It’s been six months since I first started to call myself a freelancer.
This post is about what I’ve learned so far.
Who to work for?
As a freelancer it’s very easy to say that you’ll just work with anyone who’s prepared to pay you. In six months I’ve realized this isn’t the greatest way to handle yourself and there’s a set list of criteria you should look for from a potential client.
I now have a list of things which can put me off working with a potential client.
- They’re not a company.
Individuals looking for a developer to create their project tend to be tight on budget and in my experience are harder to work with.
- They’re not using version control.
As a freelancer (especially working in a development role) working for a company which doesn’t use version control and wants you to work as part of a team is an absolute nightmare. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
- They immediately try to negotiate your daily rate.
This is huge warning sign for me now. It’s right up there with being asked the question “Are you cheap?”. I remain polite but return with a firm no. Most of the time I don’t hear back from the client, which is probably a good thing.
How to find work?
Pretty much all my work so far as come from three different sources.
- Email sent directly to digital agencies.
This was the first thing I did when I started freelancing. I got very lucky and within my first two emails got two positive responses and ended up working on a fantastic project for around three months.
- Search engine traffic to this blog.
Two of my best clients so far have come directly from search engine traffic to this blog. I’ve tried to build a few pages based around keywords advertising my services in the local area. “Freelance PHP Developer” as an example.
- Recommendations and previous contacts with friends and colleagues.
Six months ( I’m told ) is still very early days in terms of building up a network. My first, and most recent jobs have come from networking relationships. I am still awful at networking and this is something I need to concentrate on more.
How to stay firm with your rate?
A lot of people will find it difficult to understand the rate you charge, and many potential customers will try and negotiate your rate down. I now take a firm stance on this and do not negotiate the rate I give regardless of how much pressure I’m put under to do so.
The simplest way of doing this is to just say no. I have lost work doing this, but the moment you get yourself into a position where you’ve negotiated your rate it’s impossible to work your rate back up. In fact, in my experience, you can expect the company to try to negotiate your rate down further the next time you work for them.
What should your rate be?
This is the most difficult question to answer, suffice to say when I started freelancing my rate was set far far too low, worse still I allowed myself to be negotiated down further.
I’ve taken the typical path that most freelancers take when deciding their rates and that’s to raise it as the demand for your services increases, I quickly realized that I had priced myself far too low to achieve the level of financial freedom I wanted to. I’ve now adjusted my rates accordingly, but they’re probably still far too low.
How much can you make?
I seriously believe the sky is the limit in terms of my potential earnings. I know I’m still not marketing myself in the best way, and am still treating myself as a commodity, it’s something I’m desperately trying to change, but I’m sure it will come in time.
That being said I’ve earned over £20k in six months from nothing, and if I can do it, you can too!
I’d love you to sign up to my RSS feed, or follow me on twitter. I’ll be positing soon about what I’ve got planned for 2013.