First Year as a Freelancer

About a year ago I decided to leave the company I’ve worked for the past seven years to become a freelancer. It wasn’t an easy decision at all because I was very fond of the company and colleagues, but I felt that my place was no longer there. One year later I can’t be happier with this choice.

A few days ago I wrote a post on LinkedIn to explain to recruiters that I’m not temporary freelancing pending a permanent job, but I love working this way, this is what I really want to do at this moment in my life. Well, after this post recruiters continued to offer me “interesting opportunities” exactly as before, but a strange thing happened. Lots of developers wrote to me to learn more about freelance life, many are employees who would like to freelance but have concerns about it. Most are afraid of not finding customers, but this is truly the least of the problems for a freelancer developer.

I’m not yet a super expert freelancer, I have some advice to give but still many things to learn from others more experienced than me. But I still want to write about my experience and what I learned in this first year.

  1. Finding customers is easy, knowing how to choose them is difficult. I’m literally overwhelmed with requests. I try to give everyone attention and at least some good advice, but not everyone is fit to become a customer. Most won’t. We just don’t have to be in a hurry to accept jobs, first it is necessary to ask many questions and try to imagine what the collaboration would be like.

  2. Finding customers is easy (again), finding partners is not. Especially for projects of a certain size we cannot work alone. Sometimes we will join an already built team, sometimes we will have to build our own team. We have to pay close attention to the people we choose to collaborate with, our happiness and the satisfaction of our client depend on them.

  3. As an employee you are productive 5 days a week, as a freelancer 4. Employees are paid for the hours they work, even if those hours are not paid to the company: Estimations, meetings, public relations, administration. The freelancer must make a rate that also takes this time into account

  4. Don’t stop logging spent time. Knowing how much time is spent on each activity is not only useful when working in the final balance. It also helps to understand exactly how time is spent, in order to fix inefficiencies and to make more accurate estimations in the future. For this purpose I’m using Clockify, that does everything I need and more.

  5. Don’t be afraid of negotiations. Negotiation is part of our job, and even if it looks difficult at first, it’s very important to face it without shyness. The fee you get is not your value as a developer, just your bargaining power. Do your best, but don’t stress yourself out too much.

  6. Have fun and relax. Being a freelancer has to do with freedom. It means being able to better manage time, choose customers, choose projects and.. have fun. If you are stressed, scared or overworked, something is not working.

If you are reading this post, and you are a freelancer, or would like to become a freelancer, feel free to contact me on any of my channels (see top right of this page). I’d like to build a freelancer network to support each other and learn together.

Good luck!

“Now look lady, you may have heard a lot of singers, but you ain’t heard nothin' sung till you’ve heard me sung it.”

Dean Martin

Kiss Me, Stupid 1964

Irene Iaccio

Freelance web developer

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