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My first year of freelancing

ivansmokrovic profile image Ivan Smokrović ・3 min read

Although I started working independently at the end of November 2019, 2020 marked my first freelancing year. A year we will all remember.
It took me almost a month to look back at last year's events and write this post with a positive attitude. Now I want to look back at the things I've accomplished and the things I've learned looking through UI freelance developers' perspective.


In my first year, I used many graphic tools such as Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and Zeplin, but of all the tools, Figma is my favorite. That is because it has a straightforward user interface, has the ability to collaborate with other designers, can make prototypes, and now and then throw out some new plugin that works well for me. I mostly used it to create logos, icons, and graphic elements to achieve visual elements on the web. It generates an excellent SVG code that, in most cases, does not need to be further modified. When required, I used a super SVG generation tool called SVGOMG.
2020 was the year when I met for the first time in my life making 2d and 3d animation. Although most people use Adobe Aftereffect, I opted for a simpler variant by trying Haiku Animator. I find it a great tool, especially for me as a beginner who encountered animation design for the first time. The thing that attracted me to it is that it can export in .json format which can later be used in Lottie. For the 3d animation, I used Spline, a phenomenal tool that resembles Figma a lot with its user interface and functions. The great thing about this program is that it can export web code that can be easily implemented in HTML .
You will soon be able to see the animation works on my redesigned portfolio web.
Ivan Smokrovic Figma dashboard


Last year, I did mostly static pages that I would revive via Netlify. Although I save most of my work on Github and for some it would be logical to use Github pages for that, I opted for Netlify. There are many reasons for this, such as custom domains with HTTPS, deploy previews, prerendering, and others. But that is a completely different topic now. If you want to see all the differences, you can do it here.
I did a few more projects on WordPress. Although I think it is losing popularity, I believe it is necessary to have a basic knowledge. I used the Local by Flywheel tool to start WP. It saves a lot of time when setting up the database, and it also has a live preview link. I mostly worked on maintaining or redesigning existing custom WP themes. It prompted me to learn how to make my own WP theme. I chose the Underscore base theme for the initial one, which I later elaborated into a fully customized theme.
In addition to all of the above, I have enhanced experiences in technologies I knew before. I switched from CSS to SCSS, learned the BEM writing method, improved my Javascript knowledge, and started learning the Greensock GSAP animation tool. Oh, that was a gamechanger! I didn't know until then that elements within a website could be animated with such ease.


As a self-employed developer, I had a chance to meet and work aside with some of the most talented people across the globe.
My clients were mostly startups or small and mid-sized companies, where I was being challenged to do the right tasks for the right people.
Most of the work I did came through the Upwork platform. Within half a year of creating the profile, I got a rising talent badge. My job success score is still 100%, and I am now in the program to become a "top-rated" freelancer.
Ivan Smokrovic Upwork success


Given that this is my first freelance year and that the Covid pandemic has hit the economy, I am pleased to have pushed through the year. I still have a lot to learn. I hope that I will succeed in becoming a web developer. I hope this year will lead to more successful engagements, happy clients, and awesome projects.

If you have a similar beginner's story or you have decided to take a completely different path than me, I would like to hear it. Feel free to reach me.

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