Designing A Sustainable Freelance Career

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Would you like to pursue your passions and have more control over your career? Would you like schedule and location flexibility and project variety? Would you like the stability of working full-time and getting paid consistently? Thousands of companies have embraced remote work and realize that they have access to a global talent pool. This is advantageous for anyone who has considered or is currently considering freelance work.

>> Submit your interest on becoming a freelance engineer with Toptal and get a call with Talent Acquisition specialist <<

Freelancing is no longer an unstable career choice.

This workshop will help you design a sustainable and profitable full-time (or part-time) freelancing career. We will give you tools, tips, best practices, and help you avoid common pitfalls.

Table of contents

Module 1: Dispelling common myths about freelancing
Module 2: What does freelancing look like in 2021 and beyond
Module 3: Freelancing choices and what to look for (and what to avoid)
Module 4: Benefits of freelancing from a freelancer + case study
Module 6: How to get started freelancing (experience, resume, preparation)
Module 7: Common paths to full-time freelancing
Module 8: Essentials: setting your rate and getting work
Module 9: Next steps: networking with peers, upskilling, changing the world
Module 10: Freelancer AMA

Alexander Weekes
Alexander Weekes
Rodrigo Donini
Rodrigo Donini
145 min
28 Oct, 2021


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Video Summary and Transcription

Freelancing myths debunked, rise of marketplaces and networks, importance of community and peers, flexibility and independence in freelancing, ample work opportunities, transitioning to freelancing, managing finances and setting rates.

Available in Español

1. Introduction to Freelancing

Short description:

I'm going to go ahead and get started. Thank you guys for joining this workshop. We will be doing a speed coding challenge. Take it as many times as you want during that 30 minutes. At the end, we will announce the winners. Now, let's dive into how to make freelancing work. Feel free to ask questions in the chat. Alex Weeks, a freelance project manager, will share his experience. He has worked on projects globally, with different technologies and industries. He will talk about how he built his freelance career. His life as a freelancer is immeasurably better in every aspect. Now, Rodrigo will introduce himself.

I'm going to go ahead and get started. So, hopefully everyone can hear me. If you cannot hear me, just let me know in the chat. And thank you guys for joining this workshop. It's going to be a really insightful workshop. It's going to be fun.

And then what we're going to do as you might have seen in the registration, we're going to take a break midway through the workshop. And we will be doing a speed coding challenge. This is a challenge that we have run globally. In fact, we just finished one. And it will be pretty self-explanatory. What you can do is take it as many times as you want during that 30 minutes. And you can even come up with your own ways to figure out how to have those questions answered faster. I'll just leave it at that. We have no constraints on this challenge.

So what we're going to do is, when we take a break, we'll start the challenge. There's a leader board. You guys, everybody can go on the leader board and see where you are. And the goal is, obviously, to come out in the top three. So at the end of the workshop, we will leave just a little bit more time in case you thought of ways to come up with making those answers faster. And then, via the leader board, we will announce the winners for the speed coding challenge.

So I'm Shane. And this is, and I'm here with two colleagues who are also, they are freelancers, full time. And they are going to talk about designing a sustainable freelance career. And I'm going to start it off. Hopefully, everybody in the workshop, you may or may not, I'm sure you've heard the term freelancing. I'm sure you've probably, you have colleagues that freelance, maybe you freelance yourself. But what we're going to dive into here is, how do you actually make freelancing work? And what kinds of things will you run into? And what happens when you decide that you want to freelance? And I mean, I guess the question is, why would you want to freelance? So I'm going to start it off first by saying, if anybody has any questions, please feel free at any time to just go into the chat, ask the question, and then I'll keep track, and we'll answer them. Either me or Rodrigo or Alex will answer them.

That said, I'm going to start off here with introducing. I'll let Alex introduce himself and Rodrigo introduce himself, so everybody knows who's talking. Go ahead, Alex. Thanks, Shane. So can everyone hear me? Or can you hear me OK, Shane? Yes. Yeah. Great. So as Shane mentioned, my name's Alex Weeks. I'm based in Bristol in the United Kingdom. I'm a freelance project manager. And I have been full-time exclusively freelance for coming onto 3 and 1⁄2 years now. I guess my profile on there says a little bit about the stuff I've done. But I guess most crucially, as a freelancer, I've worked on projects based in Australia, Asia, Europe, and the United States. I've worked with colleagues and other freelancers on all those continents, as well as Africa as well, and South America. So, globally, I'm proficient. And the range of projects I've worked on have been everything from peer to peer marketplaces, mobile apps, med tech, augmented reality. Actually, working on one now, starting one now, with NFT art creation on the blockchain. So, lots of different technologies, lots of different industries, lots of different continents, and countries, and cultures. And it's been a wild ride, and it's been exciting and interesting, and learnt loads and taught loads. But here I am today, I guess, to talk to you guys about how I built that career from working as a salary employee, and then a contractor, and then now a freelancer. A question for you, Alex, and I'm just going to ask this because I know some people might be wondering this. So, you previously, before freelancing, you were a full-time employee, correct? Correct. At a company? Yes. So, how would you compare how your life is today versus then? My life today is immeasurably better, in every aspect. As a freelancer, even if I take away the financial side of things. Everything else... I build... I do my work and I build my life around everything else in my life. So, it's all-encompassing. I don't work a nine-to-five. I'm not stuck at my desk. Even when I am working a lot of the time, I'm mobile. I'll be working actually off my mobile device or if I need to be somewhere, then if I'm traveling, I can stop somewhere, a cafe or Starbucks, something, and work there for an hour or so until the work's done. I can give... I'll give further examples, I guess, when I get to my section, but I would say, in every aspect of my life, it's better as a freelancer than it was as an employee. Okay. Thanks. And then, yeah, when you get to your slides, you'll probably talk more to that. But thank you. Rodrigo, go ahead and introduce yourself.

2. Introduction to Freelancing (Part 2)

Short description:

I can summarize my experience as a person and professional. I am a curious person who likes to learn new things. I have experience working with Top Towel for over five years. I am a WordPress developer and I am learning React. Before freelancing, I had my own web agency. Dealing with the various aspects of a company was stressful, so I decided to work for a global company. Now, let's talk about some myths about freelancing. The first myth is that it's not stable enough, but I believe it's a misconception. The second myth is that there's no real career path in freelancing.

All right. For sure. Can you guys listen to me well? Yes. Okay. Perfect. So, I can summarize my experience and what I am as a person and as a professional. I would say that I am, like, a huge nerd, as most of the developers are. So, I am a person that is curious about all the stuff I have around me, and I like to learn new stuff, new things. You will probably see that I have behind me a 3D printer, so I am enjoying these 3D prints a lot. So, I am building my own 3D printer firmware these days, and I can create my own stuff. This is only a small example of the things I like to do, but I love to work with wood as well, like make some other stuff that are not technological related.

Talking about work itself, I worked with Top Towel for more than five years. For me, it's a great pleasure. It's something like I normally say for all the people that ask me, it's life changing. As Alex just mentioned, we have a lot of flexibility in our lives and we can improve ourselves in various many ways. Yeah, I think basic, it's that. Actually, I am a WordPress developer and I am learning React. We are just talking before start this event. So the WordPress has a lot of React inside of it these days and I am learning these things. But I worked with WordPress for I believe almost 10 years and yeah, I'm very involved with the entire WordPress community around the world. I speak at any, like as many WordCamps I can, of course before the COVID situation. But yeah and I live in Brazil, so that's why you probably noticed my accent is a little bit different than a normal English native speaker. But yeah, I think this is briefly summary about me. Thanks, Rodrigo.

Question. Before you went to freelancing, did you also have a full-time job at a company? Yes, I used to have like a full-time normal engagement with a company. But before starting freelancing, I have my own agents. So it's in a small web agents where I have some kind of clients. But that thing is terrible because I have to deal with a lot of aspects of a normal company. It's not only like deal with my technical expertise. I need to be like a little bit of interpreter. I need to employs clients. I need to find clients. I need to find a lot of stuff. And that thing make me a huge stress on my life to be honest. That came to a point that I decided to give up and try another thing. So I put on the balance what are the knowledge I have? What are my skills? And then I discovered that I know to speak English. I have like a huge technical experience. Why do not work for a global company? So here I am. Yes. Okay. That... Thank you for that, thanks. Appreciate it.

Okay. So... Oh, thanks. Thank you, Marty. Let's see that, that's awesome. Cures had to be a... Okay. Well, we will answer that for you, Marty. Definitely. So the first thing I wanna do, everyone, is just go through quickly. Some of the... Some of the myths that are out there about freelancing. And what I did, is I pulled our freelance community. And then, Alex, Rodrigo, you could chime in if there's anything I missed here as well. Again, anybody else, if you've heard myths that... And I guess I call them myths. I just... If you've heard anything about freelancing. So, the first thing we hear a lot about all the time is that it's not stable enough. We did a poll recently and a lot of people said, well, I don't wanna consider freelancing because it's not stable. I think there's a myth around that because you think you're on your own and you're out there trying to find work. And it's different than at a job where it's always there. So, that's a top concern on people's minds is stability. The second concern people had is no real career path. So, people didn't feel that when they were freelancing they had an actual career map. They didn't know where they were going.

3. The Changing Landscape of Freelancing

Short description:

Freelancing myths debunked: stability, finding projects, temporary stopgap, benefits. Rise of marketplaces and networks. Impact of the pandemic. Upskilling support. Assistance in finding work. Importance of community and peers. No need to sell yourself.

They were just working on jobs and they didn't know where they were headed in that job. So, that was another myth. The third one was, you'll struggle to find new projects. So, I think in many cases that can be true that if working on a project let's say it's six months or a year. Well, what's on your mind is where's my next project gonna come from and how am I gonna have my next project? So, that's another common concern.

And then this was an interesting one too is that people view freelancing as a temporary stopgap. Meaning it's just temporary until they actually find a real job. So, I thought that comment was interesting. Not sure how many of you feel that way. And then lastly, the big one, and I would say this is especially true for the United States is benefits. A lot of people fear that they won't have any benefits or they will have to figure out how to find those benefits. And in many cases, being a freelancer is like running a business. Your business is you. And so we have some stuff today that we're gonna show you that will speak to each of these myths in some way. And then at the very end, we'll revisit these. And I wanna see how everybody feels at the end of this workshop, if we covered those and helped you feel like, if these were myths or if they're still true. And if anybody else wants to post in the chat, anything else they have heard about freelancing or feel, just go ahead and post that at any time. So keep those in the back of your mind.

Okay, so let's talk about freelancing before, and let's talk about it real quick, what it's gonna be like now and actually in the future. So I think what we had before, especially before the COVID pandemic was, freelancing was called freelancing and many people may have heard the term gigs. So you may have heard, gig work that was a very common term. Freelancing was something you would do that was not stable, didn't bring a lot of income, it caused you to have to go out and find work and all of the myths we talked to were true. Now, what has changed in the last, I would say five years? Meh, maybe three to five years. Freelancing has changed. It's changed radically. And many people do not realize what's going on outside of the freelancing world. So one big thing that changed is this. We are now seeing the rise of marketplaces and networks. And when I say marketplaces and networks, this is different than, say, going out and freelancing on your own, sending email after email to people, maybe blind to find work. Networks and marketplaces are definitely dominant. That's one thing that changed. The other big thing that changed is the pandemic. So really what that did is, the idea that working remote and hiring freelance talent works. And in fact, it works so well that companies large, medium, small, they're all actually realizing, wow, there's amazing talent out there. We can actually utilize that talent. They don't have to come right into the office. They can be anywhere in the world, and better we can get really good work done. So we have some examples of that as well. And I think that just know that that mindset is changing on a daily basis. People, companies, startups, Fortune 500 companies, they're all looking now outside of their own company to hire talent, and we're seeing that. There's a huge, huge talent shortage right now. And that's a fact, that's a reality of what's going on today. So what does freelancing look like tomorrow? What is it gonna be like? Well, one thing is we noticed it's gonna start supporting upskilling. So if you're in the proper freelance network and the marketplace, there's gonna be more of a support network there for you. So instead of feeling like you're on your own, you'll feel like you're a part of something. A part of a company. And that will help support your upskilling because everybody knows that upskilling is critical. You have to keep upping your skills. You have to keep learning new things. You have to keep going. And so that's being supported. And how is that supported? Many ways. They support, maybe you wanna take a certification so they'll help pay for that. And when I say they, I mean the freelance network. There's many different things. Classes, speaking opportunities, maybe you wanna go speak, and that's another way to upskill. Finding work. Another thing that's changing. So, in the past, this was up to you. You had to find your own work. Now what we're seeing is a shift. Certain places that have freelancers are actually assisting in helping them find work. So, they are helping people find work, and that's a critical thing to know. Community and peers. That's another thing that's changing. So, instead of being on your own or sitting at your desk at home or in a coffee shop, feeling like you're all by yourself, having a community and peers is critical, and that's done in many ways. There's discord, there's Slack, there's all kinds of ways. There's meetups in person, with fellow people that work at the same, I say company, I mean, freelance network. And lastly, I would say not having to sell yourself. Once you have achieved being a freelancer for awhile, you don't really have to sell yourself anymore, people will come to you.

4. Freelance Marketplaces

Short description:

Freelance work is growing in popularity with an expected 90 million freelancers by 2028. Companies adopting the freelance mindset are driving this growth. Now, let's discuss freelance marketplaces. Upwork is a popular marketplace where employers are charged a 3% processing fee and freelancers are charged a 20% commission. It has a huge community and job opportunities, but can be difficult to navigate. Payment disputes and automation are some of the downsides. Despite the challenges, Upwork is a growing network. Top tell is another marketplace worth mentioning.

And that can also be a downside as well, if you have too much work, then you have to make decisions. And lastly, I just want to share that this is a statistic that was pulled from Statista, It's a great site. Freelance work is definitely growing in popularity. We had 57 million freelancers in 2017, and there's now estimated 67.6. That's a pretty, that's a pretty big growth, over 10 million, and an expected 90 million by 2028. So the curve is just, is going up. What's driving that is companies adopting the freelance mindset. So, and then of course it's all just shifting. So, okay. So that's kind of where we're at today, and just keep those stats in mind. So, what I'm going to do now is I'm going to turn this over to Rodrigo. He is going to talk about, oh, actually, I take that back, I'm turning it back to me. I'm going to talk about freelance marketplaces.

So, we're going to go through a couple marketplaces, and there may be more marketplaces you've heard of. I'm going to go through the current marketplaces for everybody, and what we're going to do is take a neutral standpoint, and we did our research to find out where these marketplaces currently exist, some of the pros and cons, and at the end I've created a nice little table to just sum it up. But let's go through a few, and these are the most popular ones. I doubt you have not heard of any of these. There may be more. I'm pretty sure there's more, but these are the big players in the market.

Okay. Okay. Thanks, Gabriel. I see that. Right, okay. We do have words of advice for you, Gabriel. In fact, when Rodrigo starts talking, and Alex, they will answer a lot of those questions about no experience, and they will answer that. So hang in there. We'll answer that. And thanks for attending, Gabriel. Okay.

Upwork. I'm sure everybody's heard of Upwork. If you haven't, that would be rare. So how does Upwork work? What is it? It's basically Upwork as a marketplace. Maybe you've used it, maybe you have not. So employers use Upwork to hire freelancers, and they are charged a 3% processing fee. That's from the employer's side. The freelancers are charged 20% commission on work up to the value of 500 for each individual client. So Upwork has fees on both ends. So you as a freelancer, if you are charging, I don't know, $5,000 for a project, I just made that up, Upwork takes 20% and then they charge the employer 3%. So there's fees on both ends. And then they also charge freelancers for connecting to employers. So if there were a particular employer you liked, they would charge you if you wanted to do more work for that employer.

So what are the pros of Upwork? Okay. Well, it's a huge, huge community. It's a massive platform. So there's a lot of job opportunities. You can pick and choose from many different things. On the down side of that, it can also be very hard to navigate the platform and you have to be very quick because if a really good job is posted, let's just say, you know, something you're interested in, there's a ton of other people as well. So you gotta be quick and you gotta get in there and be fast. They do have a method of notifying you of new jobs though. Another pro for Upwork is that because they have these fees, it can help filter out scams and lower tier jobs. So that's a good thing. And we're seeing many large companies, I've listed just a few, they are starting to post jobs on Upwork. So, it's definitely a growing network.

Now, what are some of the cons? Well, like I said, navigating Upwork can be daunting, especially if you're new to freelancing. There have been payment disputes between freelancers and clients. This is a reality in some of these networks where you'll bill, the client may not pay on time, what do you do? Well, one of the downsides people have mentioned with Upwork is that it's all automated. So, you really don't have a person to talk to to deal with this. So, that can be a downside. And then again, I point out it can be difficult to navigate. So, what does Indeed say? So, they did a review, July 13th and they said, you can spend more time looking for new jobs than actually working on them. A lot of competition, but when you land a nice client, it's really nice. So, I think with Upwork, we can generally say that it's growing, it's definitely there to stay. Just keep in mind, some of the cons versus the pros for Upwork if you're thinking of Upwork.

Okay. Top tell. Yes, we work at Top Tell. But however, this is a very neutral slide. So let's talk about Top Tell for a minute.

5. Freelance Networks: Top Tell and Freelancer

Short description:

Top Tell is a freelance network that has a rigorous screening process. They take the top 3% of freelancers who pass the screening. Once in the network, freelancers are offered client projects and have control over their pay rates. Top Tell provides automated and personal support, as well as a community of freelancers for job stability. However, qualifying as a Top Tell freelancer is not easy due to high client standards and a focus on enterprise clients. Freelancers may need to be available during traditional business hours. Complaints about work quality can lead to dismissal. Upwork and Freelancer are other popular freelance platforms, with Freelancer allowing bidding on jobs and charging fees to both employers and freelancers.

Freelancers that wanna join the Top Tell network must pass a screening process. Oh, thanks. Thanks, Rodrigo, for answering Gabriel. So with Top Tell, one of the things people note first off is you just don't join it. And you're just not thrown into a sea of freelancers. There is a pretty rigorous screening process. Rigorous, in fact, so rigorous that it is stated that Top Tell takes the top 3% that is true. There's a reason for that, which I'll explain in the pros. The full screening process to get into Top Tell's network can take between two to five weeks.

Once you're in the network, you're offered client projects. Top Tell has a human team of matchers, we call them matchers. They send you work. So they look at your skills, they look at your experience, they look at you as a person, and then they send you work. Clients provide Top Tell with project requirements and then interview the freelancers. So Top Tell screens the clients as well as the freelancers to make sure they're legitimate, they will pay, and that they have good work to offer freelancers. And then the freelancers at Top Tell determine their own pay rates. So you could set your pay rate at a certain rate. You could also say I just wanna do 10 hours a week, or you could say I wanna do 20 or 40 or whatever your choice is. So what are some of the pros of this? If you pass the screening process and get through all of the different steps, and if anybody's interested, I could tell you what the steps are, it's public information. You can make substantially more than some of the other websites. One of the things about TopTel is they don't charge you as a freelancer, they only charge the client. So if you have a rate of let's say $100 an hour, that's what you're going to make. The platform provides automated and personal support for freelancers, so you have an entire team of people. Yeah, thank you, yes, you can check the process there, yes. The projects are more sophisticated and they tend to be more longer term. They're more sophisticated because TopTel does actually screen the companies. Then they take care of, TopTel takes care of the administrative overhead so you don't have to deal with all of the payments, all of the legal, all of that's taken care of. And then it does provide for a really good job stability because there is a community of thousands of freelancers that are all communicating together and you feel like you have support all the time.

Now, what are some of the cons of this? Well, it's not as easy to qualify as a TODTL freelancer. It is true. And I said, I'd mentioned the reason, one of the big reasons is just the demand from the clients. So, we have big clients who have very high standards and they wanna make sure that they're getting the best talent that they can get. And therefore, they really appreciate the screening process. So, it's driven by the market and the clients. That can be a con. One of the other cons is there is a huge focus on enterprise clients. Now that said, enterprise businesses tend to work more traditional hours. So you might find yourself in that situation where you have to be available during those business hours. And by the way, there's clients all over the world, so it's not United States centric. If clients complain about the quality of work, freelancers can be dismissed. That's another con that can be found. Again, it just goes to the rigorous standards. So G2 did a review. They did it in September. What did they say? You can read it here. They said, top tile is much more suited for finding top clients, and it's more rigorous. He said, I was rejected again and again, although I have a level one profile and Fiverr and a top rated profile at Upwork. Upwork is the industry leader in vetted freelance networks. So, yeah, again, can you choose the working time zone? I believe so. Can you Rodrigo? Yes, you can. Okay. Yeah, you can Marty. Okay. So now you've heard about Upwork, you've heard about Top-Tile. What's the next big one? Freelancer. Sure, everybody's heard of this one. So, how does it work? How does freelancer work? Why is it different? Employers will post jobs for freelancers to bid on, and the website manages the project deadlines and payments. So again, it's very automated. So here's what happens. Employers will post jobs and freelancers will bid on these jobs. So you'll see it and you'll bid against everybody else. I think you can already tell where that can go. Once a job is awarded, employers are charged either 3% or 3%, whichever is higher. So they have like a bottom, they have a bottom rate. And then on Freelancer, there's a pretty wide swath of fees charged to freelancers. So you can do... You can have add ons, you can enhance your profile and your charge for that. So what are the pros? Users tend to applaud the platform for usability. So it's really mature.

6. Freelancer, Fiverr, and Guru

Short description:

Freelancer is a good place to get started with smaller projects and limited skills. Fiverr is known for its low pay scale and pressure to complete jobs quickly. Guru offers automated job matching, bid credits, and a premium membership for more exposure. They also have Safe Pay for payment protection.

So it's really mature. They've been at this a long time. They know what they're doing and the platform is really mature and robust. That said, so is the client user base, very big client user base that you can choose from. So it's a big, big community. What are the cons? Well, going back to the how it works, many of the jobs are low skill and low pay. That's the nature of the bidding. Some freelancers compane about the numerous, so pyramid fees, so that's what I was saying. Some people have complained in the past about all the different fees they charge. And then it's public knowledge that freelancer has been a part of a few legal actions due to hacking in bo... It does happen to many companies. Exposure of users personal information. We pulled a review from G2 and one of the things, I think this encompasses freelancer great. A lot of people that are just out of bootcamps or just out of school, find freelancer attractive because it's a really good way to just get started. You can take smaller projects with limited skills and kind of get your feet wet. So I would say it's a perfect place to just to get started.

Okay, Fiverr, everybody's heard of Fiverr. We all know Fiverr as the gig workplace. So again, they promote gigs and it's common knowledge that they start at $5, but again, obviously, you know that you're not gonna be making $5. You'll make more than that. That's just how they kind of get people in. So for sellers, meaning clients, it's free. They can post jobs and then Fiverr will take a percentage of each transaction. Just like Upwork, Fiverr takes 20% of earnings from the freelancer as well. So they will take 20%. And this is an interesting note. They will take the 20%, even from any tips that are left. So if somebody wants to tip you and give you extra, I found that interesting. So what are the pros? Well, Fiverr has built an amazing platform. They've put a lot of money, a lot of investment into it. And it's very friendly. It's very easy to navigate. You can get in there and they do put the center of the focus on you as the freelancer. So that's good. And I already talked to them, easy to navigate. So what are the cons? You're going to find the pay scale on Fiverr lower. It is known as the cheaper way to get work. And users report pressure to complete jobs quick. So Fiverr wants turnover. They want fast turnover. So you can imagine if you're trying to do your best work, that might be difficult and have a little pressure. You have to be a little bit of a buyer. Again, we pulled a review from Freelancing Journal. They weren't as kind. It's a highly competitive marketplace. I'll say that. So I would say that it's kind of like Upwork in that it's just so competitive.

Finally, the last one we want to touch on here is Guru. Guru is popular. It's not as popular as Upwork, or Fiverr, or Freelancer, but it's there. And they work a little different. So how does Guru work? The website will match individuals with listed jobs. So I think it's automated matching. Where they'll try to match you with a job just based on looking at your skill set. And then you can also filter and browse jobs as well. Okay. Employers are charged a 2.9% fee. And then the freelancers are charged a 9% fee on paid invoices. And then you get bid credits. So Guru does this... I almost feel like it's like a gamification, where the more jobs you finish, you get these credits. And those credits actually move you higher in the ranks as you bid for jobs. It's a different way to do it, but I guess for some people it works. They get excited about that. And then the one thing Guru does do is they charge you, if you choose, a premium membership, so you can pay extra, and I believe it's monthly, to...yeah, it is monthly to get more exposure. So they're definitely using a different method. Again, they have a mature platform and they're global, so they can reach companies around the world. They also have this thing called Safe Pay, which some people really love Guru for that. Safe Pay is a protection so that you will not, I guess, enter a situation where you would not get paid. Guru will step in and become the mediator.

7. Freelance Networks: Guru and Talent Economy

Short description:

Some cons of Guru are reported project connections, affecting income, and fraudulent payment activities. There are multiple networks to choose from, each geared towards different freelancer phases and goals. Starting with Freelancer, Upwork, or Guru can be a good way to get started, but Topcow offers a screening process and a more company-like experience. The gig economy commoditizes work and talent, with limited growth. The talent economy, on the other hand, focuses on individual treatment, differentiated work, skill gaps, freelancer control, and high growth potential. Freelancers are more valued in the talent economy.

So that's a good thing on Guru's part. OK, so what are some of the cons? Some people have... You know, again, users have reported LULs in the project connections, so it's very much so up and down, up and down. Again, that can affect your income. The Better Business Bureau gave Guru an F only because there were some fraudulent payment activities going on. Again, every company has its downsides, so.

OK, so those are the five top networks, and again, I'm just gonna list them here for everybody. I will. One thing I can do is for everybody that joined this workshop, I will take the pieces out of this slide for everybody and I will send these to you, so you have this information. You can screenshot it, but I will create a PDF of this so everybody can have a copy, and that way you can have something to keep. Yeah, you're welcome Chris, no problem. It's just too hard to memorize all this information. In summary, I just created this little table for everybody. Again, I'll send this out. I think what you can take away from this is pretty simple. There's many networks to choose from. Each of them are geared towards a different phase of Freelancer and they're geared for different goals. I think what you'll see in general is a lot of people start out either using Freelancer or Upwork or maybe even Guru and they kind of get their feet wet to see what it's like. Now, that could be a downside at the same time. If you have a bad experience, it could leave a really bad taste in your mouth of what Freelancing is about. When you have more experience and you're ready to go through an actual screening process, then you're going to enter into you know, that's where Topcow shines. They will take care of you once you're in. You'll feel like you're working for a company. So again, I will send these all out and I hope that was helpful for people to just run through some of the big networks because I think setting that foundation for everybody is really important.

The last thing I want to say is, this is a again, I'll send this out as well. I want to leave you with this thought. There's a pre-freelancing thought and a future freelancing thought. The prethought was the gig economy. I'm sure everybody has heard of the gig economy. That's not a secret. But really, what was that gig economy? Well, the platform was the differentiator. The work is commoditized. Meaning, much like Fiverr, where everybody just gets in and bids, or much like, I think, Freelancer, where everybody just gets in and bids. When that happens, you can see how the rates will drop faster. Because if somebody comes in and says, well, I'll do it for this, and I'll do it for that, it really commoditizes the value. Again, the work is commoditized and so is the talent. But downward-wade freshers happen. The platform controls your experience. So you're just at the whim of the platform. And there's very limited growth. Let's look at what's happening today. Now, we're entering into something new called the talent economy, as opposed to the gig economy. This is, I would say, 2020, or 2019 and beyond. This is the future right here. So the talent economy, the platform. And when I say platform, I really mean how your profile is presented, how your experience is prevented, how you're treated as an individual, as opposed to just a freelancer. You're a person. You're Alex. So you're Rodrigo. You are a person. That's different, and that's part of the talent economy. The work is differentiated. Therefore, it's not work that's just continually bottom of the barrel. You're going to get actual real projects. And I think, Alex worked on a project, he'll speak to, that was one of the most innovative things to come out of in the surgery realm for surgeons. And that kind of work just does not show up on these gig kind of mindsets. So skill gaps are high in the talent economy. There's a lot of good skills out there, and there is real shortages. So it's a growing, thriving need. The talent controls are experienced. That means you as a freelancer are in charge. You can set your rates, set your hours, and really, really go for anything you want to go for and build your career. And then there's very high growth potential. So you can start out at one level and end up at a completely different level. So that's the difference. And if there's anything to take away, I think this mindset of the gig economy, which was definitely pre-pandemic, versus where we're seeing now is the talent economy. So freelancers are more in charge. And they're definitely, definitely more valued. OK. Again, any questions, throw them out.

8. Benefits of Freelancing

Short description:

When choosing freelancing, you gain flexibility in working hours and location. You can work from home, travel, or work in a cafe as long as you have a solid internet connection. Freelancing allows you to choose meaningful projects and work in areas you are comfortable with. You can focus on your main skills, such as WordPress development, or explore other careers like project management or design. By doing your best work, you can attract better future projects and recognition. Freelancing also provides opportunities to contribute to open source projects and participate in global events to share experiences and ideas.

What I'm going to do, I'm going to move next to Rodrigo. And I'm going to let him talk about the benefits of freelancing from his own perspective as a freelancer. So, Rodrigo. Sure. Thank you so much, Shane. I think you covered pretty well this kind of comparison between some of these freelancer platforms I have these days. And there are other ones as well. So thank you for that. It's very useful.

All right. So my plan here is to talk about some of the benefits we can get choosing to go and start a freelancer career. As Shane just mentioned, I can talk one of some of this stuff, I can talk about my own point of view. And I hope this can be like self-explanatory for you guys. But again, if you have a question, just put it on the chat and I would like to answer that as soon as I can.

When we talk about benefits about freelancing, I normally talk about flexibility. So when we start to go to work on this kind of new career, you can work as much as you can whenever you want and at any place, of course. So if you want to work at your home ops, you can do that. But let's suppose you would like to travel and go to another country, you can do that as well. Or just go to a cafe and get some good cafe and work. So you only have to have like a good and a solid internet connection. This is the main thing. So if you want to work easily, you have to have a good connection.

Also there is normally, there is no fixed hours, so you can choose to work in an hour engagement, a part-time engagement, a full-time engagement or more than that. So it's up to you to decide how much hours you want to expand on that. So I can give you some examples. For example, you're going to have, if you have this kind of flexibility, you're going to have more time for you. So you can do whatever you want to do. For example, in my case, as I mentioned, I like to deal with 3D printers these days, but I like as well to ride my bike, to run or fly my drone or play video games with my son. So it's up to you to decide when is the best time to keep your main focus on work and your deliverables and then do another thing. So this is one of the greatest things in terms of flexibility because you can, for example, you can focus on your family or in the ones that you care about.

Another good thing about freelancing I normally say that you can choose to go and work with meaningful projects. And they are most, you can work in something that you feel that is comfortable for you. For example, normally some kind of usual normal jobs you have to work on the things that your boss or someone gives to you this kind of assignment. And not even always is something that you'd like to work that you're excited for, right? It can be, but not always. If you choose to go to the full-time, to the freelancer career, you can go and choose to work on something that you are comfortable to work. For example, in my case, I choose to go with WordPress since it's something that I know for sure. And I like to work by the community, by all of the things we have around of this WordPress ecosystem. But you can work with React. You can work with Angular. You can work with Microsoft technologies. It doesn't matter. It's up to you. Right? And it's not only development. You can freelance in some other careers, like project management, or design, or any other thing. So I normally say that you have to work on something meaningful for you, something that you truly, that is truly meant to be a part of it. For example, when you choose to work as a freelancer, I'm sure you can choose for who you're going to work, and maybe that kind of company or kind of business is something that you admire, that you like the way they handle that, and you want to be a part of it. So during my... Like, during your possible freelancer career, you're going to probably swipe to project to another, and you're going to have these kind of different opportunities in your career, and you need to understand what makes you happy in this kind of routine. Then I think you can choose to go and start working on something that you like the most. It can be something specific, like I just mentioned like a technology or a project that has a cool and a good purpose for you or a combination of both. So it's up to you decide what is the best.

Another benefit that I like to say and explain is that you can focus on your main skills. As I just mentioned, I choose to put my freelancer career in a way that I can express my WordPress knowledge. So this is something that I am passionate about. And you can do the same. You can go ahead and find something that you are passionate and work on it. You can work to improve your skills. You can work in order to help like in a specific cause, like open source projects, for example, like in the React community. We have a lot of things that can be done as a community. And the community normally works to grow something together so you can put your main focus on this kind of open source project, for example. Another thing that is important to say is that working as a freelancer, and this doesn't mean that you can't do the same thing working in a normal job, but as a freelancer, you can do your best and you can do your best normally, always. You always have the chance to do your best on something. The better work you do, the better future projects you probably gonna have to work and some kind of recognition you get in the near future. You can imagine that you do something today. It can be something like you plant a seed and you reap it in the future, right? So, for example, when I choose, I can talk again, I can talk by my own experience. When I chose to go to this kind of freelancer career, I put something in my mind that for everything I do, I have to do my best and the best is what I can do at that moment. That is something that can bring some benefit for my clients, that can bring some benefit for the one that I am trying to help. So, again, if you plant the seeds today, you're going to probably reap good results in the near future. When I started to work as a freelancer, there is another thing that I put aside of this, which is speak. Go to global events and speak by my experiences and also spread my crazy ideas about something.


Additional Considerations

Short description:

Freelancing offers independence and the opportunity to learn exponentially. You can work from anywhere, have a customized home office, and receive income in a global currency. These are the main benefits of freelancing.

For example, in the other talk I did in some WordCamp, I think it was in the WordCamp, maybe Miami or Toronto, I can't remember exactly, I choose to do something that no one is able to do before. I don't know why they don't think, but I choose to integrate WordPress with a simple Hasbro piece. So I try to measure the decibels of the crowd screaming and if they reach a certain level of decibels, I make the Hasbro piece put something inside my WordPress product. So again, this is a crazy idea, but it works, right? So, uh, yeah, this is something really cool.

What these kind of freelancing for you... Another thing is the independence. So freelancing gives you the independence, but at the same time, I like to say that the power is nothing... is nothing without control. Like independence not always means, taking control of your life because there is a lot of external factors that can push you down. For example, if you don't have a clear routine, you can, for example, destroy your workday. Everyone has good work days and bad working days. Maybe someone calls you in the middle of your coding. Your son can get you to your office and request some attention. Your wife might request you something. Those things happen, right? And you need to be prepared for these kinds of interruptions. But when I talk about independence, I say that you can be your own life. You can be whenever you want to be and whenever you want to do.

Learning exponentially is something that you're going to see and you're going to feel working as a freelancer. If you choose to work on whatever platform, it can be Upwork or TopTal. And I can talk about TopTal, which is the main platform I work. You will learn exponentially because... Mainly because we're going to get in touch with the best professionals in that technology or in the area you are used to work. And it's not only that, because... our projects normally push you further away. Our clients normally request something that is cool to work or that is something that you have to make something... like best or something beautiful, or something that you can be prouder of. So you can learn exponentially because, again, you can get in touch with the best professionals in the world, you can learn new tricks, you can learn new technologies, you can learn to code on something new. Again, I can bring you my own perspective. I am a WordPress professional and for those who don't know, the WordPress cart was built in PHP. And now, in these days, we have a lot of React inside of it. So I have to learn something new. I have to learn React, in order to keep moving forward my WordPress knowledge. And how I did that, how I choose to learn, for example, with beside TopTile, I have a specific program that can give you some internal academies where you have the opportunity to learn something new, like React, for example, but there's other ones. And also, we can, like inside TopTile, we can provide you some online courses, for example, inside Udemy. So I am able to learn with the best professionals in the world. So, apart from that, I think this topic is important as well in terms of benefits. Which is basic, you can work from anywhere. So the freelancer career brings you a different perspective of physical work and basic needs, for example, you can transcend the boundaries of a normal ops, for example. Definitely, you can have your own home office with the space with the things you like to do, the things you like to use during your work days. Like a comfy chair, like a good desk, like a big widescreen. To code and much more cool stuff like that. So but if you, if you want, of course, if you want to spend some time at the beach, you can do that as well. So you can take, like, these, call small vacations, for example. So you can go to the beach and you have like a solid connection. As I explained at the beginning of my talk. You can work with no problems. Or, for example. I think the only thing you have to do with you is like your laptop and like a solid connection to do some remote work. Right, so you can work from anywhere. This is another cool thing. And at last but not least, I normally like to explain about incomes, right. For example, for me, I live in Brazil. Our currency here is the Brazilian REO, which is a different kind of currency from other places. And normally as you work for a global company, you can have like your income in a global currency, which is normally dollars, for example. It works the same for euros, but this helps you a lot when you make the exchange for your local currency. In my case, for example. So this is another good benefit that you're going to take from working as a freelancer. And normally it's something that you can't do if you work for a normal or usual company locally in your country, for example. Yeah. I think mostly those are my main topics. unfortunately, whereas I was speaking, I was not able to check the chat, but I will answer the questions as soon as possible. Yeah. Yeah. Thanks Rodrigo. I think yeah, Zane had a question and Alexi had a question as well. Okay. Actually hers was more of a comment, but Zane had a question first. Um, so Zane has a question. Zane had a question first. Um, are you able to see that? Yeah.

Freelancing and Work Opportunities

Short description:

Freelancing provides ample work opportunities, especially for global professionals. Platforms like TopTal offer a steady stream of work. Setting your rate should consider the lack of employer benefits, but some platforms provide access to learning resources and equipment funding. Freelancers can also receive different types of payments and have the flexibility to take vacations and handle sick leaves. As a freelancer, you can earn a salary equivalent to high-ranking corporate positions. Freelancing offers the potential for higher income and the ability to work on meaningful projects. It's a viable career option for those willing to put in the effort.

Yeah. I'm just checking right now. Just a second. Okay. Okay. Just want to make sure those are addressed. Okay. I'm going to ask a Zane question. So Zane. Uh, again, I can talk about my experience. A lot of people ask me, um, during my work days, uh, I start, I work with Tom and I am talking about top because this is my main experience. And these five years, I never stopped working unless I want to start, for example, if I go to my personal breaks, like to, into a vacation, but besides that, I never stopped working. And I normally say that if you are open to work, we have worked for you. That's basic. The, the, the thing. In terms of other freelancer platforms. I believe it's. Kind of the same. They are. They have a different process as Shane just explained it, but there is a lot of work these days. A lot of people are my people. When companies are looking for, global professionals, they normally are engaged on some calls, as I explained it, and they prefer that kind of work. So I believe we have enough work. Far far who wants to work? Okay. Let me see. Let's say questions. Do you want me to add to that as well? Sure. Sure. Go ahead. Yeah, I guess, I guess that's from a different perspective as well. Still top tower. Cause all my work has been through top tower. I'm pretty much although it has been some outside of it, but I'd say the bulk of my work has been true topped out. Um, and over the last three and a half years, um, it's only been a period of two weeks I think. Where I was, uh, only working 20 hours a week. Um, rather than full time. And I, I often work. Kind of more than 40, um, do my own choice. Um, but I, there hasn't been a time apart from that period where I was only working 20 hours. I, I, when it comes to every day, um, thing that, every single single one of these arrests, which is, um, what my expose to the stuff, the exhibits is, is, is all about work and walks and it's this art, it's also about physicality and health and the quality of life that people choose. So I think it's been a thing of more times I've been working in the space, not just physically, but like we've been doing in the space in the park for the last 12 months, um, in what I call my playbook, um, exploited our, our old way of living in a three person studio. So I'm talking about kind of setting your rate data on a, and it would include things thinking about that as well. What your rate should also include the fact that you're right, you're not going to have all the employer benefits. Um, but you need to think about that and, and press that into what you do. Yeah. In addition to that, I actually agree with you Alex, it's, it's something that you can cover and sometimes some platforms can provide you, um, like, uh, as I just mentioned, like access to some off learning platform, such as YouDeman for example, or any other kind of, uh, education. So this is kind of your education, but the budget you mentioned, Alexei, um, some platforms can provide also some resources to pay for your equipment, like desk, computer. It's not the case of top towel, of course, but I know that some platforms are able to pay that, and in terms of, uh, like paid holidays and sick leaves. So it's up to you. I think if you choose to work, you're going to receive enough to deal with that if necessary. So, yeah, it's and also some platforms might provide you these kinds of different payments as well. Did I answer the questions? I'm not sure what I think. And I think there was one more question that came in that was interesting. At what point in a salaried career, um, that was an interesting one. Okay, cool. That's a good one. And you guys don't need to think that there's too much and not, like to, to less. Um, today, like currently working as a freelancer for a global company, I was able to receive a salary that is equal to like, probably like board director of a company or a president of a company. For example, I would say that he's something, um, around 10, 10 X, my usual, uh, normal company salary. So, yeah. It's, it's up to you, actually. Uh, I, at some point on on the chat, I talk about my cousin, uh, experience, My cousin chose to, to move from chemical in chemical engineering to development. He did that change in a year. Now he's working in a normal company with a normal engagement, but he wants to work as a freelancer. So I helped him in order to build his own profile and, uh, build his English skills and stuff like that. So now he's taking, uh, uh, our engagement, with, uh, specific, uh, freelancer platform. So he's learning something and by that freelancer work, he's getting his income in dollars, which is more than he gets. From his normal job. All right. Uh, let me see the chat.

Transitioning to Freelancing

Short description:

To transition into freelancing, it's important to understand your skill set and match it with the market's demand. Starting with part-time or hourly engagements can help build your portfolio. Working flexible hours as a freelancer is possible, and the amount of work available is sufficient. Balancing time and prioritizing is key. It's crucial to consider your desired income and the impact on your personal life. Family goals should be a priority. The dilemma of balancing work and personal life depends on individual circumstances and priorities.

Let me see the chat again. Yeah. We have another great question from Nikko. Yeah, just a second. Alex, you can answer this too. For sure. Yeah, sure. Should I, should I go first? Yeah, you can go. I'm just reading. Sure. Um, so just, just before I touched on that one, uh, the previous question as well, in terms of what point during your Salad career, I think I'll touch on it in a bit more detail when I talk about kind of moving into a free dance career. It's definitely important to understand, uh, your own skill set and, and, and be able to marry that up against what the, I guess, what the market's looking for, um, what you're able to do, even as a junior dev, uh, with less than two years experience, uh, there will be, you'll be able to see what other kinds of work is around available for that kind of work as a freelancer. Uh, and as Rodrigo said, uh, as cousin, you can take hourly engagements or smaller, uh, less commitment on, on projects, um, to be able to build up that portfolio, build up that profile so that you are able to then build up into a, uh, if you want it to go into a full time career as a freelancer. Um, in regards to Nico's question, so, um, it might experience. So my, how I moved into freelancing. One of the things that I did was I was working a salary job. Um, and it was, uh, eight or six. So normal work, kind of working office hours. Um, and I picked up a part-time engagement where I worked, uh, with a client in, uh, in the East coast of America, uh, sorry, in the West coast of America. Um, so. The time that started for them there then 9. A.m. was my 5. P.M. Uh, and I was able to negotiate in my employer to be able to work, uh, finished earlier. So I took a shorter, shorter lunch break and finished a bit earlier and work with the client and start a little bit later. So I didn't start with them until six, um, which was fine. And I, and I just worked the four hours in the evening with them. Um, I guess you, you can obviously have the conversation with the client as well. Um, if, if it's a case of, uh, some of that could be done. Uh, asynchronously, uh, I guess for me as a project manager, uh, I needed to be available when the development team were available, but as a developer, um, a lot the work has been asynchronously, and if you can kind of demonstrate you're able to do that, then, uh, that shouldn't be a difficult conversation to have with the client. Yeah. Um, I think I don't have anything else to say. I think you cover it pretty much basic, my, my experience as well. So if you wanted to make this movement from, um, like a normal job to freelancer, you can work again whenever you want, if it's on your midnight or doing your weekends, it's up to you, right? So you can also choose how many hours you want to spend in, in a, in this kind of job. So, again, it's possible and it's totally up to you. Hey Rodrigo. Alex, if I mean, and I think, and I'm just kind of asking for Nico, um, if you do come in now and say, you just put your time at, let's just say 20 hours. I'm just saying that is it, is it going to be harder though to find work? So for me, for me personally, um, as I said, I've been working through top tower for the last three and a half years. Um, and I have only ever taken on part time or hourly, hourly engagements. So I'll say as to why slightly later on, but I can promise you that 20 hours a week, um, is more than feasible. I've not ever had any problem getting work, um, the older projects, and I think clients also. Especially if it's their first foray into freelancing, they may prefer it because they're not committing to a full time salary they're looking at, well, what can this person do over part time? Uh, and they may want to scale it up, which may work for your main not. And if it doesn't, then as I said, I've said your freelancers, we would read I said, um, you could decide to that and move on. Thank you. Um, yeah, just same thing. For example, there is, I believe I can, by my own experience, there is enough work to do. So if you choose to go, like you mentioned, like to start working in a part-time engagement together with your normal work, you can imagine that you're going to need to expand. Uh, at least five extra hours per day, working something else, right? So you need to understand if you're open to that, unless you're going to probably have a lot of things to do and you might not deliver something good. So it's a hard decision to make because working as a freelancer doesn't mean that you need to deliver something again like wherever you have to, it's, it's like one of them, one of the good and best options you have, but you have to deliver something good as well. It's a real work, right? It's not, you are not, we are not playing. We are working professionally and our clients expect you to deliver something real for them. They are expecting that. Otherwise there is no reason to, to work in that way. Um, and Alexei actually posted a question. You guys can read it there. This, this is actually a really interesting question and observation. I don't, if both of you could answer or share your views on that. Yeah, you can go first Alex. Okay, cool. Um, so isn't there a dilemma? Um, I would say no, not for me personally. Um, so a bit about me, um, I have four children, um, between the ages of 12 and four months. Uh, um, so you can imagine all the complexities with that. Uh, and I generally build between 60 and 70 hours a week, uh, on the projects I work on. Um, and. I, I guess it comes down to prioritizing time, balancing time, uh, knowing when I'm able to work, I guess, because I've got a good reputation with Toptal and the clients I work with, um, I'm able to kind of dictate the hours I'll work within reason, um, but as long as the work gets done, the clients are happy. Um, if it comes down to, I guess the other side of it is when it comes down to, uh, it's something I'll talk about later on survival budget or kind of what you want to, uh, you should have an idea of what you want to make as a freelancer. Um, once you exceed that, um, once you achieve that, um, then important to consider the rest of your life as well. Um, as much as I enjoy what I do, um, the reason I do it isn't to benefit of my clients, which is the benefit of my family. Um, and so once I'm able to achieve those goals of my family, then I'm able to kind of make the decision of what's more important to me, whether the extra a hundred dollars or so is important or whether the time with my kids and my partner is.

Work-Life Balance and Support in Freelancing

Short description:

Understanding your limits and finding a comfortable work-life balance is crucial in freelancing. Platforms like Top Talk offer a variety of projects to choose from, ensuring freelancers can work on projects they enjoy. If a clash of personalities or dissatisfaction with a project arises, freelancers can communicate their concerns to the delivery manager and be reassigned to a more suitable project. In terms of support, freelancers can rely on virtual communities like Slack channels or communicate with clients and fellow developers. Additionally, freelancers can participate in meetups and events organized by the community to foster collaboration and networking.

So that that's how I, that's how I look at things. I think it's important to understand what your limits are and where you want to stop let's talk. Yeah. Yeah. That's a good point. My family is a little bit small. I have just one son and a dog and my wife, but I would say, for example, again, I can talk about my, my experience in the past, I used to work 60 hours per week, which is a lot, right? And in some point of my life, I get very stressed and then I have to choose to start working on something that I can deal and have my healthy. Okay. And for now I am working 40 hours per week and I believe that's totally fine for me. I understand that my rate is comfortable for me to leave, to have like good lives and stuff like that. So, uh, it's not a dilemma for me. As well. For me, it works very well. And I think Julia asked something as well. Okay. We ask. That was great. Okay. Yeah. So, so do that. Um, how can I say I'm not being pain to be here talking to you, right? I am using my own personal time to be here spreading to the world what is freelancing. Uh, but for example, uh, I like to sing. My, my, my job is How to do what I do. As I just mentioned. So we have all the kinds of jobs, right? But it doesn't mean that you need to work on something that other people doesn't work. There is inside the company. You have great projects, great cases. And you can tack that, and you're going to probably understand that they are not They would love to work on something like that. We have all the kinds of clients, brands, and projects. So this is the same for freelance career, of course. It depends on the platform for sure. Some platforms have different kinds of projects to deal, but talking about specifically about Top Talk, I never face something that I would prefer to not work on, why I choose to start working on something. I never faced that situation all my life. I've actually been working on a project and there was a clash of personalities, I'd say, with me and the client. We had different opinions on a number of things. I wasn't very happy working on the project. I went to the delivery manager, the person that gets the client and the work for me, at Top Towel and I told them I didn't want to work on the project any more, I was unhappy with it. They moved me off and put someone else on. I was then moved onto a project that I did enjoy. I assume the person that moved me onto that project may have enjoyed it as well. It's quite flexible, we're not doing toilet duty. We are working on things we want to work on, and we're here, as Rodrigo said, we're not getting paid to speak today, we're here because we do believe what we're doing is, for us at least, the best way forward. Thanks, guys. We got a really good question, and I think this is super important. Let's just say when you get stuck on any problem, because I think, Alex, your problems might be different than Rodrigo's, but how do you guys, in a traditional workset, if you get stuck on something, like he mentioned, you have a daily stand up or you have colleagues that you can talk to in person. What do you guys do when you're stuck on something? You need support. Sure, sure, for example, normally we don't work alone, right? We have other colleagues that we can discuss our problems, they are not physical in the same room as we are, but we can discuss our problems. So, we can use for example Slack, and again, I am getting top-down example. We have a huge Slack community, so a lot of people is inside our Slack community, and you can go to some of our technical channels, for example, we have a React channel or a WordPress channel, where you can join, request for help or even help some colleague. There is one way to look for answers or request for help. But of course, it's not only that, some clients has other developers, you can talk with them. There is many ways to talk and solve problems unstuck, get unstuck in some situations. That is not necessarily to stay on the same room as your colleagues. I mean the virtual environment is huge and you can look for answers and requests for help in some of the possible tools and things we have around us these days. I think one thing to mention is that a lot of times you're with a team of people on a job. You're not necessarily working by yourself. You're actually with a team. Let me say one thing to that though because I think this is important. Again, I apologize. I can only speak from the top top point at this because I don't know if the others do this, but we have a community of all the freelancers and they do meetups. So they do actually collaborate together if they want to. Again, it's their choice. And so they do foster that if they want to. I don't know if Alex or Rodrigo you've done that personally, but I know that we do have that. We have a community. She's in charge of all the community for freelancers and they organize meetups. They organize ways for you to feel like you have colleagues that you can talk with. And I think fostering that makes it feel more like you do have that like what you were mentioning with the daily standup. Because you don't just want to go to Stack Overflow. You don't just want to go to forums.

Starting Freelancing Journey

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Alex and Rodrigo discuss the feeling of being unqualified and the support they receive from the TopTal network. They explain the screening process and how it ensures that freelancers have the necessary skills. They also mention the benefit of having conversations with other project managers and the access to resources through partnerships with companies like Amazon. They address the question of whether interviews are required to land a client's team, explaining that it can vary depending on the project and the client's preferences. Rodrigo emphasizes the importance of interviews to understand project requirements and solve doubts. They conclude by discussing their own experiences and the decision to pursue freelancing.

That makes you feel like you're by yourself. You want to talk to other colleagues. And, yes, you can do that. Julia says is it asking, admitting being unqualified? I don't, I mean do you feel that way Alex or Rodrigo if you needed to ask for help? Especially from, you know, with one of the client devs, would you feel like, oh my gosh, I don't look as experienced? I can go first. I don't feel that, mainly because, for example, again as Shane just mentioned. I can talk by my personal experience with TopDown, which is what I am. So, when you choose to go and work with TopDown, you have to run through a certain screening process, right? And this screening process is not the easiest one. It's not the hardest one, but it's not the easiest one. And with that screening process, we can understand how senior you are on something. So, I would say that if you are already inside a platform, you're going to probably have the necessary skills and you will not feel unqualified to work on something. And another important thing, our internal colleagues, our internal team is able to understand based on your profile if you are capable or not to start working on something. So, they will probably not send you to work on something that you don't have experience. For sure. So, that's another perspective. Yeah, I guess from my perspective, as a project manager, I guess it's more… A lot of things we get stuck on would be more opinion-based. So, having those… having the… be able to have these conversations with other project managers… So, I actually run, before Covid happened, I actually ran community events in the area that I work in. Its good from the technical side. I know that TopTowel, again, I'm thinking of the TopTowel perspective, but I know that TopTowel has partnerships with companies like Amazon, so AWS, for instance. So, if we get stuck on documentation or anything required on that side, we're able to get a direct contact within those organizations to be able to help as well, which is a benefit of being part of the network. Okay, I think we have one more question from Jon. Let's go ahead and answer that question, and then, I think what we want to do is do our break and start our challenge. I think everybody's going to have a lot of fun with this, so I'm kind of excited to see how people do, and you guys will all have a blast with this. People that have done it really like it. So, let's go ahead. If you guys don't mind, Alex, Rodrigo, can we answer John's question, just so he's not hanging, he says, will you still, so let's say you're in the network and you're in there. Do you still have to go through interviews to land a client's team and what does that interview, like what does that entail? So, if you don't mind we go first, Rodrigo, so sometimes, yeah, so sometimes. There's different, I guess teams within Tocktail the network, sometimes you'll be working with only Tocktail talent, so if it's Tocktail projects engagement for instance, you'll only be working with other people within the network and sometimes on those projects, at least in my experience, someone will put you forward to the client, so the delivery manager put you forward to the client as part of that team and the client can sign off on the team straight away and you get to work without having to have an additional interview with the client. Sometimes the client might feel that they want to have a conversation with you first and it may be that you're working with some of their team and want to see how well you integrate with their on-site team or even if it is through an engagement where you're working only with Tocktail talent, they may want to have a conversation with you so sometimes you will have an interview and that can vary. I mean, it's generally more to discuss your approach or at least from a project manager's perspective to discuss the approach. I know I've been part of interviews with clients to interview developers as well and they want to make sure that they have the necessary experience and a skill set to be able to solve whatever the specific problem is that they're trying to resolve. So sometimes those interviews can involve Tocktail talent being part of it, so a project manager or a product manager as well. Thanks Alex. Is there anything you wanted to add to that Rodrigo or? Yes, I think for example, besides the engineering role inside Tocktail, I am also a screener, so I can talk about one important thing, which is basic. When you apply to work in a job, you have to have this kind of interview with the client in order to understand and map each other. For example, you need to understand what are the project requirements and what are the expected deliverables, right? So this kind of interviews are something good for both sides, for the client and for the professional that is starting to work on something because you can solve doubts, right? And this is something good that you can take from that interview. And for me, on my perspective, I really like that. I think it's very beneficial. Okay, I'm going to turn this over to Rodrigo and we're going to just cover how to get started. So these are going to be some basics from his perspective too, on how do you get started doing this? So whether you're in your career, just starting your career, how do you actually get started? So, Rodrigo, take it away from there. Okay, perfect. So moving on to this next part of the workshop. I'm going to try to explain you briefly what is my perspective, my experience and the path I've taken to start working as a freelancer. So in some part of my career, I get stuck in a point that I was not able to work on the things I would love to work on. And it's not only that. I was feeling that I was not getting the necessary recognition, like was not being recognized as we're expecting it to be. So that point creates a point of stress in my life and I feel that I get stuck at some point. So at that point, my son was born and I have a lot of things to do, right? It's not only for my son and help my wife with that situation, but with my career which was not good or it was not in a way that I was expecting. So I put everything on the balance and I choose to understand what are my main skills, the things I have knowledge, and the stuff that I can use for my own benefit in order to move forward and think about a different career or a small change on my career. And of course I put the bad things on the other side of the scale. So, for me, I was looking to be recognized by my work, about the things I do, and about the things I love to do actually, which is code, right? I am a developer, I am an engineer and normally these kinds of professional loves the things they do. So I was looking for that. And another important thing, I was looking in a way that I can improve my skills. And what I mean with that is not only technical skills, but for example, language skills, because, again, I am not a native speaking, not an English native speaker. So my native language is Portuguese, which is complete different than other languages. It's not even close to English or Spanish or other. So I was looking for that, and I was looking in a way that I can travel, met new places, and spread my ideas. So I put all of this in the scale and in the balance, and I was trying to understand how can I achieve that goal? So at that point, I choose to go to the web and make some research in order to understand other companies around the world will be interested in someone that has my skills. I find some options. I apply it. And the sad thing is that I fail in most of the companies that I applied. You can believe that. And in some point, I figure out that it's not my skills that are weak or I have any kind of lack in my experience. It's not that. Actually, I was not aware about how it works in the screening process in a remote way. And when I figure out that I was able to try again, to be honest, I was invited for joining the Top Times network at some point. I believe someone sent me a link on my LinkedIn. And when I, for example, saw that and knowing the Top Times background, I think, oh, okay, if I fail on the other ones, I'm going to probably fail on this one. And when I stop and think about my career, my process, I put in the balance one thing, why not to try, right? What I can lose if I try? And the answer was very simple. I don't have anything to lose. I will try and understand if I am a good fit or not.

Getting Started as a Freelancer

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You don't have to wait to be fully aware or fully professional to start working as a freelancer. Talk to your freelancer friends, understand your biggest achievements, and use them to your advantage. Start with networks like Proctol to find clients and focus on your technical expertise. Create a personal website to showcase your work. Don't wait, apply to freelancer networks and get prepared. Remote work is a challenge, but you can learn to be productive and committed. Keep an open channel with clients, plan your day in advance, and be part of a community.

I will make the best of it. So I applied to work, to apply to pass through the stock out screening process. And then I realized that I have more experience than I was expecting to have. And the crazy thing is that when I apply to other kind of remote jobs, I haven't understand how this kind of process works, but my job is. Now when I apply to TopTile, I was able to reach all the necessary stuff because I had that kind of screening, remote screening experience. Gladly, I pass on the process and start working with TopTile.

As we already mentioned in some of our talk, Alex and I, we are very pleasant on working for a company as TopTile, work as a remote freelancer, work as a developer. And I think this is one of the greatest things that happens in my life in these past five years. I'm not talking only about money, which most of the people think. I'm talking about increasing my knowledge, having this kind of opportunities to spread my point of view in a workshop, in a conference in a talk like this. And it's something that I normally say that is life change for me.

So the biggest takeaway of of my talk here is that you don't have to wait to be fully aware or fully professional to start working to start applying to work as a freelancer employee, as a freelancer professional because you will only understand the things that you are weak or not if you try if you apply and if you give you the chance to understand so you don't have anything to lose. Probably if you feel comfortable go ahead and apply. Okay, so that's my personal point of view and my experience life change is fine. We are not used to that. But we need to understand that in some point we have to and now I'm going to try to summarize one of the a few important things that you need to understand in order to get started as your with your freelancer career actually.

So if you still have doubts you can try to talk with your friends if your friends are already freelances talk with them ask questions solve your doubts. Friends are like a one important way to speak and understand in a trustable way to get the correct answers, right? So don't hesitate and talk with your freelancer friends they will help you to understand how it is working as a freelancer another important thing that you should to do when we start working as a freelancer is to make like small retrospective of your proudest achievements in your career because you probably have something that you are proud about something that you work something that you feel that is good enough to spread to the world and you have to use that in your own benefit. We're going to talk about in the next few topics. We're going to talk about setting up a business and things like that. But when you start your freelancer career, you need to think that you are your own company, right? And you need to put yourself in front of everything. So we need to show up to the world to your clients what you are capable to do that. So that's the biggest thing. So try to understand what are your biggest achievements in your career and use them in your own benefit. Starting your freelancer career is another thing that we need to care and it's not simple as that because sometimes you you see someone that is working as a freelancer, and you'd like to work in the same way. But maybe you are not prepared to that. And one of the important things you have to do in order to restart your career is defying your goals. So I think you need to understand if you are ready to start and you need to understand if you're ready to start this new adventure in your lives. And what I am saying with those is that you can think of you in the next like in the near future, maybe in the next year or the next five years or more but see you as a personal in a personal perspective and in a professional perspective what you'd like to achieve with that moving your usual office career to your freelancer career these things need to be very clear and it helps you every day of your freelancer work because when I have any kind of objective or like a goal you can fight for it in a bad way in a best in in your best way, right? I think another important stuff is that you don't need to be you don't need you don't need but I highly recommend you to start your freelancer with network such as Proctol or these kind of networks that can help you to find clients and also the this kind of networks can help you to find great clients as well. So we can talk a little bit in much detail further way, but for example. Inside Proctol and then again, I'm using this example because I am on it. We don't need to care about finding clients. You don't need to care about invoicing clients and this kind of stuff. We're going to deal with everything else for you. So your main focus will be your technical expertise, right? So this is one good tip that I have for you find this kind of networks take this kind of networks can help you a lot and decrease the amount of work extra work office work that you have to do in your days.

Another important thing and it's connected to one of the topics. I just mentioned is to create your personal brand so you can create your personal website for example and place there everything that you think that is relevant for your career, you can talk about yourself, you can have a blog for example and express your ideas and your thoughts about Technical stuff. You can also place your projects the things that you have done in the past and stuff like that. So having a personal website is another good way to start working as a freelancer. Again, I believe you should not wait to apply, right? There is a lot of freelancer networks. We we talk a lot about some of them on this workshop. Get prepared and start applying, try to understand if you are like a good match to work as a freelancer by applying, right? So, yeah, I think that's the summary of getting started. But also there is something that I would like to share with you, which is the kind of preparation in order to start working as a freelancer because work remotely is like a great challenge to everyone. Mainly for those who haven't had this experience before. Some days, your work will flow beautifully, but some other days, it will not. And you have to face this kind of interruptions or unexpected situations. You have to learn with that and avoid what makes you stressful, for example. Also, you need to find your best way, your pace to be productive. And most important, you need to understand that you need to be committed to the job. I mean, not only how many hours you spend, but you need to understand that you need to be committed with your deliverables, with the things you have been assigned to do. And your clients will expect to see that, right? In a way that you define with them. So, that's another important thing. You need to be prepared to talk and speak, of course. Always, you need to keep like, open channel with your clients. So you need to make them aware about what's happening. If something weird happens, you need to let them know as soon as possible. The same way if you have any kind of doubts, for example, you are working on a specific task, or in a specific project and you have doubts. You need to have this kind of open channel with the clients and make the things run correctly. Also, you need to understand the importance of time, organization, and focus. Always, if possible, try to plan your day in advance. In a night before or you can use a tool, whatever tool you prefer or technique, but it's important to put it in practice. You have to do this every day including on Saturdays and Sundays, right? Because I can use my example because, for example, I always try to finish my day reviewing the things I have to do tomorrow. That way, I can predict some situations in advance and run through them as soon as possible. So, this is only a tip in order to you understand that you need to be prepared for things. And you're going to need to deal with that as well. You need to be your kind of own project manager. And this is one big challenge in a way that we start working in this kind of career. Another important thing that you need to understand is that community is always your best choice. As I already mentioned in some point of this talk, in the communities, you can stay in touch and met new people, you can exchange your ideas, help other people and just stay aware about what's happening. You don't need to be shy.

Preparation and Getting Started

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Everyone has the right to express themselves and ask for something. Refactoring and re-engineering are important in development and engineering. Language is crucial, especially English. Don't overwork yourself and be mindful of burnout. Take breaks and prioritize your mental health. Understand discipline, motivation, and have a good workspace. Register yourself as a business and consider health insurance options. Let's move on to the next topic.

Everyone has the right to express themselves and ask for something. No one has the only truth, so everything can be improved in some way when we talk about development and engineering. We can refactor and re-engineer to improve things. Language is also important. English is a global language, and it's essential to know how to express yourself and communicate effectively. Language is one of the most important things, and it's crucial to be well-versed in it. At TopTal, we require a certain level of English skills for our screening process. It's important to avoid overworking yourself in your freelance career. Sometimes, you may work more hours because you discover you can do more, but be careful not to burn out. Take breaks and plan time off to avoid exhaustion. Your mental health is more important than anything, so take care of yourself. In terms of preparation, understanding discipline, motivation, and having a good workspace are key. Finding the power within you to make a change is essential when transitioning to freelancing. Don't give up, keep moving forward even if things don't go as expected.

When getting started as a freelancer, it's important to think of yourself as a business entity. Register yourself as a business, such as an LLC, to protect yourself legally. Health insurance is a concern for many freelancers. If you're still working part-time or have coverage through a spouse, you may be protected. There are also insurance options available for sole proprietors and freelancers. Take care of your business structure and insurance needs to ensure you're protected. Now, let's move on to the next topic.

Freelancer's Mindset and Preparation

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When starting a freelance career, it's important to be aware of the potential for burnout and exhaustion. Taking breaks, planning vacations, and prioritizing mental health are crucial. Preparation involves understanding discipline, motivation, and creating a conducive workspace. It's also important to find the inner power to make the change and keep moving forward. Registering as a business, considering health insurance options, and setting aside funds for taxes are essential steps in getting started as a freelancer.

So in some part of your freelancer career, you work more than more because you discovered that you can do more. Right? You can move you can go do further. You can work more hours than usual and if that happens be careful. Be very careful on that because sometimes you're going to feel empty and exhausted I'm not lying Like the burnout syndrome. It can reach anyone so try to have pleasant days make quick pauses between one accomplishment to another You can plan for example to take some time off and have like a small vacation as Tim Ferry says on his book.

The fall our work week, I think and remember your mental It's more than anything so you can work on something. If you are not okay with yourself or if you are well with your health, I think in summary in terms of preparation there is three main things that you need to understand deeply how they work which are basic discipline motivation and also have a good place to work. So you have these three kind of stuff. And you understand deeply how them work. I think you might be able to start working this kind of freelance career. I would like to add on that. That sometimes you need to find a power that exists inside of you and make the change. Right? To start something new and like if you are choosing to move from your usual office, a career to a freelancer. You don't have to give up. You can try to keep moving forward. Even if the things doesn't happen as you expect to happen. So basic is that in term of in terms of preparation.

Now, I can have Shane to help me with some of the business approach for freelancers. What do you think? Or you would like to open for the floor for questions. What you prefer, Shane. Yeah, I'll thanks Rodrigo. That was great. I think you like what you covered there a lot. I think you know experience resume preparation and the one thing you said that was so important is mindset just making that decision and I do believe the best way to enter into the freelancing world is to just get started. You know, maybe you're already working just get started on the side and just dip your toes in the water unless you really really truly want to just dive in with both feet and you're able to do that and some people are everybody's different. However, there's a couple things on here. I do want to cover in getting started that I think are important and some of these just as a side may apply more to you as folks than they would, you know, like a Western Eastern European person because of that just the nature of insurance. So let me cover that real quick.

So the first thing in getting started and this is if even if you're Just doing this part-time, even if you're just going to go over to You know fiverr or upwork in you just want to get your feet wet and try it out or perhaps you're going to go for top towel. You need to think about what it means to be a freelancer and that means you yourself are in entity. You're a business. So what you need to do is register yourself as a business. It can be different in every country. I'm sure it is. Here in the US you would register as an LLC and be a sole proprietor. And again, there's there there are tons and tons of resources to help do that or you can you know, do it on your own? But that's the first step. Take care of that first make sure and it's as simple, you could even make it your name. So you could be, you know, John Smith LLC, you don't have to come up with a fancy business name. It's just for yourself. Legal Zoom is one of the resources mentioned, but there's many others to do that. So business structure. Take care of that first and really it's pretty cheap and it exists to protect yourself. So secondly, big concern and I've been asked this many many many times is insurance. What do I do about health insurance now in some cases, most likely Rodrigo Alex like they mentioned they have that covered for them. If you're in a situation where you don't there are resources. So one thing people do for example is they start freelancing while they're still on health insurance from their company. So again, this goes back to people's questions about can I do this part time? Therefore you're protected in that sense. A lot of people that are married join their spouses plan. That's another thing people to and sometimes there's a cost to that if you're don't fit into any of those there are plans out there regardless of where you are that now are focused on sole proprietors and freelancing and what they are is Marketplaces. They will go out and look for health insurance plans that can fit your budget. So when you're setting this goes all the way back to the beginning where we talked about setting rates when you're setting your rate of pay you build in. In your hourly rate you build in so that you are able to take care of these things on your own and that's entirely possible. So that's just from the health insurance. So it's not impossible to find it. It depends how you approach it and what plans you get but you because you're freelancing you're going to be charging more. Let's just say at a company. You're making $45 an hour and I'm talking US fee. When you're freelancing you might charge 95. So what you're doing is you're building in that room for yourself to be able to pay for these things. Now the very last thing is taxes and I think that this generally would affect everybody because we've all got them. If you don't have taxes, please let me know. I want to move there. So the general rule is this everybody says this again when you set your rate plan for this. So what you would do is you would just, a lot of people do this, they save. Oh, thanks, Julia. That's great. That's really low. When you do this, your freelancing career, just take what they say is 20 to 30%, put it aside. So whatever you're earning, take 20 to 30% of that and push it to the side. Again, this comes all the way back to setting your rate.

Managing Finances and Pathways to Freelancing

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Setting your rate high as a freelancer allows you to save a portion of your income without affecting your bottom line. As a sole proprietor, you can write off certain expenses, such as travel and work-related meals. Keeping receipts and using apps for expense tracking simplifies the process. It's important to remember that many others have successfully navigated these challenges, and the freelancing community continues to grow. Different countries have their own tax incentives for freelancers, and hiring an accountant can help with tax management. The cost of an accountant is relative to the value they provide and the potential fines for DIY tax filing. Utilizing software like QuickBooks can also ease the burden of financial management. Understanding your personal survival budget is crucial in determining your freelance income goals and considering factors like taxes and health insurance.

If you set your rate high where it should be as a freelancer, you will be able to take that 20% or 30%, put it away and you're still not gonna affect your bottom income. So the other thing is, and I'll mention this, because you're a sole proprietor, you can write down certain expenses. For example, if you're traveling for work, meals that you might've had for work. So you wanna keep your receipts, you wanna keep everything. And I mean, these days, honestly, there's apps that do it, you can just take an image, it's so easy. It used to be you had to keep all the paper, maybe you still do in your country, but here I know we can take a picture using an app. So if any of that is daunting, just remember all of this has been done. I mean, Rodrigo has done it, Alex has done it, I'm sure, in some way, form or fashion. And it's 100% possible, don't let it dissuade you from freelancing. These are tiny barriers to overcome. So again, these are big blocks for a lot of people, but it is, and I would say this, everyday, it gets better and better as the freelancing community grows. I mean, again, you saw the numbers. We're already at 67 million freelancers, that's a lot of people, so.

So I don't know, Rodrigo or Alex, if you wanted to add anything to that at all, because I'm, again, talking from the perspective of U.S. point-of-view, so.

Yeah, I can talk about my perspective, which is the Brazilian perspective. And it's basic, I would say basic the same thing, almost the same thing. I prefer to organize my earnings in this kind of percentage for each thing I want to use all my life. So, and apart from that, in terms of taxes, where I live specifically, this is not for all the whole Brazil, but where I live is specifically, we have some incentives for digital companies, for technical companies that work with external companies, like for outside Brazil. And that way, we can pay like lowest taxes than the usual companies, too, because we are exporting ourselves. This might work in the same way for other countries, but that's one thing that happened here.

Yeah, I guess not to kind of labor the point, it's similar similar here. I think that all the principles you said the same, I think it's also worth just looking out to see. Here we can either you can either be a sole trader or director of a limited company, and there's benefits to each side. Also, one of the benefits I experienced was that I was able to kind of be a manager One of the benefits I experienced is that you don't have to pay VAT if your income is well... If your income was a certain amount you had to pay VAT and you have to register for it, but if it's only for UK income, so if your income is coming from overseas and this actually top tier pays us from the clients US income. So that pay VAT on that, which is a benefit. What I would say on that point that is probably something that is quite behind the times. So when you are considering these things, just realize that it's likely that the government at some point will catch up to what's happening. And it may be that you will end up paying taxes that you've found the loophole around because of freelance work not being in the main as much as it is now. Alex, Rodrigo, do you guys deal with all this yourself? Or do you think that, like I know Top Tail pays you. So you get something from Top Tail. Does it help you with sorting out taxes and stuff? Or do you guys just find somebody to help you with this? How do you deal with that? I have an accountant, I have an accountant. You do? Me too, yeah. Okay, so you basically just let someone else deal with it? Yup. Okay, thanks. Does that seem to be very expensive? Or how do you, what do you think? So in relative terms, no. I think, I mean, I think I pay about 1,700 pounds a year, so about $2,000, well just over $2,000 a year. And I mean, the amount of work that they do compared to how much work I would have to do if I did it myself, plus all the fines I'd get if I did it wrong. It covers, it more than covers it. And again, it's priced into, I mean, 1,700 a year is a 100 and something, 130, whatever, a month. I mean, I would make that on with a couple of hours worth. So in relative terms, it makes sense to do it that way. I know people that try to do it themselves and ended up with huge fines from HORC or in that revenue. So it's not worth risking it. And so yeah. I think Julia had a good point that, but I think to your point, Julia, it's probably cheaper, accountants charge different rates in different places. And again, you don't need an account. You can do something like QuickBooks or your version of, I mean, I'm not sure where you're at. There's many different ways though to take the burden off your shoulders. You know, yeah, okay. Yeah, she gets the point. Okay, great. So why don't we go Alex and switch over here to talking about some common pathways to getting to your career. I think this will be interesting, again, for a lot of people on here, because they may be thinking about getting into this as a career. So Alex, go for it. And I'm gonna change the slides here so that we get this. Here we go. Here's Alex. Cool, thank you very much. So I've approached this from kind of my pathway, my main pathway into getting into this as a full-time career. And I'll try to do it in the steps I think make the most amount of sense. So the first thing for me is to organize and understand your own finances. And it's what I call, I think you probably heard the term, a personal survival budget. Understanding what you need to earn to live or maintain your lifestyle or whatever level you wanna be at as a minimum. You need to have an understanding of what that means, both monthly and how that would translate hourly as well. So, for example, you may wanna work out what it is you need to earn per month. As we said before, we would add on all the things like, well, that's after tax, you need to then include taxes. You may need to have, consider health insurance depending on where you live and the other benefits you wanna maintain as well. What the cost of those would be if you're not gonna be getting them from an employer.

Setting Rates and Scaling Up

Short description:

To determine your rate, consider your desired work hours and monthly survival budget. Research the market for your skillset and focus on skills rather than jobs. Build a portfolio showcasing your work and results. Register with agencies like TopTal to find work and establish a reputation. Make yourself stand out by going above and beyond, working longer hours, and seeking referrals. Set your rate competitively at first and gradually increase it as you gain more referrals and a better reputation. Always present the best version of your work to become irresistible to clients.

And then you'd break that down into what an hour, what the hourly rate would be based on how many hours you wanna work, because ultimately, you're not contracted to a 40 hours per week or 37 and a half hours per week job. Now, you now decide the hours you wanna work. So, if you have your monthly survival budget and decide you wanna work five hours a week, then your rate's gonna be quite high, but if that's what you wanna do, that's how you base it. If you're willing to work more hours, then you obviously can put a lower rate and you may be able to get more work initially. But what I'd say is strip it down to what is, I consider to be, the bare bones, and that's what I did. I kind of really worked out what I needed to earn to maintain the level of lifestyle that I wanted to live at that time, and that was my initial start when I started looking into freelance work.

The second thing is to really do your homework and understand the market for your skillset. Now, that isn't to try and replicate the job that you have because the job that you have at a company is not based on you, it's based on the company. So, what the company needs, right? They have a number of projects or even if it's kind of BA operations and they need you to do something or they need something done and then they will find someone who can do that job. There'll be things within that job that maybe you aren't great at, that you currently do, and there might be things that you are really good at and things in the middle, things that you don't enjoy, things that you do enjoy. Strip it back and kind of reverse it and look at the market for your specific skillset. What are you good at? What do you enjoy? What do you want to be able to do going forward? And then try and start looking for, just Google search will show you what the market is like for those particular skills. So, start searching for skills rather than jobs. You can find online as well. You can find that kind of a skills audit kind of asking questions as well. And you could go through that to be able to make it easier for you. But it's really important to understand what things you are qualified to do and you're able to demonstrate that you can do as well even if you're not qualified. And you can kind of assess the demand for those individual skills.

And then a portfolio is important and a portfolio is not just a resume or a CV. It's important that you're able to put together and show the results that you have been able to produce from your work, so products that you've worked on, the people that you worked with and what the outcome was from the work that you did. And it's, of course, in the types of roles that we're looking at here, developer roles, you should be able to, unless the companies have closed down or whatever, you should be able to show websites or software or mobile apps, whatever it is that you've done, you should be able to have something demonstrable and you wanna be able to create links and add links to that as well. You wanna put that all together so it's readily available and easy to access. Of course, if you're new to the industry that you're working in, you may not have a lot of this, but there will be ways that you can, of course, show this. I mean, even GitHub repositories and things that you may have worked on, you're able to show this. And the more you are able to add to your portfolio, the more, of course, the stronger your case will be for the rate that you wanna achieve.

Do you want to do questions at the end, Shane? Did you want to answer the questions that are coming up at the end? Yeah, I think so, yeah. Okay, I'll keep going. Because and I also just realized that we are like, I don't even know how this time flew. No worries, I'll fly through this then. So after you got this portfolio together and you understand your skillset and what the list of the skillset, you don't wanna start looking at where you can shop your skills, essentially where you can get people to find work for you. I think registering with agencies, I think as Rodrigo has touched on earlier, really important., all the ones that spoke about work, Top Towel, because I think, as again, it varies depending on which agencies and networks we work with, but one of the benefits for me about Top Towel, as opposed to the stuff that I do separately, I do work separately as well. One of the benefits of Top Towel is I know that if I do the work, I'm going to get paid. I don't have to worry about whether the client is going to not pay the invoice, or anything like that. I know that I'm going to get paid, and I don't have to chase those things. That work alone, with other work that I do, takes 10, 15 hours a week sometimes. That's work that I'll be doing on a Saturday or a Sunday, which is when I'd rather be, well, rather than not be. So register with those agencies. They will find you work. They will do a lot of the legwork as well. They thrive on the fact that they have clients, so they will need clients, and then once you get a reputation within these companies, as Rodrigo has, and as I have, within Toptow, the work will find you. One of the projects that I worked on, that Shane touched on earlier, was the MedTech project, so I was working on augmented reality software for orthopedic surgery. Really innovative, nothing else out there at the time that was even similar, and I wasn't an expert, and I saw not, but I wasn't an expert in augmented reality, I wasn't an expert in MedTech, but I delivered that project to such a high degree that now within the network, within Toptow, if a project comes on across someone's desk and it's a MedTech project or it's an augmented reality project, or even virtual reality or something similar, I'm usually the first one they call. They will look to see if I'm available to get on that project, and it's because I've done that work within the network. Depending on the quality of the networks, they do remember who you are and they will find work for you. And that I guess goes into the next thing I was gonna say, about making yourself irresistible. You really want to build your own kind of personal brand and make yourself stand out, go on above and beyond on the work that you do. At first, when you're getting your foot in the door, it's the same for many industries, when you're getting your foot in the door, go work longer hours and pick up things that maybe aren't within your direct job description and be willing to help kind of outwork everyone else within the team. You wanna be able to be the last one to leave and the first one to arrive kind of thing. I know it's remote, but that kind of mindset puts you in the front of people's minds and the matches within these networks and then the clients that you get will remember that. You also will get referrals as well. I've got so many referrals from clients I worked with with TopTal that I've got work outside of TopTal as well just by virtue of working with these clients. They will remember you when you do a good job for them. So make sure you're getting referrals as well.

Part of making yourself irresistible is setting the rate and how you approach setting your rate. I set my rate pretty low. So it was competitive initially. And this worked in well with my survival budget because I knew what I needed to earn. It was less than what I would like to earn but it was what I needed to earn. And so I was able to take my rate pretty low, get my foot in the door because I was cheaper than everyone else. And then the clients were able to realize my value. I got great referrals for them because not only was the work great but it was actually great value for money because I was so cheap. Great referrals from them. And so then I started to put my rate up as I got more and more referrals and a better reputation within the network. And again, the final piece of that is just to present the best version of your work. So you always want to be able to show really hop on about the things that you're really good at and you really enjoy. And make sure you demonstrate those things as much as possible. So you really do become irresistible to the clients going forward. The next piece on that is to scale up. So I've already read the risks of scale up and this is something that someone touched on earlier about is it difficult to find part-time work? I only take on part-time projects and I have done for the last three and a half years for two reasons or at least two reasons.

Setting Rates and Getting Work

Short description:

When freelancing, it's important to spread the risk by working on multiple part-time projects. Freelancing offers the flexibility to work on different projects and adjust working hours according to personal preferences. Moving from full-time employment to freelancing can be done gradually by taking on hourly engagements and gradually increasing workload. Researching freelance roles, rates, and speaking to others in the same field can help determine competitive rates. Flexibility in rates for the right projects can lead to opportunities and gaining experience in trending areas. Testimonials and building a reputation are crucial for increasing rates. Incrementally increasing rates while staying informed about market trends is recommended. Staying connected, subscribing to industry news, and upskilling are essential for success in the freelance industry. The work done in an hour should be judged based on the overall project progress, rather than granular hourly tasks. Understanding the client's expectations and negotiating project timelines is important.

One of them is if I'm working on three part-time projects and there's a funding problem with one of them or the CEO gets arrested or whatever it is and the project stops suddenly, I haven't lost all my income, I've lost a project but I've still got two others. So the risk is spread over a number of projects there.

The other reason as well is the variability, it's the variability of being able to work on different things. So I may decide that I don't want to work full-time anymore for a while. I might decide I only wanna work 20 hours a week. So when two more projects finish, I'll then work on one part-time projects and I may take some holiday time and compress my hours into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and take Thursdays and Fridays off every week. And I could potentially do that. And then decide I wanna work more, I wanna earn some more money so then take another projects and scale back up again. That's a good way of also moving from being employed to being full-time freelancers because you may pick up an hourly engagement that's five hours a week, 10 hours a week and work that around your full-time salary job. And until you have enough experience and confidence and expertise to be able to pick up more. Pick up more work and do work more hours. Then move to part-time engagement. And if your survival budget allows and the rate's right you might be able to then move out of your full-time job into a part-time engagement only. I know that I did what I would make in a part-time engagement which was 20 hours a week was more than what I was earning in a full-time salary job. So that's how I kind of scaled into doing this full-time. And I guess the last piece and I touched on but it's really trying to get your rate to market value. Once you are comfortable and confident and you have the reputation you can then start assessing. Well, this is the quality of the work I'm delivering and try to find out a bit more about what others are charging as well and increase your rate to your market value and you can start making some more money.

Questions? Should I keep going? Yeah, okay. So setting the rate and doing and getting the work. So again, it goes back down to doing the research look at freelance roles, look at the various sites and look at the various skill sets as well. So search for the roles that are the certain skill sets and see what the kind of going rate is. As I said, you want to get your foot in the door with a competitive rate so that you are getting work so you can build your portfolio and add to that portfolio I mentioned earlier with more and more work. Especially if you can show a good track record of a lot of work you're more likely to get more work going forward. They could start building reputation at that rate. You want to speak to others in a similar role which is great to, if you're in a network like Toptal because you can get feedback on what they're charging and how they're finding freelance work and getting work, places they're looking. People are, although you're technically competing with them, people are surprisingly helpful when they feel part of a community and so by having that you'll be able to get more work and understand what the correct rates are to be charging. One thing I always do as well, is I have my set rate that I put out on everything but I do ensure that anyone matching me to a job knows that I'm flexible and for the right project, it's not all about the money as Rodrigo's said a number of times. Of course the money has to be right but there is a limit and I think I'm flexible enough on a lot of the projects that I would go for because anything that I decided to go for is a project that I'd wanna work on. So if it's something that you're interested in or something that's maybe trending and something that's maybe in the zeitgeist and is interesting that could be provide you with opportunities going forward like I did with the AR project, like I am with the NFT projects on the blockchain. Being able to get on those, you may wanna drop your rates so that you're able to beat out the competition, get that piece of work and then you can put your rate back up when you're going forward and you have experience in that particular area. I touched on it as well about getting testimonials. Really important to get testimonials because then you can then build your profile, build your reputation and with those two things going up, your rate can go up and then you're able to justify your rate. And then I guess, again, I've touched on this before, when you start to increase your rate, do it in increments, test the waters, speak to, I've obviously spoken to people, speak to people and see as you increase it if it seems feasible, there will obviously be an upper limit to what you can charge per hour but try and get to that in increments, don't jump from, I don't know, $20 an hour to $100 an hour in one go because, one, it's scary and, two, you may find that you're not getting any work and then need your reaction back down to $25 an hour. So do it in increments but make sure you are increasing your rate along with the market as well. Thanks, Alex. That's, I think, I think you also mentioned a couple of these things just, Yeah. Yeah, these are like the next steps, I would say. Yeah, so make it just all your part of the network and speaking to people frequently as well. Look at what's trending so subscribe to TechCrunch and listen to podcasts and everything so you understand where the industry is going as the freelance industry but also the thing that you're working in specifically. So I'm part of the Project Management Institute, all of those things, to see and I read the things that come through on those and upscale, and, Corsair, Udemy, all those sites. They all have courses, a lot of them for free as well to be able to upscale and to maintain that you are kind of at the forefront and know best practice. Yeah, exactly. Because I mean, you have to stay in the loop, that's also how you make connections and you can also find clients that way. Um, and again, this depends on the network you're in, of course. So Julia did, I just wanna get this, Julia did have an answer. She goes, what do you expect them to get done in an hour? Who's that for? Julia. I think it was for both of you, either of you, but um. So, for me, it's slightly different, um, I guess, oh, I guess maybe it's, in some ways it's similar. Although we built hourly, um, the work is judged on a longer time period, right? They're not gonna look at what you did this hour and the next hour and an hour after that, but what they wanna see is at the end of the sprint, whether it's a week or two weeks, that a certain amount of work is done. And ultimately, over a period of time, you'll be looking at getting the project completed to set a standard. So it's, I guess, if you have a client who's looking at a granular level of wanting to see what you do every hour, I would advise finding a different project. Um, you probably wanna look at what you can achieve over a longer time period, and that's something that is negotiable and expected to, client by client, project by project. Rodrigo, did you have a comment on that? Yeah, sure. So actually it's hard to say. It's hard to say, what we can get done in an hour, for example. Because, every kind of work is different than the others, right? So, I think it's pretty much the things you just mentioned. So, we have to understand, like, the situation we are in, and then, expand on that, for, understand this kind of estimate.

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Software engineer, lecturer, podcast host, author — is there something Emma Bostian hasn't done? She moved from America to Sweden, started working at Spotify, and took up a few challenges along the way. And now she has some career tips to share.

What led you to software engineering? 
I was raised in the ecosphere of tech because my dad is a software engineer at IBM, and my mom was a designer there, too. My dad always encouraged me to join STEM and take a look at computer science — however, I was convinced I wanted to be a medical doctor. In my first year of college, I declared a biology major and quickly realized I was not too fond of it. In my second semester, I switched to an actuarial science major where I took Introduction to Computer Science, and the rest is history. In my second year of college, I declared a computer science major and began my journey from there.
What is the most impactful thing you ever did to boost your career?
Writing blog posts and documenting my learning journey on Twitter has far been the best career boost. I wrote purely for myself to reference the things I learned over time, and I even utilized my design skills in Figma to create custom graphics depicting difficult concepts like CSS specificity. By sharing my blogs on Twitter and engaging with the people reading them, I was able to grow an audience extremely quickly. I began receiving conference speaking opportunities, podcast requests, and course invitations to teach with LinkedIn Learning and Frontend Masters.
Ultimately, I landed my job at Spotify through Twitter, too, when a friend and follower of mine asked if I would be interested in interviewing. Now I live in Stockholm working my dream job. It still blows my mind how tweeting about my blog led me to some of the most amazing career opportunities.
What would be your three tips for engineers to level up their career? 
First, be patient. I often see posts on Twitter or LinkedIn about developers who were promoted to a senior position after a year. And while this is wonderful, I think we forget that each company has a different standard for what constitutes a senior developer, and everyone's journey will be different.
Second, don't be afraid to ask questions. If you try your best to solve a problem or answer a question you have, but you can't figure it out after a reasonable amount of time, ask a team member or mentor for help.
And lastly, invest in the right resources for learning. When I started my journey, I didn't know which platforms worked for me to learn. Now, I have a few trusted platforms such as Frontend Masters, Free Code Camp, or Level Up Tutorials that I go to when I need to learn a new skill.
You're currently working as a software engineer at Spotify. What does a typical day of yours look like there?
I begin my day answering emails. Then we have a team breakfast and a standup remotely as we're all still remote at Spotify. After that, we might have a web tech sync with the other squads in our business unit. The day usually includes some form of pair or mob programming, depending on the work stream. 
My team always has Fika, a traditional Swedish coffee break, scheduled every afternoon. Every couple of Fridays, we have team games planned to release some stress. 
Also, I tend to have a lot of free time to focus, which is nice but makes for a boring answer to this question!
Do you have some rituals or tools that keep you focused and goal-oriented?
I'll admit that I've been struggling with staying motivated in the time of remote work. I've been remote with Spotify since onboarding a year ago, but my team is wonderful, and they help me when I'm down.
Apart from that, I use Todoist to keep track of my tasks, and, naturally, I listen to Spotify while working. But other than that, not really. Maybe I should adopt some new tools to keep me on track!
My current favorite Spotify playlist is Brand New Chill:
I also love Chillout Daily:
You wrote a book called De-coding the Technical Interview. What was the impulse to do it?
I wanted to give the community a manual of the essentials of computer science knowledge to ace the technical interviews. The book covers data structures like stacks, queues, or linked lists, tackles algorithms, and deals with systems design. You'll also learn about the interview process from start to finish, get tips on how to submit an amazing take-home project, or understand how to problem solve. You'll also gain knowledge on the frontend coding skills needed to excel at a frontend interview.

If you could stress one piece of advice on surviving a technical interview, which would it be?
Do not lie your way through an interview. If you don't know the answer to something, just admit it. There's no shame in admitting you don't know the answer to something. There is shame in faking it and pretending like you do know the answer.
What's the single best practice everyone who writes code should follow?
Remember that while you are technically writing code for computers, you're also writing it for humans. Your code should be readable and have as little complexity as possible without sacrificing accessibility or performance.
In addition to the book, you co-host the Ladybug Podcast. What inspired you to enter this field, and what are the podcast's main topics?
We talk about everything tech and career on the podcast, from Java and GraphQL to how to start a business and cross-cultural communication. The podcast is a way for me and my co-hosts to share our experiences in tech, having taken different paths. And I'm really glad for doing it — it has allowed me to meet so many incredible people, learn many new things, and support my dream of teaching.
What pieces of your work are you most proud of?
My technical interview book was a huge feat for me as well as my courses with LinkedIn Learning on building a tech resume. I enjoy creating things that help other people advance their careers, so I'm also proud of my courses with Frontend Masters on design systems and CSS.
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What led you to programming?
I had a friend when I was a teenager who was really into it, and he tried to teach me. But I just couldn't get it — it didn't make any sense to me. So I never really thought I'd get into programming, but I liked computers a lot, and I ended up going to school for electrical engineering. 
Well, that didn't work because I'm not good at math. But right when I started the program, I got a job at a company uploading videos to YouTube and that sort of thing. The work was tedious, so I decided to write a computer program to automate lots of the work I was doing with the knowledge I had about programming. And that was the first spark of things for me to use programming to solve real-world problems. 
What is the most impactful thing you ever did to boost your career? 
Committing to creating high-quality content. That might sound obvious because I'm a full-time educator now, but I would not have gotten my job at PayPal if I hadn't been so active with my blog. In fact, lots of my jobs came out of me being involved in the community around meetups, conferences, or open-source projects. 
How do you choose topics for the content you create, be it for your blog or podcast?
I don't think too much about the content other people are creating. And I don't often consume it. My ideas come from the things that I'm working on, things that I'm learning myself, or — when I was working with a team of developers — the things that I had to remind people of in code reviews regularly. Anytime that I would have a code review comment that was pretty long to describe my position, that was an excellent opportunity for a blog post. Also, if people ask me about a topic regularly, I'll make a blog post rather than answer that question multiple times.

What would be your three tips for engineers to level up their career? 
The number one thing I tell people is to be a nice person. I know that sounds fluffy or silly, but it cannot be overstated. You will get so much further in your career and just in life in general if you're a nice person. That doesn't mean that you take people being jerks lying down, but how you interact with others is out of kindness. You could be the best engineer in the entire world, but if you're not a nice person, you will not reach your full potential or accomplish your goals, whatever they may be.
Second, it's just as important to decide what you are not going to learn as it is to decide what you are going to learn. You could jump into countless things — and there are successful people who are polyglot programmers, but I can't speak to that a whole lot. All I can tell you is that in my experience, focusing on specific things that I want to be truly good at has worked out great for my career. That doesn't mean that I closed myself off to other things. With my website rewrite, I have been doing a lot of dev ops-related work and a lot of back-end stuff that I've typically not been involved in. You want to keep your head up on what's going on outside of what you're doing so that you know what direction to go in when you come across problems you need to solve. However, finding a focus on what you want to be good at has helped me a lot. That way, you feel a little less stressed.
And the third one? 
Learn how to learn effectively. It's a three-step process: you consume, build, and teach. The consumption of newsletters and Twitter and whatever inspires you, but you don't want to spend too much time doing that — implementing it into actually building something matters. This happens naturally if you work at a company, but maybe you're not making the things you want to learn, so you may want to start a side project. The building phase is where you get experience, but you also want to solidify that experience. How? You start teaching. You don't necessarily have to teach it to people, it could be stuffed animals. The goal of the teaching is to retain in your mind what you've learned through the building process.
What are you working on right now? 
The big thing I'm working on right now is a rewrite of my website. It'll be much more than just a developer portfolio — I'll have user accounts, and there'll be fun things that you can do with it. And because it's more than just a website, I'm using Remix, a new cool framework in the React ecosystem. I'm also working on updating my material on and a TypeScript course as well. 
So, whatever I'm working on, it ends up resulting in lots of opportunities for content.

Do you have some rituals that keep you focused and goal-oriented? 
I have a notepad where I keep all of my notes of what I'm going to do for the day so that when I'm checking things off, I'm not distracted notifications. I've tried apps for that, and that does not work well for me. 
I also am a firm believer in inbox zero. I have my work inbox and my personal inbox, and I keep them both at zero. And I kind of use that as a to-do list. 
And if I'm not feeling excited about working for some reason, I will often hop on my Onewheel, which is an electric skateboard that only has one giant wheel in the middle. It's just a total blast, and I'll hop on that with my backpack and a charger, and I'll go to a Starbucks or a park just to declutter my mind.
What things in the React universe are you excited about right now?
React version 18 is coming out soon. The experimental version is out there, and it's fun to play with. I'm just really thrilled that it's no longer a concurrent mode but concurrent features that you can opt into. Cool things like that will enable React server components in the future. 
But the biggest thing I'm excited about is Remix. That's huge. It eliminates a lot of problems that are solved well other tools, but when I'm using Remix, I don't have those problems, so I don't need those clusters.
You already said that teaching is an integral part of the learning process, and you stand your word since you're also a full-time educator. What inspired you to enter this field?
I have been a teacher for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a church where you talk in front of your peers from a very young age, and my mom was an elementary school teacher, so teaching has just always been a part of me. 
I really just enjoy sharing what I'm learning with others. As far as teaching technical topics, I gave my first workshop when I was still a student at Brigham Young University. With my fellow, we taught how to use AngularJS, and I got Firebase to sponsor pizza so they would show up, and that was pretty fun.
Then I started teaching on the side at right after I'd graduated. That was when I first got a paycheck for teaching. And I realized that teaching could be quite lucrative and support my family and me as a full-time endeavor. So I did it — I quit my job. I'm a very risk-averse person, so I'd done teaching as a side hustle for four years just to verify that I could make this work.
When TestingJavaScript was released, and I got that paycheck, I realized that I didn't need my PayPal salary anymore. I could just focus my daytime on teaching and give my evenings back to my family, which was a nice trait.

Apart from that, how has teaching impacted your career? 
Earlier I mentioned that pretty much all of my jobs came because I was perceived as an expert. After the first job, where I was an intern and then converted into full-time, I never applied to another. I worked for four different companies, and they wouldn't have recruited me if they didn't know who I was and what I was doing. My content is how they knew who I was — I just made it easy for them to find me. Teaching made that impact. It made my career. 
We talked about React and Remix. Are there any other open-source projects that you'd recommend keeping an eye on or contributing to?
I have some myself. React Testing Library is probably the biggest one that people are familiar with. And if React isn't your jam, then other framework versions of the testing library. 
React Query is also really popular. If you're using Remix, you don't need it, but if you're not, I strongly advise using React Query cause it's a stellar, fantastic library, and Tanner Linsley, the creator, is a stellar and fantastic person. 
What pieces of your work are you most proud of? 
Probably the biggest thing I've ever done is EpicReact.Dev. It has helped tens of thousands of people get really good at React, improve their careers and make the world a better place with the skills that they develop. My whole mission is to make the world a better place through quality software, and I feel like I've done that best with Epic React. 
There are things that I've built at other companies that are still in use, and I'm proud of those cause they've stood the test of time, at least these last few years. But of everything, I think Epic React has made the biggest impact.
Follow Kent on Twitter and listen to his favorite Spotify playlist
Effective Communication for Engineers
TechLead Conference 2023TechLead Conference 2023
36 min
Effective Communication for Engineers
Your communication skills affect your career prospects, the value you bring to your company, and the likelihood of your promotion. This session helps you communicate better in a variety of professional situations, including meetings, email messages, pitches, and presentations.
Imposter Syndrome-Driven Development
TechLead Conference 2023TechLead Conference 2023
31 min
Imposter Syndrome-Driven Development
“Maybe I’m fooling everyone… I’m not good enough for this, and at this point, it is a question of time until everyone figures it out” these might be the words that cross your mind as your coworker compliments you for doing another fantastic job at delivering a new feature. As you grow in your career, so does your uncertainty. You put in the extra hours, learn all the new technologies, and join all the initiatives you can, but at the end of the day, it never feels enough. At this point, that feeling is leading your actions and decisions. It is the thing that is driving your career. Only one question persists: Are you really an imposter?