Going freelance was one of the best choices I made so far, but it was hard to find any content about it that didn't try to sell you things. So I figured I'd make a quick write-up of my experience and share what I learned for anyone else that is thinking about taking this path. Some of this may be common knowledge for some, but none of this was obvious to me when I started.
This is my experience and may not apply to everyone! For context, I'm 21, in and from Europe, have barely 3 years of experience, no degree and do frontend development with React.
Within 7 weeks (approx 30 Interviews) I got 3 contracts that each pay effectively $14k+ / month. Before freelancing I made about $4k / month which is an average EU salary for 3 years of experience. My main goal was to maximize the time and resources I could spend on indiehacking and in that regard this was a massive success 🎉
I chatted with a ton of freelancers to learn what I should do and these were the most important points for me:
- take your time. If you're unlucky it can take 2-3 months to find your first client.
- learn to deal with rejection. Imposter syndrome was a pretty big issue for me, especially after crossing the 30-day mark of not finding a job.
- increase your hourly rate. When I started I asked for $60/hour, I increased this to $80-120 in the last 2 weeks of my search and that's also when I started getting ok's.
- Play "Buzzword-bingo". If a job mentions technologies, put all of them that you worked with into your CV with concrete examples of how, when where or why you used them. Adjust your CV (and pitch) for every prospect.
- diversify. Check local online job boards for your country/city as there is less competition. Platforms like Toptal are also great. Many big companies outsource their freelance hiring, so working with recruitment agencies is also a way. LinkedIn is good for "passive acquisition". Recruiters will contact you there but the jobs on there are usually worthless or too crowded with candidates. I also took on a business privately that I found via a friend of a friend of a friend :)
- Managers ♥♥♥ Indiehackers because we usually understand how business requirements, marketing, design and code play together. We can take features to completion with no supervision or effort needed from their side. Simply, we "get stuff done". Even if you only have a couple of unfinished side projects it's massively valuable and something you should highlight.
- Finally, and most importantly: spend a ton of time polishing your profile/resume/pitch. Reflect on every project you ever did and find concrete and specific examples of your work and what that work meant for the company. To a prospect, you ARE what you tell them you are. Don't be humble, show that you are an expert and can get things done. Empathy is the most important sales tool. Remember that they are looking for an asset that will provide value to them, and you need to show them why that asset is you.
There are a ton of ways besides this one to freelance. You can for example build up an online presence and network to find even more valuable clients, but these things take time. My goal was to maximize the time and resources I could spend working on my own projects and for that, this approached was more than good enough.
A nice side effect of freelancing is that you get first-hand experience selling to other humans which is a great skill for any indiehacker to have.