The Freelance Engineering Slog

(or Why is the answer)

The Freelance Engineering Slog

Freelancing as an engineer is great. You can set your own hours, your own rates, and work on things that you care about.

But let’s talk about what you need to do to get there and start coding.

Before your fingers hit your laptop beachside in Fiji you have to endure the freelancer slog…


The slog of finding a client

Prospecting clients takes time and energy. Using a simple funnel of converting 1 client and a 1% success rate - you need to speak to 100 startup founders about what you do. If you were a founder you remember that everybody wants your time and wants to sell to you. If you have been in an IC role you may remember those cold LinkedIn messages and bad outreach emails.

Let’s say you are ready, or already have a great network of startups and VCs ready to send you business…

Companies don’t operate on a handshake. They need a legal agreement that governs the work you will do, the terms of payment, confidentiality and a lot more. You need to have an independent contractor agreement with the entity you are freelancing for. In cases where you do not, the company will set up one for you, which is entirely in their interests not yours. In either case you have to have a lawyer draft your docs, or have them review something that you are going to sign. Without an agreement, no founder is going to move forward.

The Slog of negotiation

Found your first client? Have legal agreements ready? Now it’s time to negotiate the price. It turns out nobody likes to negotiate. You have to know your worth, negotiate a rate you can survive on, and not be nickel and dimed for your time. Hourly work is about as much fun as someone asking to pay for lines of code.

The slog of going back and forth

Most agency or platform work happens with a go between. Whether it’s a project manager, a product manager, or some other PM/manager - it’s a game of telephone. Sometimes they want you to clock in and out, or track hours. It’s not very fun to bill hours (after all you are not a lawyer!).

You know how communication on teams works. Being direct and hearing from the source is always best. Hearing directions from an intermediary isn’t fun or easy. You waste precious time going back and forth, only to have work re-done and have more meetings.

The slog of scope creep

“Sorry that’s outside of scope” - the dreaded words no freelancer wants to say and no client wants to hear. Hourly work means being under a microscope. Project basis work can sprawl quickly. The incentives to “win business” by being cheapest are simply not aligned with quality work.

The slog of Meetings (vs. coding)

Do we need to say more? If you want meetings, and status updates we have some marketplaces for you. If you want to get back to coding and shipping read on. Paul Graham outlined the famous “Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule” and many agree that getting to a flow state and staying there is great. If you want to constantly be context switching from sales, legal, negotiation, 1:1s, and of course coding - you should work on another platform.

The answer is

The best way for freelance engineers to get back to coding. GGF is about putting great engineers into monthly fractional engagements they love. We handle the sales, the negotiations, the legal paperwork, and empower you to plug in directly. We even share our margins and splits with clients directly. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a freelance engineer or seeing our existing GGF engineers visit us.

We are happy to set up a time to talk you through the model, why it works, and why customers are so happy.

Skip the slog, go faster 🐢