Topic: Freelancing Advice

I would like any advice that would be helpful for my situation. It requires a long story, so gather around the campfire.

I'm 20 years old and am a website developer/designer/webmaster (and database applications programmer/tech support) for a local computer company. I worked for them for about two years, then interned at my church for two years, and a few months ago started working for this company again when I helped plant a church (I'm a youth minister). Ministry is what I see myself doing for the rest of my life, but I like designing websites. However, I do more than websites at the company I'm at now (like dreaded Access databases disguised as applications). I've thought about doing my own thing (freelancing), but thought I would never be able to pull it off. My pastor recently talked to me about a way to get me up at the church more. We're trying to be creative in the way we have most of our staff at the church since we're not financially able to hire all of us. He said he knew of some people who might hire me to build them a website, one for sure. This has sparked my interest a lot in freelancing.

I've done a lot of research, thinking, and praying. If I can get clients it seems to be perfect - I would work from the church, but not tied down to websites from 8 to 5 like I am at my work. I'm only 20 and have no debt. Right now I'm living with my mom, but am looking to rent an appartment sometime soon, which would be the third major expense in my budget, next to food and gas. I can always try to go to elance.com and get work there if business is slow.

However, I don't want to be naive. I know that there could be a few bumps. I could either not be able to get any clients or get too many and be constantly working on websites and not have any time for church work. I'm struggling with how much to charge for my work. I want to be fair to the client and to myself, but also get business. And, I don't know how to tell my boss that I quit to freelance. I love the people I work with. I'm the only website person they have (and only person who has any experience in programming). If they couldn't find anyone right away I would feel like I would be leaving them high and dry. I would suddenly become their competition, I think. Have any of you had to deal with leaving a company and then competing with it? Also, can I use work I did while at that company in my portfolio?

So, would you recommend that I quit my job and freelance? I see it as fairly temporary, though I could always do some work on the side for extra dough when I get hired on full time at the church. What kind of situations have you been in with former employers when leaving to freelance? Has anyone else been in a situation where you freelanced to work at a church?

Re: Freelancing Advice

Wow... I have to say, you sound a lot like me (with a bit more work experience). I am 19, and my passion is also in Youth Ministries, and plan on becoming a youth pastor.  I have recently decided to try this freelance/business thing as well.  I just started really, and things are going very slowly.  Though it isn't too bad yet, because like you my burn rate is rather low (live with parents, so the only major expense is my car, which is a cheap one at that).  I am doing this to have more time to give to my church as well, kind of just took the unofficial "assistant youth director" title.  I will say one thing, its tough to find work sometimes.  I have been able to find little bits here and there, but nothing of any good size sadly.  I am probably one of the least on this site that can help you out in this respect, due to me just getting started, and little success thus far.  I will keep on trying though, and I will be praying for you.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [Gen. 1:1]

Re: Freelancing Advice

I have heard it said: "Get as close to God as you can, and then just do whatever you want." What I mean is - seek God's will and his will become yours. So, while I cannot tell you "Thus saith the Lord," I will try to share some practical advice. Garrett Dimon's articles outline the actual steps involved from a planning aspect, so I will point you there for that type of advice...

http://www.garrettdimon.com/archives/about-going-solo

http://www.garrettdimon.com/archives/st … -developer

As far as keeping on-track with priorities, I would say to first make sure that you are seeking God in all things, lest doing websites becomes a distraction and an end-goal in itself. I know this is personally a struggle for me, wanting to grow professionally yet also needing to keep things in an eternally framed perspective. As long as you are starting each day with this on your mind and in your heart, you will do fine whichever decision you make - "Lord, today let my actions and words glorify you."

Give me liturgy or give me death.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Nathan Smith wrote:

"Get as close to God as you can, and then just do whatever you want." What I mean is - seek God's will and his will become yours.

This is true...when taken in the right context. 

When we abide by his general will (which is applicable to all of us, and easily known - his Word) and are in union with him on issues that we know we must go one way or another on, then the issues which aren't so clear (career, etc) are settled by a few ways:  Talking with people that you know are in him (Wisdom comes in a myriad of counselors - sorry, don't know the exact verse), and that is a balanced view of the wisdom you receive from that council. 

Another facet is garnering general wisdom about technical things from other folks as well (all truth is from the Lord, but be careful not to intermix this with, "Should I live with my girlfriend, it will save money" - that's superceded by the Word and with wisdom of people who know Christ.) 

All of this is intermixed with true and honest prayer and seeking.  100% seeking, at that.  If you don't want to really know what to do, and more importly, aren't truly open to doing what the answer is, whatever it is, you still may not get a 100% clear answer.  If, after all that, the Lord doesn't answer you directly in some fashion (and, as one pastor said to me once, he will make the answer ABUNDANTLY CLEAR...as in, there really isn't any arguing that it was him that said otherwise,) then it's up to you...which is the freedom to choose in Christ.  Weird, huh? 

Most of this came from Josh McDowells' book "How do I know God's Will?"  It's a great, short read.  And, to tell you the truth, God actually pointed directly pointed THAT out to me one day, as well.  I was broken, totally broken.  On my knees, I sold out and said the phrase he *loves* to hear - "whatever you want."  I was given a leading immediaely to go to a bookstore and ask about an apartment (relevant to some of my toil that I was in at the time.)  It was the Lord, as I was answered when I was open only to his will, and I shut my own mind up.  Went to the store, turned around; lo and behold, there are the two books that I was struggling SO much about, that one and "Finding True Love".  Yeah, that's a tad beyond cooincidence.  I never, ever expected that to be an answer; I was expecting to be told to move out or go be homeless (rich young man), and that's the truth.

Funny that you get an answer, expecting something totally different, and it ends up making sense in the end.  But it was answered at the point of having a broken, contrite heart. 

NOW - on freelancing.  I tried to have my own business and find my own clients.  I must say, what I did, didn't work.

Gotta be open.  Gotta go all the time.  Gotta keep contacting people.  Gotta keep going.

If someone says "no", have 5 others ready to rock.  This, of course, is assuming that you're doing this in a way that you advertise going out and finding folks, not necessarily them finding you. 

Not only that, but you're going to be filling in not one job role (developer), not two job roles (manager), not three job roles (designer), but four job roles (marketing).  That's a lot.  Just finding folks requires a ton of time.  *Especially* if you're advertising - "fishing" clients.

Now, I thought you said in your post "one website".  Well, that's really not enough.  For a job to be a job, there has to be a steady flow of income.  I thought the same thing - one website, on my way...but what happens when that's over?  You need a constant flow of money.  After this site, you might not get any more customers.  Something to keep in mind.

My uninformed, general wisdom advice? 

Try it now, if you already have clients lined up - on the side.  Why not?  I assume (perhaps wrongly, please excuse me if so) that you're single, and can be a screen watcher when you come home, and have fun doing some more sites.  This way, you get a taste of what might happen.  I do this, and find it to be great fun that I can come home and do some more productive work with a whole lotta freedom (running my own company) while still having your "stable" job.  It's cool stuff.

Yo.  This is my sig.  It roars.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Freelancing (I prefer to think of it as starting your own business) is only a good choice if you can make enough to support yourself. What are your needs? If you live at home and your expenses are minimal, and you don't need to earn very much, then you're in a good position to start freelancing. If you have financial obligations and must earn a certain amount to get by, then you should not quit your day job. It's a big risk. The benefits are huge but the drawbacks are potentially just as big. You will have down time, guaranteed. Can you handle the downtime? Like I said, if you're in a financial position to accept risk, then there probably won't be a better time than now.

Ryan Heneise  |  Art of Mission  |  Now with extra-strong Donor Tools mojo

Re: Freelancing Advice

One more thing - a lot of pros have been very successful at freelancing on the side while holding down a regular job. The job provides steady income, and at some point there is so much freelance work that they can quit their day job and ride the momentum that they've built up.

Ryan Heneise  |  Art of Mission  |  Now with extra-strong Donor Tools mojo

Re: Freelancing Advice

newmansmm - While I appreciate the checks and balances, I think you took what I said to mean something else. I tried to clarify that, by saying God's will needs to be our will. I think that sort of covers the live-in girlfriend scenario, don't you? Anyway, I don't think my advice came across as "anything goes."

Give me liturgy or give me death.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Nathan - totally understand what you're saying there.  The only reason that I said that was because people say that they are told by God to do things that are contrary to his general will; and that doesn't work.  Just wanted an illustration there.  In fact, I stand beside much of what you wrote.  :-)

Yo.  This is my sig.  It roars.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Kyle -

Step one - clear things with God, as Nathan & Shawn discussed so well.  I've found that, giving the decision over to God will ultimately make the process much simpler.  God will show you what He wants, and there will be a peace about it.

As Ryan indicated, your living at home may make this an opportune time to consider starting a business.  You might think about approaching your current employer about your changing from being an employee to a contractor.  You would be responsible for setting aside money for taxes, and you would lose any benefits, and they would still have the benefit of your work.  Set up a number of hours per week you'd be willing to guarantee them, allowing the time you'd need for your ministry and to allow for new clients beyond the one website in the offing.

That's my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Freelancing Advice

some good advice here. I will say that it's very challenging to start doing freelance full-time if you're starting from zero (or almost zero), which sounds like where you're at.

a steady client base is a must, if you've only got a few clients i'd lean towards working with them on the side until it the time commitment necessitates that you go full-time with it. as always (and as He often does), God can supercede what makes logical sense. just make sure you're really listening before making that choice.

chris (fig): i'm not random, i'm tangent oriented... : www.tangentoriented.com

Re: Freelancing Advice

Thanks a lot for the advice. As for doing work on the side, my current employer won't allow it. I am only allowed to work on my own church's website personally; anything else must go through them. As for clients, I know of 2 for sure, and 1 most likely (though I don't know when), and a lot of potential clients. I also plan on going into nearby towns that may not have anyone doing websites. A lot of places around here do not have websites, so I could promote getting a leg up on competition by being the first lawn care business, attorney, doctor, whatever with a website. I think if I could get a foot in the door to some of these towns then more business would come. However, I cannot even attempt that without compromising my current job.

One of my 2 for sures is really well known and respected in the community, so I look to having some referrals from her. I will even do a good deal to help promote her site (make sure she gets the word out, put up posters in her shop, business cards, etc.) so we both win - she gets the benefit of the web site and I get promotion for building it.

As for seeking God for help, that is first. I have prayed about it a lot, but I don't want to miss the opportunity to seek more godly advice. I really do think God is leading me in this direction. I had thought about doing this before, but dismissed the idea until my pastor brought it up to me. The last time we talked about this, he told me the difference between doing something out of faith and doing something foolish. He said if God is calling me to do it, then I need to do it and trust that he will provide. He brought up the fact that about 3 months ago he quit his steady job as a youth minister to plant this church when he didn't know where his income would be coming from. The rest of us staff quit the churches we were at and got other jobs. God has blessed us so much since then and we are able to keep our pastor on full time staff.

Right now, I trust that if God is calling me to do this then he will provide. I just want to make sure he is calling me to do this. Now, I do believe he is. Wow... Just writing this post has actually helped me a lot. It has gotten me to admit that I believe God is calling me to do this and that he will provide for me. Now, when to take that step...

Re: Freelancing Advice

scubakyle wrote:

Thanks a lot for the advice. As for doing work on the side, my current employer won't allow it. I am only allowed to work on my own church's website personally; anything else must go through them.

That's bogus.

Ryan Heneise  |  Art of Mission  |  Now with extra-strong Donor Tools mojo

Re: Freelancing Advice

Kyle -

scubakyle wrote:

As for doing work on the side, my current employer won't allow it. I am only allowed to work on my own church's website personally; anything else must go through them.

I'm confused.  Your employer has control over what you do on your own time?  How can that be?  If you're referring to working on outside projects while you're on the clock, though, that's understandable.  I'm blessed in that my employer is understanding of my business (of which they were a client before they hired me) and can, within reason, take care of "must do" outside work provided I deliver on my employment objectives as well.  That is a very unusual circumstance, though.

That's my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Freelancing Advice

scubakyle wrote:

Thanks a lot for the advice. As for doing work on the side, my current employer won't allow it. I am only allowed to work on my own church's website personally; anything else must go through them.

Right.... unless you're an indentured servant, that's a bogus claim unless you mean doing stuff whilst on the clock.

Ninjas and pirates both agree: cowboys suck.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Nathan:
That's VERY sound advice.


As to the issue of not being able to do outside work while employed, that's not such a stretch. Many employers limit those they hire in ways that keep them from competing...it makes sense that Coca-Cola would try to keep you from developing your own beverage company while working for them. It's a form of non-compete and can be completely legal and ethical. I'd suggest that, in many situations, they make perfect sense...like when an employer is providing a lot of training. They want their investment to help them, not sprout competitors.


scubakyle:
I freelance. It's not for everyone, and you might not make it on your first try. You're in what sounds like a good position to give it a shot...you're not heavily in debt, you don't have a mortgage, etc. If I were in your shoes, I think I'd say "I'm gonna do it". Let the good Godbit folks know if there are ways we can help you...I know I've benefited from my time here. Feel free to contact me personally, if you wish. smile

We're all looking forward to the future...but none of us more than the giant, evil robots.

Re: Freelancing Advice

newmansmm wrote:

Nathan - totally understand what you're saying there. The only reason that I said that was because people say that they are told by God to do things that are contrary to his general will; and that doesn't work. Just wanted an illustration there. In fact, I stand beside much of what you wrote.

newmansmm: Gotcha. I see what you meant. No worries.

Give me liturgy or give me death.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Sorry for the bump, but I want to give you guys an update. I turned in my notice last Monday. I determined that God was leading me in this direction and because of that he would provide for me. And he has. I've been building up potential clients and God has been providing them left and right. Friends and family are giving me names of people who need sites. Someone even asked my brother, who works for a gas company, if he knew anyone who did websites when he was turning on their gas. That was definitely God.

I had a great marketing idea eating with the students in our church Wednesday night when I told one of them I would give her $50 if she sold a website. That followed an announcement to the whole table that I would give $50 per website sold by any of them. I'm still debating whether or not that was a good idea, but it sure pumped up some of the students... and confused one. I heard a girl after we ate tell someone she would sell them a website for $50. I had to explain to her that she wasn't getting 100% profit for work I do.

I would appreciate the prayers and any advice.

Re: Freelancing Advice

You're on my list.

Advice?  Stay humble.  Praise God when you succeed and fail.  Give Him your best.  Follow His lead.  PRAY CONTINUALLY!!!

That's my 2¢.  :^{>

Honored to Serve for Him - Tom ('Mas) Pickering <)><

Re: Freelancing Advice

Kyle:

I'm happy to hear that you've made the leap, and that it looks like God is behind you. As I've said before, my own business would undoubtedly be much less prosperous without God's direct blessing. I met with a potential client yesterday, and he was shocked to learn that I've never advertised my services...that every single client has been a personal referral. He has three websites that he'd like to work on...two look to pay very well, and the third is a small personal site that I might or might not do at a discounted rate. One referral, two sites...and he'd like to recommend me to others. They just keep coming in. If God weren't blessing my business, I'd have a job right now...and I'm very grateful. If God decides to bless your business, you'll be okay. If God decides to not bless your business, you'll still be okay.

We're all looking forward to the future...but none of us more than the giant, evil robots.

Re: Freelancing Advice

Kyle

i was in a similar situation, but i eventually left the company smile  i have another full time job and still want to freelance, or start my own business.  take your experience and run, you seem like you're in a position to do it, all i can say is, do it!  God will back you up.  that doesn't mean everything will go the way you think it will go, but God is on your side and will be there for you!

for me personally the biggest challenge is mental.  i was the only developer at my old job, at my new job i expected to be the low man on the totem pole, because they are all degree'd to the nines and i still don't have a degree, but i realized that i am talented, they come to me for help.

i just can't seem to freelance myself because i pour everything i have into my 9-5, and my brain seems to need to shut down

keep asking God what he wants you to do and when the time is right you'll know, but until then, go full steam ahead with your dreams and plans (this goes without saying that you need to stick in his general will, but i know you understand that) if they fail that just means God has something better in mind! carpe diem! smile

feel free to contact me personally

Stop voting for ANY evil, lesser evils are just that!