Designing A Sustainable Freelance Career


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.

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.

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

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


So it's top of the hour. So I'll just get started. This is a workshop about how to design a sustainable freelance career. And I want to point out two words here for everybody. One is sustainable, and the second is career. So in a second, I'm going to ask all of you a question you can type in. But the one thing I want to point out is we're going to be talking about how you can go from a full-time job to a flexible career, which is in freelancing. And what we're going to do is try to help everybody today understand that there's a type of freelancing, I think, that is out there, which everybody thinks about. And then there's another type. And we're going to try to help you understand that the other type is really, really growing and taking shape. And we've got two people here with us today, Alex and Rodrigo, who are going to share with you their own path and how they've been successful. So it's pretty exciting. So the first thing I want to do is I want to show you guys a couple of videos. And they're 30 seconds. And we produced them. And these are brand new. Not many people have seen them yet. So you guys here on this workshop are pretty much some of the first to actually see these. So it's kind of cool. And I'm going to put it in present mode. And I'll play them. And hopefully, hopefully, the sound comes through. Nothing changed. I think you need to do something on the Zoom configuration in order to share your audio. Could everybody hear that? No. I think no. You might need to set your audio to share. OK, sorry about that. Let me do that real quick. I think that is... OK, OK, OK. Let me see. It is in... I love it, Lynn. Oh, here we go. OK. I will share it. OK. Let's see here. Boy, it gets confusing. Yeah, I do not see that. Oh, wait. I think it's under the sharing screen options. Yeah. I think so, yeah. No. Let me actually stop sharing and then I'll go in here to share. That way I can. No, that's strange. It's not in there. That's OK. Yeah, that's really strange. It definitely... I think for a video, it's because it's definitely audio settings. So OK. OK. Well, if I'm able to find it, I'm just looking here and I do see... Yeah, I don't see that option that used to be there where it's just share the... Yeah, OK. That's OK. All right. I will go back. Share my screen. Let's go back. Oh, there it is. Got it. All right. I think I got it. Let me know, Rodrigo, if you can hear this. Just raise your hand. No? Nothing. OK. Yeah. Oh, well, that's OK. Oh, I see. Somebody put in chat. OK. Thanks, Jose. Yeah. Yeah. For some reason, it's just not. It's OK. It's OK. I'll share these out and then people can see them. Because, yeah, now I can't hear them either. So definitely they're not coming through. But I'll figure it out and then I'll... Yeah, I see share screen and then... Yeah. Yeah. Some things with my preferences, too, is probably blocking it and that's OK. Suffice it to say, everyone... Shane, would you like me to try on my end, maybe? Yeah, that'd be great. That'd be great. OK, I can do that. OK. So while Rodrigo does that, I'm going to introduce Alex and Rodrigo to everybody. They are two freelancers who have been doing this full time. Alex, why don't you say just a little bit about yourself? Sure. Thanks, Shane. Hi, everyone. So, yeah, my name's Alex Weeks. I'm based in the UK, in Bristol. I've been with Toptel for coming on three and a half years now as a project manager. And as previous to that, I worked in startups. I worked with integrating systems into organizations such as Birmingham University, working with Unite students on income optimization and projects like that. But now I primarily work with startups, again, in the technology sector with Toptel. And that ranges from med tech through to fintech, working on blockchain projects and some, I guess, basic ones as well, more basic things, kind of established industries, mobile, peer-to-peer marketplaces. But I work with clients from all over the world, literally from Australia to Alaska and talent from the same places as well. So I think I work with talent in every continent apart from Antarctica. So it's been a wild ride with Toptel, but I've been enjoying it so far. And when you say talent, Alex explained, that's fellow freelancers, correct? Yes. Yes. So developers who are freelancers, designers who are freelancers, QAs, finance professionals, product managers, other product managers as well. Yeah. Okay. Fantastic. About how many hours do you work a week? Uh, so, uh, I get at the moment, um, I'm doing, I'm doing 75 hours a week at the moment. Um, yeah. Yeah. I do 75 hours a week at the moment. Um, I guess, uh, that varies, uh, doesn't vary up much, but sometimes it's, it's less. Um, but the work is always there, I guess, though. I, I ended up turning away work. I'm not very good at turning away work. That's why I'm working 75 hours a week. Um, but, uh, yeah, I guess anything from, I guess the lowest I've done has been 20 hours a week. I think during a summer holiday, I could spend some more time with the family. So I went down to 20 hours a week. Um, uh, but most of the time it is kind of 60 plus. Okay. Well, I guess that's a great answer. If you, um, uh, Rodrigo introduce yourself. What do you do? All right. So, um, my name of course is Rodrigo Danini. Uh, I worked with stopped out for more than five years on the engineer team, uh, as a freelancer, of course. And, um, I, I work exclusively with wordpress, uh, projects these days. Um, for those that, uh, don't know the wordpress had a few of JS code inside of it. We are using a lot of react these days. So it's really fun to, to learn. I would say that I am my, all my baby steps in terms of, uh, JS and react in all of these other new JS frameworks. Uh, I used to be like a, uh, backend and I have PHP developer, which is a kind of different understanding in terms of coding. So, yeah, I have worked in various kinds of projects in the past, uh, like, like very similar to Alex from Australia to us, uh, almost every, uh, continent I used to work with plans for in almost every single continent in the world. Um, and I also have worked in very different kinds of projects from, for example, from learning management systems to huge, uh, multi-site environments with more than 50 websites attached to that umbrella. Um, what else? Uh, like medical portals and this kind of stuff. Most of my work is for, for web. Um, and, uh, yeah, I think mostly that's it. I am, uh, also, uh, a global speaker. I like to speak in as many word camps we have around the world to the pandemic, the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately, they have only remote, but I hope that on 2022 we have some IRL events again, but yeah, I think basically that's it. And I don't work too much our Alex. I think, I think in the, in the past years, I used to work a lot in the past, probably a year ago or so I used to work 60 hours per week, but then I found like a comfortable spot. And, uh, currently I am working for more than a year, like something around 40, 42, maybe 45 hours per week, which is comfortable for me because I can bring, I can give my family some attention as well. Otherwise I would say here in my office working, working, working. Yeah. So that's hard, but I think now I am in a better spot. Awesome. Thank you, Rodrigo. That's, uh, yeah. Okay. So you put in a little less than Alex, but it's, but I mean, I think the key is interesting is you have that choice to do that. Right. So that's, um, but we'll get to that. Um, and I think we get to that next. So what I want to share for everybody is this chart. And I think that this is an interesting chart for you to see, uh, we created this and, um, so there's a difference between the talent economy and the gig economy. And, uh, the only way I can explain this the best way for everybody is the gig economy. Think of Upwork and Fiverr and, what there's others, Think of those as the gig economy. Um, and then there's something now emerging called the talent economy. And I'll just, I'll just explain the difference. So in the gig economy, which is really how freelancing began, you have, uh, like, let's say you have a platform like Upwork, you can go and sign up, put all your skills and, you know, basically your, your, you exist there and people reach out to you. Um, and you're kind of just there. Um, and then, so the work in the gig economy is commoditized. And I'm sure if anybody on this workshop has seen this before, or have, has experienced one of these platforms, you know, how it works. Um, somebody will come on there and say, I want, you know, this, uh, project. And you'll say, okay, well, I could do it for this. And then they say to you, well, somebody else can do it cheaper. And, uh, what ends up happening is there's this like race to the bottom. And so you end up basically competing with everybody there and you don't end up making as much because of course, you know, everybody wants to pay less. Um, so that's what they mean by commoditized is it just really is a, you know, a race to the bottom. Um, downward wage pressures are high, meaning it keeps pushing your wages lower and lower. Um, and that's unfortunate, but it happens. Um, and then really, so when you think about it, those platforms control your experience. You don't have a lot of control. You don't have a lot of say over what happens. Um, so at the, really what that means is you don't have a lot of growth. Um, many people start on these platforms and it's not a bad way to start, but keep in mind what it is. So what's the differentiator for that? Well, it's something we call the talent economy. And I think Alex referred to fellow freelancers as talent. That's what we refer to them as. They are talented. Everyone on this workshop is talented. And so that's where it changes. So in the talent economy, the platform that you join is actually the enabler of your work and your career. So it helps you instead of harms you. Um, the work is vastly differentiated. Like Rodrigo was saying, uh, he's been able to do so many different projects in so many different technologies. Um, and Alex, the same way, and that's what we find. So some people would call that upskilling. That's another word for it. Um, the talent is the central viewpoint or value point, meaning you're valued for your skill and that you're valued for what you bring to the table. So as opposed to just being viewed as somebody working on a project, you're actually an integral part of that client's work. Um, so in that sense, you control your experience and there's not a race to the bottom. So what that means is you're not competing for wages with everybody else. Um, nobody else is racing to the bottom with the lowest wages. There is a bottom floor and the clients expect to pay a certain amount. They're willing to pay a certain amount. And I'll get into that in a second when I talk about the differences, but I just wanted to point this out. There is a big difference here between, uh, like gigging, I guess people call it and doing like gig work and actually doing a career out of freelancing. Um, and if anybody has questions about that, by the way, um, so what I wanted to ask everybody on this call, and you can put this in chat, by the way, everybody can just put this in chat. I wanted to, there's a lot of myths out there about freelancing. Uh, everybody's seen them and I think people have their own personal thoughts about freelancing, what it is, what it means, and in particular, why you would or wouldn't choose it. Um, so I have this blank screen. It's very blank. Um, and what I'm going to do is I just want to type down some things that you guys have in your minds in the workshop of some of the myths about freelancing and feel free. You can add them to chat, or you can come on live and say it if you want. I, that's totally fine, but, um, you can add them to chat if you'd like, and, uh, I'll type them up here. Uh, let me pull up my chat window so I can see. So yeah, just, um, take a few seconds, everybody, and just type into chat some of your myths about freelancing, what, what you've heard or what you think it is. Okay, great. Thank you, Lilia. Thank you. I'm going to type that one in. That's a good one. That's fantastic. This one's really good. Yes, definitely. That's, Syed is very correct. 100% correct. Uh, Jose, no vacation days. Interesting. Uh, interesting. Okay. Ah, no social security. Okay. Like insurance, yeah. Benefits, correct. Um, ah, that's an interesting one. You do the job, but might not get paid, or get your money. That's a better way to say it. I like that. Um, okay. Okay. Your employer could sometimes be a fraud. Yeah. Excellent. And very true. Okay. Thanks, everybody. Um, these are good. These are fantastic. So thank you. Um, if anything else comes to mind, feel free. Um, so not stable, always someone that can do it cheaper. It's not for everyone. Uh, no vacation, no social security, no corporate perks. Uh, you do the job and might not get your money and your employer could sometimes be a fraud. Fantastic. Okay. So all of these, every single one of them can be true. I don't think any one of these is untrue, but all of these, and I would say actually, other than this one, because it's not for everyone is kind of applies generally. That's absolutely true. It is not for everyone. Um, all of these other ones, stability, somebody doing it cheaper, uh, you know, not getting your money. Those are true of what I was saying before the gig economy. That is very true. This depends on who you're freelancing with, the platform you're using, and where you choose to do your work. Now, benefits, we're going to get into that in just a little bit because there's some ideas on benefits that might help. But generally speaking, if you're freelancing, you've got to think of it as running your own business. That is absolutely true. However, because you can make so much more money, you can often pay for those. And there's work, there's other ways around, but I'll, I'll, we'll get into that because Alex and Rodrigo can explain their own perspective on that as well. Um, okay. So I just want to share the slide with you guys because you might find it interesting that everything you just said is absolutely, um, I, I, this, these were already pre-typed, um, not stable, uh, no real career path, struggle to find new projects. Some people see it as a temporary stop gap and there's no benefit. So I think everybody hit on a lot of these. And so with that said, I want to just give everybody a view of what freelancing looks like. And actually it started in 2020. Um, the pandemic really fueled it, but what does it look like beyond all of those myths? Well, it looks like this. You have a career, you have stable work, you have projects that are coming to you. You have a huge community and peers, i.e. coworkers, and you're not having to sell yourself to clients. There's no, um, bottom floor. So think of it as the ultimate, uh, flexible way to work with many different companies and, um, not have to worry about, you know, always looking for work and selling yourself. It is growing. I think it's no secret that right now is, um, what we're seeing is a shift in the workplace like never before. There are now clients saying, Hey, I realize now I can do this. I realize now that I can use, uh, freelancers, i.e. talent to come in and do work with my teams. So you integrate as a part of their team and they're finding great success. And there's reasons for that. And, um, I believe what we have now is Rodrigo and he's going to get into some of the benefits of freelancing from his perspective and feel free, Rodrigo to touch on any of those myths. If you'd like to feel free, um, from your own personal perspective, um, and just, you know, yeah. All right. Thank you. Thank you for that. So, uh, we have a lot of myths, uh, behind the freelancer career and Shane, Alex, and I are here to kind of, not, uh, only a myth, say stuff, but also give you our kind of, uh, experience or own experience, which is real. So when it comes to, uh, benefits of freelancing, we know that we have some pros and some cons, of course, everything in life has these, but in terms of benefits, I think one of the greatest things is to have a flexible workload. Uh, because for example, you can work as much as you can whenever you want and at any place, right? As Alex told us in the beginning of this, uh, of this talk, he used to work a lot, but if you prefer to not work a lot, like work just a few hours, maybe 10, 20, 40 hours per week, you can do that as well because you'll have the power, you'll have their own control of that, right? Uh, also you can work anywhere, but you must have a solid internet connection. That's the only thing you might need to do like a good computer and a solid internet connection, right? Uh, normally we don't work in fixed hours, so you can work in your morning. Uh, you can work in your afternoon or late at night, whenever it works best for you. This is another kind of possible benefit. We are mostly, engineers and we have our own personal moment where we create better things, right? So we can work on that because if you go to, uh, like a usual job, you'll have to work from nine to five, doesn't matter, but you have to follow that rule normally. So that way, if you can organize and have this kind of flexible workload, you can spend your free time to do your own stuff. Maybe if you like to ride your, your bike, you can maybe fly your drone or play some, some video game or spend more time with your family and with the ones you care about, right? So it's up to you decide what you can do with your time or not. It can be on your work time or when you are on your free time. Another thing that I believe that is really cool is because working as a freelancer, you can choose projects that are meaningful for you, like the ones that you feel comfortable to work, right? You, again, you are under the control, so you can choose on what you want to work. So you can choose to work in a comfortable, uh, job, jobs that you like, or that you truly mean to be a part of it. Because of course, there is a lot of that, like, uh, during, for example, during your freelancer career, during your freelancer life, you're going to probably swipe from one project to another. And that thing gives you the opportunity to understand what makes you happy in your daily routine. Maybe you don't know, but you're going to find that sometime. Then you can choose to work on something that you like the most. As I just mentioned, uh, it can be any specific technology like JS frameworks or any specific project that is, that has a cool, a cool propose or even maybe a combination of both, right? Technology and the cool project. So this is for me is another cool benefit. I choose to work with wordpress a long time ago, and I saw an opportunity for my kind of expertise, my kind of knowledge that can be used in a way that the whole community can help each other. I can help, I can speak in some events, I can bring my ideas and I can learn with that as well. But this is, this is something that is valid for any kind of technology or, or job you want to do. Another cool thing is I was telling you, uh, you can focus on your main skills, right? The ones that you are most, uh, passionate about it. You feel that you're, you're skidding. This helps you to engage with your calls, right? If you choose to work on something that you like, you feel comfortable, you're going to deliver something, something better. Uh, we can, for example, uh, understand the open source projects, for example, maybe they can, uh, provide you enough. How can I say enough, uh, enough things for you to feel complete as a professional, maybe. Another important thing that normally under the freelancer career you can do is do your best and you can do your best always. The better work you do, work you do, like the better future projects and recognition you get in the near future. You can imagine that, uh, you can imagine that what you do today is something like a plant. So if you plant a seed, you're going to reap that in the future. So basic, uh, uh, if you do something really good today, it will be recognized probably real soon. I can tell you again, by my own experience, uh, if we work hard and we work serious, because freelancing is not something to play. It's a real job. Like we have real engagements, right? And again, under the freelancer, you might have the opportunity to do your best. And maybe if you're working in a usual company from nine to five, you can't because you have to normally your boss will delegate some specific tasks for you and you have to work on that task. And maybe you will not have the opportunity to, to bring your, your opinion, your ideas in order to improve that thing. That's another, uh, weird stuff. And under the freelancer career, you are your own boss, but at the same time, you can provide ideas for the clients. And normally they are very open. Normally they are very open to, to, to listen to you and listen to, to your, to your knowledge and to your ideas and try that. Uh, another cool and very important, uh, benefit from, from the freelancer career is independence. So normally the, the freelancer career gives you independence, but it's very important to say that at the same time. And I always say this for all of my friends that ask me about how it is work as a freelancer. And they normally say power is nothing without control. So independence not always means taking control of your life because always you're going to have some external factors that can push you down. But with that being said, be careful and try to find your independence. If not, there is something wrong and you need to find what is wrong and try to fix that. And again, uh, maybe you have to pursue your independence on that way, but freelancing will give you independence, but not even always it's everything you are looking for. Um, I think from, from that, uh, another thing that I normally say for all of my friends is that you can learn exponentially because working as a freelancer in a freelancer platform, such as TopTel, for example, you have the opportunity to learn with the best professionals, with the best techniques and improve yourself as a professional. And this is, this is very true. It, uh, like it, uh, like there is various kinds of ways that you can learn something. For example, normally in some of these kind of freelancer networks, as I just mentioned, they have the best professionals in the world. And some of them are the ones that create a technology, technology that we use in our day. And it's, it's really cool to have to stay in contact with this kind of person. Some platforms, some freelancer platforms also offer academies. So if you're open to learn something new, maybe Python, I don't know, maybe any other kind of JS technology, you can do that. So that's the main thing you can learn exponentially with a lot of people, a lot of great professionals and et cetera. At the beginning of my talk, I talk, um, I, I mentioned that we can work anywhere, right? So I think it's important to talk about this topic because working as a freelancer, like having this kind of freelancer career, this brings you a different perspective of the physical work and also the basic needs in terms of working because it like working remotely transcends the boundaries of a normal office. Definitely, you can have your home office like in space with all of your things that you like, that you need to be productive in your work days. For example, I am on my current office. I have my stuff here and yeah, it's really cool. And anyway, when you are working in this kind of space, you can put your focus on something better, right? Again, maybe I am bringing my, my point of view, but I'm truly, I think it's, this is true. So if you have your own space, you can deliver something better, right? You are here, just calm with no background noises. No one is speaking to you or speaking to, to anyone else in the room. So this might be a cool benefit. Uh, so just go ahead and try to find your, your, your gadgets in general, like your, your work stuff related, like a comfy chair, maybe a big, a very big wide screen and other stuff that you prefer to keep your work going. Uh, and if you want, you can always go and spend some time in another place. Maybe if you want to go to the beach, you can stay there for a while and work there and then just go back. So it's very simple. I, for example, I normally, I normally spend a few days of the week on my beach house. It's one hour far from my hometown and I stay there for a few days with my family. I just went this morning back to my home, to my hometown. I was there for the past four days. So you can do that. And also you can maybe book a, book a flight and go to another country or another place that you don't know. You only must have your laptop and a solid internet connection. Right. So this is, this is another cool thing. Uh, and lastly, um, we, we talk about money in some point. And again, I can bring you my point of view because receive your incomeings in a global currency might be something good. For example, uh, normally the companies pay with dollars or euros and they are kind of strong currencies. For example, I live, I forgot to mention, I live in Brazil. I live in the deepest south of Brazil, close to Argentina and Uruguay. And like our current, uh, our currency here is it, it loses a lot of its, its value. So receiving dollars for, for us, for, for the people that live in another country, it's really, really cool because it's worth more. So that might be a cool, a cool, really cool benefit at the end of your, your working cycle. Right. Um, yeah. So, uh, I think we can move to the next slide, uh, unless someone has something to add or ask. I was not looking through the chat. I'm not sure if you have something there. Okay. No questions. Um, Rodrigo, I have a question for you that people might wonder, what did you do before freelancing? Oh, okay. Just a second. Yeah. Um, cause I'm curious, like a lot of people, and I, I just was curious about that. What did you do before you freelanced? I mean, what, did you work for a company? Um, uh, I can talk, I can talk about my two, my last two jobs. Uh, but the, the one before freelancing, I have a small, uh, digital agents and I used to develop, uh, mostly web stuff for local digital agencies. Uh, that thing didn't work well. Uh, it worked for two years and a half. Uh, the biggest point is that we have a lot to cover when you have a business. So I have to find the clients. I have to, to, uh, work on the technical stuff, like develop. I need to like enforce the clients. I need to make them happy and a lot of stuff. And this is hard, and this is hard to be honest, to be, uh, like in pretty new in, in most of the parts of the world, but especially in Brazil, it's very hard because I have a lot of duties to care and it's hard. And also it's not only that, uh, I'm not complaining. Uh, the clients are, are hard as well. So they want to pay a lot less than usual and they want to receive stuff as quickly as possible. So it's, it's hard that then, uh, even before that I used to work in a usual company. I worked for, I think more than four years on that company as a kind of technical lead. And also I used to cope as well. Um, some, uh, that thing creates me this kind of necessity to look for something new. And then after a while, I, I discovered the freelancer career as a possibility. Then I choose to try and apply. And then finally, I started working as a freelancer, uh, is my first freelancer career and mostly the, the, the main, the main one for the past five years in my life. I would say that if you don't mind, I can, I can say one last word regarding that, which is this. Working as a freelancer brings me a life change totally in, in, in various menus, many aspects from the incomings, of course, which they are a lot better than used to be before. And even if I don't have all of those perks, security and stuff like that, because I can pay for that with my income, right? And there is no problem. Uh, it's something normal. Uh, it's not too much compared to the same comments, like to the money we receive. So it's totally fine. Uh, but it's not only that because working as a freelancer, I have my more time for my family, for my son, for my wife. I have the chance to travel around the world. Um, I, I think I already been in all the continents to speak normally. Normally I like to go to speaking some conference and then I bring my family with me so they can met new places as I, so it's not something isolated that I will go and they will stay here. No, I can bring the same opportunity for them as well. So basically that's it. Yeah. I have a dream from the beginning of my career that is travel, work whenever I want. And this is crazy because I work with development for more than 20 years. And since the beginning, I set this as a goal and I am leaving the drink. I would say. Um, Rodrigo, we did have a question, uh, from Jose, um, who said, uh, he said, it's in the chat. He goes, I wanted to ask, how does the payment process work if you're not in the US? Uh, so yeah, how does that work? Yeah. So, um, um, in Brazil we can receive as a business or as a person for each kind of, uh, type, uh, we have different taxes attached to it. So normally, uh, I keep the money for a certain time in my, uh, top top account and sent, uh, by a wire transfer to Brazil. So when these amount of money, uh, reach here, I have to pay my local taxes of course. And then I received the money on my local, my local Brazilian account. Um, uh, normally we, I choose and most of our, our Brazilian professionals choose to go with a business kind of engagement instead of our personal, because going with business, we pay a lot less. So I have a small company in Brazil just to make the things legal, to make the things correct as it is. Like I follow the rules by the book. So that's one way we got the money. Yeah. Okay. And, um, what about just out of curiosity, people might be wondering, um, how do you, how do you deal with benefits like insurance and, uh, you know, all of the perks that come? Yeah. So, um, in terms of insurance, um, I, I pay that I pay for that. Uh, I have a plan like in specific Brazilian plan for me and for my family. I pay that, uh, this is life insurance. Also I pay apart from that, I pay for medical insurance as well. Uh, and in terms of perks in general, I would say that working as a freelancer is better than working maybe for a company, like a usual company, a normal job, having a normal job, because you can choose the perks you prefer, right? If you want to take like a week of traveling to some place, maybe 15 days as a matter, if you want to travel, you can do that. You can take your own vacation. I am going into my vacation next week, to be honest. So I'm very excited for that because I didn't take vacation for more than like this big vacations for more than three years, I think. So mainly to the COVID pandemic, of course. Right. So, yeah. But again, you can choose whatever perks you, you prefer. So you are your own boss in this kind of, uh, specific subject. Thanks. Did I answer your question? I'm not sure. I think, uh, yeah, I was asking for the benefit of, you know, everyone who's probably wondering about that. Um, now we do have a couple of great questions too. Um, Guyon says, um, how do we enter to the freelancing industry as a, oh, as being new to the freelancing industry? Okay. Because there's a lot of experienced freelancers, huge competition, always looking experienced. Yeah. I think I, and I do get your question. I think what you're saying is, how do you, and Rodrigo, you had to do this too. And I, Alex, you probably had to do it too. How do you enter into this freelancing world, uh, as a new person? Maybe now I think, Guyon, what you're saying is you have experience with work, but what you're saying is how do you become a new freelancer and compete for work and, you know, prove to clients that you have value? Like, how do you, how do you come into this and actually, you know, get something? I will try to summarize to be as quickly as possible with answers. But for example, as I mentioned, uh, at some point of my life, I, I set a goal, which is basically work with something I like, uh, whenever I want, and also travel. Then, uh, when I was working with my own digital agents, I choose to put in the balance some stuff of my life. Like, what are my, my main skills, my technical skills, my language skills and stuff like that. Yeah. And then I realized that I have something to offer. Then I went to Google and start to look for possible opportunities that fits with my, my kind of, uh, knowledge, my kind of skills. Uh, I applied for a lot of companies and I normally say they have like hard screening process as we have on top top. And I failed for most of them. And then I applied to top towel, which is like a company that is know it by having a heavy screen process. I figure out that I pass with including with a good score. Then I, I, I was trying to understand why did I fail on the past ones and, and I pass on top top, which is supposed to be the hardest one. And I discovered that the, the, the past tries, the ones that I failed brings me the intelligence makes me smart, makes me smart and brings me a kind of understanding about this kind of interviews, these remote interviews that I was not aware. So that's why when I applied for top towel, I was prepared for that. I had like better, uh, better understanding and what I should expect from those steps on the screening process. If you are new, thank you. I normally say you have to put on the balance and try to understand what you can offer to these kinds of clients, right? Put on the balance and try to understand if you feel comfortable, you can start applying for any freelancer network as you want. Thanks, Rodrigo. And I do know that Alex will be talking about this in his, after we come back from the break, um, and do the, the, the speed coding challenge. So Alex will be getting into that too. So I don't want to take his time. Um, it was, it was a question for you. And, and, and I think, um, thanks guy. And yeah, it is, um, and, and I would add one thing I will preface all of this with, it really depends where you start freelancing. Um, I mean, obviously Rodrigo and Alex work at TopTel, so they can speak to TopTel. Um, and, and, and keep in mind, one thing I want to say everybody is TopTel is a vastly different freelancing, uh, experience than anywhere else. Um, it is, I'm trying to think of a comparison. So for one, it's, it's not as easy to get into TopTel. There's a very, um, high bar of, uh, how do I put it, of entry. And there's a reason for that. Um, the reason is because the clients that TopTel works with are some of the top, you know, companies in the world, places you've all heard about. Um, places you've all heard about. Um, and, and the clients demand that level. And so when Alex was, or not Alex, but Rodrigo was talking about getting work, the work actually comes to him and gets presented to him. He doesn't have to, you know, um, present himself to people constantly. And so I think that goes a little bit to your point, Diane, of if you're in that type of a network, your skills are going to drive the demand. So yes, you're right. There might be a lot of other freelancers, but think of them as coworkers, not competition. That's the best way to, that's the best way I can say it is these are your coworkers, not necessarily your competition, because I'll get, I'll give an, a real example right now. Um, javascript and react and testing. Um, those are three high in high demand skills where people really are not having to look for any work. In fact, they turn work down because there's so much work. So, um, yeah, I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's just a vastly different world. Um, and then, um, Mohammed, you had some really good questions too. Um, how do you promote yourself as freelance personal branding? So I think it depends on the network. And I know you asked some questions to Mohammed about, uh, improving technical skills and, um, you know, LinkedIn and, uh, GitHub. So I think, yeah, I think Alex is going to get into that a little bit, and he's going to talk about that Mohammed a lot more. Um, so I'll let him dive into that, uh, and it will probably answer a lot of your questions. So, um, that'll be great. Um, so let me advance here to the next. Okay. So Rodrigo, go ahead and let's go through these, um, because I think this is going to answer some questions out there too. And everybody, thank you for the questions. Um, keep them coming because we love to answer these. And, uh, these are like why we're here to help you guys understand how to do this the right way. So go ahead and take it away with this one, Rodrigo. All right. Yeah. Uh, I think I already started this slide or kind of, so, uh, uh, let me try to remember the things I told you about my experience, but basic, uh, I can explain you that, uh, two important things. I think the first one, uh, I started working, working with top tile like a few years ago, more than five years. And since then, I never stopped working. I have projects to do always. And this is not only, uh, something for my kind of skill. I think as Alex mentioned at the beginning of this talk, you probably noticed he used to work 60, 65 hours plus per week, which is a lot, which means that we have a lot of things to do a lot for JS technologies, including react, of course, a lot for management, project management, product management, and all that kind of, uh, stuff. Uh, in my experience work with top tile, I have the opportunity to met a lot of people, not only, uh, my fellow colleagues, which means like other developers, but, uh, great clients. Uh, in some point Shane, uh, mentioned that we work with top clients around the world, which means that they kind of pass through a a process and we understand if they are good clients and stuff like that, stuff like that. So when you start working something, you don't need to kind of find the clients because we have the work for you. And the only thing you might need to do, depending on the situation you have take a look on the list of projects that you are eligible to apply and apply, but you might be invited to work in the job as well. So there is a kind, kind of different ways to start working something on the company. And again, I have the opportunity to work with a lot of great clients. Uh, some of them, I met them in person when I was traveling to their place, but the projects are cool as well. Uh, again, since you can choose if you want to work on something or not, you normally choose to work on something that you, you like, that you prefer. So that's another cool thing. And I can talk by my own experience. Uh, I, I think in all of these, like all of my total career, I never faced a situation, like a bad situation with a client because the clients are, are normally cool as well. So they, they, they listen to you, they understand the situation. They are normally very open to this kind of, uh, uh, chances or opportunities, ideas that you can bring to the project. And, uh, I think in terms of, uh, getting started with your, with your career, uh, if you have friends that are already working as a freelancer, you should talk with them, ask questions, and solve all of your doubts. So friends are always a good point of start. Talk with them. Um, you can, for example, make a retrospective of your proudest achievements in your career. Try to list them and use as your own benefit. For example, let's suppose you work in a cool project that you are proud of, use them to build your own brand, right? You have to define your goals. Like the, like the most important is that, uh, is to understand if you're ready to start this new adventure because freelancing is not for everyone, right? And you need to understand if you are ready to work in that way. There's a lot of, uh, things that might go against your freelancer career, your freelancer work. So you need to understand if you are ready or not to start and you are the only one that can understand that. So another thing that, uh, you don't need, but I highly recommend you is to start with a freelancer network, such as StopPow. For example, uh, like a freelancer network will always help you to find clients and great projects to work on. You can manage your career by your own, but in some point you're going to notice that it's very hard to, to do everything. So for example, again, inside TopPow, uh, you can focus only on your main skills. So let's suppose you are like a react developer, you will only work developing react stuff. For example, you don't need to care about finding clients, invoicing the clients, keeping like this kind of commercial conversation with clients and stuff like that, because I have a huge team on the background that will help you with all of that. So this is why a freelancer network, such as TopPow is, is good to start. Uh, another, uh, thing that is directly connected to the things I'm saying is to build your personal brand, which means that it's important for you to create like a personal website, for example, and place your ideas, talk about yourself, or have like a small bio or resume of, of you, of your professional life, right? So you can do that. Having like a website is another good point to start. And also, uh, don't wait to start applying for these kind of freelancer platforms, um, or any other kind of possible jobs. The ones that have, that, uh, haven't had the experience, uh, it's hard sometimes, so this is why you should, to understand if you're capable or not to, to work in this kind of, uh, life. Some days your work will flow beautifully, but in some other will not. You'll face some interruptions, uh, or unexpected situations. And I think the biggest, the biggest takeaway is that you can learn with that and avoid, uh, what makes you stressed, for example. Um, I'm not gonna lie. If you don't understand your workload, your capabilities, yourself, you might be, uh, locked out or have like a burnout situation. So you need to be careful with that. Also, you need to find your best place to be productive, uh, and most important, committed to the job. I mean, not only on how many hours you spend, but you need to be committed with your deliverables. That's the main thing. So it doesn't matter if you work too much or too less, but if you are committed with something, you need to deliver that. Also, you need to understand the importance of time organization and focus, plan your day in advance. Maybe in the night before, you can like always use some, something like a tool or a technique that you prefer, but most important, you have to put these like this in, in, into practice, right? Uh, I normally check my schedule for the next day and during my nights. That way I will not face any kind of surprise during the day. Uh, always, uh, this is, this is something I would say this is something critical and, and maybe this is why we are right here on this kind of, uh, talk, uh, community. Uh, you can always look for communities. Communities is always the best choice. Stay in touch and, and met new people, exchange your knowledge and stay aware and don't be shy because again, the community is something that can empower you, that can bring you up in, in, in your career. So I always try to look for a community. Uh, of course, uh, one important thing is language, right? Uh, in terms of preparation, you need to speak English, at least English. Uh, this is, this is basic. You need to know how to communicate yourself. And I mean, not only English in technical terms, uh, because again, you need to understand how to express yourself. Uh, and probably you all already know, but English is a global language. So this is something that you should to be, uh, at least profit on it. Uh, in some point of your, of our career, your career, you will work remote, uh, we will work, uh, more because you discover that you can do more, like you can do more hours than usual. Uh, it happens, but always again, be careful with that. That thing can create, uh, other kinds of, uh, issues with your health and et cetera. Sometimes you're going to feel empty or exhausted. I'm not lying yet that the burnout syndrome can reach you. So just to stay aware that you should to try and have, uh, pleasant days. This is supposed to be something good and not something bad. So you need to work in a kind of rhythm or a kind in, in the kind of work, like that kind of work workload that you feels comfortable. Uh, if something that happens, make a quick pause between one accomplishment and another, and try to, to take some time off, like maybe you should have like in the small vacation as, uh, team fairies say on his book, the four hour work week, because remember your mental health is, it's more, it's what worth the most than anything. Right. And yeah, in order to summarize all of these kind of preparation, uh, I would say that during your freelancer career, if you're starting, you need to understand that you need to have discipline, motivation, and a good place work. This is, this is like the basic stuff. Um, if you find discipline, work hard, deliver something good. If you have motivation enough to deliver something good and learn new stuff, and you have, and if you have like a good place to work, like I mentioned, a comfy chair, a good desk, and a good computer, a solid internet connection, you're going to feel better. Again, I can tell you by my experience, if you have the perfect environment, you're going to feel a lot, a lot better. Um, I'm not sure, Shane, I think, uh, you should to go under the regulatory business, trying to have insurance in Texas, right? Yeah. Um, I just, you know, to dovetail off that Rodrigo, um, I will mention to everyone that, you know, uh, when you're, when you're freelancing, uh, and, and, and it, and it works different in every country. Um, but think of it as, you know, your, your own business. And I don't know how that works in, uh, in every other country, but, uh, you know, in the United States, you would, you would set up a business for yourself. It's, uh, and, you know, these days that can be done online. So, um, when it comes to, you know, insurance and benefits, I think a lot of people, um, they take different paths. Some people just purchase their own, uh, because going back to Rodrigo's point, when you're freelancing, you know, your rate of pay is a lot higher because you have to accommodate for these various, uh, things. Um, so, you know, at a corporate job or, you know, working for a business, you might make, you know, $50 an hour. I'm just saying that. Freelancing, you might make 95 an hour, um, because you're accommodating for these extra things that you, you pay for. And same with taxes. And again, this is so drastically different in every country, but in the United States, what people do is they will save, um, I think, you know, a certain percent of every paycheck they put away in an account to help pay for taxes. So, but again, that's just here in the U S. Um, so I just wanted to like, um, you know, cover those things because, um, they're not, they are barriers in some people's mind, but they're not very high barriers anymore because all of these things. And in fact, I think there's actually, um, there are new platforms and startups who are specifically geared towards helping freelancers manage all of this. So, um, you can go on an app and it can tell you, put this much money here, put this here, you know, it can, it's really, there's a lot of fuel going on right now in the freelance world because so many people are doing it. Um, uh, Lulea, you had a question and I just wanted to make sure we got to it first real quick. How long does it take to be able to estimate a fair price for work done? Um, that depends on the platform you're using. So, um, at top talent, you just set your own rate. So, uh, you know, let's say your rate is, um, you know, $70 an hour. I'm just saying that that's US dollars, by the way, $70 an hour, then that's, that's your rate. So that's what you're going to be paid. So you don't, um, the way you calculate that rate, by the way, the way you come up that is we have a lot of calculators you can use to say, here's your experience. Here's the languages, you know, here's the frameworks, you know, um, and then there's like a calculator that helps you calculate your rate, what you should be charging. And obviously, there's a way high end and a low end, but you can set your rate. And once you set your rate, then that's what you're paid. So, um, yeah, and we have, uh, what they're called, uh, gosh, I can't remember the name of them. They're just calculators there. And they're based on different, um, uh, they're based on different skill sets. So, so I've approached this slightly differently. Um, rather than talk about many different common pathways, um, I've kind of outlined from my experience, the pathway that I used, uh, which I believe is a common pathway into getting into a freelance career. So for me, um, the very first thing that I did, and I think it's important to do is to understand your personal survival budget. What does that mean? Personal survival budget is ultimately the amount of money that you need to earn to, to live or to maintain your lifestyle or whatever parameter you set. Understand how much money you need to have net of taxes, uh, in your, in your bank account, uh, each month or each week, depending on how you organize your life, um, to be able to, uh, to be able to maintain the lifestyle that you have or the lifestyle that you are willing to live on, um, while you're starting this new career. This is really important because it helps you set your, your rate as well. It also allows you to understand the kind of hours you're working. So I guess you're the amount of hours that you work, uh, times your hourly rate is how much money you'll make. Uh, then you work out your taxes for whatever jurisdiction you're in. Um, and that's kind of the amount of money that you'll be making. So work out your personal survival budget, look at everything. And some people ask questions about, um, pension and benefits. If that's included in your survival budget, then fine, include that. Uh, look how much money you would need to be saving for that as well to include in the earning. That's a really important first step. Uh, this, the second step is to really kind of, as it says there, do your homework, uh, understand the market for your skill set. So it's good to have an understanding of what, um, and I guess if you have been doing this as a salaried employee already, then you will, you will know kind of what the going rate is. You should know what the going rate is as a salaried employee for the skill set that you have. Um, but that, that's only just the job that you have, right? The skill set that you have. Uh, one of the good things about being a freelancer is, um, you're not just selling yourself for one particular role. You're not labeled as, um, tightly as you would be in, in a job. You have a skill set that may not equal your current job title. Uh, and it'd be likely be broader than that from other experiences that you've had both in and outside of work. So have a look at and understand what your, what your skill set is. And it's not having to look around searching freelance sites, um, employment sites as well, kind of, um, just in the job ads, uh, and understand what the market is like for your skill set. If there's lots of adverts up, um, and the rates are higher than they usually are, than they were previously, you can look at historic data on that as well. So, you know, that something is trending and that's kind of where you want to market yourself first, as a freelancer in that particular, uh, particular area of skills. Um, it's also worth conducting. If you're not entirely sure what your skill set is, it's worth conducting a skills audit, uh, for yourself. Um, you can find kind of things online, uh, how to, how to do that. And it's really a good way of, um, understanding what your skills are, what is desirable about what you're able to do, um, in, in the current market and who, who's kind of looking for that kind of work. Um, so once you do that, of course, it includes your things that you're qualified for, but also anything you're, um, capable of demonstrating that you've done. So, um, it may be that you've worked on a particular project where you've had to do something outside of your, your job role. If you've done that and you've delivered that project well, then that is part of your skill set. Um, don't limit yourself just to things that you've done in your job, um, job title or you're qualified for. Uh, the next piece on that is then, I guess, off the back of that is to start looking at your, start building a portfolio, um, not just a resume, um, because you're not just looking at the jobs that you've done, um, but you're actually looking at things that you've delivered as well. Um, one of the things about freelance work, um, by nature, it's very project based. So it's very, what was the brief, what was the outcome and how did you help deliver that outcome? If you're able to demonstrate that for various things, that's part of your portfolio. Um, in a job role that you've been at for five years, for instance, don't just say what your main, uh, responsibilities were, talk about individual projects you would have done over those five years. Um, it's possible you could have done kind of five, 10 projects during that time and include the key ones and what the deliverables were and how you, how you personally contributed to delivering those, those deliverables. Um, great thing with being online as well is if these things are, if these projects are still live, you can include, uh, links to sites for, for things that you've built as well. So people can actually see what you've built in there as well. Um, the, the next thing is go to different marketplaces, um, and agencies. I mean, these agencies, uh,, Upwork, um, Fiverr, um, on the kind of gig economy side, it's worth putting your, your, your portfolio on there and, and register in with those people. Um, just so you have access to be able to see what's around, they will kind of offer you things if you get into those, into those platforms. Interestingly, um, Rodrigo said about, um, not being accepted into some of these platforms. I, I was rejected for Upwork, um, probably about a week before I was accepted, accepted into TopTile. Um, uh, and it's interesting because I guess the, the rates, the rates that I earn in TopTile, and the quality of clients that work with the TopTile are much far superior to the stuff I would love to Upwork. So it, it varies from person to person, but it's worth kind of being on those platforms. One, to start getting work, but two, also just to see, to see what's around there, um, and allow kind of having those conversations with the specialists who are there, uh, looking to find you work, let them do their job, um, and, and find you work and find you products. Um, I mentioned freelance Upwork and, and Fiverr, um, of course that's on the gig side, TopTile, um, and there was a couple of others that escaped me at the moment, but a couple others on the, on the talent side, um, which is a bit more professional, um, for the type of work you'd get. Also kind of register with those as well, uh, see if you can get onto those platforms because the work that they'll find you, um, is better than anything you can do yourself. Uh, and before I kind of go into the next point, just wanted to touch on that a little bit as well. The part of being a freelancer, part of the things that you guys mentioned, um, as the pitfalls or problems with freelancing, a lot of those things are dealt with really well by platforms like TopTile. Um, you never have to worry about getting paid as long as you do the work to the standard that you say you can do it at. Um, TopTile will have your back and you don't have to chase spend those times chasing invoices and, um, that type of thing, which is a big part of the old world of freelancing. Yeah, never once down. Milad, did you have a question? You should keep coming on mute. But okay, um, so yeah, that's, that's a good, a good way of being able to, um, see what, see what market is out there and get, get the people who do find the work, getting to find the work for you. Um, the next point on that, uh, is kind of building a personal brand. And I know Rodrigo touched on this, um, but it is, it's really making yourself, uh, irresistible. Um, and this goes to how you market yourself. So having a personal website and, uh, making sure your LinkedIn is up to date and all those kinds of things really do add to it as well. Um, but once you do start getting work come through, um, go above and beyond, do whatever it takes, uh, to make the client happy, to show that you're willing, uh, to be helpful, um, to outwork people, um, work outside of the job description, communicate as well as you can with people, feedback for the client, let them know, um, any issues as soon as they come up as well. Uh, make sure you really have really open communication with them, um, and just show that, show that you stand out so that you stand out as someone who's special in this space. Um, I know from my experience, um, the first working with TopTile, um, the first, the first projects I took on were projects that people didn't want to work or projects that were, uh, going badly. Uh, and I volunteered and said, oh, I'm happy to take it on, even though the client's currently unhappy and the team's a mess and the processes are a mess. Um, and I think the first three or four products I worked on was entirely, um, just spent fighting fires and fixing things that have gone wrong. Not ideal, not enjoyable in the slightest. Um, definitely worked more hours than I was billion for. Um, but I know that I've got a good reputation with, uh, some of the senior people at TopTile, which meant that when projects came up going forward, um, they thought of me first and I was able to then work projects that were easier, more fun and, uh, more within kind of what I was wanting to work, work on. So doing things like that really do help, um, you build your reputation and your personal brand as well. Um, um, I guess along, along with that, um, it's, it's kind of setting your rate as well. And I'll talk a little bit more about the rate slightly later, but, um, one of the things that kind of helps you get your foot in the door, uh, this is quite obvious, but you want to set your rate to be really competitive. You want a rate that, um, that people feel overwhelmed that they're getting such good quality for the rate that they're getting. Um, again, this ties into your personal survival budget. Of course, don't set it at a rate that you can't, can't live on. Um, but if really kind of start at the bottom, uh, and you can quite quickly increase the rate, as I said, I've been at TopTile, working through TopTile for three and a half years. Um, my rate is 80% higher than it was when I first started, um, currently. And that's because I was able to get my foot in the door, um, maybe not for the kind of money that I wanted to, um, but I didn't want to get my foot in the door with the rate that I was at and it's almost too good to turn down. Build a reputation of delivering projects. Uh, and then you can then start to work your way up towards the rate that you, you actually deserve. So that would be a piece of advice on that as well. And I'll talk a bit about setting the rate later on. Um, and yeah, you really want to present the best, best version of your, your capabilities as well. Um, you want to be able to, as you do work, you want to be able to, again, add to that portfolio, keep building that portfolio and talk about the key things that you delivered within those projects that you worked on. Even if they weren't at the rate that you wanted, you can still use them, those projects for A, getting your foot in the door as I spoke about already, but also B, um, to be able to reference that work going forward and say that you have done these particular things. Um, the first product I worked on was a marketplace in a real estate marketplace app, um, and in Australia. And after that, I got other projects in Australia, other projects in real estate, other products and marketplace marketplace based applications. Um, because I had done that, I demonstrated that I've been able, I was able to work on that. So use that work to be able to further demonstrate your capabilities in a wider spectrum of, of areas. The next thing that, um, comes to mind is, um, spreading risk and scaling up. Now this, this is something that I still do to this day. So even after being working on over 20 projects with TopTile, I still, um, employ this strategy. Um, and it's, don't necessarily try to, uh, work a 40 hour a week project. Um, especially if you're starting out, if, if you're in a, in a full-time job, for instance, uh, as I was when I first started, I first took, the first product I took on was, uh, I think 10 hours a week. Um, and you are upset how many hours you want to do. So I would, I think I took 10 hours a week on, um, as that project progressed, I then moved up to 20 hours a week. Um, and then I was able to make a decision. I was able to make the decision, do I want to continue working my full-time job and 20 hours a week, or do I want to give up my full-time job, work 20 hours a week and see if I can get 20 more hours and go from there? Um, part of setting your rate as well in your work of your survival budget is to work out how many hours, what you think the risk is for working a low amount of hours and being able to get a high return on that. Um, fortunate, I guess, fortunately for me, um, I earned, I think I was earning, uh, 10 to 15% more working 20 hours a week as a freelancer than I was full-time in my employee job. So for me, it was quite an easy decision. Now I'm on 20 hours a week. I'm able to stop that, uh, full-time job and focus on the, the part-time work as well as getting more work. Um, the other part, the only reason why I continue to do that now is, um, to spread the risk. So if a project runs out of funding or as projects do end abruptly, um, working at the moment, I'm working four projects. Um, if one of those stops suddenly, even the one that has the most hours or pays the most, I will still have three more projects that I'm working on that are not going to leave me without any work and I can spend some time looking for new projects. Uh, if I was working, I don't know if there are any, but if I was working at one 70 hour, 75 hour project, uh, and it suddenly ended, then I would be going from the income I have now to zero immediately. So it's always good to, to take on within whatever you're comfortable with and your capabilities, um, multiple projects and spread the risk so that you are never left really without any, any work. I think there's only one period of time. So twice I've worked 20 hours a week. One of them was because I chose to for the summer holidays. Um, uh, and the other time was, um, I think a couple of projects finished at the same time, uh, and I ended up working 20 hours a week for, for a couple of weeks. But if that had been, I was working one project, then I would have been working without work for that time. So it's always good to try and spread the risk over multiple projects. Um, I mentioned already kind of phasing out full-time work. So as you've, as you, uh, build up your, your projects and you build up the, uh, your reputation, uh, you start to increase your rates, start to work more hours. Um, you can, I guess there'll be a point where you can stop working your full-time work, um, because you feel like you're more established as a, as a freelancer. Now you've got a bit of reputation, uh, some income behind you, hopefully some, um, buffer as well in terms of income. Um, so if you were to stop working a freelance project, you'd have some, some stock gap between, um, the last time you worked and the next time you work, if it was a couple of weeks, a couple of months, and then start, then I guess move away from the full-time employed work. The final point on this was just to, um, start to move your, your rate up. So you're now established, you've got your foot in the door, you've got a good reputation, you've got a portfolio of work, um, you're working at a rate that, um, maybe doesn't represent the quality of your work or the, the value that you offer to a client. Um, but you, you're, you're in, um, you're, you're committed as a freelancer. Um, now is the time to start increasing your rate. As I said, um, I'm earning about 80% more now than I was, um, per hour than I was when I first started. Um, and that happened incrementally. So I was, some projects I was on my initial rate, then a project would end, uh, and then I'd start the next project at a slightly higher rate than that other project would end. And I start another project at a slightly higher rate again. So it was crossover. Um, but you build yourself up to the point where you still remain competitive, but what is competitive has increased now because you now have a reputation, you now are, I guess, better at what you do as well because you've done more of it. Um, so as you do that, you're able to work towards the higher end of the scale and, and ultimately earn more money. Shane, do we want to do questions here or do you want to go right to the end and do questions? Um, let's, let's go to the end and, and then do questions. And then if anybody has any, um, that they want to ask in between, go for it. Um, I think, um, yeah, let's, let's do that. That's, that's the best way to do it. Okay, cool. So let's go to the next piece, which is, uh, setting your rate. I think I had it asked. Yep. Great. Thank you. So setting your rate and getting work, um, again, goes back to doing the research, understand, um, the roles, various roles that you're looking for. Don't put yourself into the one job that you currently have, but look at the various different roles, um, that you could do as a freelancer and have a look on the sites that I mentioned plus others, um, or simply just Google it and see what the rate, the growing rate is for some of those, some of those jobs. Um, have a look on, on LinkedIn. I think if you do, uh, if you have the, uh, paid LinkedIn and you do some of the tests on it, it gives you an idea of what the average rate is in your, in your area for salaried work. Uh, I think you can do it for freelance work as well, hourly, hourly pay. Have a look at what those are. And as I said, get your foot in the door with a rate that's going to be able to, to allow people to see you as, as a bargain, um, and get going at that rate and start building your reputation. Um, you also want to be able to, you want to be part of networks as well. Um, TopTile's great for that because network's massive and there's, you have access ultimately to speak to everyone who does the same kind of work as you. Um, there are different channels for that. Um, so you want to speak to other people who are in similar roles and get feedback on where they're located because their, their rate will vary based on, I guess, cost of living. Generally North American, uh, freelancers are slightly more expensive than some periphery countries. Uh, so have a look at where you are and speak to some other freelancers in those locations as well. Um, get an understanding of what they are charging and, and the kind of work that they're getting and also be flexible. Um, it's important to be flexible for the, um, types of roles that you're looking at. First of all, if something's only 50% of what you do, then be honest with them, but say, well, this is what I'm 100% confident with. And these are the bits that I would need to maybe learn a bit to be perfect on. Um, also be, be flexible with your rate as well. So, uh, with TopTile, uh, I let matches know the people who find the work. I let them know, um, what my rate is. They can see that on the platform. Uh, but if it's a particular, a product I'm particularly interested in, or I particularly need to take on a new project, then I will let them know what my bottom rate would be and I'm flexible to work for anything in between those. Um, it takes, it's a bit of trial and error. There isn't a, uh, exact science to setting your rate. Um, of course, the higher the rate, the less clients are going to be, uh, or the harder it's going to be, should I say, to be able to, to match you for a job. And the lower it is, obviously the more hours you have to work to make the kind of money you want. So there has to be some, some playing around with it. It's a bit trial and error. Um, but some of these techniques will help you, help you get that. Um, also testimonials from clients are really useful. Um, every client that I've worked with, um, that has had a positive outcome. Um, I go back to them at the end and ask them to, to, uh, write a testimonial for me. Um, so as part of my portfolio, so not just showing the work that I've done, but also the client has explicitly expressed their, um, satisfaction with the work that I've done, which goes a long way with new clients, because people do look for social proof, um, when using freelancers as well. Um, so that helps you justify your rate. The more, the more that you have and the higher quality clients you have that have given you that, then you're able to increase your rate a little bit easier. Um, and again, when you go to increase your rate, um, it's, it's helpful to do in small increments, um, because you can then test the waters a little bit. Uh, if you go from, I don't know, $50 at $50 an hour to a hundred dollars an hour, uh, you may find a steep drop off in the amount of work that you're available to get. Uh, so it works maybe to 10, 10, $15 increments, um, to help you kind of see what kind of work is available for you. And of course, as a freelancer, you don't have to take any of the work on. If you realize that you're getting a flood of, uh, inquiries at a certain rate, maybe your rate's too low. So you can turn some of those down or put your rate up and see how you get on. But it's having that, um, finding that balance is, is, um, important and all the things I mentioned before, like the survival budget and, um, the other examples I gave are a good foundation to be able to allow you to play around with your rate. Okay, Alex, we will move on to your next steps. Cool. So, um, yeah, so the next steps, I would say if you're, if you are interested in working as a freelancer, um, it's important to be part of a network that supports you. That's not just the other talent within the network, also the network itself. Um, and this, this is going to sound like a plug for TopTile. Uh, and I guess in some ways it is. I'm not being, uh, paid to speak with you about this. This is, I speak about this because I passionately believe in how good the network is, uh, and how well they supported me. Uh, as Rodrigo said, uh, for himself, this has completely changed my life. Um, I travel whenever I want. Um, yeah, I guess the only, only restrictions travel is the children's school. Otherwise I'd be traveling all the time. Like I have no restrictions as I bought a little dongle that has the internet with me. So I have wifi all the time. So when I'm in my car, um, a couple years ago, we, we drove from a partner and I drove from, uh, from London to, to Italy. Uh, and I worked the whole time because I am able to do that. I didn't need to take time off, but then if I wanted to take time off, I can. The flexibility is incredible. Um, the, the opportunity to, uh, work on various different types of technologies. Uh, as I said, I've worked in med tech with, uh, augmented reality. I've worked in, uh, blockchain. I've worked, um, Australia. I've worked in Nigeria. I've worked in, um, the U S, um, Sweden, all over Europe, Russia, China, um, Brazil. So all of these different cultures, different technologies, different types of platforms, different products, different industries, as varied as you can, your imagination can, can capture. I've been able to work with. And that has been because top tower has facilitated all of those things. I don't spend time wasting, uh, chasing invoices. I don't spend time really looking for clients, uh, going back and forth, doing unpaid work, everything I do with top tower, even discovery work on projects is paid by the client. Um, it's apart from, I guess, um, sick pay holiday pay pension. I go, I live in the UK, so I get medical free, but apart from those things, um, it's the best of having, uh, an employed job, uh, as well as the best of having being a freelancer as well. So being in the right kind of network, um, that supports your career, uh, is crucially important to having success as a freelancer. Um, and I think, um, yeah, I, I can't, I can't stress that enough. The other side of having a network as well, which is really important is understanding trends, um, from speaking with other, uh, other professionals within top tower network. Um, I understand more about, as I said, some of the technologies that I worked on, I understand more about the world of med tech, understand more about the world of, of blockchain and NFTs, um, because I've spoken to and worked with people who are further along in that journey than I am, um, being part of that network. So that's a crucial part, um, of, uh, of kind of becoming a freelancer and being successful as a freelancer. Um, along with the part, the point about trends, definitely I'd say cite the publications, um, understand what's happening in the industry that you're working in, understand the world of work. So what's happening with remote work, freelance work, but also specific to the technologies that you already know and technologies that you can, um, foresee happening and being useful in, uh, in your industry, looking at industries, um, that you might be interested in geographical locations that you're interested in working in as well. Um, publications and, um, podcasts and any kind of information that you can get, um, stay, uh, up to date with, with those things, because again, speaking to new, to new clients that will put you a cut above everyone else, knowing a little bit about their industry before they tell you, um, does, does always help and it makes you an expert. And I guess that's what we are at TopTile. Um, the, the talent at TopTile are put forward as experts in their field. So when clients have a conversation with me, and I'm sure it's the same with Rodrigo, they are looking for advice. They're taking our advice and listening to our opinions because they expect us to know, uh, more than them about the thing that they're, they're working on in some ways. Um, so being able to, to have that knowledge and understand that, um, those processes, uh, understand the trends, uh, will really put you as a cut above and allow you to get your foot in the door and get a lot further forward, uh, as a freelancer. And then the final thing, um, is just to continue to upscale. So I'm sure you know a lot of these already, but companies like Pluralsight, um, offer training courses, um, as well as things like, uh, Udemy and, uh, Coursera, edX, um, I would say continue to, um, upscale within, within your expertise, but also things that are periphery to that as well. Um, because there are so many channels and verticals within TopTile, for instance, um, where you get your foot in the door in one way and then you're able to expand your knowledge and expand your, your, your base to work in other areas. And obviously that gives you more opportunity to work on more products. It's obviously a better opportunity for income, but also more interesting things as well. I think Rodrigo said earlier, but if he didn't, I'm, I'm pretty sure at this point now, um, same as me, uh, I only really work on things that I want to work on. Um, I don't know if that, is that accurate, Rodrigo? You pretty much work on what you want to work on. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So I, now I only, I only work on things I want to work on, um, things that interest me, things that I feel like I can make a difference on. Um, I'm able to turn them up, turn away work, um, which is something you don't really get in salaried employment as well. So the benefit of being an established freelancer, um, is that you get to pick and choose what you work on, who you work, with. I've had clients that, um, I didn't particularly get on with, shall we say. Um, and I've requested to come off the project because I didn't want to work on it anymore. And I was taken off and I then work on projects that I did want to work on. Um, so having the ability to know the trends, be within the network and have an ever increasing skillset, um, allows you to have that flexibility to a greater degree as well. Thanks Alex. No worries. Um, so Alex, what were you doing before this? So before this, directly before, I was working, um, for Unite Students, which is, I think, the largest, um, student housing, purpose-built student housing, um, organization in the UK. And so they build, um, flats for university students. Uh, and I was working, uh, as a project manager for their income optimization. So how they can, I think it's to how they can make an extra, I don't know, the shareholders require 3% extra a year. And that was, that was a project I was working on. So super boring. Um, but I was that, I guess that was a project management in a larger company. Um, before that I was working in startups and it was kind of startup processes, um, for much really early stage startups. Um, but it was, it was always a little bit bitty as well. Um, it was, I guess working with startups is even if you're in a salaried job, the job security that you have isn't much more than you'd get in a, as a freelancer. Um, so I guess I was always destined for freelancing, but I guess, yeah, it's project management in, in different areas, startups, and then some larger companies as well. Yeah, exactly. And it was just curious. You're like, yeah, you know, your pathway to getting there. Yeah. So I guess it was when I was working as a project manager and so I was a contractor, um, at unite eventually, and I guess that was my first step. So I was a salaried employee that I went to contract in. So I was able to, if a project I was working on with top tile was particularly busy, I would just take the, the day or two days off as a contractor. So I wouldn't get a day rate for those days, but I'd be working on the stuff with the top top projects. And as the top top grew, I just did that more and more until I packed it in. That makes sense. Yeah, totally. And it, and I think that's a common pathway. I mean, um, did you have anything else that you wanted to add Rodrigo or Alex, like in terms of just, and by the way, anybody can ask any questions of Alex and Rodrigo at this point, you can ask anything you want. Um, I think, uh, I think a lot of people are probably, you know, watching this and thinking, well, I mean, how does this apply to me? So, um, um, you know, one thing is, and I can say this, um, so to get into a network like top tile, definitely, uh, think about this, that there is multiple steps to get in. Um, there is, uh, you know, an initial application, then there's an online test, then there's an interview, and then there's a project at each step of the way. You know, what, what they're looking for is your experience. So it really comes down to experience and, and, and I would say if what, geez, what would you say, Rodrigo in the world of developing react javascript, what would you say would be a good level of experience? Sorry, I'm just gonna sign it. Um, yeah, so actually it's, it's kind of hard to say, but I would say that we need to be close or very close to a senior, uh, developer because we are looking normally for the people that for, for the professionals that have like these kind of extra or this kind of knowledge to, to work on our projects. So if you feel comfortable, if you feel that you are, for example, uh, like profit on react or any other JS framework, for example, or any other language, you can do that. Right. So mainly those are the things. And, and I would say that, uh, sometimes you have to, if you want to make this movement from like a usual career working in a normal work scene and blah, blah, blah, to start working in this kind of freelancer career, sometimes, uh, you're going to have to find a kind of power that is inside of you and make the change. And yeah, don't, don't be, don't give up. Maybe as you just mentioned, Shane, maybe the products like this process in general, talking about the top top process, maybe the process, it's hard for some people, but you don't, you can't give up. You can keep moving ahead. You can try. Don't, uh, don't, um, don't wait for too long. If you feel that you have like the basic skills, you can try at least let's suppose you, you fail, at least you know what are the specific stuff that you need to improve on, on your, on your skills, on your career. Right. So basically I think that's it.
111 min
16 Nov, 2021

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