Jacob Baytelman - Full stack developer, project manager, CTO

How To Become A Freelancer


In order to be a good freelancer you have to get what they call 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 excel to do these tasks quickly, your actual work and productivity 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 website (e.g. 1 month). So when you become a freelancer and plan 1 month 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. Do not 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 skills you can learn from your bosses and managers. But you will also learn the bitter truth about "freelance markets" - the bloody platforms where clients meet freelancers, all they simply do not work. Well, they can satisfy you if you are happy with small tasks and monthly income of about $500. But if you want a bigger piece of a pie, do not waste your time on those platforms and practise your marketing skills.

Probably the most efficient way of getting new contracts and new customers is as simple as recommendations from your previous customers. Nothing new in this statement, you have 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 today's horrible boss will be your route to success.

J.Baytelman June 16, 2016