How I Went from Salaried to Freelancing Making 4x More My First Year
3 min read
That's right. It's not clickbait. And I'm gonna tell you exactly what I did.
Time for a little history lesson. I've been a developer in Greece for over a decade. Although I've been able to earn a comfortable living for local standards, I always felt a lot left on the table. Around the middle of 2019, I started scouting and occasionally interviewing through some remote work platforms. At that point, I realized around what my rate should be (roughly 2x what I was making), but I'd also have to cover my own expenses, such as taxes, social security, accredited accountants, etc.
With all that taken into account, I was still ahead but not by much. So I opted to stay at my then-current position since I was happy and was still learning a ton, especially React Native, which was ramping up to be one of the hottest technologies in the world.
Roughly a year later, after getting turned down for a raise, I aggressively started the process of getting incorporated (that's a requirement in the EU), as well as looking at job postings on both remote work platforms, as well as directly through LinkedIn and StackOverflow (hugely underrated work platform for devs, by the way).
What I found out after hitting the global market was sobering. Competition is fierce, and the level required is much higher than locally. However, I was determined to break into the worldwide market. I got rejected. A LOT. But what I figured out was that I was casting too broad a net.
Specificity over generalization
Once I started going after positions that focused on my strengths (Frontend, React and React Native), I saw much greater traction and success. Eventually, I landed on a job posting that lacked a lot of details but seemed intriguing enough. I got on a call with a recruiter from Braintrust and eventually, I was onboarded on the platform.
Braintrust is very talent-oriented, so I had to submit a proposal with my rate, along with some details about me and my background. A couple of days later I got on a call with an engineering manager, then a code pairing interview and then 2 cultural and team fit interviews. Overall, the process was very painless and lasted just 2 weeks. 3 hours after that final interview I got the confirmation mail that I was accepted and that changed everything.
I was able to quit my regular job, start working my own hours, and truly experience what it's like to work in a large, diverse team with great engineering challenges.
Hint: If you wanna learn which company that is, subscribe and it will be revealed in a future post
The journey wasn't easy but it was 100% worth it. I firmly believe that if you consider yourself an engineer of value, sooner or later going after contract and consulting work will be the only option. I've also found that it's probably the best way to avoid burnout. Engineers tend to want to have meaning in their work because the matter of survival is solved relatively early on. This way you get to pick the projects you work on and how frequently you want to work on something else. It's also great that you get to pick how much you earn and not expect the salary proposition from a recruiter or company HR that doesn't actually have your best interests at heart.
At Braintrust, you get to decide on your own rate after seeing the range that clients offer.
Disclaimer: I know I'm singing the praises of Braintrust but I am not being paid to do so. I am a proud member of that community and believe that it's a great avenue for freelancers looking to break into the global scene.