If you’ve just stumbled across my blog, I’d like to say HELLLLOOO!
I’m sorry that my first post is serious-sounding but I hope to shed some light on some of the options that are out there if you find yourself in the predicament that many developers landed in these past few years.
Covid19 saw the world lower it’s raised eyebrow to freelancing and it’s attitude towards remote work, no longer were we the scourge of society asking for mail in documents and postage fees or play store cards in exchange for our dead uncle’s inheritance fortune, we were now legitimate means to answer the cries of society. Now I know I’ve never personally declared myself a princess of another country to gain a buck and find my prince charming, but many people view online work as a blanket scam even though I am a qualified senior level developer.
This blanket view of our community of skilled workers stems from a lack of understanding and the various online scams that are in existence. The shift in narrative is a welcomed change that is unfortunately perpetuated by a very negative occurrence. Basically I am trying to say Covid19 sucks but it has left us with a few silver linings that we can utilize to make it through this difficult period and perhaps, enhance our positions in the time to come.
The job market is currently over-saturated by young, inspiring techs who are searching for a way into the industry that has continuously undergone drastic transformations in the last few decades.
I’m going to try to cover a few techniques that you may find useful.
Do not outsource unless you really need a break
My blog might be burned at the stake or thrown into the dark realm of my trash directory for suggesting this but if you’re a freelance tech/ developer/ designer – stop outsourcing. Manage your clients, take what you can handle, and slowly build a team of like-minded (and well vetted) individuals. Your reputation will take you a long way, even through employment drought season, so you want to ensure that you are being represented in your work, communications, and efforts.
Learn communication 101, learn the nuances of the language you’re presenting in so you can understand the spec and subtleties of a language fully.
I see this time and time again on forums, on quotes, in email communications that try to convince me to buy something:
The language you’re presenting it is important, you need to construct your proposals carefully so you can portray your skillset and convey that you’re able to understand your client and their requirements.
Spend time on perfecting your pitch and written/spoken understanding of the language you’re presenting in.
Chances are that you’ll avoid a lot of frustration if you can understand the subtleties of a language and communication is of the highest importance when it comes to remote work.
Find that price point Goldilocks zone, pronto!
It sucks to be under priced and undercutting is an absolute no go zone. We’ve all been at the point where we yearn for experience and are willing to work for next to nothing so we can gain skills on the job however, this leads to a false expectation that price points need to remain low and quality code matters less and less in a sea of $5 an hour resources to clients who want lipstick on a pig.
Price yourself at a comfortable hourly rate that allows you to grow your life, skills, and professional endeavors. If you’re starving as a developer then no one is going to be happy with your output, period.
Do not use response templates
You hear that? It’s white noise.
That’s what responses sound like these days – white noise.
Personal pitches have become a thing of the past as people rely more and more on prompt responses that can spam the masses. Clients do fall for this trap, especially when it’s laced with tech sounding titbits that convince clients that bots are valuable assets that care about their individual projects.
My advice is to actually read specs, put yourself on a timer, and quickly (but effectively) respond to every client / quote request. The appreciation that comes from taking the time out of your day to understand someone’s requirements and often their life’s dream is a huge morale boost and will keep you in the headspace that’s needed if you want to make a long term/successful career out of freelancing.
Learn project management 101, use the tools of the trade.
Create and Modify your path regularly
My buddy Dave and I chat regularly about life and career goals. One thing that stands out is our ability to adapt. I enjoy keeping friends that have this approach as it will always keep you motivated to do the same in your life and vice versa. Surround yourself with constant reminders of what you’re currently doing and what you want to ultimately achieve.
If your goal for the day is to wrap up that CMS project you’ve been working on and you fall short of your target, write down what tasks are remaining and modify your path. Keep things realistic as you go on and make sure that you communicate. Hold yourself accountable by keeping realistic lists and modifying said lists regularly. Be goal orientated and don’t get too cocky when you’re ahead – remember, being ahead is motivation to stay ahead.
Market to your loyal customers, add incentives
Clients, even the pain in the ass variety, love to know that they’re appreciated and you’d love to know that they will remain loyal and that your work stream will be steady/predictable. Learn how to market to your people, make your own predictive model to denote patterns in their behavior and,add incentives (discounts, freebies etc.) for new work.
Build a community
Perhaps this is the most important part as you will need support from people who understand where you’re at and don’t look at you like as replaceable. You’re going to have clients / employers that treat you like horse shit, that’s going to happen. The development community / IT has a whole is plagued by depression, anxiety, being underpaid, being undervalued, and sacrifice (of health, not goats). You need to know that you’re not alone and that (even though devs are competitive by nature) we want to build you up too.