Do You Want to Become a Freelancer?

Oh, boy. Read on.

Yep. That's a picture of a coworking.

This is you: you're working a full time job and you think you can become a lone wolf, live on your own, carry the world in your shoulders, be your own boss. You want to be a one-man army, an entrepreneur. A freelancer. 🔥

Who am I? I know a thing or two about working with freelancers, being a freelancer, loving freelancers and (sometimes) hating freelancers. I have a thing or two to say about this matter that I'd like to share with you about becoming a freelancer.

Go Full Time

How? Save some 💰and do it. Think of it as your capital. Don't wait for your freelancing income to become your main income. That might not happen because:

You won't work enough hours to make that empirically happen

You work 40 hours a week for a fixed hourly rate. If you work only 3 hours after work, that's 15 hours a week, and let us add 16 hours for the weekends (you don't want this life). You're working around 30 hours as a freelancer. You'd have to charge +40% when you freelance to make this stupid number happen.

  • This might not be competitive.
  • Most of the time you get paid at very specific stages of the project (beginning and end, mostly).

You might not be able to attract profitable customers

No, not projects, we'll get to that. But most people go to freelancers because they have a problem, and that problem is their priority. When you do things in your spare time, people usually expect a spare job and pay spare prices. Those willing to outsource their priorities expect people to solve them as fast as possible, not when they're done working or after they have a good night of sleep.

Most importantly, everyone hates meetings after 6pm.

You'll hate your life 📉

If you take your free time and weekends to do freelance, freelance will become that thing that eats up your free time and weekends. Ultimately, you'll hate it and you'll stick to your office job (considering you don't need the money). It's been proven that just like love, money is not all you need.

Find Customers, Not Projects

There's a reason most successful games are F2P, successful apps are services and good clients can't get enough of their providers: it's called retention. You want your business to grow. It's easier to find a person with a long project than finding a lot of people with small projects to freelance.

Find a way to make things work and bet in the long run. The more you work in something the easier it gets and the faster you deliver results. Every project kick-off has some friction and hesitation that doesn't translate in immediate money or experience.

If you want to work as little as possible in something before moving on to the next thing, get a job.

Don’t Sell Yourself, Sell Your Work

Do you know why people liked the Beatles? They made good records. Have a portafolio of whatever it is you're doing. Talk about customer satisfaction, things that are live, things that were live; things that matter.

Don't over do it. Just show your highlights. If something isn't good enough, don't show it. Show what you can do, not what you couldn't do. If you think you'd rather have someone trusting your formation, get a job.

Negotiate

If all you want is to get paid by the time you put into something, get a job. Don't freelance. There are two ways to do things when you're freelancing:

  • Well paid: you get as much money as you can for every minute you spend in the project. 👋
  • Well done: you get shit done. 👊

You probably don't know how long a project can take but you do know if you want to take it and how much you would like to get paid. Your custumer isn't responsible if something takes 100 hours or a 1000, he just has a budget and needs to stick with it to make ends meet.

Hours are terrible units to measure work. Seriously. You have good days and bad days, you don't have bad hours and good hours. The things you need to do to get something done have different complexities and you have different talents to solve them. Just ask yourself one thing:

How much do I want to make for this project?

Be ready to negotiate. You can use several arguments in your favor:

  • Expertise.
  • Availability.
  • Speed.
  • Reach.
  • Quality.

But never, ever, talk about your worth. Don't make your client feel bad. You don't have an hourly rate, you have a market rate. You can only afford to charge what the market (and ultimately your client) is willing to pay. Talking about why you charge so much for your hours is a history lesson no one wants to hear. If you don't like it, get a job.

The First One Is Free

Again, retention. Bet big, try to start with small projects where you don't charge much in hopes of getting bigger deals short-term. Btw, always mention this to your client. Say it out loud. It's like playing the lottery, you have to buy the ticket 🃏.

Many times you hear about great people working for startups waiting for entrepreneurs to magically give them some equity 🎩. This won't happen, you do have to ask for equity and you do have to ask for money.

Invest in yourself, in your time. Use your time to generate two things:

  • Customers. 👔
  • Money. 💸

If you're not willing to use your time and skill to invest in your own brand, no one will. Again, if that's the case, get a job.

Papers Please

Everything you're commissioned needs to be printable. Don't need to go all the way and have a contract for every time you move your ass in the direction your client ask you to, but do get everything in the ancestral form of the written word. 🖨

Not because you're gathering evidence for the Benghazi Attacks, but because people value their word and it's a nice way to avoid misunderstandings. It doesn't matter if you have a picture of a monkey holding a budget or spreadsheet in your /Downloads folder, anything you can attach in a email usually is more than enough. Trust me, handshakes and good memory don't fall in that category.

If you'd rather be bossed around in real-time with 100% improvisation, get a job.

Don’t Work with/for Assholes

If you don't like someone, don't work for them. Simple as that. If what you want is to take orders from assholes all day long, get a job.


Now I'm going to pause to give you the single most important advice I can give to any freelancer:

Deliver on time.

That's it. You do that and you'll be fucking rich. You'll be a unicorn. Of course, this is borderline impossible because most of your projects depend on third parties/weather/☕ ️or else.

I've worked with talented people in several projects, but the fact that they flipped the finger to any possible deadline shadows their work no matter how good it was simply because when you feel something is overdue in reality what you're feeling is that it should be done already.

If changes happen, if the budget changes, if more features are added, you never feel that the project is late no matter what timeline you had in mind. But if people are basically taking too fucking long, you just know it.

Projects are delivered with planning, communication and 🔮.


Btw, I know that I've said get a job several times across this post. Not because having a job is a bad thing, but because having a job is not freelancing. That's it. Freelancing has its drawbacks as it is to make it have the same dynamic you'd have in an office (or several offices for that matter) if you don't follow these advices.

I have nothing left to say but good luck to you and a big shoutout to my girlfriend Claudia for helping me with the drawings. 🐬