Duty Labs Academy

- 11 mins cosmin


I helped some of my friends get into top freelancing communities such as Toptal, or big tech companies such as Google or Amazon. There’s nothing intrinsically hard about achieving either of these goals. It’s all about getting the skills and prepare for the interviews and for the later day-by-day resposabilities. One of my buddies just told me he landed a remote position for 100k per year. Congrats, man! That’s awesome (hope you’re reading this!!).

I recently came up with an Impossible list and I’m now ready to help 100 people get more than 100k per year by working remote, land their dream job and make a living out of what they like doing the most.

Duty Labs Academy

We are happy to announce a new project, Duty Labs Academy. The Academy is a mentorship and online community program tailored for talented people who want to grow and do more.

Here’s what you’ll get by joining the community:

Sounds good? Consider joining as soon as possible (we have limited spots)!


I talked a lot about the freelancing career and how you can make money by working independently. I’ve written the lifestyle-business post which received a lot of attention, and of course, the one sharing my accomplishments for 2019 and how I made my first 100k.

The story

I’ve been a freelancer for two years now and I might have around three years of software engineering industry experience in total. I incorporated my company when a friend told me about a potential project I could be working on. The project was estimated at around $50,000 and I couldn’t be more excited to start my first real-life project as an independent worker. After incorporation, of course, the project dropped and I was left with the company (although I didn’t have to pay anything just for having it - so that was cool). Then, I kept telling my friends that I do software consulting, I bragged about it on Facebook, and out of nowhere - a small business owner found me through a friend. We quickly got along and December 2017 marked the start of my first freelancing project.

I made an estimation sheet for all the requirements and estimated the project at around $5000. He negociated for $4000. I took it. I finished the project but things started slacking off. Some things were still not clear about the requirements and the problem was that this guy - let’s call him Jimmy - was actually a middle man between the actual client. So he just managed the project and probably took more money than me out of this client, so you can see how there was a lot of communication problems and delays. Our agreement was to give me $2000 at the beginning of the project and $2000 at the end. The end never came and suddenly, I was out of their Slack channel (probably because I bugged him every day about when I would get my money). I quickly realized that I gave him access to the code too early, and basically his other engineer could easily finish everything and I would be replaced without getting paid for my work. Oh well, shit happens. Of course, I was working remotely and Jimmy was from the Bay Area. Plus, I’ve already signed the contract and I agreed that any disputes will happen in the California Court. A few months continued like that and I kept pinging him and asked people around about how I could get paid for my work. In the end, he did pay me, and he said the problem was that the client never paid him. But since we had an agreement, he said it’s fair to pay me, so I was happy.

Damn, that’s a really shitty first project as a freelancer, isn’t it? Actually, it can get even worse. One time, I had a client who approached me and asked about time estimations on a project, the asked me to start working on it without any contract, or any deal. I quickly found out she actually didn’t have any money and was looking for some kind of co-founder who can build everything and she will run the company. I think sometimes people are weird. I had once a very impulsive client. One time, he found a bug and he slacked me: Cosmin, I’m very disappointed, nothing is working on the website. Until tomorrow, fix everything and I’ll be happy again! First, can you imagine my heart-rate reading this? Second, how weird does this master-slave mindset feels like? Nevertheless, as a stoic, I stayed calm and said: Hi, I’m looking into the problems. Then I found out I had a small bug and quickly fixed it in around 15 mins. What he defined as nothing is working was actually just few broken lines of code and some miscommunication on the requirements. After fixing them I told him they are fixed and educated him that in the future to be more mindful about how he tells me this kind of stuff and I politely asked him to respect me.

Of course, I had great clients as well. Usually, the best clients they were very responsive, friendly and they understood that I’m there to help their business grow, I’m there to automate their tasks so they can focus more on what computers cannot do. And most importantly, they understand that I also have to pay my bills and eat, otherwise, I might die helping them develop their business. No freelancer wants to rub a client of their money. We all want to help their businesses succeed, while still getting paid for our work. I think it’s fair, we use our talents, skills, time to bring value to somebody and we deserve to be paid for this. No one should be afraid of charging money in such situations.

I hope that now you are aware of clear problems that freelancers are facing every day. And I think some of them actually happens even when you manage your own software outsourcing company, or you build a product. You might have late payments or unpaid invoices. You might lose a client out of a sudden. You might find one out of a sudden. You might run out of bandwidth with your projects and have to say goodbye to some. Your clients might give you a bad time. You might give a client a bad time. You will be stressed when you don’t have clients anymore. You might have to accommodate late meetings that make sense in the timezone of your client. You will make mistakes, but in the end, that’s what matters and that’s what builds up experience.

The guide

I’m putting here a guideline - based on my experience - about how to sucessfully jump on a freelancing career.

The skills

Before you try to sell your skills and knowledge you need to have some. Duh! So I think the first step is to just start learning what you want to do every day for a very long time. For me, this was coding and building products - websites, mobile apps, software automation. For you, it might be design, hardware, marketing, PR, photography, teaching. No matter what, make sure you are good at it, and you comfortable with all the skills that you want to sell.

The rest of the content is encrypted using Vernam cipher and it’s available exclusively for academy members.

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The clients

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The bureaucracy

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The end

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The strategy

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We can all learn from our mistakes and successes, so that’s why I want to invite you to Duty Labs Academy. If you are interested, subscribe to my mailing list and I’ll send an invite in the upcoming weeks. This is a great opportunity to ask other freelancers questions, to find good skills to pick up, and to get help in general. Warning: you also must bring value to the other members, so make sure you are able to do that first.

Cosmin-Ionuț Rusu

Cosmin-Ionuț Rusu

A simple action-taker who likes to just do stuff

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