Once you have established yourself as a freelance software developer, you will find that you have much more flexibility over everything from your schedule to your career path. Although getting started as a freelance software developer can be a bit of an uphill climb at first, once you have established yourself, you will find that you have much more freedom. You’ll be able to earn a respectable salary while concentrating on tasks that pique your interest if you have the correct combination of clients and work.
First, let’s define “freelance.” Strictly speaking, a freelance software developer is someone who takes on short-term development contracts. They often go from project to project and client to client, often times multiple times throughout the course of the year. This is different from, for example, a person who stays at one employment for an extended period of time, whether they are an employee or a contractor working there as would be the case when a company aims to hire ios developers on a contractual basis.
When pursuing a career as a freelance developer, one of the most essential things to keep in mind is that in addition to being a programmer, you are also an entrepreneur. Even if it’s just you running the firm, the clients are hiring your company even though they’re only hiring you. Now that we’ve covered everything, let’s talk about the financial aspects of the situation.
This is the portion that individuals usually anticipate disliking the least, to the point where some freelancers hope there is some way they can completely sidestep it. Spoiler alert: You can’t avoid it. Having said that, selling your skills as a software developer isn’t quite as difficult as it would first appear!
When we talk about “marketing,” we mean connecting with potential customers and spreading the word about the services that you offer. You can accomplish this in a number of different ways; however, the two most important are networking (both virtually and in person at events such as conferences and meetups through the use of websites such as LinkedIn) and making use of online freelancer websites where clients post the jobs they are looking to fill.
These are the chips that are on the table: Have an impressive profile on LinkedIn, build a fantastic website, and spend some of your time looking for work and emailing people. As a freelance software developer, one of your most important selling factors is your portfolio of past work; therefore, you should make sure that it is as appealing (and thorough) as is humanly possible.
Keep your attention on “qualified leads.” Do not send out mass emails to random businesses, as very few people will read them. Instead, get the word out about your services through the people you already know, such as previous coworkers, friends, and so on. In addition, keep an eye out for chances on freelancing sites. Search for roles that are 1099 or short-term contracts. The purpose of this is not only for you to learn about opportunities, but also for potential clients to become familiar with you and ultimately connect with you.
You should commit at least four hours per week to marketing… and ideally, you should devote an entire day per week to it. This is absolutely necessary to ensure the continued success of your company. And do not wait until your present contract has expired before negotiating a new one. Even if you’re in the thick of developing an application or service, you should still set aside some time each and every week to work on marketing. This will help you avoid having a significant amount of downtime between jobs.
The Management of the Company and the Execution of Contracts
Notwithstanding the fact that forming an LLC is voluntary, you should probably do so. This can be accomplished quickly, with little effort, and at a low cost. You are responsible for filing the documents with your state and renewing your registration annually. You really do not need to register a S or C corporation because doing so may be fairly costly and involves a significant increase in the amount of work involved, particularly in regards to taxes and documentation.
Get insurance for your company’s responsibility. Many independent contractors don’t bother doing this since they don’t believe it’s necessary. It is. Your entire career can be derailed by only one unsatisfactory client or one successful legal action. Why would something like this occur? Assume that there is a fault in your application and that it results in a financial loss for one of your client’s other customers. Who is going to be your client’s target? You.
Liability insurance is reasonably priced, with typical monthly premiums for independent contractors coming in at less than $45 dollars. Do an internet search to identify some of the more well-known companies in the insurance business. After filling out some paperwork and establishing a recurring payment plan, you are through with the process. Then, here’s hoping you won’t end up having to make use of it.
The next step is to make sure that you always sign a contract with your customer. Although we are unable to provide you with legal advice at this time, software contracts often have the same format. You can retain the services of a local attorney or look for information online; conduct a search directed specifically towards software attorneys who have experience in this field.
And don’t forget taxes. There will be no withholding of taxes from the cheques that your customers write you. At the end of the year, you will receive a 1099 that details the amount of money that was paid to you by the company. You are required to set away a percentage of the money you earn and send quarterly payments to both the Internal Revenue Service and the state (if your state has income tax).
This can be challenging due to the fact that it is not always possible to predict how much money you will make in a particular year. The majority of folks simply make an estimate based on how much money they’ve made up to this point in the year. It is in your best interest not to wait until the following April to find out that you owe tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes because the fines and costs imposed by the IRS and state governments are rather high.
Keep in mind, as well, that the IRS levies “self-employment” taxes on freelancers in addition to the regular taxes. The rate is almost fifteen percent, which is a significant amount. The idea is to take advantage of as many legitimate deductions as possible, which will reduce your taxable income and, as a result, the amount of tax that must be paid.
That almost certainly implies you’ll need to work with a tax preparer when the end of the year rolls around. There are other effective tax preparation apps available online; nevertheless, if you have never completed a Schedule C and SE before, it is highly recommended that you get professional assistance.
Last but not least, one of the most crucial aspects of a standard software contract is determining who will control the product’s source code once development is complete. Typically, the customer is the one who owns it. This makes perfect sense given that you are developing the product specifically for them. Without the approval of your customer, you are not allowed to resell the application that you have produced to a third party. This means that you are prohibited from doing so.
Handling Your Code
The vast majority of developers are familiar with managing code through the use of hosting platforms like GitHub. Keep in mind, though, that your customer most certainly owns the code; as it is their intellectual property. They won’t want anyone else, especially their competitors, to view it. This is something you should keep in mind. This indicates that you will need private repos, in addition to repos that are distinct for each client. It’s quite likely that you’ll want distinct repositories for each of your projects. But ultimately the choice is yours to make. In any event, you need to keep an eye on the permissions to ensure. That only the appropriate people may view the code.
It is also quite likely that you will wish to grant your customer access to the repository. You can add folks with read-only access to projects hosted on sites like GitHub. Whether or not the customer will use it is contingent on whether or not they have technical personnel on staff. Who are even capable of comprehending it. If nothing else, it provides them the peace of mind that comes with knowing. That they can always get to the code when they need to.
Pay Attention to the Customer… and Provide What They Need
If you are developing an app from the ground up, you will want to adhere to the normal Agile processes. And you will also want to ensure that you and the client reach an agreement on the precise set of features as soon as possible. Write it in a paper, and if at all feasible, include mockups in the document as well. Next, before you construct anything, get the client to sign the document. This is really important so that there are no issues over whether or not you built what they desired at the end.
And do not include additional features, despite the fact that they may appear to be entertaining and interesting. Because we enjoy creating software so much, this is a common pitfall that we fall into. The customer is not going to be happy about having to pay for extras that they did not request. Instead, tuck those concepts away for use in a later edition. The customer may find them useful and want to pay for them in a later iteration of the project.
If you want to keep track of your progress, use a Scrum or KanBan board, and provide the customer access to the board. Maintain an up-to-date version of it while you work each day without putting off the necessary steps. And get ready for a typical scenario: In reality, non-technical people frequently believe that. The front end is the entire app and that they will see it grow like a plant expanding from a sapling. This misconception leads to the mistaken belief that non-technical people. That will see the front end of an app steadily evolve as the app develops.
So let’s say you devote the first month to working on the backend. Such as the application programming interface (API) and the database. You run unit tests, and everything seems to be functioning properly and coming together. The customer then requests a demonstration in order to “see what you have so far.” They anticipate seeing screens, buttons, and forms—things that they can really see and interact with—but just a subset of the buttons should operate at this point (as the product is not yet complete, of course).
Yet, when they do not see any sort of front end. They will get the sense that you have not actually been working on it at all. This is a very real challenge, and merely demonstrating your code and unit tests to them may not be enough to solve the issue. If you get the impression that a customer is mired in this misconception, one option is to toggle your work. First do some tasks on the back end, then complete some tasks on the front end. And finally complete some tasks on the back end so that you have something to “show” the client.
Next, exhibit patience when dealing with the customer. There is a high probability that the customer will not be completely satisfied with the finished job. There will be nitpicky details that they want addressed. The specifics of your contract will determine how you move forward at that point. Which is why you need a contract in the first place and why you need to be familiar with its contents. It’s the same problem with putting out bug fixes. Are you obligated to provide bug fixes at no cost? Therefore, it is important to get the opinion of a reputable software attorney. And to check that everything is included in the contract.
Managing Several Customers at Once
You need several clients. You don’t want to put all of your eggs in the basket of a single customer since they could run into financial difficulties and pay their bills late. And leaving you unable to pay your own expenses. Yet, you do not want to overextend yourself to the point. That you are only able to devote a few hours each week to each of your customers. Maintain a careful equilibrium. Determine what works best for you, whether that be working on two projects at once. Or switching between working on one project and another during different time frames.
Do not ask the client for further work once the current project has been completed. (You may not realise how frequently something like this occurs.) They will pay you to complete a task, but once that task is finished, there is a possibility that they will not have any further work for you. (Can you imagine receiving a phone call from your neighbourhood auto repair shop once a week. And asking whether they can do unneeded repairs on your vehicle?) Sending a “hello” email or holiday card to prior clients is a good way to keep in touch with them. But if they were pleased with the work you did for them in the past. They will contact you when they have additional work for you to do.
Developing a profitable freelancing business involves a significant investment of time. It’s possible that landing your first client won’t take too much time. But once you do, the real work will start because you’ll need to build a product. Or write code for them while simultaneously building up your business in other ways. Such as by keeping track of your expenses and taxes, finding new clients, and networking. It won’t be simple, but at this point, you can legitimately call yourself a business owner. The flexibility, though, is where the value lies. Do you want to take a month off of work and you have the funds to do so? Then you should take that trip of a lifetime!