As much as we tend to tout freelancers as being born with the attributes to succeed in their business, the truth is that the most successful ones are those who have dedicated their passion to what they choose. The same goes for freelance software developers, as the benefits this career path presents outweigh the challenges it has.
Looking at it from one perspective, you stand to earn much more compared to a salaried software developer, and you also have opportunities to work at your own schedule and location. You are also in charge of your own marketing, accounting, and management of the business. However, you may still want some pointers to help you make things work, so we will delve into some of them in this article.
This is probably among the greatest challenges that a freelancer faces, especially when starting out. In the past, the common method of finding new work was through your professional and personal networks, like friends and employers. However, things have changed in the modern freelance arena, and there are many jobs that a freelance developer can access through specific platforms like dormzi, Freelancer and Subspace.
Some tips to use here can include:
- Avoid applying to any job you can find – this will simply waste your time, and the clients will see that you are insincere in your applications (especially if you just copy and paste your resume to anyone). Always keep your skillset in mind and apply for jobs that align with that.
- Try out different platforms – this will help you to know which ones you prefer, as well as those that provide you with constant, well-paying projects.
- Accept jobs first and learn them as you go – not all the job offers you get will be entirely familiar to you, but the good news is that you can learn some languages and frameworks on the fly and you are also receiving payment as you learn.
Getting reliable and paying clients
When you land a prospective client, it is the time to sell your skills and what you can do, in order to convince them you are a worthy choice. This will involve you sending a pitch, and connecting to the client through phone or email – the aim is to show them you are trustworthy. Some tips to apply here include:
- Avoid starting a job without a signed agreement – when there is a solid contract in place, both parties will remain civil and stick to their end of the bargain.
- Find useful tools that can draft a contract template – if you are not sure how to draft a contract template, you can always Google it or check services like LegalZoom for free templates. In addition, you can also incorporate e-signature services to settle things quickly for the client.
All you will need in order to receive payments is a bank account, and you can email the client the invoices in PDF format, as well as sending the information to their billing departments. The invoice information should also include your address, account number and bank routing information, and then the client will pay using a check or deposit.
Since many freelancers experience this issue of receiving payments on time, some pointers to keep in mind include:
- Avoiding free work – if the client asking you to do the job is not willing to pay you some compensation, then they are devaluing your efforts. Avoid them as much as possible.
- For a new client, always charge them a ½ deposit fee before you start the job – this will ensure you protect yourself from clients who may take advantage of you when you are done with the work.
- Know whether you should charge per hour or per project – if you have tackled a project before and a client wants you to do it again, charge by the project. However, hourly charges are better if the project is likely to drag on for a while or is a big unknown.
- Make a walk-away fund – from the beginning of your freelancing career, begin saving money as aggressively as possible. Put it into your healthcare, taxes, and savings, and this will also prevent you from taking bad clients in the future because you will not be as desperate.
Pursuing a freelance software career is worth the time you spend in it, because you learn a lot of things when choosing projects to work on.