Computer programming is a great career, and with an average salary of around $80,000, it’s a rewarding one too. There are plenty of full-time work opportunities but still, for 35% of the American workforce, the attractions and benefits of working freelance become a reality, either as an add-on to a regular job or as a full-time commitment.
If the title freelance computer programmer sounds appealing to you there are some important things you need to know before you go ahead and make it happen.
Create a proper office space
If you don’t have access to a regular office make one in your home, or build one in the yard. It takes focus and dedication to work as a freelancer, and distractions or a chaotic environment will not let you do your best work.
There’s plenty of work – if you can access it
Providing you have the key skills (Java, SQL, C# knowledge and experience) you shouldn’t be short of work, but finding it needs some planning. If you are leaving a regular job check your contract for rules about poaching current clients for your new venture. It may well be outlawed. Otherwise, be prepared to network, advertise within your budget and work at creating a solid client list.
As a freelancer, you are responsible for organizing new learning opportunities and keeping on top of industry news and developments. Subscribe to some relevant journals and blogs and make a point of reading them regularly.
Don’t isolate yourself
Even if you are not much of a ‘people person’ it can still be quite strange to work alone 100% of the time. Making the effort to maintain contact with other freelancers in some way will be invaluable for you and your business.
Freelancing part time is okay
This is especially if you have financial and personal commitments that make switching directly too risky. Just be careful that you are not breaking any rules with your main job.
Put together a business plan
These are useful for more than just trying to borrow money from a bank – although you may want to do that at some point anyhow. A decent business plan creates goals, focus, and targets, and helps you realize what you want and need from a freelancing business. There are plenty of guides around online to help you do this for no cost.
Promote your expertise in a niche area
If you have specialist experience in a particular area of freelance computer programming it is worth promoting that aspect of your career, even if only to a specific target client. It allows you to charge more, and to get solid contacts for future work as your reputation grows.
Invest in personal branding
These days many people expect to find a business contact has a social media presence, but creating and managing that for your business may not be something you want to do or feel skilled enough to tackle. It is worth employing another freelancer who works in this field to at least do the basics for you.
Working for yourself in any capacity can be very difficult, especially if work is drying up. But if you follow what we’ve talked about today then it should make this bumpy road a little bit smoother.