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The struggle of development freelancing

Discussion in 'General Programming Chat' started by portuguese, Jan 28, 2010.

  1. portuguese

    portuguese Newbie

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    Hello guys. Just want to contribute with something here on the forum. Please move this thread if it’s on an inappropriate forum. I know that this forum is all about SEO and whatnots but there’s a bunch of developers around trying to make a living too. So please bare with me on this one.

    This is a step by step on how to be a freelancer in this world and keep your nose clean and your records straight. There are a lot of people around that make a living out of scamming others. Some of them pose as freelancers; some of them pose as buyers. This is a freelancer point of view of the world.

    First of all, you’ve decided to go freelancing. Good for you! But don’t think that’s the best job in the world. It’s not! You have to deal with a huge pressure to get new jobs. Then you get jobs, some more jobs come by and you will be in doubt whether to accepts (and stop sleeping for the next weeks) or to decline and when you in hands job is finish you end up with a bag full of wind. Rule of thumb, you only have one life. You establish how many hours per day you want to work and stick to it. If more work comes along, you say you can take it next Thursday or the next 27th or something. Take your time to rest. Without it you’ll make a LOT of errors and no one likes a buggy work.
    First Lesson: Learn when to say no
    The next thing is the fee you’re asking for your job. That’s another problem. You don’t want to starve but you don’t want to ask too much and end up with no job at all. Well, you know your life better than anyone. Make your math. You know how much you need to pay your bills monthly. Sum it up and multiply by 1,5. There. That’s a good value for starters. If you become fully booked you’ll have your bills covered and still enough to catch a movie or go out and eat. Or maybe buy some new clothes for meetings. You catch my drift. Then, you’ll divide the total by 22 (your daily rate) and again by 8 (your hour rate). Stick by it. If the buyer starts to try to lower your price, don’t go with it. You need that to bring home the bacon. If you start to do it, word goes around and the one’s that pay your full rate will feel tricked. You have a rate, stick by it. If you get to a point where you have too much work (say 4 month ahead and the projects are still flocking in) it’s time to redo the math. Do the above math but increase the rate from 1,5 to 1,75. Increasing in 0,25 will not harm no one and will gently give you more income.
    Second Lesson: Know your rate and stick to it.
    Ok, now you’ve got a few proposals to send. It’s time to be a clerk. You need a good template. There are a bunch of professional ones. If you like, hit me with a PM and I’ll give you a sample for you to see. No problem. Your proposal must have the following groups:
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Overview – this is where you explain what the project is, how much time it going to last and how much it will cost, without any fine print. Half a page will be more than enough. Most corporate sharks only read this page. So make sure everything that’s important is there.
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Terms – This is your part. Don’t let anything out. Only the first proposal will be hard. The next ones will be copies with project details altered. But there’s a bunch of stuff that will be common. Like who will insert sample data, who will provide the photos. Who will do the Photoshop. How will slice it up in xHTML. Also your terms will be in here. If you’re receiving upfront percentage, if there more payments in milestones, what’s the percentage/value/milestone. Also you need to put in there one important thing. If the buyer decides to change anything from the spec, how much may that cost him. Now this is a real important thing. Don’t let the scope of the project run free. You need to put a fence around it. The buyer may jump over the fence, but that will cost him. I’m tired of things like “oh that’s a simple change, just a couple of texts” and after that it’s the entire site in a foreign language or a multilingual website. A day outside the scope have to cost at least 1,5 times your daily rate. Because you will be messing with your next project timeline.
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Timeline – All the milestones written down with dates. If you know how to work with MsProject, do a nice diagram (or any other project manager software). In here make sure you have start and finish dates. Testing dates and the same milestones you’re using in the previous point. In bold :p
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Payment – Your payment information. Bank accounts, paypal address, the works.
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Warranty – this one is tricky. You’re a developer. For this matter, you have to be just like a guy that builds bikes. You’re doing a job and you have to stick your name and reputation on it. You should give at least 15 days of bugs fixing that didn’t showed in the testing phase and at least 3 month after were you have to reply to bugs found in 3 or 4 days.
    ·[FONT=&quot] [/FONT]Copyright – This is self explanatory. But let me go on this one too. Who get the credits? Can you use the code for something else? Can you stick your name on it? Can you use it on your resume and as reference for future projects?
    Don’t let anything said on chat logs. If it’s important (even if it isn’t) send a mail afterwards just to be on the safe side. If something is not written, it was not said. Period.
    And that’s about it
    Third Lesson: keep your communication professional.
    Now actually work! By now you have everything to start. You have a project with specs. A timeline and even receive some $$$ so it’s time to turn off your chat and e-mail program, put on the headphones and start working. You need to plan your time. You have to work in periods at least of one hour straight before you even think at looking at your e-mail. There will be time to that. Your phone also should be without sound. You call back when you do your break. Believe me, this is the only way to stick by a timeline. Don’t procrastinate. That’s your worst enemy. Do the task first, then go shopping or meet your girl (or guy) or something. You have a job. It’s not on an office somewhere downtown; it’s in your house. But it is a job. You’re asking for money. People are paying you to work 8 hours per day, so you better give them what they’ve pay for.
    Fourth Lesson: stick with the planned work

    And that’s about it. Sorry for the lengthy post. Thanks and rep appreciated. Jobs enquiries also :cool: