Freelance development can either be a rewarding and successful career or it can be a prison, where you are both the prisoner and the warden. The ability to do non-development tasks such as selling and collecting payments is obviously crucial, but in order to be successful as a freelancer you must bring a proactive mindset to every aspect of your work.
1. Be proactive
The mindset of a freelance development must be one of proactivity. The benefit of hiring a freelancer is you should be getting someone with breadth or depth of experience that is hard to find elsewhere. This means as a freelancer it is your responsibility to proactively provide your clients with advice and feedback. Even more importantly, it is your responsibility to ensure the client is providing a steady flow of project requirements and other information needed to make you successful. If this flow is blocked, and you are not a position to be successful, you must speak out
2. Be energetic.
Broken down further, the key difference between being a salaried developer and a freelance developer is that a great freelancer must bring proactive energy to the project, and helps push the project through. When they are blocked, they do whatever it takes, even to the extent of being annoying, to get unblocked. This also means owning the entire scope of the project, and even managing resources and processes that are internal to your client.
3. Communicate clearly
The reason for this is because freelancers are hired to fix breakdowns in communications as often as they are hired to do development. In a tight labor market, like the one we are experiencing now, salaried developers can largely shift the responsibility of ensuring they have enough meaningful work to other people such as project managers and business analysts with little repercussions. Additionally, in a salaried role, meddling across roles is a great way to cause conflict because there exists a tension that you are playing politics. However, being a consultant has the perk of being transactional in nature. So you can go the extra mile, and the repercussions are typically low.
Always do more.
As a freelancer you wake up every day essentially unemployed, so you have to go the extra mile. In order for that to happen you must have the skills to get the job done, and provide the energy to push the project you are working on through which allows you to utilize your skills. It is not simply good enough to be ‘great at programming’ as a freelancer if you want to be a great freelancer developer. You must have the willingness and courage to add the extra energy to the project and help push it through. You may occasionally (and even rightfully — no one is perfect) get your hand-slapped, but any place that does appreciate someone trying to push a project along is not a place you want to work. Life is too short, try to work with proactive, passionate people.
Are you a freelancer who is tired of the solo-grind? We were too. Join us at Shrine Development, where developers enjoy the perks of an all-remote team, with the earning potential of a freelancer.