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To Dance the Dance of Freelance : Comments

By Matthew D. Jordan

March 27, 2007

Comments

.carsten

March 27, 2007 2:51 AM

You tell exactly how it is. The funny thing is that the expereience you make as a freelancer seems to be nearly the same all over the world – the missing inside-man, three-weeks-projects that end after one year, etc. I made the same way through my life as a freelancer – but I try to spend some more time in coffee-shops to relax and to get closer to the cliche ;-)

justin

March 27, 2007 5:27 AM

Aint it the truth.

Though probably the worst thing about our job is that most clients only have their own estimation of the worth of our product, and their own ideas about webdesign/layout (cf. The Village Stew article). Nossa.

One guy that I didn’t end up taking on said this in regards to Flash sites:
“The last company I worked at had one of those sites… they’re the future – not like these static pages and all that.” This coming from the guy who wanted an online school system – full of content – and was ohh so tight on the pursestrings.

Eric

March 27, 2007 9:26 AM

My biggest challenge is admitting that I don’t know everything and can’t master all the technologies, and therefore I need to say “no” to some projects, simply because I’m not the best person to get them done.

I’ll respond to client emails after 5pm — but I may also go for a 2 hour bike ride in the middle of the afternoon if the weather is nice.

The best advice a freelancer can take to heart is to always deliver what you said you’d deliver, when you said you’d deliver it. Reliability and professionalism are absolutely essential. And a large part of my business comes from my competitors who failed to deliver in those areas.

danno

March 27, 2007 9:36 AM

I’m actually on the other end of this, although I haven’t thrown out the idea of contract work altogether; I just don’t think I’m ready to handle all of the responsibilities involved with project management, scope creep, and difficult customers yet. I decided after college to get into freelance for basically the reasons you all have listed, but started to feel like I needed the structure of a routine, steady work, and for gods sakes a steady income.

If I get into it again, it will be after a few years in the field, and will probably be with somebody else who knows how to handle the business management aspect of it. That, and I’m getting an office so I’m not doing my projects in my apartment of all places (it really starts to feel like homework!)

Deborah

March 27, 2007 11:45 AM

One of the best decisions I made about freelancing was to keep regular business hours, no more 11PM emails. I actually learned it from a client who reminded me there is such a thing as my own personal life. Having regular hours keeps me more focused on the work.

PK

March 27, 2007 11:46 AM

Hey great article. I’m slowly starting to creep into the freelance realm but I too am keeping one foot on my desk. I haven’t had an “agency” job like you described so my structured work has been fairly pleasant. But as I try an sneak into a coffee shop to hang with the freelance gurus now and again I’ll keep you tips in mind!

Matthew D. Jordan

March 27, 2007 4:19 PM

I actually have to force myself to use my wife’s computer to look up anything online after 5pm, since I’ve forbidden myself to go back into my office after quittin’ time. The temptation to get a head start on your next day is difficult to overcome – but I

kris

March 27, 2007 7:21 PM

It sounds like you had a bad experience with the agencies you worked for. I have the opposite problem. I’m been thinking about going freelance, but I like my job too much.
Tell me, what’s your experience with temping when you can’t find any clients? How much time do you spend promoting yourself vs doing client work?

Harmen Janssen

March 28, 2007 1:09 AM

I actually laughed out loud reading this article.
It’s 10pm here, and this article was a great way to wake up and sip my coffee with.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, I must say lots of them are very unrecognizable to me (I’m freelancing for about 3/4 of a year now).

Bobby

March 28, 2007 4:23 AM

Very entertaining and informative article. I have been doing web development for roughly 9 years now in a 9-5 job and “side projects” prety much the whole time. I have been considering going completely freelance but the pay/insurance scenario has kept me at my regular desk. The part I still have the most toruble with is trying to visualise what it is the client has pictured in their mind without me building 18 mockups of the “look” of the site. Any suggestions? Also, how do you guys normally bill? By the hour or project? I have one client who loves hourly billing. She says you work for me for 2 hours I want to pay 2 hours. I have other clients who like to pay by project so if I spend 4 hours in photoshop they are only paying me for the 2 hours I estimated.

If I did go completely freelance I think I would have to do a 9-5 scenario still. Other than that, staying up all night and sleeping during the day would probably lead to me looking like a vampire from “The Lost Boys”.

Matthew D. Jordan

March 28, 2007 7:36 AM

@ kris

I haven

PK

March 28, 2007 8:02 AM

Thats a good point there Matthew and one I think I struggle with. I’ve been in the rank and file for so long that I find it difficult to be so firm in these matters. I often end up doing revision after revision after revision despite the client having approved the mockups which they’re now deviating from. I’m learning though – I have a new client meeting coming up and I’m prepared to set the boundaries.

Bobby

March 28, 2007 8:36 AM

I have on 2 occasions been in a “software vietnam”. The scope of work is going to have to be something I do from now on to avoid that problem again. Thanks for the response.

Carl Schuetz

March 28, 2007 2:34 PM

Very nicely written. Thanks for sharing.

Luis Nunes

March 28, 2007 3:46 PM

For me as an aspirant designer who prefers to work at home with all the quiet and mood I set up rather then any other place this made me see how freelance working ‘works’, very nice read.. thank you and congratulations.

Mz. Phaze

March 29, 2007 11:44 AM

Great story Matthew. Great comments to all of you. I am currently in a similar situation. I’ve been working for a company for 5 years (8 years of web design experience) and they do not have a clue about web design and development. Even though budget is available for upgrades, they tend to listen to suits instead of the person who is more knowledgeable about the field. One day I was sipping coffee at my desk (3 years ago) when it all hit me…I need to start back freelancing on the side. I’ve received more joy in working with my clients then working with backstabbing, try to steal your thunder, office politician suits. So everyone…I’ve saved money on the side, have clients lined up, and is ready to make my full time, free to be creative, freelance business, and to become the head person in charge. I know..I know..freedom isn’t free but I control MY DESTINY. I just can’t see me going through another review with my boss who says that I am doing an outstanding job but the company’s budget won’t allow to pay for a raise. So many times I’ve been bruised only to get a atta’ girl, a bandage and a foot to my back side as I fly out the door. I get to choose my projects not someone who wants you to design a html form for the company golf tournament. (Sad isn’t it) But projects you can flex your web design/development muscles. I am ready…SOOOOO ready to hand in my letter and say asta la vista baby!

Matthew D. Jordan

March 29, 2007 9:00 PM

@ Mz. Phaze

Free thyself. Sound the trumpet and toss down your gauntlet – a time of reckoning has arrived. Unfurl the banners on which your freelance moniker has been scrawled and watch as the suits grimace in pain under it

Paul Montwill

March 30, 2007 3:53 AM

Hi Matt! Great article. What I like the most is your sense of humor – fantastic background for the ideas you want to express and experience you share.

This thing was great “

Andy Ford

March 30, 2007 9:19 AM

I’ve just discovered Matthew’s podcast and I love it. The most recent podcast “The Freelancer Employee Handbook“ is a perfect (and hilarious) companion to this article.

Keep up the great work, Matthew!

syn

March 30, 2007 12:55 PM

I have on 2 occasions been in a “software vietnam”. The scope of work is going to have to be something I do from now on to avoid that problem again. Thanks for the response.

danno

March 30, 2007 6:28 PM

On the topic of scope creep, how many of you actually listened to your professors in college when they warned you about it?

Coming from somebody who had to move back to their parents house because of a project that almost failed, it’s always great to see that familiar look on other people’s faces when I talk about what I’ve been through (it actually was one of my biggest selling points in a job interview recently).

In regards to said project, the customers requested a conference call a month after our “launch date” which took us three weeks to get together. In said conference call, I got in a scuffle with the one customer who ignored all of my “what do you think of the database???” emails.

Pay your dues, man. The line of work really is worth it once you understand what you’re dealing with.

David McDonald

April 1, 2007 2:44 AM

Great article and comments.

I am now working full time freelance, as a web designer, and I am enjoying it immensely. It is very liberating to be able to decide how and when you will work that day, and also be able to spend time with your family as needed. Having said that, freelancing also brings many new responsibilities and requires a lot of self discipline.

I agree that making the move gradually to full time freelancing certainly eases the pressure of the transition. Other tips I have found valuable include: having a good billing system, having a good project management system, in depth knowledge of web marketing and attention to detail. Learning to delegate certain tasks that are out of your skill set to others also frees you up to focus on what you do best.

Respiro, the logo design guy

April 2, 2007 1:00 PM

Freelancing means freedom.

After several years of working as a freelancer, this year I started my company. At this point I think as a freelancer and I act like a CEO.

I feel free and I wish to keep this feeling… :)

Best wishes,
Respiro

Erwin Heiser

April 3, 2007 5:57 AM

Very true and very funny article. Really enjoyed it!

Anand Chandrasekaran

April 4, 2007 9:45 AM

The key to this game is client management and delegation. Bottom line!!

aniaf

April 10, 2007 12:56 PM

Hi. I am starting out as a freelancer and am currently working with 1 design agency as their back-up freelance designer. I want to get REAL clients. Should I do cold calling or send out emails to companies that don’t have a “pretty and functional” web presence?

Rob

April 16, 2007 8:31 PM

Hi everybody, do you think that i have to get a normal job before become a freelancer? I just graduated from university and i always wanted to be my own boss to “feel that freedom”, but i think i dont have the experience, i don

danno

May 4, 2007 8:25 AM

aniaf- I would suggest just doing some basic easy sites for free. Nonprofit groups are an easy target for this. Once you have a couple of good ones to put in your portfolio you can start generating some word of mouth and the people will come to you.

Rob – It depends on the size of your projects. If you want to do extensive database stuff, I would suggest at least 3 years in the field just to be sure you don’t get your own ass handed to you. Easy frontend projects on the other hand are more feasible for just about anybody.

Bryan - your web design partner

May 17, 2007 1:20 AM

I’m a freelancer who’s always been dreaming of putting up my own web/design company someday. This article is very inspiring, thanks Matt…

Bryan

Digital Street

June 14, 2007 6:28 AM

This article has been usefull for me since I’m going to do the big move soon.

TBD

July 9, 2007 1:08 AM

Inspiring article, yes.
I’m part time freelance now.

Lee Wong Seoul

July 21, 2007 9:14 PM

As an employer, I prefer to work with full time employees.
On employee perspective you may be right..

Thanks

zephyr

August 14, 2007 7:49 PM

You, sir, are one hilarious writer.

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