re: Working as a freelancer VIEW POST

FULL DISCUSSION
 

I've been freelancing for a little over 7 years now - I've never had a full-time programming job. For the first few years, I had other various part-time jobs (cafes, delivery, things like that), but after a while I got some traction and was able to turn it into a "career".

Since then, I have been fortunate enough to have all of my work come as referrals from clients and friends.

Some benefits have been:

  • I have been able to learn a lot in terms of programming. With each project, I try to incorporate something new - so everything gets to be a learning experience. I have found that this is a big motivator for me, and is probably what has driven me the most.
  • I can (at this point) be a little picky about who I work with. I'm currently looking for full-time work, but I have the privilege of being able to say no to companies or positions I'm not excited about.

Some pitfalls, in my experience, have been:

  • Learning how to work with others - both clients and collaborators - has been just as much (if not more) of a learning curve as learning how to code. It's all about trust, open communication about what all parties need and want, and setting very clear goals and expectations. In other words, you also need to be a skilled project manager.
  • As a solo developer, there's a ceiling on the type of work you can do, unless you're getting contract positions on teams. My work has grown from building "websites" to "web apps" and MVPs - and I'm finding that, with these larger projects, I'm playing Product Manager much more than I am developer. A lot of the times, clients don't really know what they want (when it comes to specifics). If they're new to this kind of work, their inclination is to hire a developer - those are the people that build these things, right? - while they probably need a product manager & designer.
  • It's also difficult to get experience working with teams, which is a big gap when looking for full-time work.
  • Working from home is isolating.
  • Money stuff can be stressful AF. Debt, clients paying late or not at all, setting aside money for taxes, not having income at regular intervals - this is all very difficult, and if you want to thrive, getting organized about this is key (and a good amount of work).

Some things that are both a benefit and a pitfall:

  • You can work from anywhere!
  • You can easily end up working from everywhere. (Schedule serious breaks ahead of time, and commit to not working during these breaks)
  • You are your own boss!
  • You have to be your own boss. (Remember to be a good one)

Some tips:

  • When setting your rates, remember that:
    1. you are going to be paying additional taxes as a freelancer
    2. Your client is not paying any of your taxes, insurance, and so on. They're hiring a contractor because they don't want the overhead and risk of having someone on payroll. This overhead and the risk is all on your shoulders. Set your rates accordingly.
  • Do not allow clients to contact you by text/phone, unless it's a real emergency. Set working hours and serious boundaries.

I've been thinking about writing a series of blog posts on a lot of the above... this thread is a good nudge for me - thank you for starting it!

 

These are some really good advices! Thank you!

 

'Do not allow clients to contact you by text/phone, unless it's a real emergency. Set working hours and serious boundaries.'

Absolutely. The one client I was able to get as a freelancer I tried to fire because he couldn't handle boundries. He'd follow me around at my regular day job for hours at a time (management was split between thinking it was cute and wanting to fire me for 'keeping a distraction' at work). I'd also come home after work to find that my mother-in-law, who has cognitive problems, thought he was my friend and let him in, telling him to wait for me in my bedroom.

Boundries are incedibly important, and I recommend against freelancing unless your area takes harassment and stalking seriously.

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