You’re sick of commuting into work everyday, spending copious amounts of time in uneventful meetings, only to finally have some spare time outside of meaningless social interactions to do real work. Pleh.
You wonder how can you better do your job, without all the extra stuff. Contracting, working from home, freelancing; these are terms that come to mind when we imagine detaching ourselves from our office space, continuing our work, on our own terms.
Contracting kills your career! You will live a life of uncertainty and instability! You won’t have any benefits! These are things often mentioned to individuals toying with the idea of contracting. However, a good contractor knows that if they are determined and skilled at their craft, they can overcome all aforementioned adversity.
As a software engineer with plenty of contracting experience, I can definitively say the hardest part is managing business relations, and self marketing.
Business relations are the embodiment of anything and everything a creative minded individual does not want to do. This includes negotiations, meetings, contract and invoice creation, privacy agreements, NDA’s, and everything precluding creation.
Self-marketing is the constant pressure and burden of selling yourself to potential clients. Anyone who has contracted in the past knows how much of a chore this can be, especially if the duration of the potential contract is minimal.
Current platforms that are popular in the software contracting space include Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, and Elance. The problem with these services are that the barrier for entry is so low that all it takes is filling out a profile form to get in. Lower wages are a result of direct competition between developers constantly undercutting one another, fuelled by low tier clientele that cannot discern between a skillful developer and not.
The reputation of these platforms rapidly diminish as clients are left unsatisfied with their project results, dilapidating the contracting reputation.
Services such as Toptal, and Gigster were created to remove the disdain of contracting, and instead empower truly skilled engineers to work remotely. This was accomplished through an intense vetting process comparable to standard interviews provided by the likes of Google. All things considered, these platforms are wonderful … if you can get in 😉. These services advocate a top 3% developer acceptance rate, which instils confidence in affording clients, however, greatly increases the bar of entry for prospective talent.
So what’s the solution? How can you confidently contract remotely without all the fear? Although there is no silver bullet solution, you can greatly reduce risk by simply applying to every platform, giving yourself a fully fledged pipeline of opportunity. Although it might seem obvious, most people aren’t aware of all the types of contracting platforms out there. Heck, I only learned last week that Reddit’s r/forhire was a 91k rich forum of active freelancers and clients.
The bottom line is that no matter how big or small the platform or service, apply! Your contracting potential can only be more fruitful as you entertain potential avenues.
This topic came to me after I started hackerhitch and as I was interviewing potential freelancers, the most pivotal consideration for them to continue the interview was based on the number of clients I had. Although I understood the concern of wasting time on something seemingly inconsequential, I sensed a widespread disconnect behind freelance expectation and reality. We would all love to invest in the one magical solution to take us from rags to riches, but reality and empiricism suggests that diversification leads to a more fruitful and stress relieving future.