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12-09-2007, 05:52 AM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Orlando, FL
I've been doing freelance PHP Consulting for nearly the past 5 years. It paid my way through college and now that I'm 2 months out and the degree has only spooled up my business.
I got my start by going to web design studios and giving them my business card. Sometimes I would offer free consultation for smaller projects. It's important to build lasting, healthy relationships. Once you have an established few clients, you'll never been sore for work. Studios are the ultimate place to freelance for because they're getting you the clients. My clients are rarely end customers but instead design studios. When things are slow, I develop small licensable applications which I'm able to pitch to studios.
As for pay, I typically charge in the ballpark of $50-75, dependent on the scope of the project and studio size. You shouldn't charge what other people are charging just because it's what they're charging. Figure out your expenses and charge what you need to in order to turn an annual profit.
The jobs super diverse, but this year has been a heavy amount of community applications similar to that of MySpace and Facebook. Regardless, expect anything. The problem with being at a studio is it eventually will niche itself and you'll end up droning across the same projects. Freelance will throw you outside of the comfort zone more often it seems and that's why I do it.
The pitfalls of being freelance are dynamic and two part: 1) Pitfalls are in the eyes of the beholder, 2) In the end, you are responsible for you. Your reputation will follow you, but for better or worse it will frequently precede you. You really have to try out a project or two before you can determine for yourself what the pitfalls are. Whatever you do, don't do a project without a legal entity to work behind (I personally chose LLC).
I don't know if you said that as sarcasm or not, but deadlines are an absolute necessity in the business world. No company will give you serious consideration in a bid if they don't have a time to hold you by. Don't feel you need to give a time estimate right when you hear about the project. Learn what you must about a project then figure out the time it'll take you and return with a Request for Proposal. Line item the features of your application so that if it goes over budget you can work with the client to allow the application and budget to meet somewhere in the middle. Don't be afraid to say no to a client.
Even though I probably sound like I praise the very idea of freelance, I'm finally calling it quits and trying to settle down at a local studio here in Florida as a full-time developer for 2008. The merits of working with a development team are vast: you get to bounce ideas and collaborate with peers--that will help anyone mature as a developer.
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