If this list is one thing, it’s a compilation of tips from my entire career. You see, i am a freelance software engineer, never worked in an office, and never experienced being stuck in the shower nor in traffic. I’ve been freelancing for more than 5 years.

Looking for a work online, is the same as looking for a work outside of home. You want to find a good company, with fun atmosphere, and awesome people. And you want to grow your career in it. You got to be in it for the long-term. Because, who could give you an awesome recommendation if you’ve only been in the company for 6 months?

So, if you’ve decided to quit your office-based development work, f*** traffic, put on your pajamas and hop on in because i’m going to give you an easy-to-follow list.

Freelance commandments

People think freelance work is different from work. Sad to say THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE. The rules in an office stay, but translated to the virtual world. Remember, when you work online, the only connection you have with your team is your pc or laptop.

1. Communication is key!

If you need to step out and grab a snack, you need to ping your team. A simple message like: ‘brb grabbing a snack’ or  updating your status in slack (slack is one of the popular communication tools now, a similar one is skype) is more than enough.

When you won’t be able to finish on time, no matter how shameful it sounds, you need to let your manager/boss know. If you go on vacation, make sure to file that vacation leave before you go.

2. Establish trust

One way to establish trust is commandment number 1. But when you start working on your company, you need to be able to let them know that you are dependable. Here are some ways:

  • If the boss wants you to track your time, track your time on time.
  • Start work on time – especially if you are on a schedule. People think online work doesn’t have a schedule, but there actually is a schedule
  • Respond on time.
  • Be respectful, and courteous when communicating online. Communicating online is different from real-world talking, and what you say and how you said  it may be translated differently.

3. Commitment and loyalty is a must!

One of the mistakes i had in my early years of freelancing is taking on multiple work at the same time. If only i could hit myself in the head. At the time, i had 2-3 jobs, my health was failing, i was moody, and my performance was a failure. For a year, i never got to improve my skills. I had the money but the money wasn’t worth it.

So please learn from me, and believe me when i say it’s not a good thing. You need to be able to build long-term bonds with your employers, and you need to commit to the success of your current company.

There will be a lot of companies who will offer you to work for them, and you will be tempted because you work at home, and your current boss won’t notice. But, your boss will. Remember that you only get to have 24 hours a day, and not only do you need to prioritize your health, but you will either fail on one job, or fail on both. Also, if you want to improve your career, you will need good references and recommendations. How good do you think will a 2-4 year job experience sound?

Handy-dandy Checklist

Now that you’ve read the freelancing commandments, it’s now time to find work! I truly believe that remote work is the future – it’s practical, cost-effective, and it works. However, you need to make  sure that  you are as credible as any applicant, and so you need to prepare a few things. Make sure you got all these ready.

1. Resignation Letter

Remember commandment #3. If you are  serious in finding a freelance work or online work, pack up your bags and let your current company go. Besides, you might be  rendering a few weeks as a transition period, so at the same time, you can start looking for online work.

2. Recommendations

Never burn down any bridges. Approach your current company properly of your desire to resign, and then ask for recommendations. If you already have a Linkedin profile, request for a recommendation and make sure your profile is set to public.

3. Workplace

You need a stable internet connection. Now go and upgrade your existing DSL connection or apply for one. I could never stress the importance of a fast internet connection. You might be downloading tons of files daily, and you need to watch those cat videos, too. As an alternative, you can also work at co-working spaces nearby.

4. Linkedin Profile

Nowadays, hiring managers browse through linkedin for job candidates, and you should leverage this. Make sure your profile is up-to-date, and you got all the skills listed. If you’ll view my linkedin profile, you’ll see a comprehensive one, and you’ll know that i invest a lot of time to keep it updated. I achieved the All-star status, and i receive a few messages from recruiters from time to time.

Freelance all-star profile in linkedin
Freelance all-star profile in linkedin

5. Resume

Who would ever forget the resume? Most companies do not require a cover letter, but resumes are definitely required. Quick tip: customize your resume for every company you apply. Make sure you highlight job  experiences, and skills that are relevant to the work. If you are applying for a react position, forgo the php work experience or side gigs you got. Resumes should be concise and short – a one-page resume is ideal.

6. Github Profile

We want to find a web development work, and github profiles are a plus. If you don’t have one, create one, and push some side projects you created.

7. *Portfolio Site

This is optional, but having a portfolio/personal website would be an impressive touch to your job application. If you blog on technical subjects, or you can simply put up a page which lists all  the projects you’ve done in the past. Setting up one is easy.  There are free options you can try:

  • Github pages  –  You can create an awesome one page portfolio site using github pages.
  • WordPress.com – You don’t even need hosting for this one.

Quick Tips

1. Leverage the power of your network

Join meetup events, or check out freelancers in the same area. If you have friends who already work online, you can ask whether their company is  looking for a web developer. As proof, some of the work i got online came from friends. If you want, you can contact me, and i’ll let you know if there are some openings.

2. Prioritize recent job postings, and respond as fast as you can

The goal is to be the first and most active applicant. It’s not that bad to try and send your application to a job  posted a week ago, but the hiring managers are already most likely busy with the scheduled interviews. So make sure you come in first.

3. Work on your communication skills

You need to be able to express clearly what you want to say. Review your english lessons (seriously) and learn how to write technically.

Wrap-up

When you find work online, all companies will be looking for a hire who will be with them for the long term. They will be investing in you, in your growth and as return they expect you to work for them truthfully. Freelancers may not get the same benefits as office workers, but in return you will be receiving a higher compensation especially if you prove yourself worthy of the position. In my five years of freelancing, almost one year on my current company (a few times a year, our team meet for an outing), i can really say it’s worth it.

You get to spend quality time with your loved ones, and you get to work freely without distractions and the office politics. If you are worried it would affect your career negatively, you are wrong. I believe remote work will be the future of software development teams, and it would be no different from having a work in an office.

There are a lot of web developer positions available, and you only need to prepare these things on the list. Are you a freelance web developer, and do you have any other tips to share?

 

My name is Roselle and I’m still working on my success story. You heard that right. I’m young, I work at home on my PJs and I’m still going to make many more mistakes in life. Just like you, just like we all do. But the other thing you should know about me is that I love helping people and this blog is one of the many outlets I have in connecting with you. I talk a lot about finance, business, and personal development. Visit my About page, if you want to know more about my story!

1 Comment

  1. We run a firm. And we work with outside developers (sometimes)… never met a loyal one. they are all flaky half-commiters, to be frank with you. And we can never afford to rely on them. Perhaps its the nature of their work… sitting at home in PJs makes it easy to “drop things half-way through” under any of the million excuses.

    … the other thing actually: Developers take themselves WAY TOO SERIOUSLY mostly, whereas they rarely actually originate ideas or do the “hard thing”. The ego is huge.

    so what we ended up doing is: getting people in-house to be part of the team completely, testing them for half a year at least, and then giving them the support of external “dev-flakers” 🙂

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