Being a freelance software developer is a rewarding and enjoyable career that allows you to meet a range of different people, work on a variety of interesting projects, and generally set your own path. Pitfalls do exist, however, and they can result in you losing money, clients, and reputation.
Here are the most common mistakes made by freelance software developers that you should avoid. Avoiding these will help your career as a freelance software developer even more profitable.
1. Underestimating Time
When working with a team, others can pick up the slack when issues happen—sickness, IT problems, development issues, etc. But when you work as a freelancer, it's all up to you, so make sure you give yourself extra time to account for unforeseen circumstances that could arise.
2. Charging Too Little
Getting your pricing right is a balancing exercise, but when you charge too little, you're selling yourself short. This will result in you not having enough to live on, which can lead to taking on too many projects to make up the difference. So, work out what your time and efforts are worth, and charge accordingly.
3. Taking On Too Much
In addition to the two previous points, taking on too much work can also be a problem. It results in poor quality output, missed deadlines, and unhappy clients, so don't be afraid to turn down clients if it's unrealistic.
4. Not Taking The Time To Understand The Client's Needs
If you want to avoid spending time doing endless amendments to a project, make sure you allot enough time during your project's planning stage to fully understand what the client is looking for.
5. Not Using Contracts
Contracts define the job, and are used to clarify any difference in what the client thinks they are getting and what you are able to do for the price that you have quoted. But two things should be remembered when thinking of contracts. First, don't rely on your client to read them—go through them with your client and be upfront about the details. And also try to put in some flexibility in your pricing and the contract. Software projects invariably evolve as the application starts to take shape, and being flexible when this happens is a good way to improve your levels of customer service.
6. Not Developing Skills
The software industry moves very quickly, so you have to constantly develop and improve your skills to evolve along with it. It is easy to find yourself in a position where you have been so busy that you haven't made any improvements in 12 months, two years, or even longer. When this happens, you could fall behind, so make sure that you spend enough time every week or month to refine and update your skills, or acquire new ones that are related to your services.
7. Working Too Much
Finally, make sure you take enough breaks. Working too much for too long runs the risk of burnout, and you're also likely to make more mistakes. Software development requires concentration, and when you work too much, your level of concentration declines. So take breaks throughout the day to stretch your legs and look at something other than the lines of code on your screen. Make sure you get enough rest and downtime too.