Austin PHP Meetup Message Board › Wanting to freelance

Wanting to freelance

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Bill J.
user 13066592
Austin, TX
Post #: 2
I am wanting to start freelance contract work on the side to gain more experience with PHP features that I don't normally use at my current job but not sure exactly where to start. Many of the listings I've read want samples of or urls to previous work done. That's a problem for me because all of my previous work is internal applications which automatically come with confidentiality requirements on my part.

I'm looking for advice on the following:

  • How to demonstrate my knowledge and experience when no work is available to be shown.
  • Other technologies I should start learning.
  • Ideas for projects to learn technologies applicable to the previous item.
  • Local companies looking for good talent who are willing to teach necessary technologies.
  • Personal experience with telecommute work from other members.
  • How much to charge for services.
  • Drawing up contracts, etc.
  • Other aspects to keep in mind.

Howard K.
hkatz93
Austin, TX
Post #: 22
Some background: I work for one company here in Austin and telecommute (I show up for meetings only). I do not freelance but have tried it some years ago.

> How to demonstrate my knowledge and experience when no work is available to be shown:

Honestly, building some "resume-ware" would be one of the most effective ways to market yourself. You don't necessarily need a huge application; just pick something useful and small and build it... preferably in some of the new technologies you are trying to use. Say, make a blog with some useful features or small facebook application.

I have also seen another way to demonstrate your skills would be to take some existing code and refactor it. Document your decisions why you did whatever you did.

> Other technologies I should start learning.

I am assuming your freelance would involve building or fixing websites for people rather than some deep internal architecture. Without seeing your list of experiences I would say that the following are very important:
1) Javascript / jQuery
2) OOP
3) CMS frameworks: Wordpress, Drupal, (maybe Joomla) just pick one and build something with it
4) Other more general MVC frameworks: Zend framework, Code Igniter, Yii, etc.
5) basic design skills (HTML / CSS). Obviously the better you are at this the better your "portfolio" looks.
6) SQL, learning how to make queries more efficient


> Ideas for projects to learn technologies applicable to the previous item.

- facebook application
- PHP extension to wordpress or drupal
- google map application
- mobile website demo

> Local companies looking for good talent who are willing to teach necessary technologies.

If you are freelancing I would not expect much investment from the client to get you upto speed in new technologies; you will need to do this on your own.

> Personal experience with telecommute work from other members.

Tracking software is very important. For example, I use a task/bug management software on-line (part of Salesforce) that communicates when tasks are done and has estimated dates of completion. I also track my time with Toggl (http://www.toggl.com...­, available for free). Having your time tracked is essential if you bill hourly, you may wish to try a few different sites out until you find one that builds your invoices for you.

> How much to charge for services.

This is highly variable depending on a number of factors. Keep in mind a basic rule of thumb: your yearly rate is approximately x2000 your hourly rate. So if you charge $50 an hour that would be about $100k a year. Working for the whole time, of course, is not likely.

> Drawing up contracts, etc.

I would avoid fixed price contracts if you can avoid it especially if they are asking for "bug fixing". If they insist, I would first estimate how long you think it will take and add 50%. The only real way to get better at estimating is to actually practice it. For example, in your day job start making estimates for your projects (privately) and then track the actual time (see Toggl above). After a while you get a feel how good you estimate and you can give better estimates to your clients.

> Other aspects to keep in mind.

Keep coming to the PHP meetups and talking with people. There are a lot of experienced people out there that can also help with these questions.





Howard K.
hkatz93
Austin, TX
Post #: 23
> Other technologies I should start learning.

Version control (SVN or Git) [highly important to use it! It can save you hours of grief]
PHP debugging w/Xdebug or Zend and an IDE (Netbeans, Zend Studio, or Eclipse) [save you lots of hours too]
A former member
Post #: 5
Hey Guys, I am owner of Sozo Websites (sozowebsites.com) and I would like to talk to you about a huge opportunity for a lot of freelance work. Call me if you are interested!
Logan L.
llbbl
Group Organizer
Austin, TX
Post #: 18
great post Howard. That is good advice for Bill.
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