Mentor up: Boost your freelance career
Published February 2nd, 2023 • ☕ 6 min read
The purpose of this article is:
- To show that you can use mentoring as a gateway to freelancing and finding clients
- To introduce three great mentoring platforms (primarily technical / programming related)
One of the best ways to start out as a freelancer and find clients is to offer mentorship. It will give you exposure, teach you communication skills, and force you to think like a problem solver instead of a code monkey.
Mentoring as a concept is a very convenient and favorable gateway into freelancing.
Firstly, there is nothing more flexible than mentoring. You can easily run it on the side, helping mentees via asynchronous chat messages and occasional video calls scheduled on the available time schedule of both parties. Get on short sessions any time you become free. Setting it up outside your day job and everyday responsibilities is super easy.
Secondly, it's a first and instant income stream that you can build as you go. It is a great way to establish a positive feedback loop and gain initial confidence.
Thirdly, mentoring connects you and builds your network. I've had mentees who turned into freelancing clients and even friends. Creating apps and consulting them made me solid six figures.
And lastly, using mentoring platforms is one of the quickest and easiest ways to start collecting precious reviews. Feature them on your personal portfolio and social networks, and you will enter the next level.
For the past few years, I've explored a few mentoring platforms. Mainly, I can recommend the following:
Concept: Mentees can book mentors on a monthly recurring basis. Usually, people are looking for continuous support with their work, projects, or studies. There is also the option to book mentors for single sessions, but that option is significantly less pronounced.
Mentor discovery: Mentorcruise lists you in their mentors' directory, naturally driving substantial traffic and attention to your profile. A thoughtful profile description and great reviews will make you stand out.
Mentor admission: You will need to apply as a mentor. In that process, you need to tell about your experience, expertise, and what value you can bring to mentees. Stay factual and professional, or you will be rejected.
Pricing: You can set up monthly subscriptions between $0 and $400. You then determine what's included (e.g., how many video calls per month, how quickly you usually respond, etc.). There is also a Pro plan option for more seasoned mentors (you need to reach an internal rank, which comes at some conditions, e.g., that you have mentored at least 5 people, maintain a rating above 4.9, respond within 24 hours, etc.).
Mentorcruise will add 20% on top of your price as a platform fee.
Personal experience: This is currently my favorite service. You get to build a relationship with every mentee, see how they grow, and potential clients are willing to pay a fair price for your service.
I also like that Mentorcruise does most of the marketing. Once accepted as a mentor, you can be sure that people will soon start applying. No need to go out of your way and market yourself (although that is obviously still a great option to boost yourself even further).
Here is the first review I received just a week ago on Mentorcruise:
Maxim is supporting me on my React Native journey for several months already. Why do I love my mentoring with him? Anytime I need help, he is there for me and responds with a solution. He is highly skilled, so he already knows a lot, but even if he has no experience with this particular issue, he tries to find the solution asap. And the best part: he actually enjoys helping you!
Concept: Codementor is not just a mentoring platform. It tries to do many things at once, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your needs and perspective.
Sessions are usually set up around specific programming issues with which people want live help. The person in need of assistance will post a request that will then be shown to you in a long list of all the requests. You can filter it according to your expertise and preferences. In that list, you will also find a lot of paid tasks that you are supposed to take as small jobs. Very occasionally, someone will be looking for long-term mentorship. All those open requests call for bids from freelancers (e.g., you).
There are also requests for actual freelance gigs, and tightly integrated with Codementor is Arc.dev, a platform for freelance jobs, as you may commonly know it.
Mentor discovery: Codementor lists you as a mentor, but you will get contacted only occasionally. There are too many mentors on the platform by now, so it's hard to stick out.
Hot tip: Keep a tab open on codementor.com, because the site will prefer currently online and active mentors when presenting them to a mentee.
Mentor admission: You have to fill out a form and apply. However, I don't remember how it looked and they probably have changed it a little, because it has been years.
Pricing: Set your own price per 15 minutes for live sessions, or agree on fixed prices on gigs from requests (you can negotiate the price a little, usually). You also pay a fee to Codementor on every payment you transact through the platform. It's sliding levels which reset every week on Monday:
- You start at 22%
- 19% after $50 revenue
- 18% after $300 revenue
- 15% after $750 revenue
- 13% after $1500 revenue
If you made $1500 last week, you start at 22% this week again.
Personal experience: This is where my mentoring journey began.
Since time has passed, I feel like the quality of customers has somewhat deteriorated. I am no longer actively using the platform because people are always looking for a cheap catch, and you have to compete with many mentors to find a gig. It has become a mass bidding to the ground.
Be aware that even though this may sound modest, especially when starting out, you should take Codementor seriously. Some of my best clients and relationships came from this platform, so do not underestimate it. You simply need to play the game of hard work for a while, but if you do it right you will quickly make a considerable side income and build invaluable rapport.
This is what my profile looks like nowadays. Yes, I work hard and therefore pride myself in the immaculate reviews that I get.
Concept: Tealfeed does not have substantial functionality or a defined product. It's a platform for creators to publish content. While there is nothing to do on the site yet (except reading / writing articles), the mass content production has led to an insane amount of traffic. According to SimilarWeb the site had 1,9 million interested visitors in December 2022. That's twice as much as the traffic on Codementor (700k) and Mentorcruise (240k) together. Tealfeed now needs to find a way to monetize the site, and mentoring is their first attempt. The feature is in private beta and has yet to be promoted anywhere on the site.
Mentor discovery: You must do all the marketing yourself (presumably by sharing your profile link). I've been told that a discovery feature will be coming in about 5-6 months (projected June/July 2023 at the time of writing).
Mentor admission: Currently, there is no reliable way to become a mentor. The team at Tealfeed has reached out privately, asking me to test drive their new mentorship program. I guess you can contact the team and ask to get white-listed, but you may need to wait for a few weeks or months before you can freely join.
You can read a little more on this here: https://tealfeed.com/connect
Pricing: You can set any price you want. For the duration of the private beta, there are no fees (except the Stripe transaction fees, which should be around 2.9% + 30 cents at the time of writing).
Personal experience: So far, I have only had personal contact and calls with the team. I will explore this option slowly and update this article as I learn more.
If you are interested in getting mentored by me, feel free to head over to my profile on Tealfeed: https://tealfeed.com/mxmzb