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Web Development Contracting

Know what you are worth

It’s extremely difficult to get contracting jobs if you are not confident in your rate. What are you worth, whether it’s a flat rate bid or an hourly rate, know your rates before looking for work.

Where to look

I have just finished a project as a freelancer. Since the primary work is finished I have been assigned a support role in the project and must hit the open market in search of my next gig. Here I will attempt to document the steps I take to locate the next exciting web development opportunity.

The beginning of my daily quest starts at Craigslist. I browse the following sections: Computer Gigs, Internet Engineers, Software / QA / DBA, Systems / Network and Web / Info Design. It can often be challenging to determine which listings are worth going after, my strategy is to look for well written postings that fit the description of my skill sets.

Next I move on to websites like,, etc. Although most of these websites are advertising full time employment there are occasions where temp/contract work is posted. Throughout your search you are likely to come along many recruiters, I generally try and stay away from recruiters and find my clients directly due to the fact that recruiters work on a fee based schedule which inevitably cuts into my rate.

Before searching for contract work on Craigslist, or any website for that matter, make sure you have a solid web development agreement in place. The agreement at the very minimum should cover the scope of work and payment schedule.

Prepare for your introduction

Once you have gotten your foot in the door, it’s important that you are prepared for the face to face meeting. First impressions are everything, as a contractor you are generally expected to be an expert in your field.

Before any face to face meeting I always research the prospective client first. Here are a few items I try to discover before we meet:

  1. what kind of business are they
  2. how many employees do they have
  3. how long have they been in business
  4. how can I improve the way they do business
  5. are they following industry best practices (hard to get a backend perspective, however their front end can tell you alot).

Be prepared to take some tests! In my recent searches I have come across more and more qualification testing, ranging from company made exams to 3rd party exams such as Brain Bench and HireLabs. Do not get caught off guard, mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that you may be asked to prove what you claim to know!

A Lesson Learned

Do not start any work without a contract in place. I have learned the hard way that prospective clients do not always pay. Do not start any work until you have an agreement in place.

In November of 2008 I started working for Brilliant Blue, an interactive agency out of Irvine California. I initially started working for them in good faith while we put our agreement in writing. During the first week of working there I had to constantly stay on management to put the terms on paper, finally after 1 1/2 weeks they handed me an agreement. There were several issues, one of which had to do with the terms of payment, Net 30. Needless to say, we were unable to finalize the agreement on paper and I decided to move on. I was told on my way out to bill them for the time that I was there, which I did. To date I have received no payment.

If I would have had an agreement in place before work began I would have some recourse to collect. I would strongly recommend that if you see a listing for that company that you do not do any work until you have an agreement in place, even then I would be wary of any company that expects you to bare the cost of a net 30 agreement.

Start to network

There is the age old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know”. In the contracting world, I would hope your already “know” so that leaves “who you know”. As a contractor you have an unique opportunity to work in many different business environments, in turn you also get to meet new business professionals. Do your absolute best to solidify relationships, that junior level programmer may one day be a CTO, that front end lacky may move on to another company that needs a contractor, or that designer might just start their own agency and send work your way.

I receive more contract work through referrals than any other means. Remember, your the expert, do your best to train and mentor junior level programmers, educate front end designers with best practices, help designers produce usable designs and most of all, love what you do. If you love what you do, people will notice, they will remember. Your attitude in the professional work place is paramount to your future success.

Posted in Web Development.

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