Usually many of us graduates from college have dreamed of working in a large company with great salary, prestige and traveling around the world; or maybe we’ve had the “million-dollar idea” and we’ve put tears, sweat and blood to boot that beloved startup and appear in Wired as the startup of the year. No doubt many have experienced one of these two scenarios, which is commendable; for other people perhaps this was not as important as it was to lead a quiet and familiar life with a modest and stable job without the need to experience the jetlag of trips at every moment, or the stressing deadlines for launching the product; those who have chosen this option have chosen the quiet life and are also congratulated.
But there are those who have found no satisfaction in either case, whether due to failures, lost opportunities or simply the opportunity was never presented . The stablishment may lead them to think of them as “loosers”, but nothing further from true, as they may be potential or emerging freelancers.
Some years before starting my adventure as a freelancer I failed 2 times with a startup that never launched and succeded, and missed opportunities to work in spectacular companies. This left me with the thought that maybe that was not for me, and I decided to take a normal job and lead a quiet life. However, deep within me there was still a spark of entrepreneurship, and on the day my daughter was born, the call was reborn. Maybe it might seem like this was not the best time to do it, but there was now a need to organize my time much better so I could have hours of the day and see my daughter grow up.
Since then I have learned many things that I once considered obvious, but now I consider important in freelance work:
1. Enjoy the hours of the day
With this I don’t mean to work 20 hours a day, but it is important to give each task its time and space, and execute it in an excellent way: work well, get enough sleep, rest the necessary, a good time in family, a good time to leisure. The unsuccessful tasks are those that don’t contribute,
2. Dress for success
From experience I can say that your body “feels” that we are going to work and is predisposed to perform efficiently. Many people think that the freelancer works in pajamas, but doing so will simply predispose the body to being sleepy.
3. Do not neglect your work
At first we do not know the price we will give to our work, one tends to think that we could charge expensive and lose the customer, or very cheap and become a bargain. It may actually be a mid-point, but you need to consider that you probably have to cover the following costs:
- Error correction
- Delays in deadlines or payments
- Unexpected expenses and delays
It is important to say that often the client is not responsible for these inconveniences, but the wise freelancer should be prevented. An approximate percentage is ~ 20% of the estimated time. If all goes well and there are no unexpected events, that surplus will be a backup until you get the next client or project.
4. The horse prepares for battle
The worst thing we can do is feel comfortable with what we learned the previous year, the skills required for the freelancer are always changing, and a continuous learning prepares us to be able to professionally assume each project.
5. Personal branding is vital
Personally I am not a fan of social networks, however, promoting our name is very important, mainly with the idea of projecting us as professionals. The important resources to take in account are:
- Personal Site or Blog/Vlog
6. Search and you will find
Being persistant is extremely important, although you can wait for “capturing” a project in order to begin, once you start walking as a freelancer you will have to go looking for projects. Hopefully you will find a project right away, and you will have to enter to the field of being Project Manager and Developer at the same time; but usually starting a new project with the client takes a little time, in my experience about 2 months between starting the conversations and writing the first line of code
The adventure of being a freelancer is exciting because it involves 2 worlds: being an entrepreneur and being an employee, starting up involves a great effort until reaching the inertia and the necessary know-how for development. Are you wondering if it can be lucrative? Of course, it is lucrative enough not to envy employment in any large company, but it will require more time on your part. If you value family life and laisure times, it is possible to find a balance between incoming and free time to devote to other activities.
One very interesting option is being part of freelancing platforms like Toptal Web Engineering Group, which considers common needs of freelancers around the world. The defying task of getting clients is performed by TopTal, but it requires from you to be the best in what you do because only “la creme dela creme” of developers is chosen to work with TopTal. So, it’s hard but not impossible. Also, you can’t compare TopTal with other portals like Elance or Freelancers because they are too hard to get clients, even more complcated than finding projects by yourself in your local environment. I was able to work with Elance before, and it was good because of the client, but competence can be very hard and it’s not always a win-to-win relationship.
For those who intend to take this step of faith my recommendation is only to do it with determination and dedication. It may be very helpful to have an economic backup to get you started, but adventurers may enjoy cruising the desert to get to the promised land. Go ahead and Bon Voyage!