Here we are, yet another year on my own, it’s been more than 3 years since I had decided to become a company of one, meaning I adapt to small or big projects, hiring and collaborating when needed.
Creating a brand/name from scratch has not been easy. In the beginning, being alone building my own business I found myself with many doubts, insecurities, sometimes I wanted to stop and start looking for a job at some company.
So I am going to make a list of these problems/doubts and write the conclusion I have found.
How was I looking for clients?
First of all, I knocked on the doors of old companies I worked with. I am a very easy going person and always had good relationships with all the companies where I was previously hired.
Quickly one company asked me for my services. So I started doing freelancing for a company where I was an employee previously. Working for that company, introduce me to the world of freelancing and I had to get ready all the legal stuff and set up all the processes a freelancer needs, billing, set up my office, or hire an account man.
But being hired full-time for an old company made me feel I was back at the old company but this time with a freelance contract. What was the difference then? None…
How I built my portfolio so people can rely on me?
My goal then was to build a good portfolio.
I could not show a lot of my previous work (owned by companies) and a good resume is not enough for a client. A client wants to see similar products, so they are sure they are paying for someone who knows what is doing.
How I could go out there if I did not have a portfolio? I had a lot of experience in companies but just a little as a freelancing…
I knocked and signed up for any freelance platform and upload my resume. I am not particularly fond of these platforms, however, it can help on the first steps to get some projects and build a portfolio.
That way I built my little portfolio, while I had a stable freelance contract with my old company (paid by hours).
The next step was to quit that old company, and start really building my brand and my name as a company.
Once I had a good portfolio, the next step was to improve the way to search for new clients.
Step number one is to get out there to let potential clients know you exist. But the second step is to convince them that you are the best company to perform the project.
Sending messages to some friends helped me a lot, and a friend who was running a little studio gave me the opportunity to build some Apps for them.
There we go! on my road to building that portfolio and it was working!
Yet, I was not feeling like a professional company of one. I knew already my clients, so for me, I still felt in the comfort zone. I had to keep improving and looking for clients.
No one will hire your services If they don’t know you exist.
Then I started to make some noise. I started writing a blog. I did not have a website, so I created this website and start writing posts about the technology I used in my current projects. I did not waste time on research, I just created posts about things that were useful to me.
The website was one thing but I had to push it harder. I tried to use keywords to position my blog better, so now if you look for Kotlin Barcelona, probably you will find my website quite well ranked on the results of your search engine.
The website was ok. But also what worked for me was to start posting on other platforms like LinkedIn.
On top of all that. Having a good presentation (visually) is important, good pictures of you, the office. You might show how is the environment where you work, how professional you are!
The best way to let people know you are the best is by talking to them.
I had many years of experience building products, developing, and managing. So I already had experience and I think when I talk to people, they realize they are talking with someone who has the experience and knows what is talking about.
How much should I charge a client?
I had some experience contracting people already in my previous jobs, so I had an idea of how much companies big agencies or small ones were charging. My knowledge was not enough to figure out how much I could charge. So I started asking prices directly to other freelancers.
Some agencies (in my opinion bad ones, but there are a lot of them) charge to pay salaries to business, management roles and eventually they contract someone cheap dev to perform the work (normally juniors), low quality and problems will arise during and after development.
I have a good example of this. I have been contacted by an agency because they needed some development. I told them my hour price rate (based on the market). The business guy told me it was too much, If they pay me that they would not have any margin for them.
Why this guy should have a margin? why the price paid from the customer should not go entirely to the people performing the work? Obviously, I said they should look for some intern…
Other agencies pay very well to more seniors and auto managed teams with high performance, prices here are high but cost-efficient since quality or the resilience of software are assessed properly.
As a company of one, business, management, development it is on one person. So the price to contract someone like this is much more efficient and the quality of work is much higher.
Usually, the problem I have is to make them understand that they need to find someone they can rely on, and where every euro/dollar they invest is going to pay for good work, not to pay fancy offices or big salaries to roles that do not contribute to creating a better product for the client.
The conclusion for me, is to try to charge the senior market fee if you think you provide senior service.
Runaway from clients who don’t want to pay for a good job, they are not worth it and in mid/long term the experience is awful since they do not value the work you do in many senses. You will find yourself working for something or someone that makes you uncomfortable, and that has not a good ending.
If you love what you do, and you do it well, take only clients who believe in you, and they pay you as you expect to.
I hope this post helps someone in the same situation I was before.
This is my experience and my thoughts, it does not mean it is the way to go, or that this advice will work for you, but reading experience from someone else can be inspiring.