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When you are ready to be a freelancer

Most self learners I know became freelancers. They manage their own schedule, work remotely, and are their own boss. My friend took a year-long camping trip with his family while working from coffee shops. Being a freelancer is many a programmer’s dream. But independence comes with a price. Here’s what you’ll need to know after seeing what a client wants.

  1. Know your skill level. It’s inevitable that a client will ask for something you don’t know how to create. Can you deliver the project? When you start working, you need to know what is within reach. Don’t promise to deliver a project that you can’t do.

  2. Estimate how long it takes. Have you coded enough where you know how long it takes to complete a project? Here’s a tip. Take your best estimate and double (or triple) it. We tend to only see best case scenarios and it’s better to set proper expectations to the client up front.

  3. Build features you don’t know how to create. If you don’t know how to build something, can you figure it out? If you aren’t confident in doing this, then you aren’t ready yet. When you’re working, people become less helpful. Human nature makes it harder to help someone knowing they’re getting paid for your help.

  4. Write manageable code. If you don’t know how to architect your project, you may paint yourself into a corner. Architect the project so it grows in the direction of what the client may want in the future.

Being on your own can be tough. If the life of a freelancer doesn’t sound right for you, consider working for a corporation. You lose a little freedom, but it can be easier than a freelancer. If you go this route, find a program to study under. People who work in companies don’t work in isolation. You have to adhere to best practices and standards when you work in teams. It is these practices that self learners are unaware of, that make it difficult to integrate with other programmers.

When looking for a school.

  1. Find one with good teachers that you can interact with. Good teachers monitor your progress and challenge you.

  2. Find one that inspires and motivates you. Like having a workout buddy, other students encourage and push you to reach your common goals.

  3. Find one that is focused on making you a good developer. Getting your first job is one challenge. Thriving in it is another.

If this type of school sounds like a fit for you, maybe you’ll like 7forest. Our program is designed to give you guidance and a group environment to support you. We offer in-class and online classes.

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