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I have 3.5 years of experience in an IT company at the position of senior Web developer and I want to start work as a freelancer. If I don't get enough work, then what?

What are the risks if I do that? How can I get more clients? Do I charge clients a high rate, or low?

  • Check other replies I made in the past. This is a repeated question so guys explained this in details. – Peter MV Sep 12 '16 at 9:10
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    Try freelancing at evenings and weekends for test. When you get enough tasks, leave the daily job. – i486 Sep 14 '16 at 13:23
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Plain and simple....

If you don't have 6 months to 1 year of savings to live off of, you aren't adequately prepared to start freelancing full time. You can do it part time and keep your job. However, until you are prepared to live, without income, for several months you aren't ready for full time freelancing.

And this is how you prepare for "no work" periods.

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  • This is only true if you jump in blind and need to anticipate a longer period without income before things take off, that is certainly not always true. A bit of reserve is always a good idea, but 6 to 12 months is exaggerated. – user3244085 Sep 10 '16 at 21:29
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    No. It isn't. Not if you want to ensure you are okay and can grow the business from the start rather than scramble to survive right away. – Scott Sep 11 '16 at 3:50
  • You're talking about growing a business, a company, and in that case I agree. Not every freelancer has that ambition. – user3244085 Sep 12 '16 at 7:52
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    Sure they do.. isn't it every freelancer's goal to be independent and make enough money to be comfortable without having to worry about income regularly? Even 1 person is a business and "grow" doesn't necessarily mean adding employees and that sort of thing... it just means make it better known, more accessible, more frequented, more trusted by clients, better word of mouth... etc. – Scott Sep 12 '16 at 9:21
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There is no concrete answer to "what if there isn't enough work?". That's the risk you take as a freelancer: no work = no money. You lose the safety net of an employer that sends you a pay check every month.

That is also why most freelancers I know (including myself) didn't just quit their job / resign and started looking for freelance work after that.

They usually already started working a little on the side, making a website, building an app or doing some odd consultancy before they made the switch to full time freelancer. Others already had made some inquiries within their network to make sure they would indeed have some work if they turn freelancer.

So ask around, investigate the market in your area, find some agencies that act as a middle man between you and clients (they'll take their percentage, but you don't have to look for client).

Important thing: make some estimates, try to figure out how much revenue you would need to make the switch to freelancing viable. Play around with different rates, number of hours you want to work.

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I would add that if you live with your parents, will always be fed and have a roof over your head, then your living costs are pretty small.

But if you have a mortgage, a family and children to feed, and high living costs then you are risking a lot more.

Calculate your living costs, what is the monthly (and weekly) figure? Save up enough for four months, the quit and go for it. But before quitting as others have said start building your online portfolio or profile. Get your website up and running and get your service offering sorted out. Do a couple of free jobs for local charities in your spare time for your portfolio. It will feel like having two jobs for a while but it will be worth it.

Then when you are ready to take the plunge, and can support yourself for 4 months, quit as nicely as you can, (even with the potential to return if possible, no need to burn any bridges), and go for it. If you cannot find a customer in 3 months, use the last months of savings to find another job, or a part time job, or go back to your old one.

Always have one month covered in reserve, that should only be used when you are giving up and going back to work.

When you have no money at all, the world can seem a hard and indifferent place, so do not put yourself in that position, whatever you do.

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I was in a similar situation like 20 years ago. I left the company where I was working as graphic and web developer and started to work on my own in my small home office. Between bad and good periods I was never totally without works to do, most of the time I was/am with too much work and I ask for help to freelance collegues in my area.

When I had not much work I dedicated myself to personal projects that gave satisfactions in terms of gain and success, later I sold these sites to other companies when I wanted to move on.

What I can say is to be polite and very clear with the clients on your rates, on how you work and what they can expect from you, respect what you say, respect deadlines and milestones, if you are not sure of something that is asked to you, be clear, say no or get some time to be informed. If you have a problem during a project be clear and talk about that with your client. Sincerity and reliability is very appreciated for long term relationships with good clients.

Be ready to learn new things and move in unknown areas when is worth it, be ready to abandon things that you know very well for completely new things that you barely know (I was a skilled Flash/Actionscript developer, I don't even open the software since 2-3 years or more).

After the first 2-3 years of freelancing, 99% of the next clients came to me (and still come) by word of mouth of other clients who suggested me as a reliable professional, rather than advertisements or websites.

If you want to move in your local area you must build a very good reputation as a professional and reliable person if you want to be a freelancer for long time. During these years I saw many freelancers and web agencies open and close after a few or more years, because they concentrated more on the "sell and abandon" strategy (or they were unreliable or only sleek image and poor results) than to enstablish a good healty work relationship with their clients.

Best of luck for your career.

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Like anything else in life it's good to try things first. Research your niche and see if you get clients. There's plenty of freelance sites for web developers. With time you'll get the reputation you deserve. From other answers I've seen here on this site freelancing does work and you should not have too much difficulty with it. Clients come from hard work. Feel out your clients' needs and see what they can do regarding fees. With different clients come different fees. I wish you luck.

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I would say it depends highly on what you can show of your 3.5 years experience. Saying you have that much experience (or any for that matter) is not enough to rely on landing clients. Your work will better speak for itself; For example listing projects you were involved with and what your role(s) contributed. I'll use WordPress development as a basic example: Did your experience include development roles? Did you contribute to any major updates? Or did you provide technical support to end users? IT is an over coined term and broadly used. I find clients much prefer specifics. I think it would be a bad idea to quit while banking on the idea that experience sells alone, and would suggest attempting to freelance a little on the side while holding your current job to see how things go.

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