The world is rapidly changing, and with the emergence of new technology and more flexible and creative jobs available, the work industry is no different. A few decades ago, most people would be expected to attend university or obtain some sort of certification and then land a job in one or another company to remain as their employee for most of their life. Nowadays, the average length of employment at one given company or business is four and a half years!
With this shift in the working world, so comes a shift within the structures of employment, with more and more employees deciding to outsource their workforce from freelancers and contractors.
There’s lots of talent (and therefore competition) in the freelance pool, and not all opportunities are distributed evenly.
If you have a passion for software development and want to gain employability, freelance developing is the way to go.
Study Web Development defines freelance web developing as a profession that handles and manages the coding that’s involved in website building.
Although full of opportunity, the world of freelance developing can be full of hurdles and challenges. So, keep reading to discover 10 tips in order to make it through the freelance developing world alive and well!
1. Invest Your Money Wisely!
Being a freelancer, you have to take care of your own financial stability, which has it’s perks but it involves having a wide scope and being able to anticipate difficulty and prepare for it. Read a few books or watch a few courses on value investing and start putting money away every month.
Freelancing as a developer provides great flexibility, but it also means more uncertainty about long term income. Not only will it provide security down the line, but the dividend income can become significant after a few years of dedicated saving.
2. Health Insurance
If you’re a young and fit freelance developer who can’t wait to work till their hearts content, you may not even think of health insurance. One of the perks of working for a company is that you’re normally offered some kind of insurance, whereas if you’re considering the freelancing lifestyle, you’ll have to take care of that yourself. Even if you live in a country with social healthcare, urgent health problems could arise and being on unpaid leave for some time due to health problems can become a problem further down the line, especially if you haven’t had time to save up a significant amount of money. Even if obtaining health insurance means spending a bit more every month, it can definitely save you a few sleepless nights!
What about fasting? This isn’t a health and fitness article, is it? This may sound incredibly dramatic but there may be times where you’re out of work for a while and if you’re not generating any income you may struggle to scrape the money to get proper groceries. Yes, it sounds like the worst-case scenario but it’s better to be prepared in case you hit a bump on the road!
When you practice fasting, you’ll get your mind used to the idea of not getting solid food for a few days at a time, reducing the anxiety you may suffer about not being able to put food on the table for a while.
It’s important to clarify that this is by no means the norm of freelancing, but it’s also not impossible for it to happen so better be safe than sorry!
4. Get a Bus Pass
Especially if you live in a big city. As a beginner freelance developer, you’ll have to attend multiple interviews in very different parts of your area pretty much constantly, unless you obtain a more permanent work position. If you have to take public transport multiple times back and forth for the foreseeable future, it’s definitely wise to invest in a bus pass so all your trips don’t start to add up and end up impacting your monthly budget! If you do have a car consider using it for more inaccessible areas instead of using it to attend every single interview. Once again if you need to budget, spending money on public transport turns out to be a lot cheaper than having to pay for fuel!
5. Consider Sleeping In Your Car
Once again, a tip that may come across as dramatic and unusual. Freelancing comes with its risks; so, it’s appropriate to address the more extreme scenarios, it’s better to hear from them and never live them that it is to go through them without having even known they existed. Sleeping in your car may be your last resort if you end up not being able to afford rent, especially if you have a landlord that isn’t very understanding. It’s a bleak reality that comes with some discomforts so you may want to get used to it in case it happens to you.
You can try sleeping in your car a few nights just to make sure you’re actually able to get some rest. In every situation, it’s always advisable to have contingency plans so the situation doesn’t end like this but it’s never bad to be prepared in case it happens anyway.
Now, if you’re still concerned about money, remember the 3 rules in making money as a freelance developer:
- Understand that the amount of money (or none) that you’ll earn will equate to the level of value which you present to clients.
- Making money requires putting time into high-value projects. AND,
- Go with a full-time job until you’re financially comfortable with creating a freelancing business in developing.
6. Differentiate Between Need vs Want
Cutting out unnecessary expenses might be the key to reach the end of the month without struggling. An example of this is for example junk food! It may be hard to go without the usual treat but sometimes it’s important to differentiate between needing something and wanting something and making the necessary adjustments so you don’t find yourself in a tight spot further down the line.
One of the best ways to differentiate between needs and wants is through better goal management, set SMART goals:
- Relevant, AND
This strategy helps you separate your real needs from the unnecessary wants.
In freelancing, diversify, not only your stock portfolio, but also your skill portfolio. If you’re a web developer, what’s to stop you from starting a blog or writing right here on Medium? If you’re a writer, try writing some eBooks in addition to your regular copywriting gigs. Hell, you can learn to become a locksmith in your free time if you feel like it. In this peer-to-peer world, there is no excuse for putting all your eggs in one basket.
And, believe it or not, business cards still matter in today’s world, since they tell interested parties who you are, what you can do, and how people can get in touch with you. So, be sure to create business cards for your freelance developing business.
8. Know When It’s Time to Stop
Where the line is where you might want to take a different direction depends on each individual, but it’s important that we plan for it. You might want to move from freelancing to starting your own business, or build your own product, or settle down into a 9–5 job that works for you financially and geographically, or take up woodworking — it doesn’t matter, you will be alright as long as you know yourself and think ahead. Being freelance whilst starting a family can feel overwhelming, and the financial stability can prove to be too taxing in some cases. It’s important to know freelance isn’t for everyone and not working freelance can be equally as rewarding and career developing.
You’ll also need to establish basic working rules that involve the following:
- A working schedule for yourself
- Fixed pricings
- Deadlines, and so on
These qualify as “needs,” because they tell clients that you mean business, and they can place their trust on someone who can do the work on time.
Understanding what your needs are is crucial to become a successful professional, regardless of whether you freelance or not.
9. Stay Home, Stay Safe and Take The Time To Level Up
In the current global situation with the covid pandemic ongoing, there may be times where you can’t attend interviews or go to work if you have to isolate for whatever reason. It’s important that you take care of yourself if you’re sick and also make sure you’re following guidelines. In the event that you have no choice but to stay home, take the time to level up by taking courses and other extra material that will make you a better web developer. This will make you more employable down the line and will help you perfect your performance!
10. Read, Read, Read
Reading is essential to keep up with such a fast-paced world, and an even more fast paced industry! Some good recommendations are “Soft Skills: The software developer's life manual,” which offers techniques and practices for a more satisfying life as a professional software developer. In it, developer and life coach John Sonmez addresses a wide range of important "soft" topics, from career and productivity to personal finance and investing, and even fitness and relationships, all from a developer-centric viewpoint.
Another one is “The Clean Coder: A Code of Conduct for Professional Programmers,” where legendary software expert Robert C. Martin introduces the disciplines, techniques, tools, and practices of true software craftsmanship. Martin shows how to approach software development with honor, self-respect, and pride. He talks about how to work well and work clean, communicate and estimate faithfully, face difficult decisions with clarity and honesty, and understand that deep knowledge comes with a responsibility to act.
If you want to do more than just read, you can always strive for a certification in the developer field. Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in a college education to learn more developing. In fact, taking certification courses online is more flexible and better on the wallet than a traditional college education. With many skills on demand, including developing, why not get started in reading up and learning more about it, and get certified?
How to Survive as a Freelance Developer
Even if it sounds precarious, freelancing can be a very rewarding career path where you can develop your skills and your passion. One of the best things you can do to survive and thrive as a human being is to practice being brave. Be sure to follow these tips to succeed in the world of freelance developing!
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