Interview with Collis Ta’eed – Founder of Freelanceswitch.com
Collis is the founder of FreeLanceSwitch which has been running for only one year but has attracted over 20,000 Subscribers. Collis has worked as a freelancer, employed freelancers, advised freelancers and even dated some. He has built numerous websites, started two businesses, art directed a design agency, spoken at conferences, initiated multiple online communities and regularly writes articles and posts for sites across the web.
Hey Michael, first of all thanks for having me here!
http://freelanceswitch.com/ was I understood launched in April 2007 – looking around the site and the number of subscribers I am very impressed. What do you believe are the main reasons for growing so fast?
Yep, it’s been a year this month since we started and have had a lot of success. I’d say there were a few factors in our success. Number 1 was that we went into a niche that hadn’t been explored particularly deeply. In other words we had little competition when the site launched. Number 2 would be simply that we worked hard, there hasn’t been a day without a post on the site and in some cases the posts were huge endeavours that we worked very hard on. And finally number 3 would be innovation. I think innovation is important in all types of business, and blogging is no different. On the site we have innovated not only in the topic of the site, but in the features we released, in the subsites and add-ons we developed, in coming up with an idea as audacious as a global freelancer survey and so on. Innovation doesn’t always pay off in the short term, but in the long term if you have a commitment to innovation, sooner or later you come up with projects and plans that DO succeed, and that’s where the magic happens. You just have to be prepared to fall over a few times along the way is all 🙂
When you set up FreeLanceSwitch.com – did you know it would be so successful? What were your initial goals / dreams for the site?
No, not at all. Actually I was running a blog called NorthxEast which was my first blog. After about 4 months it had 250 subscribers which I felt was a huge success. One day I posted a post about freelancing and it made it on Delicious/popular, which had never happened to me before … Unfortunately it also crashed my server! But anyhow I thought if that post was popular, maybe a site on the subject would be well received. I never imagined that after a month of FreelanceSwitch we’d have over 3000 readers, or that after a year it’d be past 20,000!
My initial goals to be honest were simply to experiment. I love starting new things and trying out new ideas, and FreelanceSwitch was one of those things that just popped up. It turned out to be successful, so we just hung on tight!
I have been reading some reviews for your book – “How To Be A ROCKSTAR Freelancer“. This is a great title – I love the ROCKSTAR bit – what inspired this? Will there be any more ROCKSTAR books?
Thanks! There will be MANY more titles coming soon. I’m working on the Rockstar Resources website now and we have a second edition of the freelancer book as well as a new title on WordPress design which is almost finished. The idea was to start a book brand that had people aspiring to success (sort of an opposite to “for dummies”).
FreeLanceSwitch.com has clearly been a huge success – if you were to start over again – what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing. It’s been a huge amount of work and there are doubtless things we could do to save us some of that work, but to be honest even failures and missteps are worth experiencing. In fact it is often when you go down the wrong path that you learn the most. So even the mistakes I would do again the same regardless.
Do you think that entrepreneurialism is something that is in your blood? Or is it something that can be learned?
Interesting question. I know it was something in my blood. I’ve been trying to think of ways to make money and businesses since I was quite little. But I don’t think it’s an exclusively inborn trait. I guess just like anything in life, some people take more naturally to it and others perhaps work a little harder to get in that zone.
Is there anyone that you look up to and model yourself on? (You can name more than one)
Yes, 100% my father. If I could be like one person, I’d be like him. He has strong values that he never compromises on, he works hard and is always enthusiastic. Most importantly he doesn’t believe that money or material wealth is a be-all, end-all. When you go into business it’s easy to start thinking a lot about money. There is a a saying that “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven”. If you are good at business, money inevitably follows. It’s important as entrepreneurs that we don’t let it cloud our vision of what’s actually important in life.
What advice would you give to a Young Entrepreneur setting up their first business?
I would say work hard and take chances. The beauty of being young is that you can take risks that an older entrepreneur might not be willing to take. When I and my cofounders started Eden (http://eden.cc) I showed a business plan to my father who has a lot of business experience and he told us it was a good plan and that the greatest asset we had was our freshness and naivete. That we didn’t know just how much work and difficulty was involved in our plans was a strength. Sometimes if you know just how hard something will be, you’re a little less keen to tackle it. And you need that daring, in order to really go for it. So I would say as a young entrepreneur, take advantage of your strengths and grab the bull by the horns.
How many hours do you work daily and what are your daily tasks for your sites?
I try to stick to a 5 day week of 8 hours a day. I’m more successful at this than I used to be. In the first year and a half of our business I worked 60-80 hour weeks and spent my off time thinking about work anyway. But balance is important so I’ve tried to lessen my work and now my wife and I are travelling the world and working from overseas. So it doesn’t make much sense to work too many hours!!
My daily tasks are varied, I design, I write, I manage some editors and writers and I give my input to the FlashDen.net team.
If the Internet had not existed – what do you think you would be doing?
Ooo tough question. I think I’d be a historian, I love history … but then I probably would have created some business around history, because I can’t seem to stop myself starting things.
What do you like best about the Internet?
I love the fact that it’s a space of possibilities. Anything is possible and anyone might start the next big thing. It’s a bit like the Wild West really!
What do you like least about the Internet?
Have you any plans (personal or business) that you can share with us about your future plans / goals / lifetime goals?
Sure thing, I’m hoping to start two new websites this year that are still on the drawing board. One will be a site aimed at teaching people design – which is a hard thing to teach. And the other will be about online business. I’m quite excited about both, though they have a ways to go still.
Thanks for having me!