Fork me on GitHub

Any freelancers in here? Iā€™m just getting started, Iā€™m curious if other have tips about rates, contracts, managing invoices, other nitty gritty stuff


That's going to be very dependent on where you're located...


Back when I was freelance, nearly every client I engaged had their own "standard" contract for third parties, and their own preferences for invoicing. I mostly invoiced monthly, with 30-day payment terms -- for clients that accepted that.

šŸ‘ 2

In the UK, I mostly operated through an agency to find business (and my rate tended to be fixed by the agency -- so I either took work or not at the rate offered). In the US, I got business by word of mouth and picked my own rate, often based on how much I wanted a particular gig (or not, in some cases -- where I'd quote a stupidly high rate and sometimes still get the gig šŸ˜ )


Re. rates - I'd say it more depends on where your clients are and how you negotiate. As soon as you leave the inferno of Upwork and similar "free market" platforms, in my experience rates of professional freelance developers start from ~30 USD/h. There's no strict bound though (definitely goes into hundreds and even thousands), especially when you lean more towards consulting and less towards just writing code to fulfill some spec. Patrick McKenzie has some useful things written at Re. all the rest, at least the technical aspect - unless you have >5 concurrent clients, I'd just do it all manually, including time tracking in some spreadsheet.

šŸ‘ 2

Interesting to see what I consider a very low rate there -- and the distinction between "developer" and "consultant". I guess I marketed myself as a consultant but I did occasionally take a "developer" gig, but even then the lowest I went was $85/hour in the US (and that was over a decade ago).


30 is indeed an entry level, and I remember seeing it only with agencies (that take quite a cut). Not considering Upwork and similar platforms here at all because those are just marketplaces - there's no lower bound, anything goes.

Jacob O'Bryant03:01:15

I've had a grand total of 3 freelance/consulting gigs (so you could say I'm a bit of an expert!). For the first couple, my client provided the contract; for the latest one I dug up the old contract and re-used it. Sent it with docusign. I set up a Stripe account for sending invoices. If I do much more consulting I might try out (All I know about bonsai is that they're doing pretty well on SEO.)


Ive been contracting/consulting for about 25 years. I get work by word of mouth. Typically I work multiple years on a given contract. I tend to find work doing java. I've not ingratiated myself with clients open to using clojure... but I keep trying. I typically use whatever contract (legal document) the customer has handy. I invoice at the end of each month. I did set up the web site, to help myself and help others.. I've gotten a few leads from there, but never when the timing was good.


Hey Max, it's been a minute! While I was drifting through life around 2013-2019, I did a fair amount of contract work (Python/JS), both direct, and through staffing companies. While not an expert by any means, a few things I picked up: - You gotta learn the tax implications of being 1099 contractor vs W2 employee, as this dictates both how much you pay in tax, and your ability to write off expenses. The 2018 tax changes gave a big break to 1099 contractors which is nice. It also affects how you save for retirement (check out SEP IRAs and individual 401ks for instance). All this in turn dictates the rate you ask for. - If doing 1099 work, put about 25-30% of your income immediately into a dedicated bank account for taxes, and used it to pay federal/state taxes quarterly. Keep good accounting records both for income and also expenses for filing. - Try to negotiate a day rate, instead of an hourly rate. This can help with the anxiety of things like "Do I bill while grabbing a 15 min lunch? Do I bill while thinking about work in the shower?", and instead makes your work day look a lot like what you are used to as an employee. - When direct invoicing, charge interest if they don't pay after 30 days. At one point I had a client not send me checks for like 3 months, which isn't great for personal finances. - While a lot of work through staffing companies doesn't pay amazingly well, there are gigs out there in the $85/hr range as W2. Talk to as many recruiters at staffing companies as you can to find these gigs. Once they know you are good, they will start bringing work to you on the regular. - This is probably area dependent, but while in Wisconsin, it was not hard to convince said recruiters to take you out for lunch/beer on the staffing companies dime. Said recruiters were often looking for an excuse as they also like free food/beer :) - I used on the free plan for all my invoicing and have had no issues. - Some folks run their work through an LLC which you can often set up yourself depending on the state you are in. In theory there's some liability protection here. It also helps with meeting some procurement requirements with some orgs. That said, I never bothered with this step.

gratitude-thank-you 2

Thats all good advice. Thats all stuff Ive gotten so used to, I forgot all about mentioning those ( tax set aside, 1099, staffing, etc...)


@UBHTL6AF3 Thanks for all the info! Wave seems great for business management, how did you handle taxes? The quarterly taxes and deductions thing seems a lot more complicated than what I had to do as a W2 employee


Paying quarterly taxes is definitely an annoyance, and probably my least favorite part of 1099 work. It was definitely a factor as to why I ended up back as an employee... Check out: My usual process was: - Add the estimated tax due dates to my calendar (they are listed in the PDF above) - Pay both the IRS and state through their online portals. IRS at - Record the payment in a google sheet, and store the payment receipts in google drive just in case The rules and worksheet are complicated and annoying, and figuring out the exact amount to pay is a pain. Keep in mind though that the goal of all of this is just to avoid penalties for underpayment when filing taxes, and as along as you pre-pay something within the general ballpark of what you owe, you should be fine. Worse case, you are off a bit and pay a smallish penalty. As long as you are not one of those folks that spends 100% of their income, and then get broadsided by a 5 figure tax bill come April, you will be fine :) Regarding deductions, there are not a ton of deductions as a software developer, compared to other businesses. Mine looked something like: - Any hardware/software purchases - Office furniture (we bought a lot during covid) - Training materials (books, courses, etc) - Home office + related utilities (this is a pain to figure out but was worth it) - Cell phone - When I commuted into an office, I deduced millage and parking fees For retirement saving, I had a SEP IRA which lets you save a very large amount per year (I think it caps out around $52k). This is tax deferred and thus is deducted as well. If interested, you can open an account with a brokerage like Fidelity.