How To Design A Sustainable Freelance/Contracting Career + Speedcoding Challenge

Workshop from:
React Summit
React Summit 2022

Ready to kickstart your freelance career or just getting started on your freelance journey? You’re in the right spot. Learn from the world’s largest fully distributed workforce in the world.

The independent talent movement is the future of work. If you’re considering leaving full-time employment for a career as a freelancer, now is the time to find your successful space in the independent talent workforce. More people are working freelance today than ever before, with the freelance marketplace now contributing $1.2 trillion to the US economy. Some of the most in-demand roles for freelancers right now are senior developers with professional experience in React, Python, Blockchain, QA, and Node.js.

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

At the end of the workshop there will be a Q&A session with a Freelance Developer who can answer your questions and provide insights and tips into their own success.

During the Workshop break, we will be running a speed-coding challenge! At the end of the workshop, we will award a prize for the winner and display the leaderboard.

We will have you login to our portal and complete the challenge as fast as you can to earn points. Points are assigned based on difficulty and the speed at which you solve the tasks. In case you complete all tasks, you get extra points for the remaining time. You’ll see your score, ranking, and the leaderboard once you complete the challenge.

We will be giving away three Amazon Gift Cards ($200, $100, $75) for the top three winners.



Welcome, everybody, here. I'm going to get started since we're right on the hour. Let's see. We're going to make this fun. So hopefully everybody can see my screen, how to design a sustainable freelance career. I'm Shane, and I'm from TopTel. I'll be doing this little mini workshop today. Let's get started. This is about designing a freelance career. And I am Shane. I work for TopTel. I am on our core team. We have just over 1,400 employees, and we have about 10,000 clients. So we have been doing this freelance network thing, I should say, for about 10 years, actually 11 years. So being able to share with you guys how to design a career in freelancing, it's been something that's culminated over many years. So the things I'm about to share with you are best practices, their tips, and their things that we have seen work really well for our network of freelancers. Just so you know, TopTel has a network of freelancers. I believe it's one of the largest networks. It's an exclusive network. And not everybody gets into our network. We take the top 3%. So it's the best people in their career. And the reward for that is life-changing work. And I will get to that in the presentation. So if anybody has any questions about freelancing, please share. Sometimes it's called contracting. It's in different countries. It's called different things. And if you know it by a different term, let me know. But I'm going to call it freelancing. But just know that it can be also called contingent work. It can be called contracting. And it's all the same. So let's get started here. These are the things I want to talk about. So just so you know, we're going to talk about your freelancing business, how you get paid, how to find work. And speed coding challenge will actually be moved down to the bottom. So let's get started. And again, if there's any questions, please feel free to ask in chat. And I will make sure that the chat is open. And I will make sure that everybody has an opportunity to get those questions answered. OK, so why in the world would somebody start freelancing? Why would they leave their job and kind of start freelancing on their own? Why would anybody do that? Well, one thing I can say, oh, I see there's two people. Oh, freedom. Yes. The coding test is at the end. Yes, it is. And freedom. Yes, freedom. That is one big thing that people leave. Thank you for that comment. This is, without a doubt, one of the largest transformations in history that we're seeing right now. We've been seeing it for a while at TopTel. We've been monitoring it for a long time. And if I were to draw a chart, you would see that it started to become more popular in the last five years. However, due to the pandemic, it really fueled this transformation. So it's massive. The freelance marketplace contributes $42 trillion, and I'm sorry, this is US dollars, to the global economy. That's important because businesses are accepting freelancing as a part of their workforce. 71% of companies plan to shift roles to more contingent project or contract work. And freelancers report being more content with their work-life balance. Freedom comes down to freedom, comes down to higher pay. It comes down to being able to have your own career path. And more than 2 thirds of freelancers said that they earn the same or more than they did working full-time at a traditional job. Now, I know that that might sound great to some people, and you might be thinking, well, OK, how do I do this? I will share with you the path on how to get started with this. And let me, I guess, let me ask everybody a question. If you think about freelancing and you think about contract work, just put in chat some of your fears, some of the things that you probably would say, yeah, it sounds great, but I really don't want to do it because of this. Let me know, and I can address those. All right, so here's how you do this. Let's say that you are pension. That's a great one, Navid. Yes, that is not having enough experience. Yes, job security, finding projects. Thank you, guys. This is fantastic. Yeah, this is great to see, having to do taxes on my own. Job security, yes. OK, OK, these are great. 24-hour work. You guys are hitting all of the points, and this is fantastic. Detention, yes. Wow. Being isolated from co-op, OK. Awesome. OK, so yeah, this is great, you guys. I'm going to address all these. Believe this or not, these are fantastic. Thank you. Keep it coming. I love this. This is great. When a client backs out, OK. Fantastic. All right, so let's talk about, OK, so I'm going to address all these. Trust me, this is going to be good. These are exactly what I wanted to see. So all right, so let's talk about how to get started. Let's just say that all of these things that you guys are typing right now are not an issue, and you decide that you want to freelance. Let's start there. First of all, there are the logistics of starting a freelance business. So what does that mean? As a freelancer, you are your own business. So you're a sole proprietor. That's what it's called in the US. I believe other countries call it the same thing, but it could be a little different. So you establish the sole proprietorship, and there's taxes, regulations, and finding great accountants. And these are all reality. Laws vary widely across every different country. And finding potential clients and projects. So these four things right here. And I'm going to break these down in the coming slides, are really what we're going to talk about today, how to get started, how to do this. First of all, let's start with the base. How do you get paid? This is not exactly what you would expect. The first thing, and this is what we always tell our new freelancers that join our platform, we always coach them and discuss with them how to get paid. Because this is very important. The first thing that we have to understand, and this is how we coach freelancers, what you could be paid. All right. So what does that mean? Because when you are working a full time job, think about this. They tell you what you're going to be paid. They say, here's your hourly salary or your yearly salary. When you're freelancing, this is all up to you. And a lot of people say, well, I don't know how valuable I am. So this comes down to your value proposition. What is that? You need to think a little bit about your skills. And all your skills matter. Every single one of your skills matters. Your technical skills, your people skills, everything you bring to the table is part of your value. Your experience and clients matter, and your reputation in the industry matters. These all three, if you were to package those three up, you can come up with a value of rate. There are ways to do this. And we coach our freelancers, and we help them come up with these rates. We actually have built a calculator that helps take all this into account and come up with a good rate. So the next thing we tell people is what you can be paid and what you need to be paid are sometimes different. Think about this. You have basic income needs. You have living expenses, business costs, home office, desks, things that you need every day, and then insurance and rainy day funds. Now, this is addressing some of those things that you guys put in that chat, exactly what you were saying. So let's talk about that, living expenses. These are your responsibilities, your rent, your mortgage, your everything, your food, what you need for your family to survive. These are living expenses. Business costs are exactly what they are, equipment, et cetera, internet, and then insurance. Now, this varies widely. This is a hard topic to cover because in the US, we have to pay for everything, health care, retirement or pension. All of these things have to be taken into account. So what you really have to do is sit down and think about this. And when you take that amount and you write that amount down, what do I need? And when I say need, break it down into, you could break it down into monthly, weekly, hourly. Then you take that and look back again at your value proposition. And that's how you come up with this, what do I need to make to cover all of these aspects? And so you might want to do some research. You can research similar freelancers. You can talk to freelancers. You can find out what their rates are. You want to think about hourly or per project flat rates. A lot of people charge just a project rate. Some people charge hourly. And then you need to think about, and this is something people miss. And we find this a lot with freelancers. And this is something very interesting that a lot of people just really don't think about, quite honestly. Billable and non-billable hours. I think somebody in the chat addressed this, actually. When you're at a full-time job or a regular job, you're getting paid all day. And you could, for example, take a part of the day and go do some research. Or you can do whatever you need to do. Maybe you want to take a course, an upskill. But you're getting paid. As a freelancer, it's a little different. The time that you're doing that isn't necessarily paid time. So you've got to think about balance here. You've got to think about billable and non-billable hours in a whole new way. And it really changes your perspective when you start thinking about that. But this does go into your rates. Now, believe this or not, many, many people miss this. Part of what you'll be paid as a freelancer comes down to your relationships with your clients. This is a tough one, because every client has different. They're all different. So think about this. On one side of the coin, you want a freelance because you get varied projects. And you get different clients. So it's great, because you can upskill. And you can change things up. On the other hand, every client is different. And the expectations change. So there's always another side of the coin. Client relationships are absolutely critical. So you want to focus on efficiency and consistency. This is two things we have found that absolutely work. As efficient as you can be and as consistent in your work as you can be, building the relationship is an investment in your future. We always tell freelancers, even with difficult clients, remember, they will be your voice. They are your voice. They are the ones that will recommend you for other work. They will refer you. They will also give you feedback that you can use. And all of these things go back to your rate. And again, just what I talked about, the extended work and referrals. So I'm going to go back again and just say this was a big topic. But when we want to talk about how you get paid, these are the four things that, again, just over the years, we have found go all into your rate. So the difference is somebody making a lower end of money. Let's put this into a real life example. Let's say you're a developer with one year of experience. You just got out of a boot camp, or you just got out of university. And you really don't have a lot of bills and responsibilities. You might have rent. You might have a few other things. And you really don't have a lot of client relationships yet. It's pretty easy to see, based on that, that your rate of pay will obviously be reflected on those. Now, again, let's say that you have five years of experience. You have a lot more responsibilities. And you have several client relationships. You have two or three clients you've worked with. They love their work. They've talked about you. Your rate is going to be much different. And so I'm just putting it in perspective for everybody. This does not mean that you can't get work. What it means is that you're seen different in terms of values. Now, here comes the big question. You have a rate. You have your value. You know what you need to be paid to take care of all of your income needs, including your insurance and everything else. How in the world do you find these clients? Where are these clients? Who are they? How do you even do it? So how do you find work as a freelancer? It's one thing to have your rate all figured out. And that's fantastic. That's where we need to start. But you need to find work. So having a steady flow of projects ensures a consistent income. So what does that really mean? It means that as a freelancer, you're going to be doing two different things. So for all of the benefits of freelancing, the freedom, the ability to work whenever and wherever you want, the ability to make as much money as you want, and the ability to just continually upskill and take on really challenging projects. All of those benefits, you have to understand that you're going to always be continually sourcing clients. The reason is you need to have a pipeline. So for example, let's say you have a six-month project. And you start working on that project. Well, as it turns out, at about three to four months, you've got to start thinking quickly about your next project. So you're going to be trying to source new work in between. How do you do that? You can use your current social and professional networks. People will know you're freelancing. They will know it because you'll talk about it, and people will refer you. They will know you're freelancing. Industry news. This is an interesting one. And I share it because not a lot of people think about this. Keep up on industry news. Keep up on industry news, your specific industry, whatever that is. Let's say it's health care. The health care industry is continually changing. If you keep up on the industry news, you can kind of shift and adjust where you're looking for work and where you're finding clients. For example, there's been a lot of shortages lately in the health care industry because a lot of people have left the health care industry due to stress. Therefore, you know that you can follow the industry news and see that a particular business might be short on staff. That's an opportunity for you to reach out via LinkedIn or any other method and start talking to those clients and letting them know that you're freelancing. And you have these skills. And you can help them with their shortages. This actually works. It works really well. Job boards. I might be overstating the obvious here, but job boards always still work. They might be older, but they still actually work. And then the last one. And I think everybody's probably thinking this as well. What about freelance platforms? What about those? Those are also going to be your biggest, best source of freelance work. However, I will offer you something to think about. Every platform is different. And every platform comes with pros and cons. For example, and I think somebody mentioned this in the chat already, some of the freelancing platforms, and you can probably guess some of the names you're familiar with, all you have to do is register your name and basic information, and you join their network. And you're in there on your own. And you get an email that says, great, thank you. Thank you for joining. Now upload your resume or fill out this additional information, and off you go. And you're all on your own. And you still have to deal with taxes. You still have to deal with finding work. And another thing you have to deal with, which many people have mentioned, is this idea that these clients, they kind of choose and pick based on the lowest rate. So you're always in this weird situation. And you don't feel valued. The other thing is, with some of these platforms, you always feel like you have to sell yourself. Every single time there's an opportunity for a project that comes up, you have to resell yourself again, over and over. And that can really get taxing. So the freelancing platforms are advantageous because there's work in there. But they're disadvantageous when it comes to your own personal goals. OK. Oh, thank you, Frank. You did not miss anything. I'm going to get to those particularities here in a few slides. Thank you. Thanks for that question. I will address it. So building your reputation. Sourcing clients is one thing. Ah, I see. The difference between a job board and freelance platform. So job boards are typically a public, as I understand it, a job board is a public, accessible job, I guess, listing that you can just look at and then go off on your own and contact. Or sometimes they have built-in contact. A freelancing platform is where you actually join the platform by signing up. And sometimes there's a fee. And sometimes it's free. I'll give an example. Upwork is probably. Upwork, Fiverr, Guru,, those are platforms. And you join those, and you build a profile. That's different. A job board is more open, where you just look and see what jobs are available. But you don't have to register for a job board necessarily. So building your reputation. How do you stand out? How do you be the person that everybody wants to hire? Believe this or not, it really comes down to the basics. First of all, when you're applying for projects, there's paperwork involved. I say that meaning you have to build your reputation by continually filling out all of the required skill sets, et cetera, that you bring. Understanding the expectations of the particular job so that you can fulfill them. A lot of freelancers, when they first start out, they just are too concerned and worried about getting work. So what they'll do is, and we've seen this many times, what they'll do is they will just apply for everything. And in some cases, they're not really ready for that job. And what ends up happening is, it's a damaged relationship. So understanding the expectations of the job is important. Communicating with your client is absolutely one of the things that people miss, and it's so critical. I'll give you an example. Clients think about the client for a moment on their side. They're excited about the project. Maybe it's building an app. Maybe it's building a new site. Maybe it's actually connecting. Maybe it's making an application more functional for them. And they're excited. What they don't see is what you're working on. So from their perspective, they're always wondering, well, what's going on? From your perspective, you're excited because you're getting paid and you're doing something you love. Remember that communication is key, even if it's a daily update. It could just be something, hey, here's the progress I've made today. Here's what I'm working on. And you communicate with the team. It goes so far to communicate. You wouldn't believe this, but it's amazing to send a quick update to the client. They love it. And then you've got to anticipate roadblocks. So things come up. A lot of times, there's a perception that something will not take as long as it does. For example, the client might say or think, hey, we've budgeted for this, and it's going to take two months. Well, you know that it's going to take a lot longer. So you've got to anticipate that and be honest and upfront and say, hey, look, I've done this many times. We need another month here. We need a little more time. So always be clear. Always be transparent and communicate. You will be miles ahead of other folks that just don't think about this. If there's one thing to take away from today, it's this. Remember that you're representing yourself, and that's really important. Again, maintaining professional relationships. There's a difference between having a big ego and showcasing your work. Don't be afraid to showcase your work. I think probably everybody has done this, and you want to do that. You want to showcase it and be proud of it. And keep in touch with your clients. Let them know that you're still there. A little of this goes into sales a little bit, I'll admit. Ask for testimonials. Don't be shy and ask. Just say, I'd really appreciate it if you had anything to say about my work, and ask if you can share that. And learn. I'll say that as a freelancer, not everything's going to go perfect. It's not. And when something doesn't go right, just sit back and think about what happened and learn from that. It's tough to do sometimes, but it's important. So now you have an idea. Let me go back here real quick. You have an idea now of. You know you have a rate of pay, and we talked about some ways to come up with how. So think about this. You've got your pay now figured out. You know I need to make this amount. I know how to source my clients, and I know how to communicate and make my clients happy. Those are the two key things to think about and get started. And the next thing is, what's a freelance brand? A lot of people have done this successfully. Some people have not done this as successful. But it's funny, because just last night, I mean, this is just a little off script here, but last night I was reading about what is a brand. And it's funny, because I mean, we all know big brands, right? We know Apple. We know Google. We know all of these big tech companies. Those are brands. And you can't really define a brand, though a brand is something you offer people. It's your offering. It's who you are. It's what you represent. And clearly, there are freelancers who do this very well. When you think about freelancing and you think about being a business, you're in business for yourself. You are a brand. And this is really important. And so many people miss this. Some people brand their name. I've seen this done. They brand their name. They even come up with their own logo. It's pretty interesting to see. But when you think about it, what if you were a client and a freelancer came to you and approached you and they had their own logo? They had their own vibe, I guess. They had their own feel. That would be exciting to see. And they are excited to see it. So branding is what defines you. I'm not saying you have to come up with your own logo. But think about it in that term. Who are you? What are you bringing? And what is your tone of voice? Are you fun? Are you serious? There's different ways to describe yourself. So think about it. Think about your brand. It's a fun exercise to do. You can actually sit down, take some time, and write out this. If you were a brand, if you were a company, what would you look like? What would you be? And you can take that as far as you want. But it really does help. And you're not going to probably hear this kind of stuff on many other places. Because again, not many people think about it this way. But I will say this. Having a strong freelance brand is important because it will cement who you are in the mind of those clients. And again, I'm just going to cover real quick. How do you communicate your brand? Let's say you decide, hey, I'm Frank. And here's my brand. And I have this really cool, strong presence. How do I communicate that? You can do it everywhere. Think about this. How do you think Apple communicates their brand? I mean, you see it everywhere. Across everything they do, it's consistent. Your resume, your portfolio, your website. Hosting and contributing to blogs. Write articles. Do talks. Be out there and be somebody that people can see. So I'll come back to that in a second. Because I want to weave back in Tata again. But I'll come back to this. I think there's some points I can make. Go to networking events. Social media. Include your brand. And maybe your brand is you have a tagline. And that's all it is. Include it everywhere. Always include it so that people remember you. And this goes for developers. Again, let's say you're participating in GitHub or Stack Overflow. Include your brand in there. So everywhere people go and see you, they go, oh, I know what that is. So again, going back to one of the last points here that I want to make about freelancing is time management. There is no greater skill that you will need to hone more than time management. Yeah, I can share some examples of good branding. Yes, definitely. So strong time management. This is so critical. It's unbelievable. When you're on your own, you have to determine your most productive hours. Now, I will say not everyone in the world can work 8 to 5. OK, thanks, Alex. I see. You've mentioned sourcing another project close to the end of the con. How do you handle delays? Ah, got it. OK. Yep, I will address that. Let me talk about time management, and then I'll address that. So strong time management skills. You have to determine your productive working hours. If you're in Europe, for example, one of the things you might encounter is you might work for a US-based company. And obviously, you know there's about a 7 to 8-hour time difference, depending on where in the US it is and the time of year. But if you're a person that really loves to work in the afternoon, that's going to be great for you. Some people, they like to work in the middle of the night. Some people are morning people. Just determine when you work best. Now, set a realistic schedule. I say this because you need to build in breaks, and you need to build in time for yourself. And this is just realistic. You do not have to work 24 hours a day when you're freelancing. I know it feels like you do, but you do not. If you do this right, here's an example, too. I'll share this. I was talking with a freelancer at TopTel, and I was asking him, who lives in Amsterdam, and I was talking to him and asking him, how do you schedule your time? How do you make this all work? And he said, I do this in two-hour blocks. So he sits down, and he focuses for two hours and shuts everything else off. And he works for two hours at a time, and then he takes another hour and catches up on things and just takes a break. And that works for him. But he's very committed to that, and he sticks to that schedule, and it works great for him. So one of the nice things about freelancing is you have the freedom to do this. Build in breaks. Build in buffers. And something that might seem counterintuitive is saying no to projects. Now, I know you're probably thinking, well, if I say no, how am I going to make money? Trust me. Learning to say no is probably one of the best, another top skill you can learn. I can give an example here. One of the things you're going to learn quickly in freelancing is sometimes your brain is focused so much on needing to make your income that you say yes to everything that comes your way. And when you do that, you dilute the value of your brand, because not every project is going to be as lucrative or as good for your own personal life. There are such a wide range of projects, and you should never, ever just say yes to everything. Sometimes saying no means that you can say yes to something far better. And when you're doing this right and you're on the right platform, this becomes easier. Take time off. A lot of people, again, and this is going back to rate, they actually build into their rate. They build a certain amount into their rate for their savings. So we do have freelancers who work nine months, and they take three months off. We have some freelancers who work six months and take another six months off. Again, it all depends on your lifestyle. And allow yourself some flexibility. I mean, I think that's a given. But again, time management, so critical. OK, so I want to go back now because that kind of concludes this part of this where we're talking about how to do freelancing. Next, I'm going to address TopTel. And I'm going to tell you guys how different it is and why. And it's going to address nearly, I would say, a lot of the things that you mentioned in the chat. But one thing I want to do is, Alex, you asked about delays. And here's what I can say to that. When you start the project, there could be delays, yes. I think the one thing that successful freelancers understand is, up front, they can have that discussion with the client. Because if it's a good client, Alex, they will give you a good scope of work. And they will say, here's everything we need, and here's the time frame. And you can identify quickly that it's going to take a little longer, even if you have a gut feeling. Mention that to the client and build that buffer in. Therefore, when you start to look for other work, you can be realistic with that time frame. I know this sounds difficult and complicated. But actually, you will learn this over time quickly, how to look at a scope of work and say, you know what? I think this is going to take a little longer. And be transparent with the client and say, I've done this for a long time. And I just want to build in a buffer of an extra couple weeks or a month. And most clients, for the most part, will say, OK, let's do that. So I guess what I'm saying, but if this happens and you continue to have further delays, I would tell you, you will not damage any relationship by being honest and transparent. The only way you're going to damage a relationship is by not being transparent and honest. And that's my best advice, is to always be honest. So go to the second client, Alex, and say, hey, I'm excited to start this work. However, I want to let you know that the project I'm working on right now, we're experiencing a short delay. Would you be OK with me starting? Being honest, being transparent. You will never damage a relationship. And I can say that without a doubt. Transparency goes a million, million miles for building your brand. So I hope that helped, Alex. OK, so let's talk about, yeah, thanks. OK, good. I've seen it work, Alex. I want to go back real quick to a slide. OK. If everybody remembers this little box over here in the lower right, freelance talent platforms, I want to focus on that right now. Because this is the key to your entire career. OK. So there's different platforms. I've mentioned Upwork. I've mentioned Fiverr. I've mentioned Freelancer and Guru. And I'm sure that people might be familiar with other types. I just want to mention TopTel because I work there and because I think that everybody deserves to hear about TopTel. So here's how TopTel's different. And here's how we address all of the things that everybody's mentioned. TopTel is an exclusive network of the best of the best. So what does that mean? It means that TopTel sources clients as well as freelancers. So we have over 10,000 clients. And those clients are already vetted by TopTel. They come back to us continually because we have the best freelancers in the world. And how do we get the freelancers? Well, I'll tell you. You can't simply just register at TopTel and be in the network. It's not that easy. To get accepted into TopTel, for many people, is something that they aspire to do. There is a, let's see, one, two, three, there's a three to four step process. And I'm going to share that with you. It's not a secret. First of all, we have an online test. After the online test, we have a one-to-one interview with a technical screener. So if your skill set is front end, back end, data science, whatever, DevOps, you will be matched with somebody who is working in that field and will interview you over Zoom and work through a technical problem with you. They want to see how you think through problems. And lastly, the last step is you will do a project. It takes about a week. Some people take two weeks. And you will get on Zoom, and you will go through the project with somebody one-to-one. Now, let's say that you've made it through these steps, and you get accepted into the network. The next thing that happens is we have a team of profile editors who will build your profile for you, and they will help set your rate of pay. So all of those things I discussed in the beginning about how to set your rate of pay, we have built into our platform. We have a calculator that allows you to go through a series of questions, and it helps you set your rate of pay for your particular situation and skill set. And one thing to keep in mind is most people set the rate of pay too low. You are going to be introduced to clients all around the world. We are in 130 countries, and a lot of the clients are in the US. And yes, you can make US pay rates. So the profile team will build your profile in our platform, TopTile has developed the platform themselves. We have roughly over 800 engineers working on our platform, and I mean on the back, developing our platform over the last 10 years. So it's very, very well-developed. Once that happens, you might be wondering what's next. Here's what's next. We have a team of engineers that we call matchers. And these are people that understand intimately the needs of the clients, the projects that the clients are requesting, and the skill sets of our freelancers. They will send work to you. So how that works, you have a mobile app on your phone, the platform. And what will happen is you can search it for work if you want, or our matchers, and or I should say, and, the matchers will send work to you. So once you've gone through this whole process of getting into TopTile, you do not have to go through that anymore. How it looks is, you'll see, yes, you can, Charlotte, absolutely. How it looks is to you is you'll see a job come up, and it will be pushed to your app, your profile. And you'll see it, and you'll say, oh, that looks interesting. It'll already have the scope of work defined. It'll already have everything defined, the length of time, if it's a team project or if it's solo. Sometimes you're on a team with other freelancers. And you can apply to that. And the client will often ask some basic questions. That's really all it takes. You don't have to sell yourself. You've already been vetted by TopTile. Now, here's the great part. TopTile pays you. The client does not pay you. The client has already paid TopTile. You do not have to deal with not getting paid. TopTile does not take a percentage out of your pay. So what your rate is is what you get paid. And TopTile pays you on a regular basis. So you do not have to worry about gaps in pay. The other thing that happens is, and this is going to go back to a lot of people, what people were saying about stability. Our matchers know that you might be on a, let's say, a six-month project. And some of our freelancers have been on projects for two years and the client just keeps rehiring them. And they love the client, so they stay. But let's say you're on a six-month project. Our matching team knows this. So at about three, four, or five months in, they're going to start sending you work so that you don't have these gaps. So on the platform, you set your rate of pay and you set the hours you are available. A lot of people work full-time jobs and join our platform and set their hours at maybe 15, 20 hours a week so that they can kind of see how this works for them. It's not too long until they shift to full-time because the work is that good that they come in and they start moving. How does the transition from employee to freelancer work? So the transition actually happens on, you actually make the transition, Nilo. You make it. How do I put it? Let's say you're an employee at a company and you want to join TopTel. You would go through the process of joining. And when you get on the platform, you would set your hours appropriately. So and again, that's up to you. You could set your hours, let's say, I think we have a minimum of about 10 hours a week. So you could set it at 10, take on a few projects. If you like it, keep raising the hours that you're available. And it's kind of this transition you'll make kind of on your own where you'll transition into from this full-time to that full-time. So you can kind of determine that. The other thing we offer, and this is a big part of TopTel, is you're not just joining a platform and left on your own. We take care of all of the transactions between the client. We take care of issues that come up with the clients and any, and we represent you and the client. We also help with just managing everything for you. We kind of take that on as well. So the whole goal is for you to focus on work and us to focus on all of the overhead and administrative. That's the goal. And the other thing is that we want you to be able to do your best work. We will offer certifications. For example, yes, Peter, that yes, absolutely. We have people that do that every single day on the platform. And yes, you can work freelance along a full-time job. That's great. I mean, somebody just mentioned having extra time. This is the key way that a lot of people start at TopTel. Honestly, a lot of people have full-time jobs. Now, not everybody. They are full-time freelancers. But again, you can set your own hours. And now, keep in mind, I say that, and I want to be honest with everybody and say that a lot of our clients are looking for full-time. Not in every case is that true. So you can come on and set your hours lower. I will just say that you may not see as many jobs come up. However, they will fit for what you need better. So just understand that. TopTel supports certifications. So we will pay for certain certifications for our freelancers. For example, Amazon Web Services, we are a partner. And we will help pay for those certifications. We also have a massive private community that you will be a part of. And what does that mean for you? Well, it means that if you're ever stuck or have a question or want to talk to your fellow freelancers, you can do so in our Slack community. It's divided by city and by country and by skill. We have had many freelancers struggling with a project. And they have a question. They'll post it in Slack. And within minutes, they get an answer. So oh, one, if you take the exam for one technology but later develop a new technology, do you? No, you do not want. Once you're in TopTel, you only do that once. We absolutely support upskilling. In fact, we help you with that career path. We're there to help you. And lastly, part of our community comes with some perks. We have community leaders who are freelancers who have volunteered to lead a community. And I'll give you an example. I was just in Amsterdam. And I attended a meetup. And TopTel paid for the whole entire thing. There was a dinner. There was networking. And the freelancers came. And everybody met each other. And they talked. And they got to know each other. And they felt like they were a part of something. And we fully support that. And we will pay for those. So last, we have a blog at TopTel. Actually, we have several for all of our verticals. And we reach out to freelancers for them to write articles. What does that mean for you? It means that when you write an article, it gets published under your name. And we have had clients see those articles and hire those freelancers. We also have a speaker community. So we will help you get skilled in speaking. And I reach out all the time, myself, on the events team. And I ask freelancers to do talks. So we sponsor a lot of events, tech events. And I will reach out myself to freelancers and say, hey, would you like to do a talk on React? Or would you like to do a talk on something related to front end? And we will support you in that talk. And remember, when I said building your brand is important, all of this goes back to your brand. So I hope that some of that has resonated with you. And I hope that I've explained the value. Is all the communication between direct or all? Got it. Thanks, Vaca. It's both. Once you've formed the relationship with the client, you join their team, essentially. When I say that, I mean you become a part of that whatever project team you're working with. And at that point, a lot of the communication, like you might attend client meetings. And when you're in those client meetings, obviously you communicate with the client. If there's issues, though, or things like that, and project management top tail handles that for you. So again, you don't have to deal with that. We want you to focus on doing your best work. That's what the focus is. Hope that helped answer the question, Vaca. And I know everybody might be thinking, I can share with everybody, I mean, just in case you have this question on your mind. Because you might be thinking, gosh, this sounds just fantastic. And I can share with that. I see Jam was laughing, too. I sometimes feel like a salesman, and I apologize. It's definitely not that. It is tough to get in. I won't lie. We do have a high failure rate. And there's a reason for that. And the reason is, I would say that if you have more than three years of experience, you'll do 100 times better. The reason for it being so tough is because we have the demand from the clients. We have really good clients. They have high demands for the best of the best. And they're not going to be able to do it. And we just have high expectations. So we offer all of these great benefits. And I can say one thing. Yes. Yes, thanks, Gail. All of the jobs are remote. We have had very, very few, very few instances where there was a physical attendance. Everything is 100% remote. The clients know it, and the clients love it. So none of our clients expect people to attend physical. And if that was an expectation, you would know up front. But it's extremely rare. So I can give everybody some advice. If you want to freelance, it's a great time to do it. Companies out there are short-staffed. They are definitely hurting for tech talent. And they're turning to freelancers. But I will say this. They're turning to places like Tata because, and I've talked to the clients. I mean, I've been at events where clients have come up to me and said, hey, I love hiring freelancers from Tata. So I'm not making it up. But there's never a better time to freelance. It's a great time. We have many freelancers who have shared inspirational stories with us, how it's changed their life. They have been able to explore hobbies that they never would have been able to do outside of freelancing. And they've made a good life for themselves. They really have. But again, going back to if you're considering this, just realize that I would say the base is about three years experience. And if you truly, truly are interested, reach out to me. I'll put my email address. I'm on LinkedIn. Do you think location matters? Ah, great. Great, Alex. Thank you for the question. Do you think location matters? Sometimes it does. I think it really matters. A lot of our freelancers in Eastern Europe work for US companies. How do you address clients that expect lower fees? So here's the thing, Alex, with that. Our clients already know the fees. Because when they come to us and scope out a project, they already know the fees that they're looking at. So how do I put that? Our matchers are not going to send you work that doesn't fit within the scope of what the client has already said they will pay. So when the job comes to you in the platform, a lot of stuff has already been worked out. The scope, the length of time, they already know the fees, and they've already agreed to that. You don't have to worry about all of the competing for lower rates and dealing with negotiating. We've already done all that. So when the jobs end up in your view, all of that has been worked out. So that's taken care of. Oh. Thanks, Vaka. Let's see. Where does the 3% come from? I can share that. It is 97% are rejected. And I think rejected is a little strong of a term. It doesn't mean that you're any less of anybody else. It just means that, again, you're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. You're a little bit less of a person. And you can see this on TopTel's website, by the way. It's not a secret. There's a funnel. And yes, it's true. It is the top 3%. And that comes from all of those steps I mentioned to you on how to get into the network. So for starting to work as a freelancer, we actually have a lot of resources on our website. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. And I'm going to share those with you. I do not know how this works in every country. I do know that some countries, it's a little tougher. Yeah, what about Europe? I need, that's a big, that's a broad term. Because there's so many different countries. How many percentage of your freelance? Let me go back though to that question. Yes, you need to have your LLC established first. I would recommend that. Oh, yes, you can. This is recorded and you will have 100% access to this. How many percentage of your freelancers entered in the first attempt? Wow. You know, I honestly don't know that percentage. I really don't. I know we have them. You're welcome, Attila. Thank you for coming. I know we have a lot of people that do. I just don't know that number and I don't want to make something up. So I really don't know how many on the first attempt, but people do on the first attempt, make it through. I think one thing. One thing I'll mention is. Again, if any of you are interested, I'm going to actually put my email address right here. I'm going to type it in the chat for everybody. If you truly are interested, and here I will. I'm going to also grab real quick my LinkedIn. Because I'll share with you guys something here. Let me grab my LinkedIn for you. Which, of course, LinkedIn is being slow. Let me grab my LinkedIn profile. Wow. OK, so apparently. Where is my profile? Let's see. There I am. OK. Wow. OK. There we go. Sorry, everybody, I just wanted to be able to. I wanted to be able to. Share with you here my LinkedIn profile. I am so. Yes, we do, Charlotte. We always give feedback. Again, if anybody thinks that this is a good fit for them and they are interested, reach out to me because I'll get you in contact with one of our. There are specialists. They can send you their calendar link and you can schedule a call with one of them. And you can actually talk to somebody over Zoom about starting the process. I would highly encourage it. And regardless of whether you get in on your first attempt or not, it's something you should definitely consider if you're if you want. And we will get feedback on why. You know, at what point. I'll give you a little tip. An insider tip. Most people. The highest failure rate is the first step on our online test. And we will if you talk to one of our specialists, they will give you some hints and tips on where you can study for that test. So we will we will. We will give you some places you can go where we might pull some of those questions so you can be prepared. Being prepared is the absolute best thing you can do. So, yeah. So there's my LinkedIn message me. There's my email. Send me an email and I can have someone reach out to you if you're interested. However, all of the other things I covered earlier all stand and you can go to any freelance platform with those tips that I gave earlier and and, you know, start building your your your freelance career. How do you raise your fees? Yeah, it's a good question, Alex. The way we've seen people do it is they will raise their fees after a particular project is done and they've gotten feedback from the client. So for existing clients, let me say this. If you're if you're with TopTel, that would be something we would negotiate on your behalf. If you're on your own, it's a conversation that you would want to have with your client only after you've demonstrated value. Again, and I'll say this, you know. Transparency. So if you've been working for a client for three months and you've done great work, you have a great relationship with the client and they see the value in you, you can go back to the client and discuss raising your rates and be honest with them. So build the relationship first. I wouldn't come in and, you know, it's like anything else, right? Once they know you and once they value you, you can have that conversation. So I would say the way to do it is to establish the relationship first and then determine if you can raise it. Yeah, totally makes sense. It's. These are like the basics of business, right? And and when you're a freelancer, you're a business. Here we go. Okay. This guy that you're seeing in this picture. Sorry, the picture is so big. He's a TopTel freelancer. And we did a video shoot with him and we did a we actually created some videos there on YouTube. He's an example of building a brand. He has not only done incredible work, but here's an example of how he's built his brand. He registered his business as a as a name. He created a name for his business. I will look it up and find that name. And then he created a little kind of avatar logo that he always uses always everywhere. No matter what he uses that avatar. Secondly, he writes a lot of articles outside of TopTel and he has his name out there. Again, he always uses his brand. And lastly, he has done a few talks. Not major talks, not keynotes, but he's done some talks. And again, he's using his avatar and his name of his business as his lead in. So it's taken a few years, but it's recognizable and he knows. It's been regarding time management. Yeah. Thank you, everyone. I really appreciated your feedback, your questions and especially so again connect with me on LinkedIn. Email me. And if you are interested and you think TopTel is something for you. I will get you connected with the right people and help you out there.
75 min
04 Jul, 2022

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