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  Any tips for someone moving to freelance/contract work?  (Read 2803 times)
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Offline Breakfast

Senior Devvie

for great justice!

« Posted 2005-11-07 21:01:40 »

Turns out my job stops existing in a few weeks and I'm kind of thinking that having some pretty solid experience under my belt I might try going freelance a bit of a try. I know that quite a few people here already work that way so I was wondering if anyone had some good tips or pitfalls that they might be able to share with a programmer just starting out on that endeavour...
Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 1060
Projects: 3
Exp: 20 years

Eh? Who? What? ... Me?

« Reply #1 - Posted 2005-11-07 21:30:03 »

1. Your CV is an advert for yourself. It has to sell you effectively and succinctly. In order of appearance the following information is needed:
  • Your name, phone number, email address, website, nationality, and range (eg M4, UK, Worldwide)
  • Your availability date and status (eg Available for contract or permanent work from 14th November 2005)
  • A concise list of your technical skills followed by years or months experience. A table is a good format. Do not include skills you do not wish to use. Seriously. Keep it short.
  • A reverse list of your relevant employment history, most recent at the top, with dates and a single paragraph outlining your responsibilities. No waffle.
  • Finally a single paragraph about yourself
Do not include your rate, your home address, gender, marital status, or date of birth. Do not bullshit. Do not provide referees until you have a firm interview date or your previous boss will be hounded by pimps and be very pissed off with you after a short while.

2. Polish your shoes. Always wear a suit to interview. Plan to arrive bloody early.
3. Practise a firm, warm, short handshake, look people in the eye, and smile.
4. Don't discuss rates at interview - that's between you and your agent. If you get contacted directly, then discuss rates.

Cas Smiley

Offline erikd

JGO Ninja

Medals: 16
Projects: 4
Exp: 14 years


« Reply #2 - Posted 2005-11-07 21:33:14 »

I'm actually considering that freelance work too.

I have some friends who just did the move and they're doing great. They recommended me to go talk with some of the better known companies which act as intermediaries for freelancers, so that they can get you freelance projects. Of course they ask some percentage, but they tend to have many more good contacts in the field than you could get yourself at first, and they are in a position to ask for more per hour so in the end it's worth it. You can even sign up with more than one of these, but beware of the bad ones which don't pay well, don't have enough projects for you, or want you to sign something exclusive.

Second is to keep your finances clean and save enough for taxes, but this is an obvious tip I suppose (although of course very important)...
There are some good internet applications for your financial stuff and invoicing etc. which is always cheaper than to get someone to do it for you, or to buy stand alone applications. A friend of mine uses such an internet based service for as little as about 20 euros a month and he's very happy with it as it saves him much time and money.

Also keep in mind that it can be more difficult to keep your personal and professional lives separated. Knowing that you're into music as well, prepare yourself that you might have no time for that regularly.This is actually a quite important consideration for myself...

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Offline Breakfast

Senior Devvie

for great justice!

« Reply #3 - Posted 2005-11-07 22:40:54 »

Brilliant- these are exactly the kind of things I need to know about...
Offline Jeff

JGO Coder

Got any cats?

« Reply #4 - Posted 2005-11-22 05:10:56 »

If this is inb the US< keep in mind that you are generally repsonsible for your own health insurance and the "self-employment tax"  (which basically is the FICA that an employer pays for you for social security.)

Also keep in mind that, ubelss you are very lucky, you wont be workign all the time.  The general rule for the self-employedis figure that for every hour you work you wil lspend an hour lining up work, so price yourself accordingly

Got a question about Java and game programming?  Just new to the Java Game Development Community?  Try my FAQ.  Its likely you'll learn something!
Offline princec

« JGO Spiffy Duke »

Medals: 1060
Projects: 3
Exp: 20 years

Eh? Who? What? ... Me?

« Reply #5 - Posted 2005-11-22 09:50:00 »

The rule of thumb we contractors use in the UK to work out the equivalent "permie" rate is Rate per Hour x 1000 = annual permie equeivalent. So your typical Java contractor in the UK will cost somewhere between £30-£100 an hour depending on experience.

Cas Smiley

Offline Mr EEK

Senior Newbie

« Reply #6 - Posted 2005-11-22 12:27:08 »


Rates vary by location too - you might get a better rate in the South East than I do in the South West, for example.

I found all my contract jobs on the Jobserve website.

Most contractors start their own Limited company which, as I understand it (and I am not a lawyer so I could easily be wrong), means that any liability is limited to the company (rather than you personally) i.e. when your Java reactor controller causes a meltdown, your company would be sued (not you).  Maybe I'm wrong about this, because I know some contractors recommend taking out liability insurance.

When I got my very first contract, the agency helped me start my company - it's easy.

It's probably worth becoming VAT registered too (which you have to do anyway if your company turnover hits a certain limit); people expect to be charged VAT on top of your rate.  Also, you can apply to be in the "flat rate VAT" scheme so that you don't have to record the VAT you pay on purchases in order to reclaim it, you just pay a flat rate.  For software companies the flat rate is 13%, so you make a little extra because you charge 17.5%, and it makes it very easy to fill in your VAT return.

Hope this helps.
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