Freelancers October 24, 2020

Expanding and scaling as a freelance web developer.

Ignacio Montero @igmontero

Hey Indie Hackers!
I'm Ignacio, a 23 yr old web developer from Uruguay.

To put you in context, I've been freelancing for the past ~3 years, working with different clients, mostly building web apps.

At the moment I'm in a situation where the workload is too big, and I need more developers aboard to handle the project I'm working on, and the others that I'm are going to start soon.

I wanted to ask you guys for advice on expanding, where to meet new people, if you recommend hiring people from other countries (remote) or it's better to do it in person, etc.
Also, I'm aiming to meet people that are hardworking and are here for the long term, like me. I feel like it's easier to feel peoples intentions and vibes in person..

So yeah, if you can share with me your experience on starting software a business and all that, I'm all ears!

Thank you very much!

  1. 3

    Quick question how do you find clients. I'm in the process of starting an agency and would love some pointers on how to find clients. Any help would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. 2

      Your best approach is cold outreach via email or LinkedIn. If you want a more consistent approach, you should upload your portfolio to Behance, Dribbble, GitHub, etc.

  2. 3

    In my experience, there are pros and cons to both hiring local and remote. When I've had to bring on a freelancer, I have always done it remotely.

    Remote Pros:
    More talent.
    Can be more cost-effective.
    No extra overhead.

    Remote Cons:
    Spend more time project managing.
    Communication takes more effort.
    Depending on time zones, communication can take a bit longer.

    Overall I don't mind remote. But it really depends on your preference and if you think you can manage projects well remotely.

    As for finding people to hire. I won't be much help. I'm a designer, so I use sites like behance and dribbble to find other designers who I believe can bring value to the project. But I can't think of any similar platforms for web developers off the top of my head.

  3. 2

    Hey Ignacio,

    Congrats on the growth!

    You've taken the right step in asking for advice. Hiring and managing a team is one of the hardest parts of scaling, and but once you get it right, you'll grow even faster.

    If it's your first time hiring / partnering with another developer, here's are my tips:

    1. Definitely hire remotely. This is the way the world is moving to, and the sooner you learn how to manage a remote team the better.

    2. But try not to hire too many timezones away from you, so you can sleep :). I tend to hire within 4 hours ahead or behind me, so there's some overlap with my working hours. I've also hired freelancers in Latin America.

    3. Constantly look out for people you may want to hire, keep their details in your books, and build relationships. Don't only look when you need someone!

    4. Be open to where you meet freelancers to hire. These days, any forum/Slack/group is an opportunity to network. My last hire was a copywriter who posted something in a Startup FB Group. She posted a question about a topic she's writing about. I liked her approach to researching her topic and her language was eloquent. So I contacted her and kept in touch until I needed her for a job.

    5. Start them on small projects so you can test to see if you like them.

    Then if you're interested in tips on managing the freelancers, especially developers, I've commented about it in another post here:

    Btw, this is all stuff I learned from 15 years of freelancing and then growing a fully remote web dev micro-agency, i.e. just me and a bunch of freelancers I hire. Lots of growing pains!(Which I'm writing an eBook about :).

    Feel free to ask any more questions here, or you can email me: [email protected]. I'm also on Twitter: Happy to help anytime.


  4. 1

    Congrats on the need to grow. That is something most freelancers never achieve or even get close to doing.

    There is already a lot of good advice on here, but one thing I would recommend is also making sure you aren't taking on too much and hiring too fast. I've seen too many agencies or freelancers turned agencies fail from growing too quickly. Most of these accepted more work and got in over their head that they had to hire to complete what they committed to. This lead to rushed hiring, projects that went bad and lost clients to the point the agencies couldn't recover.

    Don't let this discourage you, just make sure you are hiring for the right reasons and have a plan for growth. You can see plenty instances of this here on IH and other spots on the internet of businesses failing from trying to grow too quickly or without a plan.

    I wouldn't recommend hiring more than one other person to start out. Hiring and managing a team is going to be a completely different experience than performing the work yourself.

    If you need to hire many people, because you already committed to too much work, consider hiring other freelancers or contractors that have excellent track records, can be self managing and get started quickly on their own. These people are going to cost more and may not want to work under an agency long term, but it can be a good way to get caught up on your work so you can slow down, plan your growth and make sure you hire the right person.

    And just to prepare for you for what happens after hiring and when you are trying to grow a team here are some of the additional things you will need to handle and consider:

    • Being able to review and manage other people's work.
    • Being able to manage the workload so you can handle people taking vacations, sick time, suddenly leaving, etc.
    • Being able to set up standards, values and best practices so the people working under you are an extension of yourself and business. This is necessary to guarantee quality.
    • Being able to handle egos, different personalities, issues and debates. As you probably already know us developers can be very opinionated, stuck in our ways and some times have ego problems. As a manager or lead this can be hard to properly manage.
    • Being able to handle paying your employees or contractors if a client doesn't pay, a project needs refunded, etc.
    • Depending on how good the person you are hiring and your project management skills, each person you hire could lead to more time spent managing them than completing the work you currently do. Hiring additional people can quickly lead to you completely needing to replace yourself and only being a manager.
    • Consider if you want to be growing and managing a team long term. Its a completely different experience and the more you grow the less you will get to do development and things you do now you may enjoy.
    • Be prepared to take time away from your client work to learn how to manage people, teams and projects. At being 23, you may not have a lot of experience working under other people and probably not a lot of experience managing projects and teams on your own. This can take years to learn and get good at especially with someone to learn from and lean on before jumping into it on your own.
  5. 1

    Hi Ignacio,
    I just want to start become Freelance Java developer.
    I would love to work together.

  6. 1

    Hi Ignacio, I myself am a freelancer. I am currently looking to join a team. Let's talk more about this.

  7. 1

    hi friend,

    I'm a budding freelancer having only secured 2 jobs on upwork.

    I'm not very big on all fronts but I have 8 years of experience working with web apps and websites and know bit about both frontend & backend technologies. I'm also very motivated to learn new technologies and break out of tutorial hell. if you have time and resources, I would like to work under your mentorship. you don't even have to pay me. at this point, I'm looking for real world exposure and gaining more experience by building real world products.

    You may contact me here or my Gmail:

    [email protected]

    here's my github:

  8. 1

    Hi Ignacio, let's start with the positive side - these are good issues ;).

    I faced the same issue in the past.
    I'm a full-stack developer myself, I've been freelancing since 2015 and have a couple of pretty big clients, the biggest of them being Shopify.

    During the years, I had times when I was in full capacity and needed to expand and hire one of more devs. I must say I found it very hard to find great developers.

    My requirements were tough, but basic in my opinion. I searched for devs to be problem solvers, have great communication in English, be happy to work (you won't believe how many people just don't like putting the time and actually work) and be able to work without being micro-managed.

    I mainly searched for remote developers in places like upwork and facebook groups.
    I tried hiring a lot of developers over the years, but ended up keeping only two for long term jobs.

    I agree with the other comments about going remote - this is the future of the workforce. It's already happening.

  9. 1

    Hi @igmontero,

    We are IT Service Company. Let me know if we can handle your workload.

  10. 1

    Hola Ignacio, what stack are you using? I am located in Costa Rica and looking forward to meet freelance developers, I would love to have a talk. Dime si te puedo enviar un privado.

  11. 1

    Given the pandemic I'd go the remote route first. There's plenty material out there on remote vetting, remote interviewing, remote hiring, remote communicating, remote viewing etc.

    Here's a simple formula for hiring: the more you trust somebody to do a job, the more they cost.

    Country isn't as important as hemisphere, language, and access to internet. As long as there's a good overlap you're golden.

    At the moment I'm in a situation where the workload is too big, and I need more developers aboard to handle the project I'm working on, and the others that I'm are going to start soon.

    That's a good problem to have. If it's not contract work then you could try headhunting on Linkedin. If it is contract work then check out a site like Upwork.

    people that are hardworking and are here for the long term

    "That'll be one equity, please."

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