In this new episode of Changing lives, we'll meet with Puneet Sahalot a young WordPress developer with more than 8 years of experience and CEO of IdeaBox Creations, a well-known WordPress design and development agency. Puneet has specialized in many areas like jQuery, PHP, CSS, Custom Themes and Plugins, Genesis framework, WooCommerce, just to name a few.
During the interview, he'll share with us his insights and thoughts about:
- what he likes about freelancing
- why he decided to be a freelancer
- how he was able to start his web agency owner
- how being a Codeable expert changed his life (and his business)
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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.
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Matteo: Welcome everyone! This is Matteo from Codeable. In this new episode, we’re going to meet with Puneet Sahalot who will share with us his story and experience as a freelancer. But, he will also tell us more about working as a Codeable expert, letting us know how this experience, in a way, changed his life.
So, hey Puneet! Thank you for joining us today in this new episode of Changing Lives, we really appreciate it!
Puneet: Hey mate! Nice meeting you, and thank you for inviting me to this episode of Changing Lives.
Matteo: It's a pleasure mate! So, I’m really looking forward to hearing more about you and your story. So, to get the ball rolling why don’t you start by saying where you’re from, which part of the world you are right now, and most importantly, how long have you been a freelancer?
Puneet: Ok. I’m living in the beautiful city of Udaipur, Rajasthan. I'm in India. And, I’ve been a freelancer since 2009. So, it’s been almost 7 years now...
Matteo: So, you’ve been a freelancer for quite some time.
Matteo: So, would you mind telling us what do you like about freelancing? I mean, why did you choose to start working by yourself, gamble on yourself and not ended up in a regular 9-5 job?
Puneet: I think the best thing about freelancing is that I get to choose the kind of projects I want to work on and the clients I want to work with, along with the freedom of working at my convenience. So, if I want to take a break from work for a few days it’s easy for me to schedule my clients and work accordingly. Of course, being in India, there’s a difference in time zones but I know that I can adjust for different time zones as well.
Matteo: Ok. So, freedom, of course, is one the most important reason that people opt for when starting their freelancing business path. Even if we are at the beginning of this interview I’m going to ask you a super tough question right away. Are you ready?
Puneet: Yea, sure!
Matteo: What does it take to be a good freelancer? And do you think that anybody can be one? Just to clarify my question a little bit further – off the top of my head, I think that dealing with clients, for instance, is natural for many. And also, you need to be good at planning your resources... So, what do you think? What does it take to be a good freelancer?
Puneet: I think the most important part is excellent communication and meeting the deadlines with your clients. So, if you can communicate the requirements and expectations very well with your clients and meet their deadlines set for your projects accordingly you can be a good freelancer.
Especially when we are working remotely and we are located in completely different time zones and in different countries it becomes a little difficult to convince your clients and build your trust initially. But, over the period if you build your portfolio and maintain your online presence I think it’s easier to convert your clients into long term clients.
Matteo: Yea, yea. I agree. But you’re not only a freelancer running solo, you have your own agency, right?
Matteo: Would you mind sharing your experience on that? I mean, how were you able to scale from being a solo freelancer to an agency owner?
Puneet: So, I started as a freelancer. The initial idea was to continue freelancing but over the period I realized that I was leaving a lot of money on the table because I had limited time, limited skill set and my interest kept growing to try out different kinds of projects. But, as myself, I had limited skill set specializing in theme development. I saw a lot of potential in plugin development as well. So, 2012 I started my agency with only one developer and now we are a team of developers, designers, quality, and others. Over that period we have been growing, we have been getting new clients and investing the same money back into our business and it has helped me to grow into an agency.
Matteo: Yea, nice. Congrats! Tell us what are the challenges involved in the switch, if you could pick out or list a few of them.
Puneet: I think the biggest challenge for a new business owner is to find the right kind of team members. There are a lot of people who know how to code, but how to code best, how to best follow the guidelines is not a cup of tea for everyone. Some people are not going to learn those things. So, if you can find the right persons who are excited about working and excited about learning, it’s easy to build your team.
And then, the next problem as it concerns an agency is managing multiple people at the same time and dealing with multiple clients at the same time. So, you need to set up an effective project management process for your business. And, on top of that, we need to effect a quality analyst who can test everything, who can analyze everything and ensure that the goal or final product which we are delivering to our client is realistic and bug-free to reduce client revisions and back and forth.
Matteo: Ok. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. So, back to the main topic - what made you look for something new in your freelancing life, in fact, like Codeable? I mean, was there a specific reason, like you didn’t like your previous jobs or the way you were working before? In a way you felt like you were missing something in your professional life, or what else?
Puneet: So, luckily, I never got a job. I started my career as a freelancer. Initially, I started working on a particular theme and a framework. I wanted to expand my business because I discovered a site to build custom themes, custom websites and even offer custom designs. So, that was limiting for me with my existing set up; and then I came to know about Codeable through Twitter and I tweeted about it and asked if I could join it or not.
Matteo: So you heard about Codeable through Twitter?
Matteo: And do you remember how you got in touch with Per or Tomaz? Do you remember this?
Puneet: Yea. It was a regular day, I was going through my timeline and someone tweeted about this new freelancer marketplace for WordPress, and it was Codeable. Interestingly, I found the website, I browsed the website and I found it really impressive. Because I’ve never been to any other websites earlier I never believed them, I never trusted them. Because there was a lot of competition the quality was not a focus on other websites but Codeable was and is, completely different.
So, I tweeted and asked if I could join Codeable, then I had a few email conversations and I was on board in 2014.
Matteo: Wow, nice! So, how long have you been a Codeable expert?
Puneet: More than two and half years now.
Matteo: And how are things going here in Codeable? Do you have anything to share?
Puneet: Yea. It’s been amazing! I think Codeable is one of the reasons why I run an agency now and why I’ve been able to scale up and I’ve been able to put a decent amount of money back into my business and grow my team. So, this has been fantastic joining with Codeable. And I think there is always a little place in your heart where you want to thank everyone at Codeable, and the founders of Codeable. It’s been an amazing community, more than marketing and a place to find new jobs; it’s a community for me. All the developers here are fantastic, and if I get stuck I can consult them. They are friends and not competitors here.
Matteo: Thank you! It’s a nice story, a nice point of view. Really, thank you for sharing this. And, if you look at your past freelancing life and you fast forward to today how have things changed for you? I mean, are they different?
Puneet: I would say my life has completely changed. As a freelancer, I was working crazy work hours. Being in India I was working late nights until early morning. But, after joining Codeable, this was a big relief. As I often tell my clients – I am not in your time zone, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to run away or I’m not going to complete something on time. Because Codeable provides a basic guarantee and trust to both of the persons it’s easy to convince clients. And this is how a lot of clients have worked with me without worrying about losing their time or money.
So, this has been a big relief for me. At the same time, as I mentioned earlier, I have been able to invest back into my business, and that has changed a lot for me because now I have a team so I can offload some burdens. They will deliver the same quality work I expect from them, and that’s a good thing for me.
Matteo: Sure is! Do you remember how many projects you’ve worked on and completed?
Puneet: I think it’s close to 200 now.
Matteo: Wow!! Impressive! That’s an interesting number.
Puneet: I have been a bit choosy about the kind of projects I pick up. Sometimes I take up small projects and sometimes I go for bigger ones like complete website building or custom themes and plugins.
Matteo: So, I guess, at the end of the day you must be quite happy about this new freelancing life that you have started with Codeable and that you have also started with your company. Let me ask you one last thing. I know some other experts like you, after working with for some time have been able to travel more, buy a motorcycle, put down a deposit for a new home. Others have invested in improving their freelancing business with better gear, for example. How about you? Did you do anything like that? Are you planning to do anything like this?
Puneet: Yes. I think I have been able to do a lot of that. I got some freedom to travel more. I have been attending a lot of WordPress camps because of that freedom.
Puneet: It’s always fantastic to meet the WordPress community. That is one big plus for me. And, as I said I was able to invest back into my business and grow my agency; and that again is a huge plus. And I was able to put away some savings and I was able to travel.
Matteo: Yea! That’s it now. What more do you want? I mean, that’s awesome story! :D
I think that’s enough for today. It was interesting hearing your story, Puneet. Thank you for sharing it with me, with us. And, once again, I would like to thank you for spending your time with all of us.
So, I wish you a great day and talk to you soon.
Puneet: Thank you, Matteo. It was wonderful being with you and I’m happy to be a part of Codeable. Thank you very much.
Matteo: Yea. We are happy to have you on board, mate.