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How to start freelancing

How to start freelancing

Dražen Lučanin

February 04, 2020

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. A professional • Has a certain set of skills •

    … that people are willing to pay money for
  4. 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
  5. 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?
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Is that enough? • Well, not really… • There are

    certain other skills & activities one needs to be successful at freelancing as well
  9. 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!
  10. Sales • Marketing – how to promote our services? •

    Negotiation – what if the customer’s expectation don’t match up with our wishes?
  11. 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.
  12. 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- job-offer/
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. Communication • Over-communicate • Have empathy • Invest in language

    skills • Immerse yourself in professional communication • Podcasts • Audio books • Read books
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. Minimising risk • Apply for grants • http://mjere.hr/ • National

    and local city grants can be obtained • EU funds
  19. Is it really so overwhelming? • 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
  20. 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/
  21. 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?