#17 Insane growth hack for freelancers in 2024

  • The one thing that changed my life forever.
  • My insane growth hack for freelancers
  • The reason we all feel like failures.
Insane growth hack for freelancers
😍 Something I'm grateful for this week

When I look back at my journey over the last 3-5 years, I can clearly point to one definitive thing that changed the trajectory my life forever. Spoiler alert: It's probably not what you think....

When I look back at my journey over the last 3-5 years, I can clearly point to one definitive thing that changed the trajectory my life forever.

But this only became apparent after a recent chat with my new friend Michael Boorman from Wisdom Made Easy

Michael’s on a mission to share daily wisdom that can be applied to your everyday life. Naturally, we had a lot to talk about!
But despite having 125k followers, and an engaged audience of 6000+ for his newsletter, Michael was struggling to confidently define the the tangible value of wisdom.
I guess it’s much harder to define the value of something like ‘daily wisdom’ when compared to flashy offers like “10x your leads”, “6-pack abs” or “half your workweek”.

Yet to me, the value is self-evident; wisdom is everything!
I’m not talking about obscure debates about trees in the forest, or sage advice about the fragility of the human condition.
I’m talking about practical knowledge you can apply to improve your life.

Wisdom is the way to do things.
Wisdom is how you become disciplined, skillful, or happy.
Wisdom is how you achieve 6 pack abs, business growth, or lasting happiness.

So how do we become wise?

Well, I googled it for you:
Wisdom is the application of experience & knowledge.
Easy peasy. 🤣

Luckily, Michael has a better explanation:
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We can all think of someone who is intelligent, but lacks the wisdom to make the right choice, right?
Being able to identify and apply what knowledge, experiences and life-lessons are significant in any given situation is wisdom.
-Michael Boorman, Wisdom Made Easy

So if wisdom = knowledge + action
then success = wisdom + consistency + time

Knowledge comes through reading and learning
Wisdom comes through putting it into action in your life and business.

I think the real issue here is that it takes time & patience to foster wisdom.
It takes experimenting, reflecting, and failure to become wise.
Which is hard.

Hacks are easy, Wisdom is hard

Most people want the quick win, the silver bullet, the magic pill.
It’s why supplements and diet pills always outsell the gym.
The latter takes effort and time.

The problem goes deeper:

Speed sells, so social media blasts us with content promoting speedy success.
You can see this reflected in the content we consume.
Most of the content we consume nowadays is short-form, surface-level snacks on social media.
Even as I write, part of my brain is working out how to segment this newsletter into x4 bit-size social posts.

I work in marketing, so I’ve come to accept and even expect a bit of hyperbole in my social content.
It’s a bit like the urine content of your milk.
We all know about it, but it’s distasteful to talk about it.

I’ve been guilty of this too;
I often use plug-and-play systems as lead magnets to grow my audience.
It works because these systems have an immediate impact on time or money, and they can be applied quickly to your business.
But without the underlying wisdom, this is just knowledge.
To understand the strategy you need wisdom.

As Jacob Peggs says; “customers want the cure, not the vitamins.”
But as grown-ups, we know we still have to eat our vegetables.
So I’m committed to putting some vegetables on your plate on a regular basis, even when you want to skip straight to the sugar pill. 🤣

So here’s some vegetable truth bombs for you:
Every overnight success story you read on social media actually started 10 years ago.

It started with learning new skills, with the life experience they picked up along the way, with the network they spent decades building.
It took almost 10 years for my side-hustle to earn enough money to sustain me.
Maybe some become self-sustaining quicker, but I suspect most are in the same boat.
Every time I see a post where someone claims to have quit their job, founded their business and 6 months later they earn £10k/m, I want to shout:

“Did you, aye? BOLLOCKS!”

I find it easy to dismiss ridiculous timeline expectations offhand.
I’m enjoying the process.
I’m going at my own pace.

I think they don’t get to me.
And yet….
As I look at this content and think “yeah, right 🙄”, it nevertheless has an effect on me.
My expectations for myself become greater,
my dissatisfaction with my own results grows,
and my expectations of timelines shrink.

It’s basic sales bracketing:
You see dozens of posts about overnight transformations, even if you think you’re being realistic with yourself, your own expectations of timelines are going to shrink, and your expected success will grow.

It’s a harmful myth that makes people feel crap about where they are.
We all have different starting points, different responsibilities, and advantages/disadvantages.
The truth is if you want you grow your own business, if you want true freedom, if you want to escape the ratrace…
then it takes many years, often working hard for little reward.

That’s the point I’m trying to make here.
Great things take time.

So on that basis, let’s step out of the unreality bubble of social media for a moment…

Here’s my insane growth hack for freelancers for 2024…

Growth “hacks” suggest cheating, the easy route, or taking a shortcut.
There is no shortcut.
But wisdom IS the route to putting your life on easy mode.

So simply read for 15mins every day.
Put your newfound knowledge into action
In 6 months time, you won’t even recognise yourself.

Here’s how reading changed my life

I found my business, and my life in general took a ‘quantum leap’ right around the time I got back into reading seriously as an adult.
It’s not like I suddenly picked up a book at 25; I read a lot when I was younger.
But life got in the way, I took on more responsibilities, newer shinier leisure pursuits like Netflix took over,
and slowly my reading habit died away, or was relegated to fiction or audiobooks on holiday.

Then lockdown happened.

I think everyone had their “great awakening” and we all had a glimpse of what life could be, outside the status quo of the commute, the 9-5 etc.
A lot of people had no work to do whatsoever. For months! This blew my mind!
I watched some people go nuts. In Renfrew a lot of people were drinking more, bored out their minds, addicted to Netflix.
But on the other hand, people also had time with family. Time to get outside during the day and walk in nature.

At the time I was working full-time. I resented having to work, but in hindsight, I think it actually helped me.
I’m not made to be idle.

But I was now remote working for the first time.
So suddenly I had an extra 30mins in my morning that I didn’t have before.
I picked up ‘4 Hour Workweek’ and from that point on I was hooked.
Every morning I’d sit out in the garden, rain or shine, and read for 15 mins before starting work.
Reading removed a lot of the mental blockers on what I believed was possible.
Reading opened my eyes to alternative lives I was capable of but wasn’t living.
Reading immerses you in an environment where you start to believe you could do more and be more through a mechanism called “vicarious success”.

Suddenly the I could see my life ahead of me, just working a 9-5 the rest of my life, of being underpaid, undervalued, constrained in my hours and actions. Moving sideways, one job hop at a time.
It no longer seemed tolerable.

I thought; “if I can just get x2 clients a month at 1k each I could quit”.
It lit a new fire in me.
I remember calling up enquiries on the way to and home from work and designing logos for £120 on my laptop on park benches, or the back seat of my car during lunch breaks.

P.S if you’re looking for a mobile office, skip the VW camper or the Rolls Royce, what you need is a Citreon Xara Picasso.
Voted ‘Auto Express ugliest car of the year’ ten years running, but it’s got comfy armchairs, coffee holders and the back seats have a fold-down table for the laptop.

At that point, I was working pretty hard, and I was still had years ahead of me before I was out on my own.
I think this is a necessary stage in growing your side-hustle into a career.

First I read books that solved problems I was having in my side-hustle ( sales, people, strategy )
Then I read books about productivity ( time management, systems, automation )
Then I read books about philosophy. ( purpose, lifestyle design, mindset )

When I look back at my reading list it almost exactly mirrors the solopreneur’s hierarchy of needs:

  • Money
  • Time
  • Purpose

I used to read books like the ‘Company of One‘, ‘How to live‘, ‘The Compound Effect
I’d think “yeah, but that could never be me“.
I was probably right. The Amazon best sellers you read aren’t typical cases.
You may not achieve the same results as these exceptional people, but you’ll get a hell of a lot closer than those who haven’t even tried.
When you see other people doing it, you become more confident and active in your own ability to do those things.
This is one reason why peer mentoring groups and communities are so effective at accelerating success.
You are immersing yourself in an environment of success, and soaking up the wisdom of others,
Just as you do with books.

Balance your entertainment vs education

Everyone has their vices. I play far too much Dirt Rally.
Entertainment is an essential bit of winding down, I’m not saying you have to turn yourself into a human library.
But try just swapping some of your Netflix time for reading, courses etc.
When you catch yourself doom-scrolling trying opening Audible.
Try to achieve a balance of at least 50:50 of entertainment vs education.

Bonus: Don’t just read business books, try philosophy.

This year I was asked by the BBC to do a talk at schools in Scotland to share my story.
During Q&A one of the kids asked what I thought the most important subject was.
I think my answer was not what they expected.


Of course, this wasn’t a subject the school had on offer.
Needless to say, the kids were not impressed 🤣

Nowadays “philosophy” is seen as a subject for stoner washouts.
But in ancient times philosophy wasn’t an abstract subject, it was incredibly practical.
And Stoicism in particular, is full of practical advice for modern living.

Stoic thoughts, in combination with some other thought schools like Deep Work can drastically improve your life.

Read for life Summary

I can pretty much attribute every decision I make to a book I’ve read in the last 5 years.
Here’s just a few of the benefits I’ve found directly from reading and learning wisdom:
I make better decisions
I work more consistently
I find happiness in stuff I never used to
I don’t jump to conclusions as much
I’m fitter
I’m wealthier
I’m more patient with people.
I listen more and talk less
I have lots of strategies I can apply in any given situation.
So don’t wait until you’re on holiday, or have more spare time.
Start now and make it a daily habit.
( Atomic Habits ) 🤣

Your newfound wisdom will multiply the output of everything you do for the rest of your life.
( The compound Effect )

If 5 mins is all you’ve got, then so be it, carve out that time and read.
( Do the Work )

Your outputs are only as good as your inputs. My reading list fast-tracked my journey to 6 figure freelancing..
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💡 Key Insights for solopreneurs

Read every day.
Read like a mofo.
Read like your life depends on it.
Then read some more.
Offers, Sales, Automation, Marketing, Phycology, Lead generation, Productivity, philosophy
Read about these every day for 6 months, you won’t even recognise yourself.

🛎️ Daily reminder for solopreneurs

With a lifestyle business, your ARE the business.
Personal growth = business growth

💥 How to take action in the next 5 mins

Set aside 15 mins a day to read.

Picture of Nicholas Robb

Nicholas Robb

Founder, Design Hero
Author of Life by Design

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