When you start as a freelancer, you need contacts, or a so-called “network” to build upon. You need to email potential customers, if they have time for a chat, if they work with freelancers and whether your background might match with the person they are looking for.
After my first week of freelance, I made a small business model fiddle about what my situation looks like right now.
There is a lot more going on than programming only. In fact, most things feel like marketing and selling. This is not bad though, since in the spirit of Patrick McKenzie, selling is an important part of a software business, and for me at least, for making software products. McKenzie seem to talk about the software business here too.
So for week 1, a key acitivity was building and filling up my project pipeline. To do this, there is only one way: Talk with people. A good idea might also be of giving talks at meetups and conferences, and have people talk with you. After living some years in Munich, this strategy looks best to fill up the initial project pipeline. And I am lucky to work with some great freelancers in Munich from the start.
A second important activity of acquiring projects is writing emails. Writing emails is more difficult though, since you need to have email addresses of leads, you need to send those emails (in the form of email campaigns) and you need some time to figure out what to write.
A good use of an email channel sounds like important way to communicate with customers on the longer term though. Also, sending emails will be important when you will start selling products, instead of hours. So, I played with some ideas to capture email addresses with a landingpage. It looks it is possible to create a small email list manager, and integrate some APIs for cheap delivery.
Then there is the question of how to work with software recruiters. These people live from their email lists, and they could help you filling a project pipeline. I am not yet too sure what to think about recruiters. They have their own interest in placing you in projects, that might not be the best for you. Those kinds of projects, where you replace permanent staff, instead of providing real consulting hours on specific problems. But the spectrum of recruiters looks broad enough to give it a try for some weeks.
Last, the first questions on accounting and taxes popped up. There are a number of tools such as Quaderno, Moneybird and other that help you with invoices. So far, I seem to have a good accountant who can help me understanding the language of the tax office.
So, what are your experiences on selling consulting hours? What marketing do you do?
- Part of this post was inspired by discussions with Graham Clark. As creatives, photographers have to solve similar problems, as software developers need to do.