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My Journey as a Freelancer and Beyond

Thursday, 14th May



Before I started StivaSoft, I made my living as a freelancer for over five years. I worked on rentacoder.com most of the time, which later became vworker.com and ultimately acquired by Freelancer.com. At the time, rentacoder.com was one of the very few websites for freelancers that even existed. It was significantly easier to stand out from the crowd and build a brand even if you were still small.

Since founding StivaSoft in 2009, my life is incredibly exciting, especially over the last few years. I have had the chance to travel all over the world, meet amazing people from all walks of life and projects with amazing potential have been a constant for StivaSoft. The people and the work of creating something really special are the things that keep me excited and always engaged.

However, I must admit that even now, I sometimes think back to the days when I first began freelancing. My freelance years will always have a special place in my heart and I always love to hear from people who finally make the leap and begin a freelance career.


The Freelance Life Is a Great Way to Live

Freelancing has many advantages, along with a level of freedom you will not find in almost any other type of work. I think that is what most people really want down deep inside, the freedom to live their own way without having to answer to anyone else for the decisions they make. Freelancing certainly offers freedom on a personal and emotional level, but a lot more too.

Having control over your work hours day or night, the ability to work from any location you want and complete control over your daily schedule is an amazing way to live life, compared to what most people deal with. Of course, a lot has changed in the freelance world in the last few years, just as it has with technology and web development.

I don't think anyone would argue against the fact there is a lot more competition today in freelancing than 10 years. One factor is more people across the globe have access to the internet, so there is simply a larger group of people comfortable working online and competing in the industry.


Freelancing Is a Global Economy

Another factor is the world has gotten smaller with internet access everywhere, which means you generally have more competition from freelancers in other countries now. If you are thinking about a career as a freelancer or just started freelancing, do not let that discourage you.

The reality is, there is always competition and it is never easy to get started. External factors like those that I mentioned above may be true, but those things have a small influence on the market as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, you can identify a real difference, along with some pricing pressure. Nevertheless, there is still a huge amount of opportunity in being a freelancer.


A Bit More Challenging, But Still Unlimited Opportunity

The one great thing about being a freelancer is your success is completely up to you, almost 100%. Everyone on the planet has some outside influence or challenges to overcome, but as a freelancer, the influence is minimal. There is no office politics, no one giving you a hard time if you walk through the door 30 seconds late and you decide how much money you make.

Don't get me wrong, it is hard work, especially getting started. You have to make a full commitment, learn to be a great manager and always make sure your work is top notch. Perhaps the most difficult part is nobody can tell you exactly how to do it. Every freelancer has a different process for tracking projects, marketing and running their business.

It is really something you have to work through and tweak as you go along. In spite of that, I do think there are some basic strategies important to your success. If you follow these, you will find yourself in a small elite group and it will be an important factor in success coming sooner rather than later.

Let me tell you about a few things I did to get started in freelancing. I hope that it will make your journey just a little easier.


Your Attitude Will Determine Your Fate

Your attitude is the biggest deciding factor in how successful your freelance career will be. It is important to prepare for some challenges and perhaps a few things that may hurt your ego a bit, but it is all part of the process. You have to decide today, no matter what happens, you will continue. It will take a while to get your process right and you will need some time to learn how you need to approach different situations. Stay laser focused on the path ahead, learn from your mistakes and do not let anything stop you.




The #1 Priority For Freelancers on Day #1, Client Reviews!

Your entire freelancing career will directly depend on client reviews, ratings, and feedback. Your reviews are the most powerful reason for a new client to work with you and they will have a huge impact on how easily you get more projects.

When I first started rentacoder.com, my only focus was to get as many clients as I could that I knew would give me excellent ratings. Once you have a small group of clients and perfect reviews, finding more work becomes much easier. When you have zero clients and no reviews, potential clients have no way of knowing if your work is good. It is very easy for them to put you in the "?" group and move on to the next freelancer.

In fact, in the very first few months of my freelance career, I didn't even waste my time trying to get the projects that paid well. Actually, they did not pay anywhere near what my skills and time were actually worth. I did not care; I had one goal in mind, get a 5-star review from the client at all costs. Once I had a group of 20 perfect client reviews, then I knew I would be able to increase my prices and start earning real money.


Dealing with Issues Quickly Can Avoid Much Bigger Problems Later

Also, keep in mind, it is much better to confront a problem head on and deal with finding a solution. Most clients will understand and work with you to resolve things if you approach them in a professional and honest manner. If you have built up enough rapport with a client, many times they will still give you an excellent review. If a client does give you a bad review, address it in a professional way and move. Do not be afraid to tell your side of the story, every once in a while, you will have a client who is just unreasonable.

I know it is hard to believe, but not every client is going to love you. Get past the negative feelings, learn what you can and go get the next project.


Fast Response Makes a Big Difference

Communicate with clients early and often, letting them know you are working on their project or simply responding to a question they have. Clients will appreciate being able to get in touch with you quickly and you will make them feel valued by taking time for them on a consistent basis. You do not always have to know the perfect answer on the spot; just make yourself available to listen to their needs.

The first few years of my freelance career, I had a very loud alarm on my computer. Every time I got an email from rentacoder.com, the alarm would blast off letting me know I might have a new lead or one of my clients needed me. I kept it on 24 hours a day and would actually get out of bed in the middle of the night to respond, of course, that drove my wife absolutely crazy!

However, I responded almost immediately to every client inquiry or need. Many clients even picked up on the fact it was 3 AM for me, and here I was making an effort for them. There is no question in my mind, it made a big impact and got me going much faster.


Don't Tell Clients You Are Great- Show Them!

Once I built up a portfolio of twenty to thirty projects I felt good about, I built a website and displayed my portfolio of work. One very powerful way of getting more clients is showing them work you have done for previous clients. If you have a large portfolio, chances are the client will see something they like. Once they see something they like it is almost a guaranteed new project. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.


Not only did I really enjoy the years I spent freelancing, it was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot. I would never have accomplished as much as I have without the valuable experience of doing freelance work. If you are optimistic and you can see the opportunities, even in a difficult situation, then freelancing might be for you. There is a whole world of opportunity waiting for you. You have just begun…