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I'm in a situation where I only need $100 to live at a place. How is this relevant to programming? Well, I would like to hear the opinions of those on this site if it is at all realistic to expect a Ruby noobie to be able to make $100 freelancing by a month from now, assuming a great deal of effort and enthusiasm o_O

I'm a noob, learning Ruby before Rails.

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migrated from Mar 17 '11 at 7:51

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What kind of dollars? Australian, Zimbabwe, US? – Andrew Grimm Mar 17 '11 at 7:20
@Andrew Grimm, USD lol – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 7:32
i'm more interested in the '$100 to live at a place' part – Imran Omar Bukhsh Mar 17 '11 at 23:02
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Before you start selling your services, make sure you're up to the job. By that I mean, get a few personal sites/apps under your belt first so you can prove to yourself that you understand everything that's involved in making a certain kind of site. You'll built a portfolio and it will improve your:

  • Quotation ability -- you'll be more accurately able to judge the level of effort involved in a job, and help you decide on an hourly rate.
  • Perceived customer value -- if you're able to offer suggestions to the customer, instead of simply checking off their list of functional requirements, then you'll end up with a happier customer.

Nothing will annoy a customer more, damaging your reputation in the process, than a half-assed job done by a complete newbie.

As for making $100/month, I know rails developers that are charging $100/hour.

In my opinion, as a new developer starting out, it shouldn't be about the money. Freelancing requires a lot of self-motivation; you're the boss. If you've not got a passion for web development, then you're going to hate your job. If, a couple of months down the line, you find our you're actually quite good at this Ruby/Rails lark, then the money will be a bonus.

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I intend on making a few things for myself, so I have something to show my capabilities. I would work for $5 an hour to start; I love programming and $5 * 20 hours (2 days of serious work) is enough to cover a month's expenses. – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 8:45
I wouldn't hire someone that was only asking $5/hour for their time. I'd recommend waiting until you're worth $30-$40/hour before even thinking of taking on work.. – Nick Mar 17 '11 at 10:59
I understand what you mean, but I have an idea to get around that. I can work at a higher rate but put more hours in than I bill, to ensure high quality code. – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 12:30
Agreed. I don't work for less than $80/hr on 1099 work. Most of my clients aren't interested in people that charge less than about $60. – iivel Mar 18 '11 at 0:58
@Sophie My housemaid earns more than $5/hour. Although she does an wonderful job I'm pretty sure a developer should bill much higher than that. And by the way, more hours != higher quality. – Vitor Py Mar 18 '11 at 2:30

This isn't the best place for this question, but here's my thoughts:

Absolutely possible. Even more so if you don't limit yourself to Ruby. Do some freelance PHP work as well and you'll be all set. Check craigslist, elance, odesk, and other sites for work, you'll definitely find some if you are actually going after it with "a great deal of effort and enthusiasm " ;)

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I know this isn't a great place, but I didn't know where to ask =/ do keep in mind I'm a noob. I seem to intuitively understand OOP, but I'm still learning syntax. – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 5:50
No sweat, a moderator might end up moving it though – ctcherry Mar 17 '11 at 5:52
@ctcherry, also, about the PHP thing...I thought it was best to focus on learning 1 language at a time, especially as a beginner? X_X – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 5:56
Ah, I didn't realize you meant absolute beginner. If you haven't done any development, I would definitely suggest you get a good handle on a single language first, so you had the right idea. Sorry for my confusion. – ctcherry Mar 17 '11 at 5:58
Yes, I'm a n00b to programming, coming from a philosopher/artist educational background (which is why Ruby appeals to me). I know that there is more work for PHP than Ruby, but if I hate the language, I don't think I'll get really good at it, or be enthusiastic. – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 6:04

Just a note about charging very little:

It's completely counter-intuitive, but charging very little is often a bad thing in "knowledge work" occupations such as programming - it can actually hurt your chances of getting jobs/gigs. The reason is that programming (and knowledge work in general) is not your basic manual labour job - which pretty much anyone can do equally well by just going through the motions. Quality matters, and smart clients know that going with the underbidders can easily get their project in trouble.

You see this in both freelancing and in normal job seeking: Asking relatively high makes you look like a real professional who knows what they're doing. Trying to underbid makes you look desperate, like you're not confident in your skills.

Obviously, since you say you're just starting out, you can't be too cocky and ask for $50/hour right away. But as others have said - you're probably better off building a portfolio of open source or personal projects, and then trying to get commerical gigs once you have a much better idea of your capabilities. But I wouldn't go the route of extreme underbidding and selling yourself short. As said, you're actually less likely to get good projects this way anyway.

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Go ahead and look for a charity organisation or Church. They will be happy to give you the opportunity to start a small project or Website. Try to enhance your Knowledge and skills. Or start some simple projects at home, maybe coming from your artist background. So first start to learn how to walk before you try to run as a freelancer.

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If you are a noob then you should better learn languages like Php. Starting programming with a framework will make you misunderstand programming.

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I'm starting with just Ruby, actually. – Sophia Mar 17 '11 at 7:56
Start programming in php and you'll likely suffer brain damage that will damage your ability to understand ruby. – JasonTrue Mar 24 '11 at 2:25

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