As a freelancer, you need to know more than just write clean code. The fact is, better developers and programmer struggle to find clients consistently whereas those who are not so good in programming often don’t. Do you wonder why?
Is it that your friend who couldn’t match your codes in college or a colleague who couldn’t write as good code as you would is able to fetch more client than you can ever imagine and you wonder why?
The fact is, better developer and programmer struggle to find clients whereas those who are not so good in programming often don’t?
In my job days, I wasn’t the best of programmer and my code will often fail the review process. Yet I have been getting a very good share of freelancing clients whereas I know good programmer colleagues, who have failed at freelancing because they couldn’t manage to get enough clients.
There is so much more than knowing to write good code as a freelancer. You don’t need to be a gem of a programmer to be good at freelancing and even the college students can make decent money doing freelancing.
So let me share what is crucial to be a good freelancer even if you aren’t very good at programming and know the basic stuff well.
1. Online Communication
The most important aspect to be a better freelancer is to be good in online communication.
Again the focus is online. If you are not so good in conversation but are good with online communication (email/chat), you can make things work out. I am an introvert and has issues starting a conversation but when it comes to online, I am quite ok with it.
In a job, there is a technical round of interview where you are being interviewed by a technical person. Both speak the same technical language. In the world of freelancing, you are being hired by a person who knows very little or in most cases nothing about programming.
Say client asks you to install Wordpress. You respond with a technical specification like give me a web server with PHP > 7.x, MySQL > 5 with Apache on Nginx configured and you are sure to make things worst. Now imagine the same question being asked in a technical interview round for a job.
So a developer freelancer has to learn to communicate in a language your client can understand.
2. Cost Estimation
The Second most important aspect of doing well as a freelancer is to be able to estimate what client wants and your associated cost with it.
As an individual freelancer, if you estimate the price too low, you may feel like you are working hard with very less compensation. If you estimate it too high, clients may not have the budget to be able to work with you.
The price isn’t the only criteria in a proposal but when everything else remains the same, a price can be a deciding factor.
In a job, as a programmer, you don’t learn to estimate the cost and it is something you have to learn over time.
Negotiation is a very important skill to be successful at freelancing.
Experience clients will have better-negotiating techniques and you need to up your negotiating skills as well. If you don’t, clients will negotiate better terms and rate from you.
Apply Ramit Sethi’s briefcase technique for salary negotiation. In a brief one-line statement about the briefcase technique, it is to offer a solution with better value at each negotiating point than getting the price lower.
Development Freelancing is partly about programming but mostly marketing.
The sad part is, marketing doesn’t come naturally to developers. So one has to first acknowledge this and then work towards getting better at marketing.
Writing your proposal on Upwork is a part of marketing your services to potential clients.
Marketing is one of those aspects of freelancing that helps you remain in the game for the longer period of time. You have to learn the art of getting more clients via Blogging, Facebook Marketing etc.
The last but the most important aspect of freelancing is perseverance. How badly you want it to be a freelancer will decide if you succeed or fail at it.
When you quit your job and start freelancing, things may not work out as expected in the first few months. You can have a tough time to find your first few clients and your income level can be quite lower than the salary you were drawing even with the much higher amount of time and effort.
It can test your nerves and if you don’t want it really badly, you can be tempted to move back to a job easily.
Remember: Things just don’t work out the way you like it unless you make them work out the way you want it to be.
Further Reading …