In this new episode of Changing lives, we'll meet with Onur Demir a full stack PHP developer working with WordPress since 2008. Onur has specialized in many areas like CSS, Custom Post Type, Custom Themes, Gravity Forms, Avada, WooCommerce, just to name a few.
During the interview, he'll share with us his insights and thoughts about:
- why he decided to be a freelancer
- why he started his own company
- what strengths and values he sees in Codeable
- how being a Codeable expert changed his life (and his business)
Need help with your WordPress projects?
Want more stories from WordPress developers? Check them out here:
Changing lives #1: Spyros Vlachopoulos.
Changing lives #2: Nathan Reimnitz.
Changing lives #3: Alexandra Spalato.
Changing lives #4: Raleigh Leslie.
Changing lives #5: Alex Belov.
Changing lives #6: Bogdan Dragomir.
Changing lives #7: Ray Flores.
Changing lives #8: Zach Nicodemous.
Changing lives #9: Oliver Efremov.
Changing lives #10: Bruno Kos.
Changing lives #11: Surendra Shrestha.
Changing lives #12: Marius Vetrici.
Changing lives #13: Mitchell Callahan.
Changing lives #14: Puneet Sahalot.
Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss a new episode of "Changing lives"!
Matteo: Hi everyone this is Matteo from Codeable and in this new episode we're going to meet with Onur Demir who will share with us his story and experience as a freelancer. He will also tell us more about working as a Codeable expert, telling us more how these experiences in a way changed his life. So thank you for joining us in this new episode of changing lives. We really appreciate it.
Onur: Hi Matt, how are you?
Matteo: I'm great you?
Onur: I'm great as well.
Matteo: Wow so let’s start and let’s start with the super easy question. Why don’t you start by saying which part of the world you are, where you’re from and most importantly how long have you been a freelancer.
Onur: I’m from Turkey. I was born and raised in the capital Ankara. But for the last 9 years, I’ve been living in Antalya which is the south coast. That’s all about where I’m from and where I live. And how long I have been a freelancer, well I’ve been a freelancer all throughout my life.
Matteo: So you’ve never been an employee?
Matteo: Wow, I guess you’re the first one the first time I’m hearing this story. So you’ve always been freelancing through your entire life.
Onur: Well, it started like hey I don’t want to work for anyone; I just want my freedom when I was in college. So I had to create something that I could sell to people but it wasn’t so easy. Then I thought let’s start a company and I was like a one member show. And I have been freelancing since then.
Matteo: Would you mind telling us what you like about freelancing? Why did you choose this business path instead of ending up in a regular 9-5 job?
Onur: Well, first I’m a workaholic I love to work and a 9-5 will not satisfy me.
Onur: Yeah really and when you work hard for anyone when you exceed the hours of the time they will not be paying you so well. So instead of trying to be a slave I just wanted to be a master.
Matteo: Wow that’s a nice catch really.
Onur: So I can set my time schedule as I want, I can work all night, I can work all day; no one can tell me when I will work or when I will sleep. And I just want to be challenged; that’s the main part. When you’re freelancing there are lots of challenges. Some days you’re fixing an easy CSS and other days you’re fixing a tremendously high-end PHP code and one day you’re dealing with a server. So the challenge is not always the same and it’s always changing meanwhile, you get a great market research so you know what people are seeking for. For example, you’re getting freelance jobs about something more frequently than the others then you see the market needs a product like this so that we can…
Onur: So we have formed the company and we’re bringing our freelance experience into that company and we bring products and sell to people.
Matteo: Okay we’ll get there. I’m going to ask you about this... Sorry to interrupt you because we’re going to develop this further down the interview because I have another super tough question and I wanted to ask you right at the beginning. So even if you’re at the beginning of this interview I’m going to ask you like a tough question right away. Are you ready?
Matteo: So what does it take to be a good freelancer and do you think anybody can be one?
Onur: Well what does it take? Well, you have to devote yourself if you want to be a freelancer. I don’t know from whom I heard but there is a saying “If you want to win your life do your own job.” So being a freelancer is the exact equivalent of this saying. If you want to be a freelancer you have to devote yourself, you have to communicate. You have to work harder than anyone you know. If you do all those well the rewards will be great. You will achieve great things. But first of all, freelancing means discipline.
Onur: If you’re thinking like hey I’m a freelancer I can do whatever I want whenever I want, that’s wrong. That’s the major mistake that you’re going to do. And the second mistake that I come across often is that be honest with you and your clients in every situation. Things can happen, you can deliver late, and you might not able to deliver but be honest with yourself and your client. This way they’ll bring you more clients that for sure.
Matteo: Yeah I totally agree with you.
Onur: So there are 3 things: devoting yourself, discipline and being honest. Those are the 3 keys to being a good freelancer in my opinion.
Matteo: Yeah, super powerful.
Onur: The rest is about luck.
Matteo: Yes, luck is always part of life.
Onur: And knowledge, nut knowledge can be gained.
Matteo: Yeah right, so now that we know how you think about being a freelancer what does it take to be a good one? You were saying you’re not just a freelancer running solo. You’ve taken the leap and started a company. Would you mind sharing with us this experience? What were the challenges and what are the motivations that pushed you to create a company?
Onur: Well, first of all, the challenges I think is the same everywhere around the world: the legal issues.
Onur: Yeah forming a company there are legal things you have to know, like taxes...
Matteo: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Onur: So if you’re trying to take the leap with no money, with no consultants, it will be a challenge.
Matteo: A huge one.
Onur: And I suffered it. If anyone thinks about taking the leap, first save some money and hire some consultants and then do that thing. The challenge was that and the second challenge is always for a company to get clients.
Onur: So you have to have a plan about it. For me, it was a must to take the leap because I’m a developer, and I’m an engineer. I have no artistic skills.
Onur: I have no design eye. I can make things work but that’s all.
Matteo: That’s it.
Onur: And we or I needed a designer. And also I was developing some products and I needed someone to support the product so I can deal with the development. So that made 3 people right off the bat. So it had to be a team then we formed the company and it’s going well.
Matteo: Cool story. Okay, so back to the main topic: what made you look for something new in your freelancing life like Codeable? I mean was there a specific reason like you didn’t like your previous jobs where the way you were working before? In a way you felt that you were missing something in your business life?
Onur: In short you’re asking why I’m at Codeable?
Onur: Okay, I heard Codeable from a client of mine.
Onur: And she was saying that it was a great place for WordPress developers. Well, at the beginning I wasn’t a WordPress developer I was a full stack PHP developer.
Onur: I checked Codeable and it was looking nice and I applied. I can say it’s a nice experience. I suppose anyone who thinks themselves as an expert should come into Codeable. It’s also very nice to be in Codeable. Well as I told you I came to Codeable by recommendation.
Matteo: From one of your clients.
Matteo: How long have you been a Codeable expert?
Onur: 3 months.
Matteo: 3 months okay, and how are things going here at Codeable?
Onur: Well I don’t know how to put it but it’s been the busiest 3 months of my life.
Matteo: Really? Can you elaborate on this a little bit?
Onur: When I joined in Codeable it was July and in 2 weeks I had a vacation plan.
Onur: So I had to leave for 10 days. But the jobs were coming in, coming in, coming in and I was hesitating to estimate on them but I couldn’t stop myself. So in my vacation, I was working.
Matteo: Yeah, which is you know…
Onur: Because all the jobs were fun. And working in Codeable is so much fun. When you’re in Codeable even if you’re not touching any link on the screen the intercom pop-ups David, Chris or any other person says hey please look that, please look at that. You just try to be nice and look at that and see oh that’s exactly how I can do it. And it was so busy. When I came back from vacation I started doing some other jobs etc., then I took another vacation because it was in the plan. So I’ve been in Codeable for 3 months. But I’ve been like 2 months at work because I had 1 month as vacation etcetera.
Onur: And it was a living hell, Matt.
Onur: Yeah, because you just cannot believe how nice to be a part of a family I can say for Codeable it’s a family.
Onur: All the experts, all the Codeable staff they are all helping each other. So you can’t stop yourself but work. That was great, in 3 months we did well I think.
Matteo: Yeah I think too I mean that’s a nice story.
Onur: We have finished 60 tasks.
Onur: It’s great .
Matteo: Are those… this projects you just mentioned, do they have something in common or some are, I don’t know, small projects, other ones are a little bit bigger?
Onur: Well, honestly I couldn’t get some small projects over big projects.
Onur: Big… let’s say moderate projects; not so big not so small but nice projects. With small projects, there was too much competition you know so it wasn’t easy to get those projects for us. The other ones were great. The projects were about everything from design, conversion, to WordPress to WooCommerce or fixes, plugging development, or even consultancy there were lots of variety about the projects.
Matteo: Yeah, which is nice...
Onur: That’s great because if you’re specified on something you can go on it and get jobs from Codeable. If you do anything that comes challenging to you (like me) you can get jobs for yourself as well. For example, we don’t know anything about SEO in our team, and I see there are lots of SEO projects as well. If I was an SEO expert there are jobs for that section as well.
Onur: And as I told you previously I’m not a designer, we have an in-house designer but we’re not using her for our outside projects she’s only working for our inside projects so we’re not touching any design jobs but there are design jobs as well. The most surprising thing about Codeable for us is there are also non-Word Press jobs we did a PHP job as well.
Matteo: Really yeah probably I know that it happens.
Onur: Very rare let’s say 1-1000 but they come in.
Matteo: Probably this was… I don’t know if it was like a new client or just a recurring one that had also PHP requests.
Onur: Yeah it was a recurring client.
Matteo: Okay nice story! Another question: so if you look at your past freelancing life and then you fast forward to today, how have things changed for you? Are they any different?
Onur: Yeah when you’re freelancing outside of Codeable if you do not have a backup plan or if you’re in a country like mine, where there is not so much web development jobs that you can get from your surroundings, you’re doomed. You can’t get any jobs and if you even get jobs they will be very cheap. And you will not be able to pay your rent as well.
Onur: When I got in Codeable I said if I were only doing freelancing that would be enough because Codeable gives the value of the freelancer. For example, in other freelancing platforms, the client is always right. Whatever you do the client is always right and they can punish you even if you deliver. But in Codeable that’s not the case. Codeable first values the experts and the clients; they are equal in Codeable.
Matteo: They are equal.
Onur: Codeable… I was not a believer when I read the story. When I see inside of the Codeable I get the exact picture: Codeable hand-picks the clients.
Matteo: Yeah, we do that.
Onur: So if you’re a freelancer that’s a blessing.
Onur: Because in many freelancing platforms you’ll see many huge projects. But they are never ever serious about the project. In Codeable that’s not the case. Every project is a serious project, every client is a serious client and Codeable covers your back. For example, for a job I was about to apply, I was warned by Codeable staff that the job would contain some design work and I’ve applied with no design abilities. They asked: are you sure? And when I saw it, wow okay I withdrew my estimate, I’m not in that. That’s great because they are protecting the client as well as the…
Matteo: The developer, the expert.
Onur: The developer, yes. The client forgot to write the design job in the project definition and Codeable stuff was waiting for people to write in there so that they will warn the people. That’s something great.
Matteo: I know, this is a real value to a freelancer.
Onur: Yeah definitely.
Matteo: And also to the client.
Onur: Yes for client, for the developer… for the client because they get the worth of their money.
Matteo: Yeah that’s it.
Onur: For the developer because they get work off their time.
Onur: When you’re in other freelance platforms you will see quotes like $10 per hour. On Codeable that’s not the case.
Matteo: We’re totally opposite to that.
Onur: Yeah and I like it.
Matteo: That’s great to hear.
Onur: It’s like the Picasso tale. Picasso is doing a painting next to a river and a guy is watching him doing the painting. And Picasso finishes the painting on the canvas and the guy goes next to Picasso and says “Master I want to buy the picture you just drew”. Picasso says “It’s let’s say $10,000.” And the guy says “It took you an hour to draw it”. And then Picasso replies “No it took 50 years and an hour to draw.” So being a developer is like that you are putting in an hour job but everything is not done in that hour. You’re old past experiences, you’re old knowledge, your whole lifetime is in that hour so it has to be priced well and Codeable does that.
Matteo: Yeah I know that it’s one of the things that I think it sets us apart from the competition with other platforms.
Onur: Honestly you do not have any competition.
Matteo: Thank you for that. So last question. Yeah just one last superficial question. I know some other experts like you after working with us for quite some time have been able to let’s see travel more buy a motorcycle, put down a deposit for a new home or they just put back some money in their business to improve it. So how about you did you do anything like that? Are you planning to do anything like this?
Onur: Well I’m planning to do something but it’s too early to speak of it because, as I told you, I’ve only done 2 months of work.
Onur: We got in some money but…
Matteo: Probably it’s a short bit of time.
Onur: It’s too early to speak of it. But if I were in Codeable let’s say, 5 years ago it would be different because when I saw the great picture of Codeable it changed how I looked at the job, the market, everything.
Onur: Yep definitely.
Matteo: Wow that’s a huge impact.
Onur: Definitely because when you’re a freelancer or any business owner the sales is the most expensive bet unknown part of the job.
Matteo: Yeah I know that.
Onur: And if you can develop something but you can’t sell it's worthless. Codeable just deletes that dilemma from the table.
Onur: If you are willing to communicate you can get clients. And when you get clients you get the money and you can run your life, run your business and do anything you want. That’s the key. And Codeable is great value for that.
Matteo: Thank you so much that was like the best… one of the greatest endings to this type of interviews. So I think that’s enough for today. It was super interesting hearing your story. Thank you for sharing it with me and us and once again I would like to thank you very much for spending your time with all of us so wish you a great day and talk to you soon.
Onur: Talk to you soon.