Freelancing

This episode is a culmination of several previous episodes and ones yet to be recorded. It puts the pieces together in a way to help you become a self sufficient freelance developer.

Episode Breakdown

12:45 The good and the bad of Freelancing

“You are your own boss and that comes with the blessings and the curses thereof.”

Freelancing can give you better control over your work-life balance. Though you may spend much of your free time looking for work. It allows you to be your own boss and choose your own hours but requires more accountability. Freelancers and contractors tend to get paid more and have the chance to choose more interesting projects. However you may take work just to pay the bills.

24:38 Who is Freelancing for Anyways

You must be highly motivated as there is no boss to push deadlines. You need to be skilled in your area. You are the expert coming in to help, there is noone to ask advice on the job.

27:24 Finding Your Niche

“Becoming known as the solution to a particular set of problems is crucial to your freelance career, so you need to be willing to differentiate and then lock it in.” ~ Ted Johnson

Start by choosing your area or language. This should be one that you enjoy working in and are good working with. Remember though that no matter how good you are if there is not a market for your skill there will not be jobs.

Build your portfolio around the niche. You may have other skills or know other languages but your portfolio needs to focus on the skills you are selling.

Become an expert in your field. Read and write blog posts or articles in the area you have chosen. Attend and even speak at conferences. You want to become known as the person in your niche.

30:53 Starting A Business

Begin by meeting with an accountant to discuss the various types of business models and which one best suits your business. If you don’t have an accountant get one. Below is a list of the common business types and a brief description for each:

A sole proprietorship is a single owner business where the owner is personally responsible for all assets and liabilities of the company.

A partnership is a single business with multiple owners. There are several types of partnerships. The general partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship but with multiple owners. A limited partnership is like an LLC and a joint venture is a general partnership with a time limit.

An LLC or Limited Liability Company reduced liability like that of a corporation but the tax and operational benefits of a partnership or sole proprietorship. Most small business and freelancers will start an LLC.

Corporations are more complex and generally for larger or established companies. An S Corp is a type of corporation but is taxed like a sole proprietorship.

Next you’ll need to register your business with your local government. This will vary depending on the laws where you live. In the United States it means registering the name with your state and filing with the federal government for an EIN.

Get liability insurance. Errors and Omissions and Liability insurance is the bare minimum.

At this point you may want to write a business plan. This can be as simple as stating the vision and direction of your business and stating your goals and how you will reach them. Make sure your goals meet the SMART criteria.

Finally before opening your doors or hanging your sign Will Code For Food you must set your rates. Start by looking at the job market for those with similar skills. Next add expenses to cover using your own equipment, liability insurance, paid vacation, potential sick days, etc. If you are being realistic you are underpricing yourself.

41:47 Marketing Your Services

“Get your name out there and establish a network of other freelancers and industry professionals, as well as rebuilding links with previous colleagues and employers” ~ Trey Fletcher

In today’s world you must have an online presence. This means making your website a showpiece. It will be your first interaction with potential clients. Put your best work into your own site. Build an online portfolio for potential customers to view. This can show code samples, websites you’ve built, or even tutorials. Make this separate from your main website though. Also most social media platforms will have places for business pages.

You may be tempted by some freelancing websites. These are better for established developers than for junior or even mid-level developers. You will spend a lot of time on these sites securing billable work.

“That was a race to the bottom on rates”

Finally promote your business in the real world. You may be hesitant to inform friends and family of your business for fear of looking bad of it doesn’t succeed. However, these can be some of your greatest allies and even help find you customers. Partner with other businesses in the area either local small businesses or with peers in the freelancing community.

52:37 Organization

When you go out on your own as a freelancers you take on more than just a developer role. You will be your own project manager, sales team, tech support, and customer care.

Invest in good invoicing software and take the time to learn to use it. Get a time tracking app and use it. This not only helps with billable hours but will show you what you spend most of your time doing.

IoTease: Project

Megaprocessor

Built at Cambridge it is a micro-processor built large, very large. Instead of microscopic transistors in a silicon chip it uses individual ones that would fit in a breadboard. He built it to show what is actually happening inside of our modern computers with LEDs on everything to see how they work. As of June 22, 2016 it is built and he is allowing people to come see it and even program it.

Tricks of the Trade

Covert contracts occur when one person does something for another expecting a reward but without explicitly stating they expect a reward. When you are creating an instance of an object the object creating it is in a covert contract. This is where dependancy injection and inversion of control come into play in order to avoid this. When you create a covert contract you create a depencency chain on something that you do not have control over.

Editor’s Notes:

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