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  1. #1
    raf
    raf is offline
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    A career as independent IT-professional????

    I'm not a professional programmer, but i was thinking about starting a small business (on the side or full-time). Emphasis on was! I'm not so sure now though. Where i work (not as an IT'er) the number of IT'ers dropped from 1500 to 900 in two years time and there are serious plans of outsourcing a large part of the IT-activities to india and/or multi-companys development projects (multiple companys from same sector that need more a less the same products, share the developmentcosts of 1 fits-all product). So, only the big ones and cheap ones get orders.
    I focus on developping databasedriven webapplications and till now, i was just working for free and developed for compagnies/people i knew and that coudn't afford someone to write them such app's. I know my way around ASP and PHP, worked with different db's, worked for 4 years as projectmanager (business side) and know enough about functional analyses to make a good functional design of an app.
    As till now, i worked for free, but i'm getting tiered of that. It costs me money (just an internetconnection alone costs me 36 euro/month !! without even a static IP and just 3 Mbit downstream 1,25 Mbit upstream) and sometimes "clients" even need to be motivated to pay for hosting the app's i made for free ! (on some of them, i worked for weeks and not because i'm a trainee or so) + i'm working on some stuff i should best be hosting myself. So i probably will have to set up a server (now just working with a 433 Mhz PC that does the trick just fine), take a business-internetconnection, buy a suit ... but i don't want to be working just to pay my expensis.
    I guess some of you work as freelance coders or run their own (small) compagnie.
    My questions to you:
    - what's your opinion on these IT-developments? Which services still boom and which are cold as ice
    - what about db-driven webapplication? Are there some serious clients for that market, that want to get involved with freelancers are small company, and are willing to pay a reasonable price for quality-products (around 100 euro/day = what i get on my paycheck (after tax) today. For reference, one IT'er costs about 1000 euro a day where i work)
    - which ones of you can actually make enough money to break even (= enough money for your equipment, reasonable 'salary' (say 300 euro a week), pay whatever social security is needed in your country, set something aside in a pension fund) + how much do you need to charge just for that
    - is there any market for app's that are written customtailored, or for app's with a more general approach where customers can stuff in their own info

  • #2
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    Well, I wrestled with the same question about a year ago. I decided to go ahead and start my own business. In the state I live, it only costs about $100 to start a business. That includes filing fees ($25) and public notice fees ($65).

    I set up a website and a reseller hosting account so I can offer design and hosting services. All this currently costs me $25 / month. If I include my dial-up acount, I'm around $50 a month.

    In response to the general industry, I think that the global recession (or at least slowing of the economy) has significantly reduced alot of advertising projects. And when you get right down to it, web design is advertising not programming. Yes, there's alot of programming involved, but you're usually designing / programming an advertising medium for a company. So, since companies are paring back on advertising, the web development industry is in the tank. This doesn't mean there are no opportunities, just that you need to fight harder for them. I'm going to begin an ad campaign myself to see if I can wrangle up some more clients. Once the ad industry comes back (6-12 months) we should see an increase in our client base.

    As far as fees / charges. I feel where I am, the market supports $30 - $75 / hour for my skill set ( see resume ) depending on the project and I'm not having an extrordinary time getting clients. But that's not to say this is my primary source of income. I hold a "second" job right now that provides the benefits you mentioned below. However, I am fairly confident that should I decide to quit, I would have not trouble maintaining a client base which provides 40 hours of billable work per week. ($60,000 - $150,000 per year).

    As far as DB apps. I think everyone want's them. Every client I have wants some type of dynamic content and DBs are the way to go. Not many people want the "10 page website" anymore. They all want an onlie shopping cart, an online menu, online forum or the like. Some of these I use opensource scripts others I hand code, depends on the needs. But DB apps are definitly a hot item.

    Hope this helps.

  • #3
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    IMO the more successful consulting companies probaly outsource their programming. At the place I interned they had most of their programming done in some country in the east for around $10-$15 an hour. Well the company then charged $125 an hour(for programming). The code from this eastern country was well written and commented. They also (the company I interned for)provide hosting which is a great source of residual income if you of course have clients.

    On the programming side if you are wanting to make any decent money then you should focus on more intranet server-side applications. I really cant imagine any place that would pay alot for a static web site.

    I am no professional programmer but more of a beginnermediate. I currently work for the "man" but have tried at least two buisness startups while working. Needless to say they both failed because we did not focus on the buisness aspect. I think as a programmer I felt the need to reinvent the wheel sometimes and because of my large ego the need to code everything. Now I would focus on the business side first and then the code. I would have no problem outsourcing my code.

  • #4
    raf
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    I suppose the sensible sollution would indeed be to outsource the coding and mainly do the analysing and applicationdesign + hosting/consultancy/training/support part. Think you're right there. But that's more a less what i do for a living now ...
    I wanna develop further as a programmer, but i feel i should be able to spend more time on it + i don't want it to cost me money.

    i'll see how it turns out


    bcarl314,

    quite some resume . can hardly believe you master all these things (specially the java part).
    XML, XSL, XPath, SAX, DOM, SOAP
    PERL & CGI
    PHP
    ASP, VBScript, JScript
    Java, JSP, JavaBeans, Servlets, EJB
    SQL and relational database design
    HTML, DHTML, XHTML, CSS, JavaScript

    I thought the same about db-drivven sites, but most firms i came in touch with, don't seem to be ready for it + i don't just want to build shopping carts and stuff (specially not the downloadable ones). i'm more interested in building integrated sollutions that can compute prizes, manage clientaccounts, draw bleuprints of workpieces, etc). think my ego and plans are also to big

  • #5
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    Well, I find that most offen people don't realize they want a DB driven website until you hear what they want. Usually people will come to me and say something like the following.

    The customer wants to maek a website and manage it them selves. It's not offen I come across someone that wants me to update the site. Usually they want a one time expense and would rather pay extra once than incur ongoing charges (although I would prefer the later, I find the former to usually be the case.)

    So, since they want to update the site them selves (ie. menu items, products, etc) I usually create a shopping cart / management system for them with an admin interface. Best way to pull this off is using a DB. Clients don't know this, and usually don't want to. Besides usually people want to hear "Yep, I can do that" rather than "We'll need to use PHP and a mySQL db with 3 tables, user, product, and cate ...... blah blah)

    If they want technical stuff, they'll ask for it. Just knowing I can do it is usually enough.

    As far as my resume, I wouldn't say I'm a "master" at eveything on it, but I can do all of it. My strengths are PHP, PERL, HTML flavors, SQL, DBs and Java, the JSP, servlets, and EJB aren't easy for me, but since I've aced a few classes using them, I felt it was OK to put them on my resume.

    One thing someone once told me was "It's not what you know, but how fast you can figure it out." Really comes in handy. If you've got resources, you can put alot on a resume.

    Confidence in yourself is the key!

    As far as programming, there are really only 3 concepts to learn, procedural concepts, object oriented concepts, and logic constructs. Once you get those down, the rest is only syntax, and there are thousands of resources out there to help you with that, this site being one of them!


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