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.
This workshop covers the essentials of freelancing, including getting started, managing expenses and client relationships, finding clients, building your reputation and brand, and joining freelance platforms. It also highlights the benefits of freelancing, such as freedom and higher pay, and the support provided by TopTal for freelancers. The workshop emphasizes the importance of communication, transparency, and maintaining professional relationships. It also provides tips for raising fees and building a strong freelance brand.
1. Introduction to Freelancing
Welcome to the workshop on designing a sustainable freelance career. I'm Shane from Top Talent, and I'll be sharing best practices and tips for freelancers. Toptel has an exclusive network of freelancers, and we take the top 3% in their career. We'll cover topics such as your freelancing business, how you get paid, and how to find work.
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 Top Talent. 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 Top Talent. 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, they're tips, and they're 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.
2. Benefits of Freelancing
Why would someone start freelancing? It offers freedom, higher pay, and the ability to have your own career path. The freelance marketplace contributes $42 trillion to the global economy. 71% of companies plan to shift to more contingent project or contract work. Freelancers report being more content with their work-life balance. Let me address some common fears and concerns about freelancing: not having enough experience, job security, finding projects, doing taxes, and being isolated from code.
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 dollars, 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 third 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. Here's how you do this. Let's say that you are pension. That's a great one, Naveed. 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 code, 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.
3. Getting Started as a Freelancer
Let's talk about how to get started as a freelancer. First, you need to understand the logistics of starting a freelance business, including establishing yourself as a sole proprietor, dealing with taxes and regulations, and finding potential clients and projects. One important aspect is determining how to get paid. Unlike a full-time job where your salary is set, as a freelancer, it's up to you to determine your value proposition based on your skills, experience, and reputation. We provide coaching and a calculator to help freelancers determine their rates. It's important to consider what you can be paid and what you need to be paid may differ.
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.
4. Managing Expenses and Client Relationships
Think about your basic income needs, living expenses, business costs, and insurance. Determine your value proposition and research rates. Consider billable and non-billable hours. Your client relationships are crucial for your success as a freelancer. Focus on efficiency, consistency, and building strong connections.
Think about this. You have basic income needs. You have living expenses, business costs, you know, home office, desks, things like that, you need every day and then insurance and rainy day funds. Now this is addressing some of those things that you guys talked, 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, healthcare, 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 if that's how you come up with this, what do I need to make to cover all of these aspects? And so you might wanna do some research. You can research similar freelancers. You can talk to freelancers. You can find out what their rates are. You wanna 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 wanna 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 gotta think about balance here. You gotta 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, you know, they're all different. So think about this. On one side of the coin, you want to 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.
5. Finding Clients as a Freelancer
Finding clients as a freelancer is crucial for a steady flow of projects and a consistent income. Utilize your social and professional networks to let people know you're freelancing and ask for referrals. Stay updated on industry news to identify opportunities and target businesses with staffing shortages. Don't overlook job boards as they can still be effective in finding freelance 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 gonna go back again and just say this was a big topic. But when we wanna talk about how you get paid, these are the four things that I get 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 bootcamp 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 gonna 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 is that you're seen different in terms of values.
Okay, 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? All right. 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 the best, 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 gonna 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 gonna 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 gotta start thinking quickly about your next project. So you're gonna 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. Your specific industry, whatever that is, let's say it's healthcare. The healthcare 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 healthcare industry because a lot of people have left the healthcare 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. It's 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.
6. Freelance Platforms Pros and Cons
Freelance platforms can be a great source of work, but they have their pros and cons. Some platforms require you to register and join their network, but you're on your own when it comes to dealing with taxes and finding work. Clients on these platforms often choose based on the lowest rate, making it difficult to feel valued. Additionally, you may constantly feel the need to sell yourself for each project, which can be exhausting. While freelancing platforms offer work, they may not align with your personal goals.
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 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 you know, 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.
7. Building Your Reputation and Client Communication
Building your reputation as a freelancer comes down to the basics. Fill out all the required skill sets and understand the expectations of the job. Communication with your client is crucial. Even a daily update can go a long way. Anticipate roadblocks and be honest about the time required.
Okay. 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. It's probably Upwork, Fiverr, Guru, Freelancer.com. Guru, Freelancer.com. 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, you've got, 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, they're 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 gonna take two months. Well, you know that it's gonna 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.
8. Maintaining Professional Relationships
Always be clear, transparent, and communicate. Showcase your work and maintain professional relationships. Keep in touch with clients and ask for testimonials. Learn from mistakes and use them as opportunities for growth.
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 this is, it goes into sales a little bit, I'll admit. Ask for testimonials. Don't be shy and ask. Just say, 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 gonna 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.
9. Building Your Freelance Brand
Now that you have your rate of pay and know how to source clients and make them happy, it's time to think about your freelance brand. A brand is what defines you as a freelancer and represents who you are and what you offer. Some freelancers even brand their name and create their own logo. Think about your tone of voice and what you bring to the table. Having a strong freelance brand is important as it will solidify your identity in the minds of your clients. Communicate your brand consistently across all platforms, just like Apple does.
Okay. 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. Like 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 gonna 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 gonna 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.
10. Building Your Brand and Time Management
To build your brand as a freelancer, showcase your work on your resume, portfolio, and website. Be active in the community by hosting blogs, writing articles, and giving talks. Utilize networking events and social media to promote your brand. Time management is crucial for freelancers. Determine your most productive hours and create a realistic schedule with breaks. Learn to say no to projects that don't align with your brand and goals.
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, cause I wanna weave back in Tattal 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. Okay.
So again, going back to one of the, kind 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 eight to five.
Oh, okay, thanks Alex, I see. You've mentioned sourcing another project close to the end of the call, and how do you handle delays? Ah, got it, okay. Yup, 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 seven to eight 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 gonna 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 gonna make money? Trust me, learning to say no is probably one of the best, another top skill you can learn. And I can give an example here. One of the things you're gonna 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.
11. Taking Time Off and TopTel
Take time off and build it into your rate. Freelancers have the flexibility to take months off depending on their lifestyle. Discuss potential delays with clients upfront and build in a buffer. Transparency and honesty are crucial for maintaining relationships. Focus on freelance talent platforms, including TopTel, which is an exclusive network of vetted clients and top freelancers.
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.
Okay. 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. Um, next I'm gonna address TopTile. And I'm going to tell you guys how different it is and why. And it's gonna address nearly, 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, Um, 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 upfront 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 timeframe. And you can identify quickly that it's gonna 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 timeframe. 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 gonna take a little longer. And be transparent with the client and say, I've done this for a long time, and I just wanna build in a buffer of an extra couple of weeks or a month. And most clients for the most part will say, okay, let's do that. And 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 gonna 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 wanna let you know that the project I'm working on right now, we're experiencing a short delay. Would you be okay 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.
Okay, so, let's talk about, yeah, thanks, okay, good. I've seen it work, Alex. I wanna go back real quick to a slide. Okay. If everybody remembers this little box over here in the lower right, freelance talent platforms, I wanna focus on that right now because this is the key to your entire career. Okay. 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 wanna 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.
12. TopTal Application Process
We have an online test followed by a one-to-one interview with a technical screener. After that, you will work on a project with someone one-to-one.
And I'm gonna 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, dev-ops, 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 wanna 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.
13. Joining TopTal and Getting Work
Once accepted into the network, our profile editors will build your profile and help set your rate of pay. We have a well-developed platform with a calculator to determine your rate. Our matchers understand client needs and will send work to you. TopTal pays you directly, eliminating payment concerns. Our matchers ensure a steady flow of work, especially for longer projects. Set your rate and availability on the platform. Transitioning from employee to freelancer is initiated by the individual upon joining TopTal.
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 their rate of pay too low. You are gonna 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. And 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'll 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 TopTel, 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, you know, 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 TopTal. Now, here's the great part. TopTal pays you. The client does not pay you. The client has already paid TopTal. You do not have to deal with not getting paid. TopTal does not take a percentage out of your pay. So what your rate is is what you get paid. And TopTal 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 gonna 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. 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, five months in, they're gonna 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. Ah, how does the transition from employee to freelancer work? So the transition actually happens on, you actually make the transition, Nilo. You make it. You, how do I put it? Let's say you're an employee at a company and you want to join TalkTal. You would go through the process of joining and when you get on the platform, you would set your hours appropriately.
14. Benefits of Joining TopTal
As a freelancer at TopTal, you have the flexibility to set your own hours and transition from part-time to full-time. TopTal takes care of client transactions, resolves issues, and manages administrative tasks, allowing you to focus on your work. The platform supports certifications, offers a private community on Slack for networking and getting help, and provides perks such as paid meetups and the opportunity to write articles and speak at events.
So, you know, 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, you know, 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, you know, 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 TalkTal is, you're not just joining a platform and left on your own. We take care of all of the transactions between a client. We take care of issues that come up with the clients and we represent you and the client. We also help with, you know, just managing everything for you. We kind of take that on as well. So, the whole goal is for you to focus on the work and us to focus on all of the overhead and administrative. That's the goal.
And the other thing is, is that, you know, 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 Toptal. Honestly, they all, a lot of people have full-time jobs. Now, not everybody, they are full-time freelancers, but again, you can set your own hours. Now, keep in mind, I say that, and I wanna 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'll 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 wanna 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 TopTal, you only do that once. We absolutely support up-skilling. 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 TopTal 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 TopTal. 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.
15. Supporting Freelancers and Remote Work
We sponsor events and support freelancers in giving talks. Building your brand is important. Communication with clients is direct. We handle project management for you. It's tough to get in, but if you have more than three years of experience, you'll do better. All jobs are remote. Companies are turning to freelancers like us. It's a great time to freelance. Many freelancers have shared inspirational stories. Three years of experience is recommended.
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 feedback direct or all? Got it, thanks Vaka. 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, Buck.
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 them. 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 a hundred 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 we just have high expectations. So we offer all of these great benefits. And I can say one thing. Yes. Yes, thanks Gal. All of the jobs are remote. We have had very, very few, very few instances where there was a physical attendance. Everything is a hundred percent remote. The clients know it, and the clients love it. So we, none of our clients expect people to attend physical. And if that was an expectation, you would know upfront, 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, you know, come up to me and said, hey, I love, I love hiring freelancers from Tata. So I'm not like, you know, 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. So, but again, going back to, if you're considering this, just realize that I would say the base is about three years experience.
16. Addressing Client Expectations
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. Our matchers are not gonna send you work that doesn't fit within the scope of what the client has already said they will pay. So when the jobs end up in your, for your view, all of that has been worked out.
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. Sometimes it does. I think it really matters. A lot of our freelancers in Eastern Europe work for U.S. 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 gonna send you work that doesn't fit within the scope of what the client has already said they will pay. Okay, 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, for your view, all of that has been worked out. So that's taken care of.
17. Entering the TopTal Network
The top 3% of freelancers are accepted into the network. To start working as a freelancer, establishing an LLC is recommended. The percentage of freelancers who enter on their first attempt is unknown. If you are interested, you can reach out to me and I can connect you with one of our specialists who can provide further information and guidance. We always provide feedback and offer tips for the online tests, which have the highest failure rate. Feel free to message me on LinkedIn or send me an email.
Oh, thanks Vaka, let's see. Where does the 3% come from? I can share that, it is 97% 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, it's like a funnel and you can see this on TopTals website by the way, this is 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 have to establish an LLC. Cannot start with that, correct Naveed, that is absolutely correct. And I can tell you in the US that takes about 10 minutes to do. You can go online, you can register your name as an LLC. So you can be like Naveed LLC. 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 broad term because there's so many different countries, how many percentage of your freelance? Let me go back though to that question about that. Yes, you need to have your LLC established first, I would recommend that highly. 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 wanna 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 I'll mention is, is, and again, if any of you are interested, I'm gonna actually put my email address right here. I'm gonna type it in the chat for everybody. If you truly are interested, and here I will, I'm gonna 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, okay, so apparently, where is my profile? Let's see, there I am. Okay. There we go. Wow. Okay. 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. There I am. So if, yes we do, Charlotte, we always give feedback. So 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, their 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 want. And we will give feedback on why, at what point. I'll give you a little tip, an insider tip. Most people, the highest failure rate is the first step are online tests. 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 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.
18. Raising Fees and Building a Brand
To raise your fees as a freelancer, it's important to establish a good relationship with your client and demonstrate your value. After working with a client for a few months and delivering great work, you can have an honest conversation about raising your rates. This is a basic principle of business, and as a freelancer, you are running your own business. Building a brand as a freelancer involves registering your business name, creating a consistent logo, writing articles, giving talks, and using your brand consistently across platforms. It takes time, but it's worth it for recognition and success.
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 start building your freelance career.
How do you raise your fees? Ah. 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 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 wanna have with your client only after you've demonstrated value. Again, and I'll say this, 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, 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 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's so big. He's a top-tier freelancer, and we did a video shoot with him, and we did a, we actually created some videos, they're 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. So he registered his business 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, regarding time management. Yeah, thank you, everyone.
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