Hi, I'm Frederic.

Web Developer & Entrepreneur
blogging about life and programming in Node.js, Go and React.

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The Successful Freelancer

Recently, in a community I am part of, somebody shared an article about getting to a 100000$ yearly income as a freelancer. The article was really generic, sounded like a get rich quick scheme, dropped about every internet money making technique on one page and had a bunch of grammatical errors, but had few things right, made me think about the subject nonetheless.

The article basically told you to work really, really hard. Niche down, focus on one area of expertise but at the same time expand the number of skills you have and technologies you master. Create a course, publish a book, design “cool” website for local businesses do graphic design, do social media, become a VA, do SEO, do homework for students, write software, become a PM, manage ads and finally become a mobile app developer.

I say, don’t work too hard, mental and physical health will make you more happy and productive than putting in more hours.

I say, pick one thing and get really good at it. Now focus on one type of client, no, think more precise than what you are thinking at the moment. That will help make selling your skills and justifying your bigger price tag that much easier.

Then the article proposed you shouldn’t think about “getting rich quick” and start by charging nothing to build your portfolio.

I say, never charge nothing, it’s almost never a good idea. Even charging a 1$ is a world of a difference psychologically for your client. You are a professional trying to build a healthy business to business relationship with your clients here. This article from Double Your Freelancing explains it very well.

The next advice it gives you is to shy away from Freelance websites (think Elance) but to grab a chair in a co-working space and network there.

I say, it’s true that websites like Elance are filled with low paying jobs and the competition is fierce but it’s not all white or black. I know some consultants that built their profiles over the years and are doing really well taking on 5000$+ contracts over there.

As for co-working spaces, from my experience and from what I heard from few friends that are consulting as well, you most likely wont get any client from working from a co-working space. There are good chances you wont even network at all. People go there to get focused work done and are most likely in a similar situation as you: consultants/freelancers, employees or small business owner without much budget. I say, co-working spaces are nice places, filled with nice people but overrated as a business opportunity.

Then it goes on about:

  • Investing in yourself by reading, watching and taking online courses
  • Managing you time efficiently (cut off the useless/meaningless)
  • Charging more from your existing customers
  • Collecting testimonials from your clients to have something to show for
  • Picking up unfinished projects from clients that made the error of hiring a 50% cheaper than market rate freelancer

All of which I agree with.

That is it! To recap, more than ever I am convinced that: there is no magic formula, becoming a successful freelancer requires time and investment.

Before you get to a point where you can charge 100$/hour and have a filled pipeline of projects providing a steady 40 hours of work per week there is a long road of slowly building skills, credentials and a network.

Hoping for success to happen overnight will simply lead to a sour deception.