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Episode #1 – Introduction To GroLancer

by | Mar 19, 2024 | Podcasts | 0 comments

Episode #1

The Introduction

Welcome to the intro episode of the GroLancer podcast. In this episode, JD tells a little about himself, how he got into freelancing, how GroLancer started as an idea, and the plans moving forward with GroLancer.

It is an exciting episode because big things are just around the corner. Please let us know what topics you’d like covered in future episodes. We look forward to your feedback.

Transcript

GroLancer Intro Song

Here we grow, here we grow
Here we grow, here we grow, yeah
Here we grow, here we grow
Here we grow, here we grow, yeah

Pick the topic, no matter, we gonna show plans
‘Cause you know that we got it out here on Grolancer
Independence, it’s finest no need to tag along
Growing with my folks and my customers, gone and add it on

Taking orders, not orders, that’s being freelanced
CRM, build my folder and see how we stand
You see ample greatness, do what I love
On the Freelancers Growth Platform, I’m putting nothing above

Here we grow, here we grow
Here we grow, here we grow, yeah
Here we grow, here we grow
Here we grow, here we grow, yeah

Welcome to the GroLancer Podcast. Grolancer is the freelancers’ growth platform. I’m JD Simpkins and I’m the founder of GroLancer.

So, I suppose in the first episode, it just makes sense to talk about GroLancer, how it got started, and what it’s going to be. I’m going to talk about some of my goals with it and what you can expect in the near future.

So, first of all, a little about myself. I started out as a freelance web developer years ago. Somewhere back around 2007 – 2008 – 2009 I started a lawn care business. Once I have everything set up, I was slowly growing my schedule but it wasn’t happening as quick as I’d have liked it to.

I took a look at my competitors to see what they were doing. You know, what was I missing? A website is all I could come up with. All the big players in the industry in my area had a professional website. I figured it just made sense that was my next step.

Even back then, a website was going to cost me somewhere around a couple thousand dollars, and that’s money I didn’t have after buying all of my equipment. So I figured “How hard could this be to do it all myself?” I’ve always been a kind of resourceful guy.

The answer to that was actually, “Pretty fucking hard!” Back then we didn’t really have all the website builders and things we have today. There wasn’t a lot of information out there. There were a few, but they were very limited. I googled like, “How to build a website” and noticed I needed to learn something called HTML, CSS, and eventually some JavaScript.

I did fall in love with learning to code though.

I ended up selling my lawn care business and started selling insurance. I’ve always been in sales of some sort it seems.

I continued over the years to learn how to build websites, on the side, in my spare time. I always had some project I was working on. And, just learning new things. For the first time in my life, “I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, right?”

I finally got a client or two building some FREE to VERY cheap websites. My goal was just to get experience, learn some new things, and build a portfolio so I could do this kind of thing full time.

After a few years of going from this sales job to that sales job, growing my skills in my spare time, and “playing on the computer” as my ex-girlfriend called it, I finally decided to take the jump into freelancing full-time. I’d landed a few recurring clients on a few things here and there and I knew with a little bit of effort, I could possibly make enough money to survive. It was pretty scary but something I’m so glad I did, looking back on it.

A friend of mine had told me about a site called eLance. I don’t know if any of you guys remember that or not. Upwork eventually bought them out a few years later but at the time, this was the best freelancing platform to find projects. I had great success on there. I started out with a few small projects here and there. I gained some awesome feedback. That helped me land more and bigger projects. It was going pretty good.

So, at this point, I had a couple things happen in life that really kind of stopped me in my tracks. I was going through some personal stuff. I had a serious breakup with the girlfriend I spoke of early after about six years in that relationship. I just made some stupid life decisions, and couldn’t really keep up with the amount of effort and time I needed to put into my freelancing business to keep things going.

I had just landed my biggest project to date. I had just collected a couple thousand dollars deposit and after a couple weeks I ended up refunding the guys money, because I knew mentally, I just couldn’t hold up my end of the bargain and get things done in the time he wanted it done by.

So, once my money ran out, I temporarily went back to a sales job. I knew I could make the quickest money there to dig out of the hole i was in after not working for a while.

I missed freelancing so much though! I decided I was going to build my client base back up so I could get back to doing what I loved. I decided to throw me a website online, and started marketing myself again. I was googling things like “best way to get clients for your web development business”.

I ran across a few articles. This one particular article on HubSpot offered a downloadable PDF. It promised to answer that question. I entered my info and downloaded it.

The next day, I got an email around five or six in the morning. It read something like: “Hey, we saw you downloaded our PDF and I just wanted to reach out to you. I just got out of a meeting with our CEO…” (Come to find out, this was actually the CTO of the company.) “.. talking about needing to hire a new developer. I saw your site. I liked your work. I wanted to reach out and see if you ever considered working for a company instead of freelancing.”

I didn’t take it super seriously at the time. I still didn’t consider myself a “real” developer. I had no schooling or formal training in it. I had a serious case of impostor syndrome. I still do from time-to-time. I think that’s something we all still struggle with and I don’t know if it will ever fully go away. I’m no where as near as bad as I was because I have proven myself time and time again since then.

I responded back to open up that dialogue. We decided he would give me a couple “test” projects that I’d complete as a contractor. Then, if we decided we liked working together after a while, they might make me an official offer.

The first project was for this company that negotiated medical bills for folks. The hole web application was this:

Let’s say you had a medical bill for $10k. You’d create an account on this site I built, upload your information, and then on the backend, the admin would assign you to a negotiator. So there were different user roles involved. All communication took place within the app. The negotiator would collect the info they needed, contact the institution that was billing you, and they’d negotiate a smaller bill. You’d pay that smaller amount and they’d collect their percentage. You know, I’m not sure how the financials of it really worked.

It was a fun little app to work on. It took me about a month or month and a half to develop it. They just gave me the design files, told me how it should function, and I went to work on it.

Once the project was completed, they sent me an offer for a “Full Stack Web Developer”. I was on cloud nine, man! I was now a real developer, you know? I worked for them for about a year or so. I was hired on as a full stack web developer and I was going to build the web applications like that. Then the first project they gave me as an employee was a WordPress site. I’d never really worked much with the backend of WordPress before.

Anyways, I figured that out. Since then, I’m great at WordPress. I’ve worked with it so much over the years or so many times over the years, so here we are now.

Then, I got a job at a local marketing agency. I had already learned a little bit about marketing through my freelance experience, but I learned a lot more here. After about three years, I moved on to another marketing agency even closer to home.

At this new gig, I’d kind of spend my time split 50/50 on development work and marketing tasks. I was kind of the integrator of things. You know, I’d make platforms work with one another, writing custom APIs. I would even manage thousands of dollars in Google Ads. I really kind of jumped around a lot of different places there.

But, after a little over four years, I’d felt I’d kind of outgrown that position too. The entire last decade or so that I’ve been working for these three marketing agencies, I’d do a project or two on the side here and there, but I always had this gnawing feeling in me, wanting to work for myself. You know, I just missed freelancing so bad. So I put my resignation in. I started building my freelance business once again and that’s where I’m at today.

I’ve had a few friends, and even some strangers, reach out to me for help over the years, looking for suggestions on their freelancing journey. I enjoyed helping them and pointing them in the right direction. And I realized I actually did have a lot of information that I could share with people to help them. So I kind of thought about GroLancer for a while. I didn’t know what it was called at the time, obviously, but I knew I wanted to build a platform for freelancers, by freelancers. It was rough when I was starting out. There were very limited resources to learn from. You know, a lot of my learning was through trial and error.

Now, there is much more out there today to help you but a lot of it is unattainable because of the price tag on it, or there is contradictory information. Like, it can be confusing for people starting out. They still end up just spinning their wheels and learning the hard way.

I don’t even remember the exact process of how I come up with the name GroLancer, but it was going to be a platform for freelancers to grow their business so the name just fit.

I started writing articles for GroLancer so it started out as a blog. Now, I’ve decided to do this podcast so GroLancer is a podcast. But GroLancer is going to become its true self. I’m building out the platform it is going to become.

So GroLancer will have a full suite of tools that helps freelancers grow and run their business day-to-day. It’s a CRM, a project management platform, it’s going to allow you to send and accept proposals, send out invoices and manage your “accounting” aspects of things, track your time, and pretty much everything a freelancer needs.

I’m in the later stages of development now so it will be launched soon. I’m excited and I hope you guys are too. It’s going to be pretty awesome.

Oh! The best part! … It’s always going to be FREE to everyone! So current, hard-working freelancers and aspiring freelancers can both access it. The free account will have a couple restrictions, like how many contacts, projects, and so on, you can have. This ensures you can get your business up and running without having to worry about paying for tools.

Once you’ve developed your business and find a need for a more robust account, there will be a paid option for a small, still, very affordable price. It’s really important to me to make it accessible to everyone regardless of their income.

Because I remember the struggle, man, when I was starting out. You know, it’s $49 per month for this tool, $9 per month for that tool. It all just adds up really quickly. I remember sometimes, a tool would expire and I wouldn’t have the money to renew it again. So, I’d have to find a temporary work around until I finished a project or something so I could get paid and pay for the damn tool again.

It made growing my business so much harder and made things take so much longer than they needed to.

So GroLancer will hopefully put an end to that, hopefully forever for all freelancers out there. It gets me super excited thinking about it. And this is just my way of giving back to the community I love so much. You know, we all have to stick together and take care of one another.

I’m always open to suggestions on how to improve the platform. If when you create an account, you notice there is a feature you’d like but it isn’t there, or maybe there is a feature there but you think it should kind of work differently, just let me know. You know, I’m always open to feedback. My goal is to make this as useful as possible to as many freelancers as possible.

So if you want to get notified when things do launch, just go to GroLancer.com That’s G-R-O-L-A-N-C-E-R dot com. You’ll be able to enter in your information, like your email address, so you’ll get a notification the minute I launch things.

I look forward to getting to know more about each and every one of you and learning your goals and hopefully helping you achieve those. I love our community.

Thanks a lot for listening guys. This is OUR platform. The podcast. The blog. And, you know, GroLancer itself. Let’s keep an open line of communication, and make every aspect of this the best it can be.

Be sure to reach out and let me know any topics you’d like me to cover next and I’ll be sure to make it happen.

Until next time, Keep pushing forward! Freelancing is the future and together we are all building happier lives for ourselves and teaching our younger generation how to be happy as well.

JD – Signing off

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