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Be a Freelance Programmer | Freelance Sprout | Find, Start, and Grow Your Dream Freelance Business
Read the six part series on creating a freelance business plan
 

Be a Freelance Programmer

Date March 14, 2008


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The demand for computer programmers continues to grow. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects programming to be one of the fastest growing occupations.

Much of the demand is being met be freelancers as companies reduce their employee overhead. For a company, outsourcing programming functions makes sense because there’s no need to continually train and employ highly skilled programmers.

Many times, clients need COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) programs customized to meet their needs—hiring freelance programmers to do the work.

As a programmer, you’ll begin by understanding a client’s requirements—the tasks they want their custom program to perform. Requirements analysis is critical because it sets the tone for your entire project. Anything not outlined in the beginning will have to be integrated later if at all possible. Unfortunately, this is a step often rushed through or overlooked altogether.
Ideally, you’ll need to have several years experience writing, testing, and debugging software which may or may not include training client employees to use it. If you’re lacking in any one of these areas, you may also consider bringing on your own freelance help.
Your experience is key in helping estimate how long it will take to complete various programming tasks which, in turn, determines how much you can charge.

You also need to be able to understand and speak coherently with clients about their business needs. They usually don’t care about the bells and whistles unless the software does the required tasks. That’s why it’s important to have at least a familiar background in accounting, databases and general business issues.

Programmers generally charge in the $75+ per hour range. If you’re fast—and good—you could charge up to forty hours per week resulting in billings of $100,000+ per year.

So, what about all the software being outsourced overseas? Stay tuned for my post on how you can compete in an outsourced world.

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