Hacker Career Advice
Before You Start Freelancing
In 1789, Ben Franklin wrote that “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Of course, he wasn’t a software developer.
For hackers, there is one inalienable certainty: everybody has a “million dollar idea” and they just need a developer to “code it all up.” If you’re game, this can be a profitable source of income. Enter, freelancing
When you evaluate freelance opportunities, keep in mind that your clients probably won’t grok Agile, scope creep, how much developers actually make, or have clear expectations in mind. It’ll be up to you to manage them:
- Set expectations up front. How many hours a week will you commit to the project? When’s the deadline? How often will you meet? What’s your invoicing schedule? What are the deliverables & milestones?
- Get a firm understanding of what your clients want to build. If they can’t articulate it clearly & concisely, you may want to pass (or charge more).
- Be conservative with your estimates and give yourself a generous buffer (≥ 25%). Deadlines move, requirements change, and you’re not perfect either.
- Be clear about your rates. Are you charging $X an hour? $Y for 8 hours a day? $Z an hour for any changes not covered by your initial contract?
- Err on the side of overcommunication and get everything in writing.
- Do good work! Your reputation wins clients, not your code.