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

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345
votes
21answers
85k 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 ...
121
votes
15answers
8k 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 ...
114
votes
18answers
16k 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 ...
64
votes
14answers
39k views

How is a “Software Developer” different from a “Software Consultant”? What makes a consultant?

I have seen a lot of people claiming themselves to be a "software consultant". These consultants do what a normal software developer does, write code, estimate tasks, fix bugs and attend meetings etc. ...
45
votes
0answers
693 views

Best Practices to End a Software Project [closed]

Several projects I have worked on have satisfied all the requirements, yet for some reason lingered on. Typically what happens is that the client is spending time with their new product and is asking ...
43
votes
28answers
22k 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 ...
39
votes
6answers
22k 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 ...
36
votes
9answers
2k views

How do you price your work?

Well, let me explain : This has really been an issue for me, for such a long time. And what is worse - since coding is something I simply ADORE (I would definitely do it, even if there was no payment ...
35
votes
4answers
2k 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
2k 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
7answers
2k views

Who should pay for fixes/bugs?

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 ...
31
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 ...
30
votes
5answers
6k views

Becoming a part-time freelancer [closed]

I have a full time job as a senior software developer. It pays well but the work is unsatisfying for many reasons. I often daydream about going freelance but don't want to throw away a stable paycheck ...
29
votes
17answers
3k 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
3answers
970 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 ...
27
votes
10answers
2k views

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

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 ...
26
votes
3answers
971 views

What advice would you give to someone going freelance? [closed]

I'm trying to get out of the Corporate game and go indie. I've always prided myself on being a jack of all trades so I think it suits me. If you're a freelancer or independent, what's the best advice ...
25
votes
4answers
854 views

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

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 ...
24
votes
11answers
2k views

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

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 ...
24
votes
12answers
2k 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 ...
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
10answers
4k 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 ...
20
votes
12answers
497 views

How do I make my customers not like me too much?

In 2004 I went to work for a consulting firm because I like variety, challenges, working with new technologies, etc. However, I've been a developer for 25 years - and spent the majority of my career ...
20
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 ...
19
votes
2answers
15k views

Are there any contracting agreement templates online? [closed]

Contracting is fairly common, so I imagine that there's some pre-fab templates for software contracting agreements out there. I'm looking for one that I modify for my needs, pass through my lawyer and ...
18
votes
11answers
2k views

Company wants thoughts about their site during interview

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
4answers
5k 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 ...
18
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
813 views

How do I manage success as an independent contractor?

I'm fixing bugs for a software company as a contractor on a per hour basis (first time for me). Today, in 6 hours I fixed two issues which had been planned at 32 and 40 hours each. The days before ...
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
2k views

Is it okay to rollback code if your client refuses to pay you? [closed]

A friend of mine did some contracting work to add localization support to an existing mobile app. He was not contracted to add any other features or fix any already existing bugs. He has finished his ...
17
votes
4answers
1k views

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

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 ...
17
votes
6answers
851 views

How can I remove my fear of doing freelancing work?

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
4k views

Should I ask/tell my boss before freelancing?

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
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". ...
16
votes
11answers
24k views

Why most people change from being a contractor to full time at my companies, but not the other way around? [closed]

I have seen most people changed from being a contractor to being a full time employee, but not the other way around. And that happened in startups that had maybe 20% chance of IPO or being acquired, ...
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
5answers
4k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
485 views

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

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 ...
15
votes
10answers
855 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
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 ...
15
votes
11answers
2k views

Should I break contract early? [closed]

About 7 months ago I made the switch from a 5 year permie role (as a support developer in C#) to a contract role. I did this because I was stagnating in my old role. The extra cash contracting is ...
15
votes
8answers
2k 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
705 views

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

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
4answers
572 views

What modes of profit are open to programmers? [closed]

This is an important question because "apply for a job/internship" isn't a solution for everyone especially during economic stress periods when constant rejection can push good programmers into ...
14
votes
9answers
2k views

Do developers ever contract by retainer? If not, why?

I'm leaving my current employer in two weeks, but have an excellent relationship with them and am somewhat emotionally attached to a project that I have developed over the last couple of years. ...
14
votes
5answers
3k 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
9answers
3k views

Do you work contract projects in addition to your full-time job?

As developers do you ever seek out contract work in addition to your full-time job? I am considering pursuing some additional part-time opportunities and I'm curious how common it is among full-time ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

How much can I charge for this a little job? [closed]

I started doing freelancing. I got my first job to create a set of reports. The business team has provided me with the sample reports and also some sample codes. My job is to query the database and ...