What is this article NOT about?
- This is not an article about how to make a million dollars in 1 month working from home. Unless you are extremely intelligent or exceptionally lucky (which 99.999% of people aren’t) this is not going to happen for you. However with hard work you can make a decent living and earn more than what you are making in your current job. Especially if you are not living in the US.
- This is also not an article about pros and cons of freelancing.
What is this article about?
This article is about what I did to become a full-time freelancer and about some of the useful tips that might help you do the same thing and give you some confirmation that doing this is indeed possible for everybody. However the content here is merely a short introduction to an extensive topic on which an entire book could be written.
What do you need to become a freelance software developer?
- Some programming experience (preferably gained by working 9-5 for some company for a year or at least some experience creating some app or website on your own)
- English language proficiency (this can be learned by reading books in English, watching English movies and tv series, watching YouTube videos in English, participating in some online chats and obviously travelling if you can afford that)
- A lot of motivation and believing that you can do it and being sure that you really want to do it and you will do what it takes make it happen.
How to start using freelancer.com and stand out from the competition
- The main picture in your profile should show your face and not some logo, favorite movie character or other useless image. If you put your face in your profile image this will be a first sign to the potential employer that you might be a serious person that can be trusted.
- When starting to freelance you already have to have some skills that can add value to the business of your employer. Adding value is the most important thing you have to focus on and it is the only way you will be able to make money long term. In your profile description explain what skills you currently have. If some of your skills are not expert level yet you can put them in the description as well if you are confident that you can improve them quickly when you get a project that requires them. That is fine, nobody can be an expert with everything. However don’t include skills that you completely don’t have.
- If possible provide some proof that you actually have the described skills. To do that you can explain how you earned them (for example you worked at company XYZ for 2 years) or provide some evidence that you created some app or website.
- Set your rate to what you really think you are worth at the moment. Don’t set it too high or too low. It needs to reflect your realistic opinion about how much you think you should be earning having the skills that you have. You are probably not going to earn this rate in your first project anyway but just put it there.
- Pass some of the exams that are available on the website. First exam that you should take is “US English level” exam. If you pass it you will get a badge which will let your employer know that you have some English skills. There are three levels of “US English level” exam. When you pass level 1 you can take level 2 exam and then level 3. Preferably you should complete all three levels. This alone will already boost you above 50% of your competition. Good communication in English is very important for your employers. If you want you can also take other exams. The more the better but they cost money so US English level 3 should be enough to start.
- Get your first review. Make sure you get 5 stars. To get your first review you have to be prepared you will be working for free or almost for free. Bid on as many projects as possible but only bid if you feel there is some chance you will be able to complete the project in reasonable time and that the project will not take too long. Make sure you analyze the project description in detail and provide a great explanation to the employer in your bid message. Try rephrasing or summarizing project description so that the client knows that you read the description and that you understand what it says. Explain that you know how to do exactly what the project asks and that you can do it in timely manner and within the budget, you can be truthful and explain to the client that your price is very low not because your skills are low but because you are a new freelancer and you would like to prove yourself and that this is also a great opportunity for them since they will be getting high quality for low cost. Since you don’t have any reputation yet you will have to undercut everybody using very low price to have some chance of being selected. A client who selects you will most likely not be the best quality but you have to start from something. Make sure the work you do for them is perfect and that they are blown away. Ask them for 5.0 rating. Once you get it you are on a good path to becoming a freelancer.
- Keep doing what you have done in point 6. but try to become better and better at it and use your experience gained in previous bids, projects and client conversations to adjust your strategy and try to earn more every time until you can actually start getting paid what you think you were worth at the beginning when you started freelancing.