I raised my rate 467% in three years
Hey there! I'm Elliot Bonneville, a contracting web developer living in Rhode Island and working remotely. I love coding, and I don’t plan on ever stopping.
At one point, though, I wasn’t so sure of that. After four years without any significant raises, I needed to make more money.
I knew that something had to change. I tried launching a startup, running a digital marketing business, and even technical writing.
It wasn’t long before I found out that all of those other jobs made me miserable, and all I wanted to do was code (sound familiar?). I hated spending every day drowning in meetings and dragging JIRA tickets around, cold calling lawyers, or trying to teach people over Zoom.
So I went back to programming.
But when I learned my wife and I were expecting, I realized I had to figure out a way to make more money while continuing to do what I loved. I knew it was possible, because other people did it – but what I didn’t know was .
It took a lot of frustration, anxiety, and coming within 24 hours of missing our rent payment, but after some truly desperate times...
I doubled my rate.
And then I doubled it again. And then I raised it some more, just for good measure.
It turns out, getting more money for the work you love to do isn’t all that hard – you just have to know how. But...
The devil’s in the details.
If I told you all you had to do in order to double your rate was:
- Change jobs frequently (without being seen as a job hopper)
- Be willing to walk away from offers
- Have a specialty
- Know your true worth
- Be confident on the phone
- Negotiate aggressively
...would you believe me? Well, it’s all pretty reasonable stuff. But just from that list, can you actually go raise your rates? I couldn’t. A lot of people talk about these things online, but what they were saying wasn’t enough.
And that’s why I wrote this artisanal hand-typed book. It’s the guide I somebody had handed me six years ago. I share everything I learned along the way, like how to talk to recruiters, whether it’s better to bill as a corporation or as an individual, and how to negotiate aggressively and with confidence.
Fair warning, the advice in this book isn’t for everybody. The person I was six years ago may not be the person you are today.
This book is for you if you...
- Have at least two or three years of programming experience
- Love software development, but see work as a means to an end
- Would like to stay at an individual contributor level
- Are actively looking for ways to make more money
- Are willing to go outside of your comfort zone and learn hard new things
It's not for you if you...
- Are a brand new software developer or haven't found your first role yet
- Value what you're doing and/or who you're doing it with more than the money
- Are comfortable with your current income or are not motivated by money
- Aren’t willing to consider contracting as an alternative to full-time employment
Okay. Still with me?
Here’s the deal: every developer has two jobs: writing code, and finding people to pay them to write code. Most developers know about the first job, but far fewer developers realize .
What does that second job look like? Well, as the old sales adage goes: good marketing and a bad product beat a great product with bad marketing.
Learn to market and sell yourself, and you will make more money.
Table of Contents
- Why I wrote this book and who I am
- Who this book is for and who this book is not for
- What this book is about
- Chapter 1: I 5x’d My Rate In Three Years
- My story in brief
- $30/hr: inbound via Stack Overflow
- $30/hr to $35/hr: referral
- $95/hr: inbound via Stack Overflow
- $60/hr: social networking
- $110/hr: I post my resume online
- $120/hr: recruiter
- $140/hr: recruiter
- Chapter 2: Quit Your Job
- All raises are relative to your starting salary
- After a certain point, your company can’t afford you any more
- For every company that will pay you 200%, there also exists a company that will pay you 400%
- It’s very difficult to be paid your true value
- Don’t be a job hopper, be a contractor
- Chapter 3: Talk With Recruiters
- Recruiters are an important resource
- Recruiters look for the highest return-on-investment candidates
- Only talk to high-level recruiters
- Confidence is a proxy for value
- Become confident on the phone
- Read sales books and learn sales
- Chapter 4: Learn To Negotiate
- Recruiters agencies profit when you lower your rate
- Charging more makes you worth more
- Be prepared to bargain
- Compromise on other things besides rate
- Play multiple offers against each other
- Offers are limited-time-only
- Don’t ghost recruiters
- Chapter 5: Optimize Your Online Presence To Generate Leads
- Optimize your resume
- Instant resume disqualifiers
- Optimize your LinkedIn profile
- Have a lot of connections
- Set your location to a major tech hub
- Make your profile page stand out
- Get recommendations from people you’ve worked with in the past
- Resources for further reading on LinkedIn optimization
- Chapter 6: Don’t Work With Startups or Household Names
- Don’t work with startups
- Taking equity is becoming a micro venture capitalist
- Empirically, equity is not as valuable as it seems
- Startup benefits are the cheese in the mousetrap
- Don’t work with household names
- The Goldilocks Zone is big companies that aren’t FAANGs
- Talent begets talent; therefore, go where talent is not
- Smaller companies are more able to negotiate
- Live in a low cost-of-living area, work in a high cost-of-living area
- Chapter 7: Start Your Own Contracting Company
- Billing corp-to-corp results in higher earnings
- Set up your business correctly
- Read low-risk contracts yourself
- Contracts are negotiable
- Payment terms
- Termination clause
- Non-solicitation clause
- Non-compete clause
- Non-disclosure agreement
- Never give notice before you sign the paperwork
- Chapter 8: Build Your Network
- Do astonishingly good work
- Build relationships with colleagues and bosses
- Stay front-of-mind with contacts as time goes by
- Your network has a half-life
- Look for mentors
- Chapter 9: Improve Your Mindset – Yes, You Can Charge More
- Employers want business value, not engineers
- Many limits are self-imposed
- Be wary of plateauing and local maxima
- Confidence and skill do not increase together
- Chapter 10: Don’t Be A Commodity
- Find a niche
- Dig yourself moats
- Build credibility
- Ask yourself if you really believe you can raise your rates
- Decide on your career story
- Update your resume and your LinkedIn
- Start talking with recruiters as soon as possible
- Negotiate well
- Do astonishingly good work
- Network and build credibility
- Let me know
I have a no-questions-asked refund policy. If you decide this book wasn't what you were expecting or you're not 100% satisfied with what you find, just shoot me an email and I'll send you a full refund.
Can't Afford It?
If you can't afford this book or you're out of a job because of COVID or related problems, just shoot me an email and we'll work something out.
Access to beta ePDF and ePub files + access to the Refactor Your Career Slack group.