# Thinking about freelancing

So I've been teaching myself how to code for the past year or so and I was thinking about doing freelancing. Since I have no experience is me being a freelancer feasible?

## Answers and Replies

Staff Emeritus
Probably not "I've been teaching myself how to code for the past year" is a long way to from "coding well enough that someone will pay me for it" which is different from "coding well enough to make a living at it".

Your habit of asking the same questions over and over again (which people can see from the "show threads" on your profile page) will not serve you well in freelancing. If I hired someone who asked me what the output file format is once, I'd be glad he was paying attention. If he had to ask me twice, I probably would hire someone else next time. If he asked me three times, I'd probably hire someone else immediately.

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CalcNerd and russ_watters
hutchphd
Homework Helper
It is quite clear to me that this is a very bad idea for you. Have you heard the descriptive term self-starter? Some folks prefer more structure, and I think you are in the second category.

CalcNerd, Vanadium 50 and russ_watters
Probably not "I've been teaching myself how to code for the past year" is a long way to from "coding well enough that someone will pay me for it" which is different from "coding well enough to make a living at it".

Your habit of asking the same questions over and over again (which people can see from the "show threads" on your profile page) will not serve you well in freelancing. If I hires someone who asked me what the output file format is once, I'd be glad he was paying attention. If he had to ask me twice, I probably would hire someone else next time. If he asked me three times, I'd probably hire someone else immediately.
I don't see where in my previous posts where I asked anything about freelancing before, but I was just asking since I figured its been almost 2 years now since I've been learning how to code, but sorry for asking?

Staff Emeritus
I don't see where in my previous posts where I asked anything about freelancing before

Your thread of January 10th titled "Is freelancing a good option?" perhaps?

So I've been teaching myself how to code for the past year or so
since I figured its been almost 2 years now since I've been learning how to code

Which is it? And if it's two, and you're upset that we think it's one, why did you tell us it was one?

I get it! You didn't really want an answer. You wanted us to tell you "yes"?. Why didn't you say so in the first place?

PeroK
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2020 Award
So I've been teaching myself how to code for the past year or so and I was thinking about doing freelancing. Since I have no experience is me being a freelancer feasible?
In my experience most freelancers in IT were hired through an agency. That said, that may have changed as I've been retired for seven years. In any case, it can't be hard to find an agency or two and see what they think of your CV. If an agency thinks they can sell you, they'll take you on.

hmmm27 and hutchphd
Which is it? And if it's two, and you're upset that we think it's one, why did you tell us it was one?
Well I started around the end of February of 2019. February 27th will be two years exact.

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PeroK
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2020 Award
Well I started around the end of February of 2019. February 27th will be two years exact.
I'm guessing that an agency will want some idea of what you've written. Like a website showcasing your abilities?

Vanadium 50 and berkeman
Staff Emeritus
My point is, you can't say "one year" and then get unhappy when we say "one year" back to you because it's really two years.

Staff Emeritus
I'm guessing that an agency will want some idea of what you've written.

This is true. They also want to know what you can write. Web design? FPGA programming? Games? Database reports? It is highly unlikely that after one or two years the OP is equally good - and hire-ably good - in every possible area. He might be in one, but the fact he didn't specify which one in his original post does not bode well.

In grad school I did some part time work. I did not go through an agency because I had more work than I could handle. My niche was small businesses ($2M-$10M/year) who had bought some turn-key solution and needed it modified, usually involving some statistics which I also handled. As an example, one client sold ice cream, and comparing this month's sales to another month's was not terribly useful. Selling 10x as much in July as January - is that good or bad? So I developed and implemented a seasonal adjustment to their reports.

My point is that was my niche - that's what I was marketing. Sure there were better programmers, and better statisticians. But I was cheaper than hiring two people, and there was no issue about how well we could work together. I knew what I was selling. I don't think the OP does.

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berkeman and PeroK
This is true. They also want to know what you can write. Web design? FPGA programming? Games? Database reports? It is highly unlikely that after one or two years the OP is equally good - and hire-ably good - in every possible area. He might be in one, but the fact he didn't specify which one in his original post does not bode well.

In grad school I did some part time work. I did not go through an agency because I had more work than I could handle. My niche was small businesses ($2M-$10M/year) who had bought some turn-key solution and needed it modified, usually involving some statistics which I also handled. As an example, one client sold ice cream, and comparing this month's sales to another month's was not terribly useful. Selling 10x as much in July as January - is that good or bad? So I developed and implemented a seasonal adjustment to their reports.

My point is that was my niche - that's what I was marketing. Sure there were better programmers, and better statisticians. But I was cheaper than hiring two people, and there was no issue about how well we could work together. I knew what I was selling. I don't think the OP does.
I was mainly thinking about doing web design the issue is I'm trying to develop a portfolio and don't have any contacts.

PeroK
Homework Helper
Gold Member
2020 Award
I was mainly thinking about doing web design
This has become a commodity. Unless you're doing something special, websites can be bought off the shelf or knocked up using the tools available.

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hutchphd
Homework Helper
In order to market there must be (at least) one person who will buy your product. You need to identify what that person looks like. If you don't know then you need to find out. And then be sure they know you.
I did quite well as a physicist for hire, but I sometimes wearied of the "hustle". Part of me was happier working a regular job. But either way it is selling your particular talents to the right person, which is another required life skill. In my experience successful people work hard. The end of the pandemic (this version at least) will offer some unique opportunities to the correct person. Be prepared.

Staff Emeritus
In order to market there must be (at least) one person who will buy your product.

This.

You need to identify what that person looks like.

Tall red-head with great big...personalities. But I don't quite see how this is relevant.

I was mainly thinking about doing web design

Then the very first thing someone will ask you is "show me something you have done". What are you going to say? If you don't have a good answer, then the question "is me being a freelancer feasible?" has a clear answer. No it is not.

hutchphd
vela
Staff Emeritus
Homework Helper
I was mainly thinking about doing web design the issue is I'm trying to develop a portfolio and don't have any contacts.
You could try to doing work for free for small groups who can't afford to hire someone to get experience and build up a portfolio.

One thing I'd suggest is to present yourself professionally by, for example, using proper punctuation and grammar in your communications. The fact that your post is a run-on sentence says to me you're likely not a person who pays attention to details. It might be true. It might not. But since a potential client likely won't know you, what do you think they will assume if that's what your emails look like? At the very least, I wouldn't want to hire someone who designs a website riddled with misspellings and other mistakes. It's not a good look.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from your goals, but you do need to realize that there's a lot more to freelancing than just the technical aspect of it, especially for a job like web design where there are tons of people who can do it.

Vanadium 50 and hutchphd
There are several freelance sites you can sign up to, so why not give it a try? But, don't expect much. There is a lot of competition, much from people who are happy to charge less than $5 per hour, so unless you can offer something they can't, you are not going to earn much. Maybe, you can try craigslist? I'm also developing a portfolio. It never ends. I'm assuming you have a degree, so I think you could potentially find a job after one year of coding. Why do you want to be a freelancer? Last edited: WWGD Science Advisor Gold Member So I've been teaching myself how to code for the past year or so and I was thinking about doing freelancing. Since I have no experience is me being a freelancer feasible? Why dont you set up your portfolio of coding and include it in your page. Stack Overflow has a lot of openings. Maybe you can check it out. How does one actually get started in freelancing, though? This thread has got me thinking to try freelancing myself. I believe I could offer services for ad hoc business process automation, or automating messy manual data processing tasks that no one wants to do. Any suggestions on how to get started, which sites to check out, networking ideas, where to market these skills, Stack Overflow, FlexJobs, LinkedIn, Fiverr? I know there are many individuals at various companies who would be interested in this sort of thing, but typically they will simply hire unskilled labor (which is likely more expensive because it requires more people) and suffer through the manual processing. I have spoken with people who are involved with manual processing, but they don't go out and seek anyone for help, and they themselves aren't in any position to hire anyone or make recommendations, and they just suffer through it. It might pay, but I don't think anyone actually likes doing those kinds of jobs. How to reach out to the people in charge of the people doing the messy manual work and offer services? A cool thing about this sort of thing is that many of these messy manual data processing tasks are so domain specific and specialized within a specific department that a commercial software solution does not exist. Each processing task will require, not necessarily a complex solution, but a unique and very specialized one. Last edited: There are several freelancer sites - basically you sign up to these, clients post jobs that you bid for, the site take a percentage of your fee. In some cases you build up a long term relationship with a client and move off the site, once you trust each other. That's basically how I operated for about eight years, you don't have to worry about advertising and finding clients. Difficult at the start since you can be bidding against >20 competitors, but it gets a lot easier with time, since you build up a portfolio and testimonials from past clients. berkeman Ah, I see there is a data entry section on Fiverr. You can post an add there for your services. I will have to make some type of commercial for myself LOL and post it there. .... well this isn't very fair, because as a freelancer you're now competing with people from other countries who can survive off of 5 dollars an hour ... How is it possible to compete with that? It also appears as though one would already need to be an expert in order to be a freelancer. Would learning as you go, or doing this in order to gain experience actually be feasible? I would put my skill level at intermediate. It would be an exaggeration to call myself an expert at anything. Last edited: Yes, when I started I was living in Bulgaria, where$10/hr is pretty good. SE Asia is the worst, I have seen them charging $3/hr. They do have a bad rep though, so that might be in your favour. Sometimes you can get more, I got$80/hr one time for a client that wanted the job done asap, but that's rare. You can also try single fee short jobs, sometimes people pay \$100 for a job that takes just an hour or two. Anyway, overall it wasn't really feasible when I moved back to the UK, so I quit.

Learning as you go - bear in mind you will be judged on your work. Sure, you can learn some stuff as you go, but it's going to take time, and no client is going to want to pay for that, unless it is something really rare that hardly anyone knows, which also happens. In fact a lot clients use freelancers because they can do what standard software houses can't, or won't, do - these are the jobs I tended to go for later on, far more interesting, better pay, and usually very happy clients.

Office_Shredder
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Freelancing is a spectrum. The one end is mostly anonymous on the web - there are four hundred web designers and the customer picks one mostly at random. As has been observed this is a very competitive global industry. It typically involves very well defined objectives (though I'm sure the freelancer will say otherwise ) from the customer - they're just paying for a commodity product

The other one, the one I think you want to be in, is more personal and requires expertise. I have a problem I can't solve, I ask around and find out Zap is the only one who knows how to do it in America. Yeah someone in China can also solve it, but how am I supposed to figure out which person? The problem is important and I want the right solution to it, so I hire an expert and I pay them like an expert. This probably looks a bit more like consulting to be honest, you're not just paying them to do well defined labor, you're paying them to figure out what labor should be done.

I believe I could offer services for ad hoc business process automation, or automating messy manual data processing tasks that no one wants to do.

This sounds closer to the latter than the former. Mostly no one who understands what should be automated is not already automating it. Your target customer feels like owners of small businesses with no or only a couple employees, and not much programming experience. They probably don't even know that they could save money automating things. The value added you would bring is not writing some vba code to automate an excel spreadsheet they haven't changed in ten years, it's knowing that you can even write that vba and it will save a bunch of time. They aren't going to ask some random person on Fivrr for help, what they need is for someone to come to the office and spend the day watching what they do to see what can be improved.

Sounds like a fun job actually, but I'm not sure how you get it. Certainly if you had a couple happy customers word of mouth would get around, but getting the first references seems tough.

I also could be wrong, I don't actually do work like that and maybe less of it exists than we are imagining.

I know for a fact that data problems like that exist, even at fortune 500 companies, who use outdated systems, and people working in their sales departments, who haven't the slightest idea what a line of code is, are manually sifting through spread sheets containing hundreds of thousands of records, trying to process data at an ape-like level, taking months to complete something I can do in 10 minutes with Python. Even people who call themselves data analysts or business analysts are really Excel monkeys who run SQL procedures and have never written a line of code in their life. I once met a so called "data engineer" who was essentially doing data entry work, apart from designing databases.

I saw this at a few big companies while I was a consultant, and part of my job was to solve some of these problems, but it wasn't really any of my business at the time, outside of one specific client.

I hypothesize that at any big corporation, you are either some sort of semi-legitimate data scientist, a sales guy, or an Excel monkey. I'd even guess that the Excel monkeys outnumber the semi-legitimate data scientists. Still rarer is the actual data scientist, whatever that is.

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