Student Success Story with Stephen Godfrey

By Stephen Godfrey

We’re continuing to share a different story every couple of weeks of how a past student has been able to significantly grow their freelance business by applying the concepts they learned from Double Your Freelancing (check out our last one with Jorge Vergara). 

If you feel your story would be a good fit, share why.

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Brennan – Just wanted you to know that I just scored a new project worth $12,000 – $15,000. A bank had me slice and dice up their new theme for them, but now they want me to transfer over their content into a new site with the new theme including all the custom programming (a huge project I know). 

So thank you. Double Your Freelancing Rate helped me get over some internal issues I had, and taught me to to price by value. You helped me see to how speak in their terms, and how to sell the benefits of the project. For example, instead of selling a faster website I sold them “increased revenue” since speed directly leads to increased revenue. And instead of selling automated backups I sold them “peace of mind” since their content will be safely stored away. 

Anyway, I hope you are able to help even more people and that your business does well. Most of all, thank you for changing my life. My career and home life are better because of you. Best, Stephen

Hi Stephen! Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you for fun?

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and came down to the USA for school. I happened to meet an American girl and the rest is history. I graduated with a Bachelors and Masters in Information Systems from BYU in Provo, UT and now I freelance full-time.

I also love writing. I’ve finished the first draft of a novel, blog and am working on a few other books.

Lastly, I love learning about wilderness survival. In fact, I just returned from Survival School where I studied primitive blacksmithing for a week and made a knife from scratch. Even better, I learned how to start a fire with a bow and drill, and got primers on hide-tanning, pottery, leather-work and more!

What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?

I started freelancing in part because I was laid-off, and also had an opportunity come up. I was working for a startup in a job I didn’t like and for a company that was running low on money.

One Sunday I was up till 2-3 am working on a critical project, came into work the following Monday morning and my manager closed the door so he could talk with me and told me they had to let me go. It was a good break, and I don’t look back with bitterness because I learned some good skills and met some great people.

Then I got a call from an employer looking for help on a project. He found my resume online, gave me a call and had me scope out a project for him. I scoped it out, and realized that I could do the project. So instead of looking for work as an employee I dove in, knocked out the project and he’s still a client today.

And freelancing wasn’t what I expected. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had done some contract work before, but really didn’t know what was going to happen. Looking back it’s been good – it’s been hard – but overall it’s been a great path for me.

Tell us about your hardest moment as an entrepreneur to date.

I once had a client who was extremely successful. He was a type ‘A’ personality, and when he sent out an email he wanted it done right away.

I had to balance multiple projects at the time so he’d have to wait a day. This caused some friction, and made the project more difficult. I became more stressed and anxious because part of me thought that I wasn’t responding fast enough and I thought I wasn’t giving him what he wanted.

Still the project was a success, and he was happy with the end result, but it was a hard slog. We worked so differently that we weren’t a good culture fit. So, when the project was done, that was it. I probably could have had more work, but for me I wasn’t worth it.

On the flip side, what’s been your biggest success so far?

“My biggest success was landing $36,000 worth of work for a local bank.”

They had a design firm create four templates (one each for the laptop and mobile version for a total of eight pages) and needed someone to create a workable website. It turns out that they were happy to pay $12,000 for the themes, and loved my work.

They then came back to me and asked if I’d transfer their content from their current website to the new themes and they’d be happy to pay at least $12,000. That brings us up to $24,000.

Then they said they also had another site they wanted transferred using the same templates (different content) for another $12,000. $36,000 for a programming-light project is huge for me, and is one of my biggest successes so far.

What were you struggling the most with when you ran into Double Your Freelancing Rate?

I struggled with lots of things before I ran into DYFR. I didn’t know how to price by value, I didn’t know how to network, I was scared to reach out to clients and I didn’t know how to position myself.

Now, after I’ve worked through this course and read up on freelancing in general, I have a good handle on the first three items, and am working on the fourth. I think positioning is one of the hardest things because you just have to pick something, and since we’re hardwired to avoid failure it’s hard to pick something in case we pick the “wrong” thing.

What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow?

I really like how Brennan explains the concept of problems and solutions. It’s true that many clients are in a rainstorm, and they just want to get dry. Yet most freelancers pitch that they need an umbrella when the client really could use a warm studio, with a roaring fire and a hot cup of cocoa.

He also does a great job of explaining how to reduce risk. By positioning the investment of a project next to its value it really helps reduce the risk of a project for the client.

Lastly, I love the idea of charging by value. My latest $12,000 – $15,000 project is proof of that. Before the course I’d never even think about charging that much for a project. But now I’ve gotten really good at asking “how much is your budget for this project?” and sending out a proposal for exactly that.

What are you most excited about for your business in 2016?

“I’m excited to be a better me.”

Since I’ve started freelancing, I’ve learned how to be more focused, more productive and less stressed. Honestly that’s the best thing about it. I feel like I’ve grown more, learned more and I’ve removed some limits that I originally put on myself.

Most of all I’m excited to be more than a freelancer. I’ve recently realized that as a freelancer I don’t have to wait until things come my way. Although searching for clients is profitable, I’ve realized that as a freelancer I can also create projects, make passive income, try new ideas, sell books, give seminars, make courses and more.

It’s what Jeff Goins calls the portfolio life, and I want it. Badly. So I’ll keep going upward and onward, and I will make it.

Man, this year is going to rock.


Stephen Godfrey is full-time freelancer who runs Mountain Fresh Media. He specializes in full-stack development (PHP), and making wickedly fast websites. He blogs on the side, writes novels and loves to fix things up around the house. He’s happily married, has two kids, 11 chickens and a half-acre homestead. Life for him is simply good.