Questions for professional programmers who are often contracted out for various positions rather than being part of a company.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (5)

384
votes
21answers
90k views

My customer wants me to record a video of how I develop his software product

Working as a freelancer, I often see strange requests from my customers, some of which can negatively affect my daily work¹, and others trying to set some sort of control. I usually encounter those ...
123
votes
14answers
9k views

Demonstrate bad code to client?

A client has asked me to do a redesign of their website, an ASP.NET Webforms application that was developed by another consultant. It seemed like a relatively straightforward job, but after looking at ...
119
votes
18answers
22k views

How should I charge for programming things which take two minutes to fix? [closed]

I am really confused with this. I believe that the more I am getting experience, the more I am becoming an expert at finding mistakes and fixing them quickly. Now my boss got website from a ...
62
votes
28answers
80k views

Why are more programmers not freelance these days? [closed]

Leaving the whole pie to only a few of them, amplifying the huge differences between the two status. Pay is a (huge) one, not having to do overtime is another. I leave the question open to hopefully ...
59
votes
6answers
59k views

How should I determine my rates for writing custom software? [closed]

For a custom software that will likely take a year or more to develop, how would I go about determining what to charge as a consultant? I'm having a hard time coming up with a number, and searches ...
36
votes
14answers
1k views

How to improve relationships between consultants and staff programmers

I have been a consultant for a small software consulting firm for quite some time now. Our normal business model is not staff augmentation, but such that we find clients who need assistance in ...
35
votes
4answers
4k views

What should I ask a prospective client during initial meeting?

I'm about to branch out into taking on some contracts on the side. What would be some good questions to ask of a potential client during a first meeting? I've thought of a few things that seem pretty ...
34
votes
13answers
3k views

“Kill switch” in customer hosted environments, to protect payment?

I have a difficult client. Every bill is argued and debated over, and each email is parsed with a lawyers eye (because he's a lawyer), looking for a way to avoid paying for something. No amount of ...
32
votes
10answers
3k views

Contractor - Acceptable Payment Terms?

I'm wondering whether or not I've done the right thing as a contractor. Basically I'm in to my 3rd month, and my current client messed up the payment in the first month, and I just found out that they ...
32
votes
7answers
3k views

Who should pay for fixes/bugs? [closed]

So I just started freelancing both in desktop/web development and this client who already accepted my work, and payed me keeps coming back at me each time he finds a bug etc. And I have found myself ...
30
votes
12answers
2k views

Why do companies tell me they want me as an in-house employee, not as a contractor? [closed]

Context Money is not what is at issue here. What is at issue is independence and to make sure I will contribute by working at my field of expertise, tactfulness, and ensuring everyone's expectations ...
30
votes
3answers
1k views

Contract Billing - How would you handle 'learning time'?

So you take a contract where you have solid experience with 75% of the technology necessary. How do you handle your time to learn the other 25%? Work it into the billing time? Expose the 25% in the ...
29
votes
17answers
4k views

A client wants us to screen work machines for pornography. Is it possible?

A long-time client has asked us to help screen their work machines for pornography. They're worried about liability if sensitive materials were found. Their main concerns (for obvious reasons) are ...
29
votes
12answers
5k views

Where to find clients? [closed]

My main area: web development. Of course, I don't expect anybody give away their 'gold mine' or whatever but I am struggling to see where I should be advertising my services. I have one other ...
26
votes
4answers
997 views

Is there an analogue to “FizzBuzz” for choosing clients? [closed]

This is for the freelancers. In my past life as a full-time employee, I was involved in hiring and interviewed a good number of developers. I learned that it was much more valuable to see a developer ...
25
votes
11answers
2k views

How to bill a client for frequently-interrupted time [closed]

I find that when I'm working on hourly-billable projects (in particular, those that are research/design/architecture-oriented as opposed to straight coding) that I'm easily distracted by any number of ...
23
votes
4answers
15k views

How do freelancer web developers manage web hosting for customers?

I have built a number of websites for friends, family, etc. and I have put them all on a single shared web hosting account. Now that they are built, I want to get out of business of supporting them ...
22
votes
10answers
7k views

Hand over source code to customer

I have made a couple iphone applications for a customer and was asked today to hand over the source code so that they could do the maintenance if this should be required. Until now, no code issues ...
21
votes
11answers
1k views

Can freelancers ask their client to sponsor an iPad for project needs?

I do freelance web projects for a client. The client has been asking me to buy an iPad for testing purposes. Should I ask him to get me an iPad ? I otherwise don't have any need for the iPad. Is it ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

In a legacy codebase, how do I quickly find out what is being used and what isn't?

I've been asked to evaluate what appears to be a substantial legacy codebase, as a precursor to taking a contract maintaining that codebase. This isn't the first time I've been in this situation. In ...
18
votes
11answers
2k views

Company wants thoughts about their site during interview [closed]

I have an initial phone interview coming up with a company for a Senior Web Developer position and in the email they asked to prepare by signing up on their site because they'd like to hear my ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

Freelancers: How Do You Go About Gathering Requirements?

As a freelance programmer: What is your process for gathering requirements from a client? How much time does the requirement gathering process take you? I know this is not fixed, and there are ...
18
votes
5answers
6k views

What should a freelancer's business card have? [closed]

For example, when I first started out freelancing a year ago, my business card had my name, email and website - and up top a list of the technologies I'm comfortable with. In retrospect I don't feel ...
17
votes
14answers
2k views

How can I defend Ruby on Rails against customers' not technical opinion?

My customer, a translations business owner, just told me that he has been reading about Ruby on Rails and told me that "there are more PHP guys around there" and "it seems the community prefers it". ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

Are missed deadlines common in programming jobs? [closed]

It was my freelancer job at oDesk. I have done several jobs earlier in given time, but is was the first time I missed the deadline. It was a very lengthy job and I tried my best but I still missed the ...
17
votes
8answers
2k views

Best industry to work for as a developer [closed]

My contract has just ended and I'm wondering what possible jobs I might want to look at next. I've worked in banking and insurance industry for all my career (including one Fortune 500 company) and ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

How can I remove my fear of doing freelancing work? [closed]

I usually work in a web design company, but my manager also has his own company. He is a designer basically and he catches the projects with clients and then I do his work during weekends or whenever ...
16
votes
14answers
7k views

Should I ask/tell my boss before freelancing? [closed]

I am currently working as an intern at a consulting firm. I am soon to move to a full time employee once I graduate next semester, and I love working there. However, as a student, I lack money and I ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

Quit my job (for a new job). Old job wants me to be available for contracting. Steps to take?

The company I am leaving has asked that I make myself available to answer questions and/or debug programs occasionally should the need arise. I'm not opposed to this. After searching google for some ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

How do I become a real expert? [closed]

Being a freelancer, I don't have a luxury of corporate training and a circle of professional employees. Even though I have been programming for the last few years and developed professional projects, ...
16
votes
4answers
1k views

Should I continue to perform freelance work for customers who keep on demanding more without paying? [closed]

So a client comes to me and says it needs some work done. Basically 4 tasks, which I agreed to perform for a certain price. The customer creates the job offer (a fixed time and price job) on ODesk, I ...
16
votes
4answers
601 views

Where do I begin when dealing with my first corporate client? [closed]

I recently developed a desktop client that automates much of the work involved during online research. I developed this tool in 2-3 hours, and it has reduced an hour's worth of work to about 5 minutes....
15
votes
10answers
951 views

How can I motivate management to allow freelance work? [closed]

I'm a developer at a small company. Sometimes I'm offered extra cash for freelance work from previous employers or on odd jobs that I could do after hours without encroaching on my full time job in ...
15
votes
8answers
3k views

What recommendations can you give in managing a team of remote software engineers? [duplicate]

I am a Web application developer who also is responsible for project managing some projects, I sometimes have to manage remote developers, who work for me under a contract basis. I feel that sometimes ...
15
votes
7answers
956 views

How should I describe the process of learning someone else's code? (In an invoicing situation.) [closed]

Edit: Justin Cave made a good point that this sort of communication should be up front in my quoting / estimations. Is this case, I'm still interested to know what sort of language people use to ...
15
votes
7answers
23k views

What to learn to become freelancer? [closed]

I have around 8 years experience in software development. I have worked on application development all these years using C++ /win32. I few years from now I want to become a freelancer . I tried to ...
14
votes
5answers
4k views

How Do You Determine Your Hourly Rate? [closed]

In pricing a service or product it is general practice to not merely charge for the effort spent and the costs involved + margin but from the value delivered down. As an independent consultant, how do ...
13
votes
6answers
5k views

Recommended Payment Schedule for Freelance Development

I've been a freelance developer for many years and am setting up a system designed to attract clients through one of my developer websites. If successful, these would be clients I do not know, and ...
13
votes
9answers
576 views

Are there any arguments that can make a contractor reconsider working on fixed price?

I've been working for a contractor who brings in some good projects, but they are all fixed-price and often fixed-time. As a result he always has me making a quote over loose requirements, which ...
13
votes
4answers
585 views

GPL in the workplace?

I once interviewed at a consulting company where it came up in the conversation that they use open source products (which is great, I've used Hibernate, JBoss, etc. extensively.) One thing that did ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Can a freelancer use agile development?

I want to improve the way that I develop software. I want to develop faster and a great code! Today I use the waterfall method as freelancer, writing web stuffs (sites, systems, etc). Is there a way ...
12
votes
1answer
2k views

In freelance software development, what kind of penalties should firms have when they miss deadlines? [closed]

I was talking with a co-developer. He has a client that wanted to make sure that he delivers on time. The client wants repercussions for missed deadlines. While I do not do freelance work, I couldn'...
12
votes
2answers
965 views

Contract Programming - Deposit % and Payment Methods? Any advice is appreciated

I'm pretty new to doing contract work and finally landed a decent paying project. The guy actually offered to put down a deposit and I'm just wondering what percentage I should consider asking for. I ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

How can I find contract Android work?

Two years ago, following 15+ years in Win32 and SymbianOS, I decided to intensively focus on Android. I took the best part of 2009 off work to learn the new platform thoroughly, and that seems to have ...
12
votes
3answers
866 views

Open Source Friendly IP Contracts for Freelancers

I am about to enter the world of consulting for the first time and am having to write my first contract. One problem I have is regarding open source work and intellectual property. I love working on ...
11
votes
9answers
2k views

How do I keep an eye on a remote freelancer? [closed]

I've been hiring several developers from different places around the world. It all goes well, but I see that some of them are abusing my polite overlooking too much lately. They are all hired for a ...
11
votes
11answers
787 views

How should one handle “free projects”? Should one accept them or not?

Ok, as a software engineer, I feel that my skills are valuable in other contexts, for instance, a friend came to me and asked me to setup a website for her research and I did it for free. At first I ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

How exactly do exclusive code rights work? [closed]

I was asked by a client to submit a proposal for a web-app he wants to built. This client is a startup with a relatively good traction so far (as it seems). I have been asked to draft up a contract ...
11
votes
3answers
5k views

Starting consulting while employed - conflict of interest [closed]

First of all I am not after legal advice. This is a bit TL;DR but I have a summary at the bottom, I'm explaining it all so people can offer insightful advise. Situation I need to explain my present ...
11
votes
3answers
686 views

Who owns code if project cancelled [closed]

The problem: I am working on a freelance marketplace, and I decided to cancel project with one of my clients, because client is impossible to work with with limitless delays and lots of bugs in his ...