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How to start freelancing

How to start freelancing

Dražen Lučanin

February 04, 2020

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  1. How to start
    Dražen Lučanin

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  2. About me
    • Freelancing for the last 5 years

    • https://punkrockdev.com/

    • Web development & data analysis

    • (Co-)organiser of various meetups

    • Freelancing in Vienna

    • Zagreb Freelancers

    • Rijeka Freelancers

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  3. What is freelancing?
    • Freelancer – a person who pursues a
    profession without a long-term
    commitment to any one employer
    • Key aspects:

    • A professional

    • A business

    • Basically, the smallest possible
    company – just the owner

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  4. A professional
    • Has a certain set of skills

    • … that people are willing to pay money for

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  5. Education
    • Formal education

    • Self-taught

    • Lots of my successful colleagues freelancers are self-taught

    • A wealth of resources online

    • Invest in paid courses & books

    • Usually much more affordable than bootcamps and can give
    you good results if you are disciplined

    • Your skills are your craft, you need to keep improving them

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  6. Market research
    • Who would want to hire someone with your skills?

    • Really worth looking into this before you start

    • If you wanted to hire someone with your skills what would your options be?

    • Where would you look? Send some inquiries

    • What if you were looking from somewhere else in Europe / US / elsewhere?

    • Maybe slightly pivoting from your core comfort zone can make you more attractive to
    potential customers

    • Is there a certain niche you can fill

    • e.g. I specialise in developing applications with data analytics
    • Maybe a food photographer is more sought-after than a wedding photographer?

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  7. A business
    • Legal entity

    • Provides services at a certain price

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  8. Legal entity
    • For smaller amounts and to test the water you could probably just take the money or
    delay issuing an invoice

    • Autorski ugovor

    • No risk to get started with

    • More serious towards your customers

    • ~40% taxes & social insurance and not meant for the long run

    • Some professions (e.g. chamber of graphic designers) can get reduced fees

    • Paušalni obrt

    • < €40k annually ~15% taxes & social insurance

    • Great option to get started! One of the best in the EU

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  9. Setting the price
    • Talk to your peers

    • Search around the web

    • e.g. https://n26.com/en-eu/blog/how-much-do-freelancers-make

    • Search for salaries

    • Usually more data

    • Some countries (e.g. Austria) publish legal minimum salaries (Kollektivvertrag)

    • Don’t be afraid to have higher rates than “what is expected”

    • Don’t forget to convert to gross amounts, as taxes are calculated differently

    • Freelancer bills ~1000 h vs. an employee ~2000 h / year

    • Time spent on other activities, no sick leave, …

    • Gradual increase

    • Bump the rate every time you have a new lead

    • Only when you get 3 rejections go back to the previous amount

    • Value-based pricing

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  10. Is that enough?
    • Well, not really…

    • There are certain other skills & activities one needs to be
    successful at freelancing as well

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  11. Accounting
    • Find a good accountant

    • Not strictly needed (for e.g. an obrt)

    • Can be very helpful – especially in the beginning

    • Separate business bank account!

    • My accounting template (for Austria)

    • https://punkrockdev.com/accounting-austria

    • Try to get accounting and administration out of the way!

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  12. Sales
    • Marketing – how to promote our services?

    • Negotiation – what if the customer’s expectation don’t
    match up with our wishes?

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  13. Marketing
    • Start building a brand

    • Your reputation is everything

    • Personal connections

    • Try to be good to everyone you encounter, don’t burn bridges

    • Personal referrals are by far the best marketing technique

    • In-person events are the best way of making personal connections

    • Conferences

    • Meetups

    • Invest in attending events abroad. You can combine a professional trip with a
    vacation plan.

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  14. Negotiation
    • We don’t always get what we want

    • Compromise, but don’t go below your minimum

    • Have a safety buffer

    • “No, thanks” money – the option to walk away

    • Learn about anchoring & other negotiation techniques

    • https://haseebq.com/my-ten-rules-for-negotiating-a-

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  15. Project management
    • All about the process

    • The customer doesn’t necessarily know what to do

    • The freelancer’s job to educate the customer if necessary

    • Look at what some larger agencies have online

    • e.g. for software development
    • https://thoughtbot.com/playbook

    • Sometimes can be adapted to suit you

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  16. Disputes
    • They can come up

    • If you’re unlucky, already while you’re not experienced

    • Consult professional legal advisors if necessary

    • For smaller amounts maybe the distraction is not worth it

    • Retrospective analysis – tweak your process

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  17. Communication
    • Over-communicate

    • Have empathy

    • Invest in language skills

    • Immerse yourself in professional communication

    • Podcasts

    • Audio books

    • Read books

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  18. Growth
    • If business is going well, it can usually go even better

    • However:

    • Be careful that you don’t try to scale too quickly

    • Things can take a downwards turn as well

    • Remember to keep that savings buffer

    • Keep your life expenses as low as you can

    • Investing in your own knowledge always a good idea

    • Sub-contracting

    • Delegate work to freelancers better than you at certain things

    • In the future people might return the favour

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  19. So how to start?
    • Build up a savings buffer

    • Set yourself some tangible goals

    • Have a plan B

    • E.g. I had 3 monthly salaries saved, gave myself 2 months
    to find a customer and left the last month as backup to
    find a “normal job” if necessary.

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  20. Minimising risk
    • Apply for grants

    • http://mjere.hr/

    • National and local city grants can be obtained

    • EU funds

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  21. Is it really so
    • No

    • It looks harder than it is

    • Once you split things into tasks, they are manageable

    • Surprising how much you can do in 8 h when you don’t
    have a boss and you focus on individual tasks

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  22. Work-life balance?
    • Challenging, but can be achieved

    • Important to set boundaries with your customers

    • Over-communicate!

    • Set deadlines and be transparent if you bump into obstacles

    • No radio silence!

    • Helps to have a different work space

    • A library?

    • A coworking space?

    • RiHub – https://rijeka2020.eu/projekti/rihub/

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  23. Support
    • Look for community help

    • Freelancers Croatia

    • https://www.facebook.com/groups/freelancers.croatia/

    • Rijeka Freelancers

    • http://bit.ly/rijekafreelancers

    • Look for education and professional guidance

    • http://www.porin.hr/ in Rijeka

    • https://plaviured.hr/ in Zagreb

    • Maybe someone here has other suggestions?

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  24. Thanks!
    Dražen Lučanin


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