My takeaways from DYFConf

Shelley Tran
5 min readSep 22, 2015


A few nights ago, I returned from the first edition of the Double Your Freelancing Conference, a new conference to help consultants and agencies to grow their businesses. Here’s a short list of what really hit home during my week in cozy Norfolk, VA.

James Clear

How to develop better work habits

James broke the ice with a incredible speech about building better habits. He spoke about the main difference between amateurs and professionals. An amateur works when he feels inspired, whereas a professional works on a schedule, even if he doesn’t feel like it. In fact, a professional plans their actions and commits to them every day.

5 steps to better habits

1. Simplify

List your 25 most important goals. Now, strike out all but your top 5. Commit to avoiding those 20 less important goals at all costs. In reality, these are things that distract us from our true goals.

2. Prioritize

At the end of each day, list the 6 most important things to do the next day. The next morning, assign them a priority and complete them, one by one.

3. Design your environment

Our work space defines our habits. James suggested to optimize for good habits and create barriers for bad ones. For example, if you’re someone who wastes a lot of time on your phone in the morning, you could place it in another room before going to bed. In practice, this extra step makes it far less likely that you’ll waste time in the morning.

Here’s my new home screen. #CheesyLvl1000

Another cool tip was to remove all your apps from the home screen. We often waste time on social media because it’s convenient, not because we actually want to.

4. Mesure

James taught us that we should concentrate on the most important task and measure our progress backwards rather than forwards. By this, he means that we should compare to our past selves instead of aspiring to reach some arbitrary goal. This type of feedback reinforces our good habits.

5. Commit and repeat

Committing to improve every day, even if by only 1%, pays huge dividends in the long run. It may not be sexy, but showing up every day and putting in the repetitions will get you further than any trick you read on the internet. Committing and repeating good habits is the keystone to success.

Kurt Elster

How to automate our selling

Kurt gave us plenty of excellent reasons why we should automate our systems in order to work less and earn more.

“You don’t have a business and personal life, you have a life. Use it well and stop drawing lines.”

Kurt recommended tools like Buffer to plan posts on social media and IFTTT to publish on different platforms at the same time.

According to him, using forms and automated replies makes doing business a lot easier, especially when qualifying new clients. More free time, more money and less repetitive tasks!

Kurt Elster and Kai Davis

Website teardowns

Roughly a dozen people submitted their websites for teardowns. Kurt and Kai gave us excellent feedback on what makes a good sales page and what each person could improve. They even commented on their own pages, which weren’t perfect either. Here’s what I found most interesting:


Kai and Kurt recommend to have a strong position and speak directly to your ideal client. Strong, confident headlines help establish your expertise.

For example, Kurt shared us how he niched from web development, to wordpress, to e-commerce, then finally to Shopify. Every step along the way, he was able to secure better clients, and solve more expensive problems along the way.

Speak with the “YOU”

It’s easy to get all caught up and talk about ourselves. However, we should avoid speaking about how great we are and focus on our client’s problem instead. Use this positionning to show how you can help grow their business.

Nathan Barry

How to become an authority

“We don’t teach because we’re experts. We’re experts because we teach.”

Nathan told us to teach everything we know. We often say “But why me? I have nothing special to teach. I don’t have enough experience.”

However, this can’t be further from the truth. When you think about it, if you were paid by a client to execute a task, you can certainly consider yourself an expert. Nathan’s speech concluded on an inspiring note:

1. Show up every day.

2. Start before you feel ready.

Julie Elster

Getting paid

Julie’s introduction was amazing. Her personal story kept us captivated as she compared our clients to relationships. Just like when you’re in a couple, if you hesitate to keep a relationship with a client, the best solution is probably to break up. In love and in business, everything should be done with honesty and transparency. It’s okay to be picky with clients. The quality of our clients is important if we want our business to thrive.

Don’t call yourself a freelancer

Words are important when you position yourself. Stop using the word freelancer. You should instead use stronger words such as consultant or business owner.

Charge 100% upfront

Charge the entire project upfront. Fire your bad clients and raise your rates. There will always be clients who are ready to pay for your expertise and the true value your bring to their projects.

The secret app to get paid is

Nothing works better than a phone call to solve an unpaid invoice. It’s easy for a client to ignore your emails, but it’s harder for them to ignore you once they’ve picked up the phone.

Finally, I wanted to thank Brennan for bringing this conference to life. It was a total blast. If you’re a consultant, you definitely have to be there next year! This first edition was awesome: the speakers were amazing and I’ve met a lot of new people from whom I’ve learned so much!

I know from experience that conference motivation is extremely short lived. James Clear said it best:

“Motivation is fickle and it doesn’t last. The effects of motivation essentially vanished after a day.”

In the short term, my goals from DYFConf are to show up every day, to share something every day and design a great environment to boost my productivity. I want to get more sh*t done. Winners find a way and losers find excuses. Everything I’ve learned this week will help me focus on what a truly want.

PS: This review wouldn’t be here without the precious help of my awesome partner @Frankacy ❤ Thanks for proofreading and helping me practice my English every day!



Shelley Tran

Je vous aide à créer infolettres que les gens aiment recevoir dans leur inbox! ✍🏼