Author Topic: Freelancing  (Read 11326 times)

mobilisinmobili

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Freelancing
« on: March 04, 2013, 12:22:38 PM »
Just wondering on how mustachians began their freelancing / side business careers. I'm looking for information on making some spare cash on the side, wondering what people's strategies have been.

Arbor33

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 12:38:19 PM »
I'm a full time programmer/analyst but on the side I am a landlord, an energy consultant, and I run a candy route (candy boxes and dispensers in other peoples businesses).

It was a goal of mine to have rentals since I was in middle school. Once I graduated, I found a job and saved up. Not much to say there.

I do the energy gig on the side and it takes almost no time out of my day. I just followed my parents into that business venture. It's MLM which some people find fault with but I quite like it. It gives me a 1099 at the end of the year and the write offs are nice. I plan on retiring and keeping this as my primary income stream.

With a friend of mine, I invested in a candy route. We bought it from a lady he knew and are managing it together. We make runs about once a month to restock our locations and collect the money. Each spot generates money without much work on my end but they don't make me a killing on their own. Having multiple stops is the only way to make candy a worthwhile investment.

What are you hoping to do on the side?

Khao

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 12:45:10 PM »
I'm a software developer and I did some freelancing on and off in the last two years (as a side gig, not full-time). All the work I've had have been through people I know. One of my friend is in university right now and does a lot of freelancing and when he has too much work he sometimes ships me his clients to handle the extra work. A year and a half ago I worked on a really shitty project with a terrible client, and when I was finished with it I told myself I was done with freelancing so I stopped for a little over a year.

A couple months ago, another friend approached me for some work and I agreed for a couple reasons : The client isn't as stupid, the project is more interesting and the pay is better.

Now whenever I've got some free time and I want to work on something cool, I gladly do it and get a nice extra $40/hr to put in my stash.

Another Montreal mustachian woot ;)

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 01:19:22 PM »

What are you hoping to do on the side?

Great question.

Ideally something that allows a degree of location independence.. so nothing that would lock me to a specific location. Editing, writing, translating, computer work, I've thought about doing remote computer classes for people 50 and up to give them some basic skills on talking to their grandkids,etc.

On a more overarching career base I still need to figure things out, but I would like to give talks / consults on communication, influence and body language, which is a little out of left field, but definitely something that interests me.

Arbor33

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 01:30:04 PM »
...I've thought about doing remote computer classes for people 50 and up to give them some basic skills on talking to their grandkids,etc.

That could be a decent gig. Have you spoken with any colleges about maybe doing so through them? A community college near me always has a wide array of classes they offer to the locals. Anywhere from ballroom dancing to computer things similar to what you've mentioned. The office within the college is called CCED (Corporate and Community Education). They send out a brochure during the college off season and people pick from their assortment of classes. People within the community teach and set their own rates and the college offers the buildings/infrastructure (probably for a cut of the dough).

I'm sure other institutions have similar programs in place. Might be worth investigating.

the fixer

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 02:36:05 PM »
I've thought about doing remote computer classes for people 50 and up to give them some basic skills on talking to their grandkids,etc.

Not really the point, but this jumped out at me: how are 50-somethings who lack basic computer skills supposed to take an online remote course?

I do some freelancing for software development and other computer stuff, so far all past employers or personal referrals. I was doing it as my main profession for almost a year in 2012, but I scaled it back when I decided I wanted to get out of one large project, so I picked up a full-time job again. The hardest part to me is finding work in a field that seems to prefer FTEs. I absolutely sucked at it last year but I hope to get better.

Rule #1 with any business: don't spend more than you're bringing in. If you don't have any big, regular clients (easy ones like former employers don't count here), don't order a bunch of business cards, stationery, pens, etc. These items are part of a marketing budget, and if you have no revenue your marketing budget is ZERO. Work within that to do your marketing.

It may sound scary, but if you want to get into this the best way I've found is to just jump in the deep end by getting rid of the full-time job. Make sure you have a good chunk of savings so you can get by for a year or so if need be. Find an easy 1-2 day per week part time job to provide at least some income (I think it's best if this job doesn't involve a computer, it's a chance to recharge). Then set a goal for how much money you want to bring in each month, and spend all your extra time that you'd otherwise spend working figuring out how you're going to make that money.

If you don't have enough work, this is a mini-EMERGENCY, and you need to spend more than the shortfall of your time on:
  • Tactical: networking. Meetup, LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, blogging, etc. Don't underestimate the value of networking through non-job-related activities like intramural sports and your neighborhood. The MMM forum may also be a good place to look for subcontract work.
  • Tactical: learning new skills. In my case, new programming languages that I could use to get new work.
  • Strategic: expanding the search into new areas. Last year I landed a contract doing management of an ad server, something I'd had only a smidgeon of experience doing before (but of a VERY specific nature that few others have). If I expand my skills in this and started pitching them, I could leverage the existing client to get more work!
The easiest jobs to find were people with a "great idea" for a website/business who want your help setting it up. I've avoided those because they seem too risky; these people usually can't pay you directly, and may instead give you part ownership of the company. If you already have a couple clients and your expenses are reliably covered by your existing work, any speculative work like this can be a great idea if you're comfortable with the risk you're taking. Otherwise, pass.

If you're going to be doing most of your work from home, make sure you have a good work-from-home setup to limit distractions during the day. A dedicated home office would be ideal for me, but mainly this is a matter of knowing what you need personally to stay on task.

Following all of the above, I found it pretty stressful to build up my business and get going. I'm curious how more experienced freelancers coped with all this.

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2013, 02:44:34 PM »
I've thought about doing remote computer classes for people 50 and up to give them some basic skills on talking to their grandkids,etc.

Not really the point, but this jumped out at me: how are 50-somethings who lack basic computer skills supposed to take an online remote course?

Remote access programs so I can take control of the computer and video chat. This is partially as a few people I know who might be interested live on the West Coast, I'm in the east.

The computer course idea isn't so bad either, but I need it to be flexible as my work hours are continually shifting so at the moment it needs to be something with the flexibility to work around that.

Great feedback so far guys, thanks, really appreciate it.

sheepstache

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 03:41:42 PM »
My sidehustle is very location-specific and not my own business, so my experience probably wouldn't be relevant to you, but I would say a general thing is to let people know you're looking for opportunities!  It can feel scary to expose yourself as someone who's looking for work, but that is what you have to do.  Otherwise, everyone assumes that everyone else is happy in their 9-5.

And likewise, don't be afraid to ask other people if they're looking for work or might be looking to collaborate.

Freedom2016

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2013, 05:38:29 PM »

What are you hoping to do on the side?

Great question.

Ideally something that allows a degree of location independence.. so nothing that would lock me to a specific location. Editing, writing, translating, computer work, I've thought about doing remote computer classes for people 50 and up to give them some basic skills on talking to their grandkids,etc.

On a more overarching career base I still need to figure things out, but I would like to give talks / consults on communication, influence and body language, which is a little out of left field, but definitely something that interests me.

I'm a negotiation/conflict management/communication consultant and I got my start in this field by doing a lot of volunteer/unpaid work on the side. It's now my main gig and I consult to companies big and small, in the private, public, and international organization sectors. I had to build my knowledge base, teaching chops, classroom experience, and credibility by finding ways to be in the classroom learning from very experienced practitioners. (So figuring out how to do that is really step one.) If you want to be in the communication/influence field, do you imagine being a subcontractor to organizations who do this for clients, or do you imagine hanging your shingle out independently and building business on your own? Either way you'll need to think about what makes you an expert in these topics, worth hiring by either an organization or directly by a client. What kind of clients do you want to do this work for?

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2013, 01:27:55 AM »

It may sound scary, but if you want to get into this the best way I've found is to just jump in the deep end by getting rid of the full-time job. Make sure you have a good chunk of savings so you can get by for a year or so if need be. Find an easy 1-2 day per week part time job to provide at least some income (I think it's best if this job doesn't involve a computer, it's a chance to recharge). Then set a goal for how much money you want to bring in each month, and spend all your extra time that you'd otherwise spend working figuring out how you're going to make that money.

I totally agree with this. I tried to part-time freelance for a while but was not getting much work or many offers  and when I did I often couldn't take it and then those people didn't come back to me. If I did take it doing it round my full-time internship was stressful.
I was fortunate enough to be able to move home whilst I started and I set myself a starting date for full-time freelancing, like you would with any other job. I decided from that day on I would work 9-5 at my freelancing, be that researching my profession, marketing myself, networking, learning about self-employment or doing paid work.
I found a mentor which was a brilliant system for me. She provided work, feedback and general guidance for slightly lower than usual pay. The pay-off worked for me.
I moved into my own place after a few months of freelancing but had enough savings for over a year's expenses and chose somewhere with bills included so I had a fixed amount to pay each month which helped me feel calmer.
Good luck!

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2013, 02:10:04 PM »

I'm a negotiation/conflict management/communication consultant and I got my start in this field by doing a lot of volunteer/unpaid work on the side. It's now my main gig and I consult to companies big and small, in the private, public, and international organization sectors. I had to build my knowledge base, teaching chops, classroom experience, and credibility by finding ways to be in the classroom learning from very experienced practitioners. (So figuring out how to do that is really step one.) If you want to be in the communication/influence field, do you imagine being a subcontractor to organizations who do this for clients, or do you imagine hanging your shingle out independently and building business on your own? Either way you'll need to think about what makes you an expert in these topics, worth hiring by either an organization or directly by a client. What kind of clients do you want to do this work for?

These are some great questions, I'll have to think them over a bit.

The other comment about letting people know you're looking for something is totally obvious and something I didn't even think of, so thank you for mentioning that, I'll be applying it.

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2013, 07:00:51 PM »
Some of the things mentioned above are more long-term planning, but ideas for side freelancing at the moment, I'm open to ideas doing that as well.

webguy

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2013, 10:16:58 PM »
I'm not sure what your skillset is but web design/development is a great field for freelancing in. So many great (free) resources for learning everything from the basics to advanced skills online. Everything I've learned is self learned from online resources or library books.  I currently work as a fulltime web designer/developer but as a freelancer I can charge $75-95 per hour which is pretty sweet.  Obviously if you don't have the skillset already then there's some time investment up front to learn some things (I'd be happy to provide you some links to some great resources) but in my opinion it's a great field for a mustachian due to the ability to work from home with flexible hours and at low cost.

I usually freelance for about 10-12 hours a week for 5-6 months of the year (during our long winter here in minnesota) and will probably bank about 25k or so before taxes.  It's also great as I can put almost all of that into a solo 401k and SEP IRA which helps with taxes.

In regards to how I got started, I just started small with friends and family and gradually started taking on bigger and bigger projects. I don't have to market myself anymore I just get several freelance requests per week from which I choose the projects I'd like to work on.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 07:53:02 AM by webguy »

savingtofreedom

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2013, 10:33:23 PM »
Webguy,

I would be interested in those links you mentioned in your post. I have some background creating a wordpress site for an interior designer and I customized my own php website for an online jewelry website some time ago but it may be worth getting back into it as a side gig. 

Any info would be helpful. 

Thanks!

KimPossible

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2013, 02:09:56 PM »
Webguy,

I'd love to see the resources, too.

Thanks!

igthebold

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2013, 02:24:25 PM »
I love http://teamtreehouse.com. Ryan Carson, their CEO, has been interviewed on MMM's blog.

Disclosure: I have been a customer of theirs, but am not one now. I know two of the devs that work there, so I might be a tad biased. 30 day money back guarantee, so it's worth a shot, anyway. :)

webguy

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2013, 08:03:01 PM »
Sure, here's a few I just put together real quick:

Learn the basics:
HTML & CSS: http://learncss.tutsplus.com/, http://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/58-html-css-the-very-basics/,
JavaScript & jQuery: http://jqfundamentals.com/chapter/javascript-basics, https://tutsplus.com/course/30-days-to-learn-jquery/
WordPress Development: http://wp.tutsplus.com/tutorials/wordpress-theme-development-training-wheels-day-one/

Videos libraries to learn a range of web developement topics:
http://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/page/6/
http://www.codecademy.com
http://net.tutsplus.com/tag/videos/

Paid resources:
http://www.lynda.com/ - $25/month - huge library
Treehouse - $25/month - more up to date than Lynda but smaller library at the moment

Books:
WordPress: http://digwp.com/ - Best WordPress book I've ever read. Starts off at the basic and goes through to advanced development.  $27 for a pdf which includes free updates for life for every major WordPress version update.
CSS: http://www.amazon.com/CSS-Missing-David-Sawyer-McFarland/dp/0596802447
jQuery: http://www.amazon.com/JavaScript-jQuery-David-Sawyer-McFarland/dp/1449399029

If you need help along the way then use forums such as http://css-tricks.com/forums/ for questions/guidance.

I've found that WordPress is pretty hot right now as so many people/companies want to be able to manage their own website content.

Here's a link to a great free code editor: http://www.sublimetext.com/2
Or something more advanced/comprehensive: http://www.jetbrains.com/phpstorm/

Hope those links help. There are plenty more free resources out there but I think these are a good starting point.

savingtofreedom

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #17 on: March 07, 2013, 09:34:15 PM »
webguy - thanks for this great list - I really appreciate you listing out all this information.

How complex are the websites that you typically build?    I was chatting with my mom about this - she used to be in charge of Internet Development for a major Hotel company and was saying how difficult it was to be in the web design/developer space. 

I was hoping that there was a middle ground - especially with Wordpress.  I need to brush up on my HTML and CSS coding and  learn JQuery.  I am an analyst and have been getting back into SQL coding for some of my work so I think with practice I could pick some of this up. 

When I think about my retired life this may be a good side gig if I need cash or a way to barter with folks for services.

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2013, 10:53:07 AM »
Sure, here's a few I just put together real quick:

Learn the basics:
HTML & CSS: http://learncss.tutsplus.com/, http://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/58-html-css-the-very-basics/,
JavaScript & jQuery: http://jqfundamentals.com/chapter/javascript-basics, https://tutsplus.com/course/30-days-to-learn-jquery/
WordPress Development: http://wp.tutsplus.com/tutorials/wordpress-theme-development-training-wheels-day-one/

Videos libraries to learn a range of web developement topics:
http://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/page/6/
http://www.codecademy.com
http://net.tutsplus.com/tag/videos/

Paid resources:
http://www.lynda.com/ - $25/month - huge library
Treehouse - $25/month - more up to date than Lynda but smaller library at the moment

Books:
WordPress: http://digwp.com/ - Best WordPress book I've ever read. Starts off at the basic and goes through to advanced development.  $27 for a pdf which includes free updates for life for every major WordPress version update.
CSS: http://www.amazon.com/CSS-Missing-David-Sawyer-McFarland/dp/0596802447
jQuery: http://www.amazon.com/JavaScript-jQuery-David-Sawyer-McFarland/dp/1449399029

If you need help along the way then use forums such as http://css-tricks.com/forums/ for questions/guidance.

I've found that WordPress is pretty hot right now as so many people/companies want to be able to manage their own website content.

Here's a link to a great free code editor: http://www.sublimetext.com/2
Or something more advanced/comprehensive: http://www.jetbrains.com/phpstorm/

Hope those links help. There are plenty more free resources out there but I think these are a good starting point.

Thanks for this!

I love http://teamtreehouse.com. Ryan Carson, their CEO, has been interviewed on MMM's blog.

Disclosure: I have been a customer of theirs, but am not one now. I know two of the devs that work there, so I might be a tad biased. 30 day money back guarantee, so it's worth a shot, anyway. :)

Yes, this is one avenue I'm wanting to work towards.. planning on signing up soon actually to get some new skills under my belt.

Bakari

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2013, 06:40:25 PM »
Just wondering on how mustachians began their freelancing / side business careers. I'm looking for information on making some spare cash on the side, wondering what people's strategies have been.

6 years, only form of advertising was the craigslist services section.  After about 2 years word of mouth referrals and repeats was enough to keep me as busy as I wanted to be in summer, in winter I put the CL ads back up.  I recently experimented with flyering, but I still get more responses from Craig, which is free.

When I first put up an ad, I was intending it to be a sidegig for a week or two, a couple months at most, until I started my "real" career (which was to be either park ranger, game warden, or marince science with the Coast Guard), but for various reasons none of the career options ended up working out and the "sidegig" became my primary source of income.

The more I think about it the more I think that people working directly for the people who need something done without a "company" or "manager" in between them is a prime solution for the problems of capitalism and towards an actual free market
« Last Edit: March 10, 2013, 06:57:12 PM by Bakari »

mobilisinmobili

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2013, 02:59:10 PM »
Just wondering on how mustachians began their freelancing / side business careers. I'm looking for information on making some spare cash on the side, wondering what people's strategies have been.

6 years, only form of advertising was the craigslist services section.  After about 2 years word of mouth referrals and repeats was enough to keep me as busy as I wanted to be in summer, in winter I put the CL ads back up.  I recently experimented with flyering, but I still get more responses from Craig, which is free.

When I first put up an ad, I was intending it to be a sidegig for a week or two, a couple months at most, until I started my "real" career (which was to be either park ranger, game warden, or marince science with the Coast Guard), but for various reasons none of the career options ended up working out and the "sidegig" became my primary source of income.

The more I think about the more I think that people working directly for the people who need something done without a "company" or "manager" in between them is a prime solution for the problems of capitalism

Great. What kind of gigs do you do via Craigslist?

Bakari

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2013, 07:07:55 PM »
Just wondering on how mustachians began their freelancing / side business careers. I'm looking for information on making some spare cash on the side, wondering what people's strategies have been.

6 years, only form of advertising was the craigslist services section.  After about 2 years word of mouth referrals and repeats was enough to keep me as busy as I wanted to be in summer, in winter I put the CL ads back up.  I recently experimented with flyering, but I still get more responses from Craig, which is free.

When I first put up an ad, I was intending it to be a sidegig for a week or two, a couple months at most, until I started my "real" career (which was to be either park ranger, game warden, or marince science with the Coast Guard), but for various reasons none of the career options ended up working out and the "sidegig" became my primary source of income.

The more I think about the more I think that people working directly for the people who need something done without a "company" or "manager" in between them is a prime solution for the problems of capitalism

Great. What kind of gigs do you do via Craigslist?

http://www.biodieselhauling.org/

kkbmustang

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2013, 10:36:05 PM »
Anyone who is interested in learning about freelance writing needs to check out these two websites:

wellfedwriter.com
makealivingwriting.com

They were/are my go to sites for freelance writing issues. How to start, etc.

webguy

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Re: Freelancing
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2013, 06:06:22 PM »
webguy - thanks for this great list - I really appreciate you listing out all this information.

How complex are the websites that you typically build?    I was chatting with my mom about this - she used to be in charge of Internet Development for a major Hotel company and was saying how difficult it was to be in the web design/developer space. 

I was hoping that there was a middle ground - especially with Wordpress.  I need to brush up on my HTML and CSS coding and  learn JQuery.  I am an analyst and have been getting back into SQL coding for some of my work so I think with practice I could pick some of this up. 

When I think about my retired life this may be a good side gig if I need cash or a way to barter with folks for services.

It really varies.  Typically small-medium sized websites for small companies or sometimes individuals, some which incorporate a CMS some which don't, some which are responsive/mobile optimized, some which incorporate more interactivity than others etc.  The great thing about freelancing though is that you can start out small and work your way up.  The first few sites I built were very simple, just static HTML sites with some design elements and that was it.  I would charge next to nothing, but every project you take on you have a little more experience and so you charge a bit more.  You can't really charge big bucks right off the bat, you have to be willing to put in some time and effort to work your skills up and gain experience.

Your mom might have just had a difficult client, those can certainly make this field difficult at times.  From my experience though it's a great field to be involved in.  There's a lot to learn though and so it's usually best to specialize in one particular area that interests you.