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Old 12-10-2003, 11:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
Crazy
 
Location: Houston, Texas
Advice for doing freelance IT work.

So I tried to do a search on the subject, but for some reason it says I don't have permission to access that part of the forum. I guess maybe it's been disabled?

Anyway, I'm currently working in the family buisness in which we have roughly 200 clients and several hundred leads or clients in limbo. I've been talking to my dad, who owns the company, about ways to generate more income. Mainly for myself but also for the company as a whole. One suggestion we came up with was to offer some IT support for our clients. We had considered adding it to our list of already supplied services. So my question to anyone doing similar freelance work would be how to go about such a venture. Things that come to mind would be how long it should take for a job, how much you should charge, how much man power should we consider taking on, etc.

To give some background on myself, I've been doing contract IT work for several major companies here in Houston for about 5 years. I've done everything from a 2,000 piece rollout to a 5 computer office network. I've got my A+, Net+, MCSE and I'm slowly working on my CCNA. I've also got a background in some webdesign as well. I've got past experience working with ASP, PHP, Mysql, Access, etc. So I feel confident enough that I can get a job done based on the client's needs. Most of our clients are small buisness owners and would probably only require small IT support. Be it troubleshooting, networking a small office, or perhaps a web presence.

So, anyone care to share their freelance experience? How long it typically took to complete a job. How much you generally charge. How many people you needed to take on to help with any work. Etc.
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Old 12-12-2003, 08:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Hi mikado. I'm a freelancer. I'm not sure how to answer your questions because the length of time and rate varies with each project. Some projects require help from others and some don't. It's really dependent on your project.

If you have more general questions about how to get new work, quoting projects as T&M or fixed fee, etc., they will be easier to answer.

I recommend that you find a specialty area or target industry. There are too many independent computer consultants that do "everything for everyone." There is a credibility barrier here - whether or not they actually can do everything. Usually they're good at some things and mediocre in the rest - and it shows.

You may need to overcome the "cheap syndrome" where small offices would have a family member do the work for them at little or no cost. And bigger companies might not be comfortable relying on just one person. You'll find the right match as you market and sell yourself.

I'm working a project for my father-in-law (speaking of that) which requires quite a bit of Java programming. I found an excellent programmer at ITMoonlighter.com (there is also eLance.com) to do the coding while I manage the project. It's worked out very well although I always try and find a personal contact before I go out to the public.
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Old 12-12-2003, 03:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
Junkie
 
Location: North Hollywood
i agree with rubicon, the jack of all trades works ok for very small businesses or friends, but the bigger corps get worried, it really depends on your relationship with them and how much they trust you.

rates are all over the place, its basically whatever the market accepts, since i live in los angeles and i'm in a different field i can charge a lot more, check around other companies, call them up and see how much they charge, thats usually the best way.


It doesn't really matter if you have ome experience in this and that, you'll get through the day to day ok there, the real problem lies with most contractors is that when they claim to be able to do something, they find something thats beyond them, then they either claim is impossible to do, disappear or do a lousy job, so limit yourself to things you really are good at, they'll like you for it a lot more, and you will get repeat business.

most companies want 'predictability' in time, costs and that i'll get done, they need it to be able to continue their work.

my projects run from anywhere from a few hours, to 6 months, and costs run from about $500 to over $3 million, that one had 20 people for it.

sub contract work if you have to , you will probably find that some of the people you hire aren't that good, but really its hard to tell, so you may have to take up the slack.

personal contact and word of mouth work best for us, you have to endure the whole i'm sticking my neck out here for you, and dont screw up etc, but so long as you can do it, its the best way.

cold canvassing for that sort of thing is quite hard.

also i don't know what sort of company you have, but you might be deemed as personal services, if you are a consultant in knowledge , which does alter what sort of corp you can have, and its different tax laws.

Also a lot of companies are looking for you to have insurance, especially errors and omissions, thats getting very popular request, its good for you too.

Good luck!
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