Freelance webdev – how and with whom it is NOT worth working
KDPV taken from here
Often I hear stories like “I tried freelancing – I didn’t like it” and meet a lot of misconceptions about this type of work, because people just started “on the wrong side”. I will try to rectify the situation with this post.
I’ll make a reservation right away – most of what is written here invariably comes with experience and has already been described on the Internet. Only often it is found in the form of short and categorical tips like “do not work with assholes.” And I also met these tips, but here’s the problem – in this form they do not work. Generally. On the contrary, I’d like to say how they say that a person offers you a job, is ready to pay money (more than loaders in the cold), and you insult him, even if in absentia. It seems that the author of this statement was simply used to “receive” rather than “earn” and has too high self-esteem. And only after many unsuccessful projects, the realization comes that there was some kind of wisdom in those words.
It is also worth mentioning why it is not worth working with someone, what bad can happen (and why it will inevitably happen). And here it’s not enough just to give examples from experience, it is just a logical explanation, which I will try to add.
And yes, almost everything that is described in the post is confirmed by the personal experience of the author (sometimes, unfortunately).
If you don’t like something in the project or the customer, this is a red flag in itself. You need to be on your guard. But some red flags are more important than others. Each one can have its own, but here are the ones I have:
1. “No prepayment or partial payment, no transaction through the exchange, we discuss on Skype and pay directly when it is ready.”
The most red flag possible. You just won’t get paid. It is surprising that despite the obviousness of the situation, people continue to come across.
Do not believe the “pumped account” – it can be hacked. Do not believe “world-famous companies”, state-owned companies or real contacts of a respected person. It’s enough for them to say that “they messed up something in accounting, wait until next year” and avoid reputational losses, and you will be left without money and in a very spoiled mood.
2. “Make sait to good”
The customer’s inability to communicate competently, build proposals and convey thought is the guarantee of a headache on your part. And this is even in the description of the project, the customer may try to write more beautifully, but if in communication you see meaningless snippets of phrases, complete ignorance of terms and a bunch of errors – better change your mind right away, it will only get worse.
They will not explain it to you, you will do something wrong, and then you will find out that now you have to redo everything without any extra charge. And then again. And in the end, you will also be to blame for the fact that the period went beyond the deadline.
3. “The last freelancer failed”
It is sometimes found in more veiled versions, such as “you need to figure out the custom code” or “we just have to complete a little here.” If the one who did this does not want to finish it – this should already alert you.
Either he quarreled with the customer, or he realized that his initial approach was wrong, he had reached an impasse, and to continue working, everything had to be rewritten from scratch. And in either case, the project can be much more complicated than it seems.
4. Low budget
It looks innocent, but in fact it is one of the most dangerous and frequently encountered flags (especially in Russian-language freelance). It would seem that in an ideal world, the customer should understand that he pays below the market, and therefore should be more lenient about the little things at the test. But in reality – a paradox – the lower the payment, the higher the requirements, the more picky the verification and the more unpaid alterations, add. works and documentation.
But this paradox is explained simply – if the customer has to save, then he simply does not have more money. And he will not have the money to hire a second freelancer to make changes, or to contact you again on a paid basis. And he perfectly understands this, so he will make every effort to squeeze everything out of the current project (and from you), to the last drop. And then a little more. And a bit more. Until he gets tired.
5. Absolute ignorance of IT
Your future boss – the one who sets the tasks and evaluates the implementation – is not always the same person as the customer. And if this boss does not understand IT from the word at all (for example, does not know what CSS is and why it is needed), it will be extremely difficult for you to work.
The problem is that such people usually underestimate the complexity of development and overestimate the capabilities of the programmer. And every time their imaginary IT world crashes into harsh reality, it takes long (usually unpaid) hours to explain what exactly happened.
Such people will not understand why you cannot “just take and say exactly how much it will cost and how many days it will take.” And why the “by eye” assessment may turn out to be erroneous several times (and why this is not the same as the promise). And anyway, why aren’t you in a hurry to give up all your current affairs and start free and accurately evaluate the idea that just visited them in man-hours.
And even if you manage to do everything perfectly and on time, at the end of the project in some cases you can hear something like “You probably pressed a couple of buttons there, and you billed me like a monthly salary. Write me a detailed report detailing for all the work, I’m asking you for some points, and if you like the answers, you’ll get paid. “
6. Budget and environmental customers (in relation to the Russian Federation)
In addition to the points already mentioned (Low budget, Absolute ignorance of IT) in this sector, you will most often have the opportunity to plunge into a wonderful world where total control is intertwined with a complete mess, pure bureaucracy is intertwined with unofficial authority and much more.
For example, when you are told that TK is more important than common sense, and you need to do as it is written, even if there is a clear mistake. GOSTs, by the way, are also more important than common sense. Like examples from other government sites. And if TK, GOSTs and examples diverge (or the inspector does not understand the essence of the issue), then you need to do all possible options and explain how to quickly change them. Without surcharges, of course, the budget has already been approved.
Lyrical digression. In general, many state employees are simply their own, a separate category of people with their own vision of the world and work as such. They are accustomed that ZP comes when “ticked”. And your proposal to improve the functionality will be perceived with surprise and misunderstanding as an attempt to come up with a punishment. Like, “Here is the statement of work, here is the payment. Doing it as in the statement of work – you will get paid, everything is simple. Yes, of course, what you proposed is useful and convenient, but what does it have to do with it? It’s the job, it’s to get paid, and not to do useful and convenient. You are working for the first time, chtol? “
And at the end of the project, there may be a situation where everything seems to be accepted, the project has been accepted, the payment should be yours, and no one can argue with this … only something doesn’t agree with the documents, some kind of confirmation, help is needed, and in general it there was a tender, and Andrei Sergeyevich said that he shouldn’t, but the budget had already been allocated, but not allocated there … Well, you understand.
Of course, not all state employees are like that, there are those who really strive to do better, and there are really good projects, but it’s still worth being on the alert.
Well, in general, even with these red flags, an approximate image of the customer who is not worth working with is already looming, even if it does not apply to any specific flags.
Save the nerves for yourself and the customer, look for good orders, there is a good choice. While you are working on a worthless low-paying project with an unpleasant customer, good guys with good projects have to take anybody in your place.
How to apply and not apply
To consider this issue, there is one interesting puzzle problem. expectation:
Vasya met a project on a foreign exchange – to create a website for a Spanish sports school. Everything suits him in this project – price, requirements, terms. There are already 10 applications for the project. Should Vasya also apply?
Vasya does not know what his chances are, but estimates them as “average”:
- it is not the cheapest, but not the most expensive webdev;
- not the most experienced, but far from a beginner;
- not the fastest, but also not slow;
- he doesn’t have beautiful sports school sites or sites in Spanish in his portfolio, but he has a bunch of quality works similar in complexity;
- He is not in Spain and does not speak Spanish, but knows English and is good at using Google translator;
- not an athlete and not the owner of a sports school, but he recently was looking for a sports school for his son, so he knows what is important for visitors to such sites;
Suppose a customer, guided by some criteria, assigns a rating from 1 to 10 for each freelancer. And he invites only the person who scored the highest rating for an interview. If, for example, there is no one with a rating of 10, he will invite one with 9. If there are several freelancers with a rating of 9, he will invite all of them for an interview (and then choose one).
Vasya assumes that his rating is 5, and the rating of other freelancers is a random number from 1 to 10 with a uniform distribution. Question: What are his chances in this case, at least to get an interview? What is the mat. waiting for the cost of this interview for him, if he estimates the cost of the application at $ 1?
Answer: the odds are 1 in 1024. One such interview will cost him an average of $ 1,024. Because each application has exactly a 50% chance to kill his application, and he needs all 10 to not be killed. 2 ^ 10 = 1024.
The conclusions suggest themselves – do not submit applications for projects if you can not give yourself a rating of at least 8-9 by some criterion.
General focus of the project
It’s more like a personal life hack – do not work on projects that do not cause you a sense of personal satisfaction. If the idea seems to you to be disastrous, worthless, flawed or simply not interesting. If the customer is an unpleasant person who does not want to help. If the selected toolkit is a dead end or a curve (hello, Bitrix). A freelancer always has a wide selection, use it.
Work in IT on average is paid quite high, but in order to get decent pay, you need to be really effective in your work. However, it is impossible to be effective for a long time in work that you don’t like, and for which you don’t even want to get out from under the blankets in the mornings.
Seriously, recalling my peaks in efficiency, I come to the conclusion that they were all in a situation where I was doing a good project for the good guys, something really useful and right.