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I currently work full time for a company. I am unable to show screenshots of all the work I do there since the work is sensitive/proprietary.

After doing some research, it seems like the skills I currently have won't land me enough work to survive as a freelancer. Therefore, to expand my skill set, I am learning Objective-C and iOS programming. To my advantage, I can leverage my existing C++ skills to help me learn.

I'm thinking about working on my own little project; it won't be delivered to a client, and I won't expect payment for it. The purpose of doing the project would be to have fun while learning the new technologies and show clients that I have these new skills in order to break into these new technologies.

Is this a good plan? Thanks!

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It seems like a good idea, but please take care of a few important things:

  1. Are you allowed to do it?

    Many companies will make you sign agreements when you start coding for them to not program for other people, or for your own individual projects. Many of the bigger companies won't care, and even encourage it, but be careful of breaking any agreements you have with your employer before you start using their equipment or programming libraries for your own use.

  2. Post as much as you can to Open Source projects

    Got a Github account? Good! Use it! Find a favourite project to participate in, and do what you can to help - bug fixes, code cleanup, translations, anything! Show that you commit to other projects, and you can start including those as well in your portfolio.

  3. Never use actual data on your portfolio programs

    As stated above, use fake data. Fill user content with Lorem Ipsum data. Most people will care about your skill, and not about posting real people's information online. Highlight certain data, showing how everyone else makes 12 function calls to produce the data, but you have it effectively producing the data with only 8 function calls.

As always, have fun doing it as well. No sense being a freelancer in something that is mundane and boring; why do it if you don't love it? You'll be a better programmer if you enjoy it, and your clients will see that in you as well!

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In my opinion it is definitely a good thing because when I started many years ago I actually did the same, I did not have much examples of my work so I developed some non-profit projects and also a simple but fun arcade game. This way I could show my skills at first clients and I had chance to learn and improve.

Best wishes for your freelance career.

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That is a perfect idea since you are accomplish both of your purposes: you will have fun while you learn and you will prove you have some skills.

Actually I cannot see why did you think (for a second) it could be a bad idea? I don't see anything wrong about it, even if you were not thinking about your portfolio it is an awesome idea because you are learning something.

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    The only thing I could think of was that a potential client would not take me seriously because the project is just a demo and not actually being used by anyone. – Andrew Apr 26 '15 at 22:44
  • Well, you should think that a portfolio with a single item will look poor, you must have variety, not just games, upload some serious projects too, you can hide the sensitive data or create a similar one with fake data. – Castiblanco Apr 26 '15 at 23:28

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