S03 E04 – Paul Jarvis on keeping things simple, freelancing, and being a business owner

Today’s guest is Paul Jarvis. Paul is an author, designer, online course creator, and podcaster. Paul has been a freelancer since the 90’s and, though he has transitioned completely to products, he still keeps everything extremely simple. His newest project is a SaaS called Pico.

Paul is a big believer in “scratching your own itch” when it comes to products (and even services).

One of his defining moments was when he quit his job as a creative director. His plan was to get another job, but when a number of clients from his previous employer approached him about continuing to work directly with him, his freelance career was born.

This was a pretty big deal because he’d never considered working for himself as an option. It was a scary leap to go from being an employee to running a business. Running a business is about so much more than just “doing the work”. It was a new education in and of itself.

As is the case for a lot of freelancers, self-employment wasn’t without its struggles. A low point for Paul was learning the hard way that clients don’t always do what they say their going to do (e.g. pay you). At one point, a client owed him as much as $30k, most of which he ended up losing permanently.

The lesson, though, is that it’s OK to stop working for crappy clients. Have a contract and a process and if the client isn’t willing to abide by it, then walk away.

The move from client work to products was another unexpected twist in Paul’s career, as it wasn’t something he had necessarily planned on. But as his various courses and apps began to grow, he eventually stepped away from client work completely.

A big part of the appeal of staying small and nimble is the freedom it gives him to work on new things. Whether it’s a new book, SaaS or course, Paul’s projects tend to shift every few months, and it’s what keeps him engaged and excited.

In this episode Paul talks about:

  • How he picks his projects
  • Keeping things simple
  • Starting a business when you don’t know how to run a business
  • Leaving freelancing for product creation and book writing
  • Productivity and batching
It's OK to stop working if people stop paying you.Click To Tweet

Main Takeaways

  • Having a skill-set is great but you have to learn how to run a business as well.
  • Getting clients who need more than one project can help fill your sales funnel without a lot of additional marketing or sales efforts.
  • Tie your payments to deliverables and not timelines.
  • Create evergreen content and repurpose it. It can remove a ton of the stress of feeling like you always need to be creating something new.

Important Mentions in this Episode