Jacob Baytelman - Full stack developer, project manager, CTO

How To Become A Freelancer

In order to be a good freelancer you have to get that 'corporate' experience of a work as an employee, ideally for a small or a medium company, for a startup.

Why for a small company? Because in a small company you will see more of your boss and other managers and you will have an opportunity to learn what they do. As a freelancer you will need to take on your shoulders almost the same burdens just in smaller amounts. You will have to learn how to negotiate, how to deal with customers, taxes, etc - lots of "admin stuff" not really related to your "actual work". If you do not learn how to do all this effectively, it will take lots of your time and effort and your actual work will suffer.

Why for a startup? Because startups run on limited resources. When you become a freelancer, your resources are going to be even more limited.

Take the chance when you work as an employee and learn whatever you can do about pricing and planning. Get real life examples in your area. For instance, see how long your employer company spends on creation of a simple web site (e.g. 1 week). So when you become a freelancer and plan 1 week for a similar project, you make a huge mistake. Because 1 week is just the development time. You have to add negotiations, planning, discussions, paperwork, etc. Don't underestimate these activities and the time they take.

Thus, working as an employee is critically important for your future career of a freelancer because of the useful things you can learn from your bosses and managers. But there's one more thing even more important. The truth is that all "freelance markets", all the platforms and websites where clients meet freelancers, all they simply do not work. Well, they work if you are happy with small tasks and monthly income of about $500. But if you want a bigger income, don't waste your time on those platforms. (I will try to shed more light on this issue in a separate post.)

There's one efficient way of getting new contracts and new customers. It's as simple as recommendations from your previous customers. Nothing new in this statement, you've heard it before. So just do it, go and ask you connections, your previous employers and clients to introduce you and recommend you. Do the networking stuff. The only prerequirement is the network. Professional rather than friendly. LinkedIn rather than Facebook.

So your freelance career commences at your desk, at 9-00 o'clock, with your stubborn boss's demands. Keep calm and do your best. If you decide to become a freelancer, your horrible boss will be your route to success.

J.Baytelman June 16, 2016