people often ask me how to freelance

Here’s how to do it.

(1-20-2021 note: this post previously appeared on my old blog at: )

Here’s how to do it.

In between full time gigs and working on startup stuff. I like to freelance. Here is how.

How to Find Gigs

  1. word of mouth. The first answer anyone experienced with freelance/contract work will tell you, that’s always annoying for a rookie or aspiring freelancer to hear. But its very true and often the best route.

Do great work for and with people and then when they have a need have them reach out to you or refer people to you. Also be always probing your network for people who might need the skills you have and make sure people know you have them as well.

2. prominent blog. If you blog about the projects you work on if people find your info useful they may contact you to work with you

3. manage or contribute to major open source projects. If you do good work on open projects people may contact you to work with them as well.

4. find a good agency. there are interactive agencies and collectives of freelancers. Find someone (i.e. through your network, or perhaps by looking at a company that maintains an open source projet you like) that works at one and go through them

5. Whore yourself out on a freelancer website and then slowly jack up your price as you prove your quality. Personally have not tried this one. But you could deal with selling your time at a really bad price at first, do a good job and then raise your price as you get good reviews. I would probably only recommend this for a very young high school or college kid looking to get their feet wet. But there are many people willing to build things veeeerrry cheaply on those sites.

How to price your time

The next big question is always. How much do I charge?

Answer: A simple ballpark way to start is to take what you would make as full-time person and then divide that by the number of work hours in a year and charge that.

i.e. say you would be 100,000 /yr. Well there are a standard 40/hrs of work in a typical week and 52 weeks in a year = 2080 work hrs.

100,000 / 2080 ~= 48$/hr.

You could also account for the fact that if you arent also fulltime you must pay for your own benefits and add an amount for that to your rate.

Also research (google) what people with your level of expirence are charging and be in a range of that.

Finally and importantly make sure that as you prove you can deliver and get better that you ask for more over time.

How to Manage Client Relationships

Part of being a good freelancer is knowing what projects you can and can’t take.

Saying no to projects that are heavily rely on skill sets you don’t have or can’t obtain quickly is paramount.

How to Track your time

If you client doesn't have their own reporting system they would like you to use here is a great way I figured out about 6 months ago.

Use harvest and their integration with trello. It allows you to easily update your timesheets while you manage the project

Harvest Time Tracker
Track time from Chrome and within popular project management

Have sweeping task names like (development or project management) then use the description of the card to update which thing you did with respect to those with the track time button in trello.