing agency right now (in jakarta, indonesia), and someday, i’m going to have my own company.
    from 1 to 10 about self discipline, i must be in around 6 or 7. sometimes, when i felt too tired, i ignored my works, clients, and other stuffs, and doing my hobby like gaming and snapping photo….
    thanks for your advice. i’m going to level up my discipline to 8.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Pian

      Thanx for your comment mate.
      And to be honest 6 or 7 is not even too bad.

      As long as you don’t leave clients unsatisfied, it’s all cool :)

      Pian, I Have a Question Fro You Now
      What do you think makes you so easily distractible?
      What would have to happen to make you rate yourself at 8?

  13. Nice video, I appreciate the time you took to make it. It is very good quality and seems very well produced. I just finished a project today, and my client was very please with the time it took me. I had a my own personal goal to have the website completed before the opening of the clients new clinic. It took a lot of discipline for me to stick with the project and stay focus. I am glad I did because my client is very happy.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Larry

      Thanx a lot for your kind comment and appreciation.
      I’m very glad you enjoyed the video.

      Well I think having a positive feedback from a client is what makes us smile.
      And especially if they write some amazing testimonial :)

      Larry Can I Ask You
      What do you think motivates you to stay self-disciplined?
      Is it a paid invoice or more like a client’s feedback?

    • James Richman

      Hey Sr. Ameba

      Thanx for your comment mate.
      Really appreciate it.

      And actually this video really was meant to be funny :D
      Even better, I’m glad you think it was a very nice to end your day.

      Sr. Ameba I Have a Question Fro You Now
      How long have you been a freelancer?
      And do you think you are self-disciplined enough, or not really enough?

  14. Hello James,
    First of all thanks for this awesome article :)
    I never found this type of FreeLancer Video. As I am new to Blogging world so your post really helps me in getting knowledge about FreeLancer.
    Thanks for sharing this great article! Happy Blogging :D

    • James Richman

      Ahoy Sohil

      I’m very glad to hear you enjoyed the video.
      And it’s nice to hear it actually helped you :)

      By what I understood you are just starting out, right?

      So Now Let Me Ask You Sohil
      Do you feel like you could be more self-discipline?

  15. Brian Hermelijn

    Excellent points, James. Not only the video was spot on, your speech has also improved! Keep up with the good videos, mate.

    As for the self discpline, I just try my best to finish clients works asap. Of course not in a sense of doing a work with many errors, but rather doing work to finish before the dead line mentioned.

    Like lets say if a client tells you he/she wants something within 2 weeks time frame, you set yourself a time frame of 1 week and 4 days or 3 days. Not only you’re able to finish the project much faster, you’re also able to have more time to fix errors if there are errors.

    As always, keep up the good work James.

    • James Richman

      Hi Brian

      Nice one, nice one.
      It was nice to read your positive feedback.

      I’m glad you see improvement every time.

      I totally like your idea with having that 2-3 day safety margin for errors and peace of mind.
      That’s really one of the best advice you could actually give to anyone who’s starting out.

      Brian I Also Wanted To Ask You
      How distractible are you? Or do you think your self-discipline is stronger?

      • Brian Hermelijn

        Me? I am never distracted when it comes to finishing clients work or even my own personal projects or practice routines. I always remain focused on the task at hand.

        Self discipline is something that I have been practicing for a year now, and I am safe to say that I am 100% self disciplined.

        • James Richman

          Hey Brian

          Wow, 100% self-disciplined.
          I think it deserves a round of applause.

          That really must’ve taken you years.

          Now I Want To Ask You Brian
          What techniques did you use to accomplish it?
          Or was it just having a strong mindset?

          • Brian Hermelijn

            Well ever since I started to meditate, my mind set became much more focused. Not only meditation helps with calming your mind, but it also plays a major role of what you want to finish asap.

            And having that kind of skill leaded me to remain laser focus on what I want to finish. So to answer your question, meditation is what I started to do which changed my mind set and the way I think of work / tasks.

            I hope I have answer your question ;)

  16. Jenny

    Very cute video! I definitely agree that the long term view is what you need to be a success. When you work for someone else, theoretically (if they are competent) it’s your employer’s job to look long term. Having client projects that are well organized, well funded and avoiding scope creep helps to keep one on track as well. Otherwise you have to work soooo much that you end up not having a life and getting back any kind of balance gets to be extremely hard. I am webmaster for a chain of newspapers and have to freelance like crazy to make ends meet. Keeping balance is a daily challenge.

    • James Richman

      Hey Jenny

      Thanx a lot for your kind words :)
      You’re totally right.

      When you are freelancing you have to take care of yourself.
      There’s no Boss to take care of you.

      Sorry to hear how much you have to struggle to make sure the ends meet.

      Well, But Then Can I Ask You Jenny
      Is it not possible for you to find some side projects and extra clients.
      But this time more prestige ones? The ones that would pay premium rates, obviously for premium work?

      • Jenny

        You are right. Best to look for more “Premium” type of clients. I think you have to be able to STOP in order to do that. If you are busy doing a million things for lower priced clients (and there are alot of them) – there is an opportunity cost. Only so many hours in a day. I am training helpers to outsource to. They are happy for the work and the training. But everything takes time…

        • James Richman

          Hey Jenny

          You are totally right I have to say.
          It may not be easy at the very beginning.

          If You are spending most of your time pleasing your other clients.
          You will have to sacrifice any of your free time to rethink your strategy asap.

          Also Jenny
          How many of your clients are returning clients and how many are new ones in percentage?

  17. David Oliveira

    Hi. I’ve been a fan of for several months and read all your articles about freelancing. I have been a freelancer for 1 year now. I absolutely agree with you that self-discipline is a must in order to a become a freelancer.

    I began working as a freelancer because I was attracted by the idea of having my own schedule. I was already used to be at home several hours a day and my past experience while a college student proved I was self-disciplnes enough to work as a freelancer. I am not a web design freelancer, I design presentation for companies. This means project timelines a different, but nevertheless I think all general ideas apply.

    Being laid back and giving small importance to client projects (in any perspective) not only can cause damage to your image as a freelancer but you’ll probably never improve as a serious business person. I find that every time I complete a project in a serious and reliable way, I grow a bit more into becoming successful freelancer. Not only in terms of money gain but also in how people look upon me and give feedback and testimonials.

    Please keep up with the good articles. I think having different authors just helps in sharing more and more points of view.

    • James Richman

      Ahoy David

      Thanx a lot for sharing your story mate.
      It looks like you are one of those who totally get it.

      You totally understand how important it is to have some business skills.

      Now I wanted To Ask You David
      What would you say is that drives you to stay self-disciplined?
      Is it the reward afterwards (payment, testimonial, feedback) or maybe your prestige and reputation?

      • David Oliveira

        Hi James.

        Everyone has different goals in life. Everyone cares for something different. I don’t really care about the money I make. Working a lot and receive a lot of money brings up problems such as health issues. Working to little won’t help you either because we have bills to pay. For those who aren’t in it mainly for the money we need to find the balance between enough work and enough money (which ultimately brings quality life).

        I’d say that what drives me is exactly that. It’s a mix of being able to bring value to my clients (quality and reliability in my skills) and at the same time enjoy life and do what I like to do the most. It’s the ability to life a good life (which is already financially above the average in my country) and work with specific clients which will grant be good testimonials and good quality work.

        • James Richman

          Hey David
          Thanx a lot for such a quick response mate.
          You are actually a very inspirational freelancer.

          Even I sometimes struggle to keep that right balance.
          I tend to work too much.

          Now you actually made me understand how simple it really is.
          Thanx a lot for that.

          David, I Wanted To Ask You Another Question
          Do you think you are easily distractible?
          And if so what usually distracts you?

          • David Oliveira

            Hi James.

            Glad to know you enjoy what I shared.
            Fortunately, I’m not distracted by social networks :)

            I guess with some weeks of experiencing each of us figures out what is most distracting or more uncomfortable when working. I found that knowing I’m logged in at Skype drives me crazy. I hate feeling vulnerable to an immediate contact from a client via Skype. I prefer emails. I can finish the portion of the work I’m on and then go check the email.

            I guess getting interrupted when working is a major setback.

    • James Richman

      Hey JP

      I’m glad you can see it now :)

      Now JP Can I Ask You
      Do you feel you are self-disciplined or not really self-disciplined enough?