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.
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.
I worked on various projects last year, mostly on WordPress platform:
- developed a custom theme for a wedding photography website,
- developed a custom theme for a digital ID validation solution website,
- installed a premium theme for another wedding photography website,
- installed a premium theme for a travel journal website, and
- helped a few clients to finish WordPress projects by applying style improvements and making websites responsive.
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:
- a website for an agency from Germany using Middleman framework,
- a personal website for a designer from Montreal using Middleman, and
- a personal website for myself using the Hexo framework.
I have worked on web speed optimization:
- on WordPress-based projects, and
- on a Shopify project.
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.
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.
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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