PDA

View Full Version : Thinking about going freelance


mrjamin
May 22, 2003, 10:33 AM
Hi all,

I'm a university student in the UK - i'm also a bit of a freelance web developer. Designing and programming database driven, dynamic sites.

In my summer break this year, i'm looking at going freelance with this webstuff instead of getting some crappy temp job. Anybody got any tips on making a start? I.e. where to get work? I've done several jobs for various people - most of them have been for local businesses or jobs i've got through someone i work for (www.cathyburton.co.uk). But if i'm going to do this for a living for 3-4months, i need to aim for the bigger fish!

Any help (or jobs for that matter!) would be appreciated!

Oh yeah, on the financial/legal side of things, i'm already set up as a sole trader.

MrJ

eyelikeart
May 22, 2003, 10:57 AM
A good start may be to start hitting all the ad agencies & design firms in the city. They're always looking to hire someone freelance to do work for them rather than hold someone on staff. If they tell u no, keep calling once a week or so. U will either get told to ******* off or they will admire your ambition.

The best advice I can give, is just network your ass off. Go out, knock on doors, meet people, see who's doing what, talk, talk, talk. Then go out and do it all over again. Word of mouth is a powerful tool. ;)

iGav
May 22, 2003, 11:11 AM
Freelance work is very competitive at the moment in the UK... so things are tight for everyone...

Also remember the creative and new media industry is very, very competitive at the best of times... and there are alot of talented people all going for the same projects!

What eye suggested is pretty much it... network, network, network... also get youself a website, that demonstrates your abilities both technical and creative and send that out to companies...

Check out

http://www.styleboost.com

for an idea of what some peoples portfolio sites are like, and the quality you should be aiming for!

Also identify the companies you'd like to work for and see if they have work placements, although it's unlikely to be paid work, the experience you gain is invaluable and if you really click with your employer, there could be a job at the end of your course for you to go to!

Good luck!

cc bcc
May 22, 2003, 11:19 AM
I'm also starting to work as a freelancer starting next month! :)

When I resigned my job, my boss asked me if I could stay just for 2 days a week. I thought about it and concluded that it's a good deal. I work there for two days and I get paid just enough to manage (pay rent, food, car etc.). So I have the freedom to set up contacts and there isn't the stress to find deals right from the start. (but I need to invest in hardware and software..)
I'm also lucky because I have a friend (designer) who's well known and through him I can get work. Basically he'll design stuff, I'll make websites and tv commercials using those designs.
Where to get work. I guess it comes down to a bit of luck for the first couple of deals. Make sure you do your job well, satisfy the customer, don't charge for every cd-r you burn stuff like that. After that they might come back to you. It's a very uncertain and somewhat obscure world for most of our customers, and if you do your job right, you have a good chance that they come back to you.

I guess another good thing is, don't turn your back on the small fish in the beginning. You must build up a portofolio.
Also be true to yourself, don't get dragged in a world that you don't want to. I will never design a porn site, no matter what they pay me. I will not make a website for the local fanfare. I will do this my way or not at all. Of course I'll do things that I won't really like, but I've got a boring job to which I can always return full time, so I'll try it this way first. ;) It's probably not a good businesslike way to do it. But I'm not a businessman.

I'm curious, did you design that site? (cathyburton) What was your work? (design/database/...) Can you alone turn a website like cathyburton into a database driven website, including some kind of management extension for easy updating?

dynamicd
May 22, 2003, 11:38 AM
On average, how much do freelancer's make? I know it will obviously depend on the size of company but I'm still curious. Is there like a base pay for creating the site and then additional money for maintaining it?

cc bcc
May 22, 2003, 11:48 AM
Originally posted by dynamicd
On average, how much do freelancer's make? I know it will obviously depend on the size of company but I'm still curious. Is there like a base pay for creating the site and then additional money for maintaining it?

Most of the times you make an offer based on the amount of hours you think you need, an multiply that by your price per hour. You need to know what the client wants. Also, for some clients you cannot charge to much. It depends on what you think that they can pay, whether there is a deadline (nightwork) etc.
Sometimes you can get a job and get paid by the hour, but this is uncommon.
So, you need to calculate the time needed beforehand, and then hope you can make it in time.
Then for maintanence, you'll get paid by the hour, normally. Make sure your client know your price. ;)
I normally charge 50 to 60 euro per hour for freelance work. My boss (parttime job) charges 75 euro.
But often enough, I spend more time than calculated.
So what you make in a month comes down to how many jobs you can get and what you charge for them. If you do well, you can make a decent living (I'm not there yet! ;) )

3rdpath
May 22, 2003, 12:14 PM
a freelance career is wonderful but i'd be cautious if you need steady $$ over your break. a steady cash-flow takes quite a bit of time to build up...most freelancers build their businesses while working a steady job...then quit when the freelance income is enough to survive on.

a nice compromise might be to find a temp agency that specializes in web designers and other high-tech jobs. you won't make as much $$ but you won't have to "invent the wheel" either.

good luck.

eyelikeart
May 22, 2003, 12:18 PM
Originally posted by 3rdpath
a freelance career is wonderful but i'd be cautious if you need steady $$ over your break. a steady cash-flow takes quite a bit of time to build up...most freelancers build their businesses while working a steady job...then quit when the freelance income is enough to survive on.

U said it. I'm going to continue working a regular job, having that financial security...and keep pulling long hours when I do get sidework. It's tough to work 40 hours a week, then add on whatever side stuff I have going on (a typical week for me lately seems to be in the neighborhood of 50-60 hours per week), but it's well worth it for me. ;)

cc bcc
May 22, 2003, 12:34 PM
Originally posted by eyelikeart
U said it. I'm going to continue working a regular job, having that financial security...and keep pulling long hours when I do get sidework. It's tough to work 40 hours a week, then add on whatever side stuff I have going on (a typical week for me lately seems to be in the neighborhood of 50-60 hours per week), but it's well worth it for me. ;)

Yeah that's what I'm doing now as well. I still work 32 hour weeks for my boss, but I'm also in the 50-60 hour range.
Next month I'll work 16 hours/week to have more time for my freelancing.

mrjamin
May 22, 2003, 07:08 PM
Originally posted by cc bcc
I'm curious, did you design that site? (cathyburton) What was your work? (design/database/...) Can you alone turn a website like cathyburton into a database driven website, including some kind of management extension for easy updating?

I did the whole site - I'm not overly keen on the design side of it any more - way to much of that turquoise colour!! Yes, the site's completely database driven - running on a CMS that i wrote. The coding side of it is way more impressive than the design! There's a load of other stuff i want to add to it, but haven't really had the time. I don't get paid for that site - she's a friend so other stuff takes priority.

Like i said, my eye for design is somewhat lacking - i have a friend who's a very talented designer (doing a degree in typography) so i may well work with him on a few projects.

I'll be starting work on a portfolio site for myself once my exams are out the way; need to worry about passing them first!

I'm working on a website for a music shop/rehersal studio at the moment which is, again, completely CMS based - more impressive in some respects. Will post a link once its finished. I'm more interested in getting into the programming side of things as everyone knows at least one person who can design a half decent website, but very few people can write secure and efficient dynamic sites. There's an online store coming for cathyburton.co.uk soon too...

I've got quite an impressive portfolio so far (well, i think so) - most of the sites are music related (couple of record companies, couple of artists, shops etc..).

Thanks for the advice so far guys, keep it coming...

jefhatfield
May 23, 2003, 05:53 AM
Originally posted by 3rdpath
a freelance career is wonderful but i'd be cautious if you need steady $$ over your break. a steady cash-flow takes quite a bit of time to build up...most freelancers build their businesses while working a steady job...then quit when the freelance income is enough to survive on.



at the point the self employed person goes at it full time, there will be some lean weeks or months in the transition

don't expect a financially easy transition

the good thing about a freelancer...at least in the states...is that you have better writeoffs for taxes

essentially, up to a certain yearly income, if you have the writeoffs, you can basically make and live off of a dollar the same way you would off of a dollar and fifty cents working for someone else since one third of that is used for taxes right off the bat

a person making a thousand dollars or pounds a month could conceibably do better and have a better quality of life than someone who makes twice or three times that who doesn't have the writeoffs, to get cool mac gear for instance, and pays big taxes right off the bat

as your income increases, so can your businesss expenses and you can get travel, vehicles, and computer gear in a way that working for someone else likely won't give you

one thing...you do not get more freedom working for yourself...maybe, if you are lucky you can end up working fewer hours

but choosing your days off is not that easy when a client wants you "right now" and there is no passing the buck (as i have seen in every mid to large level business)...as the boss of your own business, you have to take full resposibility...and many people have never truly had to do that in their work life before...i am sure almost everybody who works for someone else has passed the buck upwards

but when you are the boss, if your employee goofs up, the client remembers that it was your businesss who let them down

but all headaches and problems aside, i still think, for the right personality type, that owning your own business can be the better option

the hardest part to any self employed venture is actually getting the venture off the ground and having the courage to do so...once your have made it fly and are used to the confidence it takes to network, then you can start other businesses in any field you choose and likely succeed

jefhatfield
May 23, 2003, 06:01 AM
ask yourself, "are you more like a king or a king maker?"

both are honorable positions in life, but one is likely to fit you better than the other

eyelikeart
May 23, 2003, 08:44 AM
Originally posted by jefhatfield
ask yourself, "are you more like a king or a king maker?"

oh wow...that's something my dad is famous for brushing up upon...

he likes to refer to himself as the "kingmaker" among certain people...

specifically meaning, without him, they would not have done the things they have... ;)

and it's true...

jefhatfield
May 23, 2003, 09:15 PM
Originally posted by eyelikeart
oh wow...that's something my dad is famous for brushing up upon...

he likes to refer to himself as the "kingmaker" among certain people...

specifically meaning, without him, they would not have done the things they have... ;)

and it's true...

the kings provide all the jobs that are not self employed based...but the kingmaker makes the king bigger than a one person operation

billyboy
May 23, 2003, 10:19 PM
This is my experience, which may give you a few tips applicable to your venture.

I was freelance in a different field to yours for 20 years and i never saw it as work. It was a hobby to which I was totally committed. I used to get up almost every morning with the fire in my belly. It was great, I put in at least 50 hours a week, had a great time grafting and "hard work" for me was very easy.

As well as being obviously motivated, I was also lucky to have an easy way with people, and apparently when I dealt with customers I was a good salesman, because I tried to put the customer first, genuinely. Often their deadlines were just dreamt up, so find out what the true situation is before committing to a 120 hour week on what is possibly a customer whim.

I had set rules about money too. Right from the outset with no exerience I gave fixed prices, (guesstimates) never charged the maximum possible, and never knowingly sold myself short either. (Experience turns guestimates into pinpoint accurate quotes.) Whatever stage you're at, I suggest the extras rate - for additinal work they ask you to do, not "unexpected extras on the main contract you should have forseen" should always be a premium hourly rate. When I delivered on the main contract, I invariaby got a load of premium rate work gifted me.

Most importantly I always asked for the money to be paid in weekly installments. Business is about deals, and both sides have to give a bit, so dont be scared to deal on your terms. The norm in my trade was at least 30 if not 60 days credit, but I just looked customers in the eye and told them, if they wanted me to give them my best shot that's the deal. My customers were millionaires and they didnt expect to be dictated to, but it didnt stop them agreeing to pay for work in progress. Them that refuse, ask yourself if they are likely to be a good bet for the money a month or two later? I suggest dont take the risk and walk away if they lay down their law and wont negotiate. Better to be poor at home than poor and tired at work.

So have fun and work hard and smart. Good luck.

mrjamin
May 24, 2003, 03:31 AM
thanks all, this is great - i'll let you know what i decide to do.

eyelikeart
May 24, 2003, 08:58 AM
Originally posted by jefhatfield
the kings provide all the jobs that are not self employed based...but the kingmaker makes the king bigger than a one person operation

exactly...my dad's a one-man operation with his advertising business... ;)

Yomama
Jul 10, 2003, 10:38 PM
I found another pretty good site you might want to check out. Looks like it is pretty new but I scored 2 jobs from it. http://www.sideliners.ca

YO

jbomber
Jul 10, 2003, 11:50 PM
the most important things i've learned in my years of freelancing are:

1) ALWAYS HAVE A CONTRACT.

2) NEVER TURN OVER THE GOODS UNTIL YOU HAVE YOUR MONEY IN HAND.

Everything else is secondary.

jefhatfield
Jul 12, 2003, 12:48 AM
Originally posted by eyelikeart
exactly...my dad's a one-man operation with his advertising business... ;)

i am almost one manned, but when someone wants graphics skills in computers that are beyond me in my high tech business, i borrow my wife who knows the photoshop stuff

and in my other business of landscaping, a large scale job which needs a timely finish time requires me to use a person or two

but i am almost completely independent and a one-man deal...but that is my goal

using other people is such a hassle and cramps total freedom but sometimes, in some types of work, it is unavoidable