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I Made $4800 in January 2021

It's time for the first update in 2021.

If you're not familiar with these posts, I'm documenting m journey from $5/hour Fiverr code monkey to $100/hour consultant.

You can check out my previous updates on my profile or visit the archive on my blog.

Although January was a wild month in the world, I had quite a chill one.

I've restructured the deal with Client #1.

Some pretty interesting projects came my way.

And I started making my own product.

Let's get started with the update.

TL;DR I made $4800 for 12 days of work on one project. I have two other projects in the pipeline.


Client #1

I've already mentioned that Client #1 got funding. Now that they have money, we decided to restructure our deal a bit.

The First thing is that we switched from charging by the hour to charging by the day. Client #1 currently occupies three days in the week.

Next up we switched from $35/hour to $400/day.


Two people reached out this month.

Coincidentally, they both work in finance and want to create their own SaaS product to escape the grind.

I've had a total of three meetings, two of which were introductions, and one deep-dive.

Lead #1

Lead #1 wants to make a sales team performance tracker that integrates seamlessly with Stripe. The budget is around $5-$10k.

I had an introduction meeting with him where I asked if we can get in touch in a week after he creates some mockups so I get a better picture of his vision.

I've sent one follow-up email to which I haven't got a reply. I'll send another one in the following days.

Lead #2

Lead #2 wants to make a platform for discovering new food products. The budget is up to $5k.

I had two meetings with him.

It's the same situation as with Lead #1 where I asked for a mockup before I give out a quote.

I received a mockup this week, had a deep-dive conversation to find more about the project, and I've written him a proposal in Bonsai.

Bonsai notifies me when someone sees proposals and I got an email that he saw it. I'll follow up with him in a couple of days.

I have no preference on which project I'd rather work on.

My Product

After talking with these two leads, I've realized that I can win the project even if they don't accept the first proposal.

If they reject the first one, I'll propose another one which will be 10-15 hours shorter but I'll ask them to buy a license for a SaaS starter.

But there's a problem with that plan. There is no a good SaaS starter kit for Django and Vue.

My current favorite stack for bootstrapped products like these is Django + Vue.

I've tried to find a SaaS starter kit for this stack but couldn't find a good one so I've started writing my own.

I introduce you to Get Django SaaS. An opinionated SaaS Starter kit for Django and Vue.

So far I've:

  • Put up an email capture website
  • Ran ads for the product
  • Setup backend and frontend base projects
  • Bootstrapped base layout for frontend
  • Written email/password authentication system on the backend
  • Created login and register page

Some things I still need to do before I can call this an MVP:

  • Wire frontend auth with backend
  • Write a system for CRUD scaffolding
  • Add email integration with MailChimp and EmailOctopus
  • Integrate billing with Stripe and Paddle
  • Design and code common components a customer can choose from to customize the base look
  • Add teams and email invite system
  • Documentation, documentation, and more documentation

After I implement all this I'll see whether it will fly and if there are freelancers that are struggling with the same problem.

You must be asking yourself: "Hey Adem, it's awesome that you're building your own product but how did you validate this idea?".

  1. There's a ton of SaaS starter kits out there so there's a market for it.
  2. I'm scratching my own niche. One famous SaaS starter kit is Laravel Spark and its creator, Taylor Otwell, said that he'd be fine if no one was buying it since it's helpful for him. I'm going with the same approach. Even if I don't get any customers, I'll still have an awesome starter kit for future projects.


Moving on I'll include my expenses for the month.

Expenses Amount
Transaction Fees $259.50
Taxes $495
Retirement Fund $154.5
Ethereum $320
HelloBonsai $19
Namecheap $8
Github Sponsorship $5
Patreon $13
Total $1274

Detailed breakdown

Client #1 uses Deel to process payroll. I get paid via SWIFT so the transaction fees are SWIFT fees + my local bank fees.

Lucky for me, in Bosnia taxes are pretty low and they come at a bit over 10%.

Each month I have to contribute to the retirement fund a small amount of $154 to be eligible for a pension when I get old.

I buy ETH each month to get the advantage of dollar-cost averaging and compounding effect. This is not an opinion on what should you invest in. I'm breaking down my business expenses because my crypto investments my other pension.

Hello Bonsai (affiliate link) subscription costs $19. Worth every penny.

I bought from Namecheap for $8.

I spend $18 supporting some creators and open-source contributors for the hard work they're doing.


January 2021 was one of the better months I had.

I've made $4800 gross. If we factor in $1274 of expenses, my profit is $3526.

If you want to read these updates as soon as I write them, you can sign up for my newsletter.

Want to read previous updates? Visit Archive.

Thanks for reading,
Adem Hodzic

Top comments (7)

_hs_ profile image

4800 should be put in perspective. Let's say you live in NYC Manhattan or SF. Now compare monthly income of devs and designes there to this. It's barely affordable to live in some cases. My friends paid 20000$ for apartment in SF. They said after paying for apartment they could make for food and thats it. So it's useful to a lot of people but yeah price varries not only because someone is much better but because living standards as well.

ademhodzic profile image

Totally agree with that.

I'm guessing by name that you're also a fellow Bosniak.

IMO the Bosnian tax rate is the ONLY thing that's better for me in comparison to countries like U.S., Germany, and Canada.

_hs_ profile image

Ah well tax in US is 10% and some states have theirown taxes while in Nordics like Sweden it depends on your slary and region so mine is about 32% which is still less than 69% of what you pay in Bosnia and Herzegovina if you are employed. 30% is base tax with additional things like healthcare, pension, insurance it goes to 69. In Sweden pension and some stuff are on employer. So not even that is much better down there execept for the fact that on paper you get free helth insurance in comparison to US. This is why it's hard to say I earned this and have people get attached. Someplace it's nothing and other places it's really good. That's why context matters. Even if you are equal to some person in SF in skills that person will get way more just for the fact that it's so expensive to live there and you are freelancing. I just wanted to point out that sometimes clients can't or won't pay SF prices or NY or whatever so they look for workers elsewhere and eve 10000 a month can be cheap for them.
Anyways thanks for the post and have fun.

nicolus profile image
Nicolas Bailly • Edited

Lucky for me, in Bosnia taxes are pretty low and they come at a bit over 10%.

Yeah that's pretty good. In many parts of the world if you generate that kind of revenue all year long you'll end up paying roughly 50% in taxes.

ademhodzic profile image

Oh yeah, I know.

Heard a lot of horror stories.

Can't believe other freelancers here are still complaining about taxes all the time 😅

pazyp profile image
Andrew Pazikas

I am interested to know how do you find clients or do they come to you?

ademhodzic profile image

Hey Andrew,

It's 50/50.

I sometimes reach out to someone offering my services if I find the product interesting.

In other cases, clients come to me. They reach out after they read some content I've created.

You can read more about how to get client without having experience on my blog.

All the best,
Adem Hodzic