Is freelancing for you?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

If you are a code monkey, then there are umpteen options available to make a living without doing a 9-5 run-of-the-mill job in a IT factory. Some of the sites that cater to developers are RentAcoder,GetAfreeLancer, ELance. The first 2 are free while you have to pay a sum for Elance upfront. The commission charged as project fee varies for each of these sites.

These sites are hugely popular with developers in the developing countries such as India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina and some Easter European Countries such as Romania, Ukraine etc.

Are these sites for you? Some hard facts revealed:

  1. If you are a very fast and smart developer, you can probably earn somewhere between $1000-$2000 a month or less. Which is a decent amount for a month in these countries. So it does not make any economic sense for developers from the US/UK or any such nation to ocmpete in this space. Moreover, most of the service buyers are from these countries looking for cost-effective solution from the offshore developers.

  2. There is a lot of hardwork involved for service providers as there is fierce competition. Every project you bid for, there are atleast 25-30 bidders with all kinds of strategies such as "solution first-pay later" to "minimum cost, low quality" etc etc. So bagging the project and then delivering within time takes its toll in the long run. Not a easy show as a full time corporate job where you can afford to relax for a few days or days when you don't feel like it, just shrugg off and say "Lets do it tomorrow".

  3. If you are looking at making a career out of it, then you need to have a plan. Probability of burnout because of stress, success rate of bids/projects won is high. Good for code monkeys who just want an interim change. This is not your way to entrepreneurship. You can't make money while you are sleeping as in an established business. You work like a dog today and if you continue on the path you work like one even a year later.

  4. If you are in it for fun for lack of anything better to do, then by all means you can have all the fun you want to as I'm doing currently.

  5. A good learning platform. It is a good learning platform where you get paid while you learn on the job. Just don't be foolish enough to admit it.

What are the resources/skills you need to be successful?

  1. Proficiency in English to be able to communicate.

  2. Be good at what you do - know atleast one language thoroughly such as PHP, Perl, Java, XML etc While you have the time you can pick up something else that interests you.

  3. Project Management : Who says you don't need Project Management skills? Sure you don't need all the documents of a SEI CMM firm but the basics are absoultely required to be successful. It is all about communication and communicating effectively all the time. Requirements management, expectation setting, delivery management, defining deliverables etc. is all in the game. You are your manager here. You just wear different hats at different points in time - developer, coordinator, project manager

  4. Time Management: This is by far the most important skill required. Since there is no bus/train to catch at 8:30 a.m. does not mean you don't exercise discipline and sleep in until 11:00 a.m. Browsing/searching for projects can get addictive. Stick to a time schedule and work by the clock.

  5. Logistics: Having an office at your home with a broadband internet connection where you are not disturbed while you work helps. Ofcourse you can run errands when you feel like taking a break but have a plan and be organized.

Related Post: Review: Getafreelancer
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