In this new episode of Changing lives, we'll meet with Ray Flores a self-taught experienced developer and designer. He's specialized in many areas like WooCommerce, BuddyPress, Custom Fields, Elegant Themes, Genesis Framework, UX, just to name a few.

During the interview, he'll share with us his insights and thoughts about:

  • what he likes about freelancing
  • his past working experiences
  • why he decided to go freelance (and apply for Codeable)
  • what are his life goals and how he's reaching them, also thansk to his freelancing path
  • how being a Codeable expert changed his life

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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 #8: Zach Nicodemous.
Changing lives #9: Oliver Efremov.

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Video Transcription

Matteo: Hi everybody! This is Matteo from Codeable, and today we are here with Ray Flores, who will share with us his story and experience as a freelancer. He will also be telling us his experience as a Codeable expert, letting us know how this experience, in a way, changed his life. So, hey Ray, thank you for joining us in this new episode of Changing Lives. We really appreciate it.

Ray: Hey Matteo! Thanks for having me. I also appreciate it. So, it should be fun.

Matteo: Yeah, great. You're welcome. I'm really excited to know more, of course, about your story. So, why don’t you start by saying which part of the world you are right now, where you’re from and most importantly, how long you have been a freelancer.

Ray: Sure! I am from the United States, from Arizona, down south of the capital city of Phoenix in Chandler. And I have been freelancing for (I don't know) some time now. I would say 13 years – 2001, year 2000, somewhere there. Just, you know - if my mom wanted a websites, I would give her a website. Something like that. So, it’s been a while.

Matteo: So, you've been a freelancer for quite some time. Would you mind telling us what you like about freelancing? Why didn’t you end up with a regular 9 to 5 job?

Ray: Well, actually, contrary to that I still do have a 9 to 5 job...

Matteo: Oh, interesting!

Ray: And I do freelancing on the side. But what led me to that is really the aspect of when I retire what does that look like. Does that look like a normal 9 to 5 retirement or does that look like an extra effort, you put something into it retirement? Especially for my family. It’s something that we’ll talk about here in a minute. But definitely one of the main reasons why I chose freelancing as a side income (if you will) is to expand that retirement portion. When I do retire (I don’t know when that is), but when I do it will be worth it.

Matteo: Well, nice, interesting point of view. It totally makes sense to me. Yes. So, even if you are at the beginning of the interview I’m going to ask you a million dollar question. Are you ready?

Ray: I'm ready!

Matteo: Ok, great to hear this. What do you think it takes to make a good freelancer? Can anybody be one?

Ray: Anybody cannot be one! Anybody could be one, but everybody cannot be one. I think that what it really takes is just determination, perseverance, a lot of time, a lot of effort, research, education... There’s a ton of things that go into just being a people person as well – for customers, for new clients (if you will); new relationships all over the world. Language barriers are sometimes a big key component to that understanding. Really (and I’m sure we will talk about why I got into Codeable), one of the reasons is understanding what the task at hand has in store for you. So, knowing those two things, I think, there is a bit of everyone that can handle, somewhat, multitasking or some that just plain out can’t handle it at all and would do really well in a 9 to 5, single task oriented.

Matteo: Yeah. Sure, sure. Agree also with this one. Yeah, since you already mentioned it – 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 the way your working life was developing or you felt unfulfilled? What else?

Ray: There's a lot to go with why I chose Codeable and why Codeable chose me, in a sense. I use to work with a company similar to Codeable that didn't have the process down, didn’t have it fine-tuned as well as Codeable does and there was a lot of miscommunication, a lot of mishaps with customers, with the company itself and I actually was there with another Codeable expert now and saw what she was doing and how she came over here and I took a look at it and I said "man, that looks like something that is going to be, you know, definitely there for long term." They have a great group of people that are behind it (like yourself, of course) and continuing down there. And after talking to them it was definitely the right decision!

Matteo: Ok. Let me ask you this: do you remember how you heard about Codeable? Were you like doing some research online? Did you stumble upon ads, a blog post or what else?

Ray:It was really some research, some really heavy research. This was prior to Codeable even... I think it was their 1 year anniversary to tell you the truth, and so...

Matteo: So really back in the days.

Ray:It was a while ago! So, there was some research that had to be done, even in terms of the web page itself. I really couldn’t find it at the time when it was mentioned to me – hey, she went over to Codeable. And I said I’ve got to look it up and see what’s going on with it. So, I ended up finding it and messaged Per and he got back to me, and I was actually talking with Tomaz quite a lot to begin with and then Per chimed in!

Matteo: Oh! So, the first one you talked to was Tomaz?

Ray:That's correct! Yeah, that was my very first impression of Codeable, which is fantastic! He's a developer at heart. So...

Matteo: Also a great guy!

Ray: Absolutely great guy! Everybody there is! I can’t complain about anybody. So, that’s the good news.

Matteo: So, how long have you been a Codeable expert?

Ray: I’ve been here... I’m going on my third year now. So, it's a little over 2 years. January was my...

Matteo: That's super cool!

Ray: Yes, that’s super cool! I’ve been ecstatic ever since, and it’s something that I’ve... Freelancing is a little bit of hills and valleys. It’s got it’s peaks and it’s got it’s valleys. So, there’s one aspect that I like about Codeable which is the consistency of the work. There’s not a lot of chasing, there’s not a lot of hustling (if you will) to go and find the work. It’s readily available, obviously. It becomes my job to sell my skills on the customer. Yeah, absolutely! It’s fantastic. And one of the reasons why I did look at something like this long term – 10/15 years down the road do I still see myself here?…

Matteo: You're questioning yourself with a very good question. Thank you for doing that.
Ray:It’s something I look for. Like I was saying earlier – with a salary position in a corporate field, doing similar tasks to a software company, work on the back end implementation... So, moving forward how can I relate what I do here at my job to Codeable and to my customers? That becomes very easy. But the best piece about that is having that consistency of customers and having that consistency of money, quite frankly, to be coming in on a regular basis. And that, I think, is very, very key to me and why I would see something like this in a plan – a 5 year or 10 year plan, whatever it may be

Matteo: Yeah, that midterms, yeah...

Ray: Yup. Absolutely! And it’s exciting to see and the changes inside Codeable are just phenomenal; and ever since version 1 came out and version 2 and version 3 and it’s just continuing on, and how it’s progressing is just absolutely amazing. I’m glad to be a part of it.

Matteo: Great to hear this mate. And, another question: if you look at your past freelancing life and you fast forward to today, how have things changed for you? I mean, are they any different?

Ray: Drastically different!

Matteo: Drastically?! Ok...

Ray: The good piece about it – there’s good and bad, obviously. But the good piece about it is that I’ve grown my family – number 1 – successfully, because of Codeable, and what it’s offered to me. I’ve been able to become almost debt free. And in the US there is a little bit of back and forth between is debt good, is debt bad? I chose the path that debt is bad for you, and went the route of how do I get rid of what I’ve done in the past, and so this is a goal of my wife and I for our family. We have six children.

Matteo: Wooaa! Congrats! Huge family!

Ray: Yeah. So, there’s a reason why I have two consistent, successfully building environments. So, it’s definitely something that I look forward to. But that piece of "hey, is this really going to help me get to my goal, get to our goal?" Absolutely! No questions asked. I think this is definitely the key to success.

Matteo: So, little by little and day by day you are getting closer to this big goal.

Ray: Absolutley! Absolutely. And the huge goal, since started, has actually become smaller. So, perfect motivator to say "hey, can I really knock this out?" "How fast can I get this done, how much head way can I make, how happy is my wife going to be…?2 And it’s just one of those things that’s a driving, motivating factor!

Matteo: Yes. That’s so powerful. So powerful! How many projects have you worked on and completed? Do you remember this? A rough number just to give me just an idea...

Ray: I’m around 230, 240, somewhere around there, I think. 230, 227 I think is the number. And, typically, around 4 or 5 tasks at a time...

Matteo: And do you prefer working with recurring clients, one shot clients, small tasks, mid-sized projects?

Ray: I actually enjoy the functionality tasks which are: "could you create something cool that makes my website sing and dance?" Whatever it may be! But definitely, the plugin modifications. I like the theme modification where it’s adding functionality, or different functionality than what it does now. WooCommerce definitely a big driving factor in that. Any e-commerce portion about a website is definitely fun and exciting, but I really enjoy that extra piece that I could offer to the customer which is, you know, "can you make it sing and dance?" And I’ll do my best in giving you the best quality that I possibly can and possibly know about. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, then absolutely, that’s what I’m trying to give!

Matteo: I just came up with this question and I will ask you this – since you brought up this example that "I would like a website that can sing and dance", how about a professional website developers like you who is fond of working and implementing new functionalities, new features on people’s website, but most of the time you face with people that say "really I want my website, I want it to sing and dance" in such vague terms. Did you experience any of this? And if you did, how did you improve or maybe overcome some issues?

Ray: Sure. So, I think that Codeable is great because of the tasks and how it’s summarized by the customer and by myself too. I’ll take the extra step to find out really what it is that you’re looking for. So, if the customer says to me that I really want this to sing and dance I’ll ask him like "do you want him to move the right foot first or do you want him to move the left foot first?"

Matteo: So, you ask more questions.

Ray: Yeah, definitely. I really want to make sure that I fine tune the task enough so that the desired results are really there for when I say "Hey, I think I'm done with the site, go ahead and review it", they’ll say "Absolutely, that’s perfect!" Or "You know what, let’s make this little tweak right here", I’m able to go on it and adjust it right away so they can get exactly what they’re looking for. Versus – "Hey, can you make it sing and dance" and I think singing and dancing is something completely different than what they are looking for. And, often a good sample of that would be "Hey, I like jazz music", the customer I’m talking to likes hip-hop, but I happen to make something jazzy and they didn’t want that! So, I’ll definitely get down to those questions and make sure that the task is summarized so that they can understand what they’re going to get after I’ve completed it.

Matteo: Ok. Thank you for clarifying this because it’s really important, when working with clients and prospects as well.

Ray: Absolutely, absolutely.

Matteo: And, even if you’ve, in a way, already answered this question – the last question is: I know some other experts like you, after working with us for some time, have been able to put down a deposit for a new home, travel more or invest in improving their freelance business with better software, or even gears, for example. How about you, did you do anything like that? Are you planning to do anything like this?

Ray:Definitely planning on it! A little bit from before, which is: paying off some debt and getting debt free. Big, big goal of my wife and I! Ultimately, I think the biggest piece, or the biggest aspect of why I do what I do is my wife and I...I very much love my wife, obviously, but with that comes "how can I make her happy, and how can I really give her what she is looking for?".

And my family, of course, and building that family-oriented goal. There is a piece that says "this is something that I’m doing right". I know I don’t have to be here forever, but at the same time it’s nothing that I’m going to leave anytime soon just because it’s going in the right direction. So, as long as I can continue to take my family, take my wife in the right direction, then absolutely, this is the key aspect for me and why I do what I do.

Matteo: Wow! So inspiring, really. Thank you for sharing this. I think that’s enough for today. You shared some really juicy stories and it was super interesting to hear your story, Ray. So, thank you for sharing it with us, with me. And once again I would like to thank you for spending your time with us. I wish you a great day, and talk to you soon.

Ray: Alright. Thanks for having me.