My first year of freelancing

My first year of freelancing

I am writing this article from a frontend developer perspective, as I am one. I have specialized in User Interface, Static Page Generators, WordPress, and page speed optimization.

About a year ago, I started with a freelance career. This experience has changed me as a professional, but also as a person.

Clients

I am a member of Toptal talent network, and most of my clients are part of this formidable networks as well. I worked with seven Toptal clients. I also worked with a couple of Upwork clients. Two of my clients engaged me via my website. I worked as a mentor on Codementor. I also worked on a couple of projects with my friends, pro bono.

Toptal is a private, elite talent network with thousands of members across 100+ countries. Of the hundreds of thousands who apply each year, fewer than 3% gain admission to the network.

In total, I worked with thirteen clients and seventeen mentees.

Clients came from all over the world: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Romania, and Croatia. Most of them were agencies, but I also worked with designers and developers, too.

In my opinion, investing in the relationship with a client is the most critical part. Earning trust from a remote position is not easy. Being kind could take you a long way with your client, and it doesn’t cost you a thing.

During my first year of freelancing, I didn’t have a single negative experience with any client. ❤️

Getting the job done is also important. Never promise what you cannot deliver. It is okay to say that you need a couple of hours to do research. It is okay to say that you are not the right person for that task. It depends on a project type and the team.

Projects

I worked on various projects last year, mostly on WordPress platform:

I created a couple of styleguides:

  • one for a WordPress-based website for a large real-estate company, and
  • other for a website built using static site generator.

I developed a few websites using static page generators:

I have worked on web speed optimization:

In the spare time, I worked on open-source projects. I published three  simple  plugins and a theme for the Hexo framework, an Angular directive, a JavaScript plugin, and a boilerplate of Gulp tasks.

Problems

Not everything is perfect. Freelancing comes with difficulties. Searching for a job is one of the biggest I came across.

Last summer I had a difficult time to find a client. I created new profiles on different hiring networks. I searched on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, AngelList, newsletters, everywhere.

I found out that biding all over the place is a time-consuming and counter-effective process. I caught myself getting responses (negative ones) from clients that I didn’t even remember sending. I became nervous and felt terrible about myself. I was feeling more tired of bidding than when I worked on an actual project.

Eventually, I learned that it is better to bid on a couple of places and invest more time in a more quality cover-letter or application. There is enough job for everybody. The key is to find a proper way to get one.

Lessons

Working as a freelancer is hard, and it isn’t for everyone. Many obstacles are on that way. Here is what I have learned in the last year:

  • how to manage time more efficiently,
  • how to become more productive,
  • how to get away from a computer,
  • how to decline a job offer, especially if I am not fully qualified for the position,
  • that saying “I don’t know” is OK,
  • it takes time to find a client,
  • it takes time to land a client,
  • it takes time to get paid, and
  • to be kind to others.

Summary

I am happy to be able to share my experience as a freelance developer. Successful freelancing takes time and patience. Luckily that is something that could be learned along the way.

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