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How To Thrive As A Freelance Developer

Written from scratch and packed with advice from real-world experiences, career.fork() is a hit-the-ground-running guide for developers wanting to be their own boss.
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After you've read the book, you can ask the author, Steve, up to 10 questions by email, as detailed as you like, in total confidence. He'll do his best to provide useful answers relevant to your situation. (Please provide your email address when you buy, or contact Steve directly at with the purchase reference number)

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About the Book

Written from scratch and packed with advice from real-world experiences, career.fork() is a hit-the-ground-running guide for developers wanting to be their own boss.

This 150-page title combines author Steve Jalim's experience as a respected, trusted independent developer (and many years before that as a freelance journalist) with relevant advice drawn from his professional network of smart fellow hackers.

READERS GET FREE STUFF! The latest release includes the start of the "Deals Directory" - no-strings, no-kickbacks discounts and deals on services which new freelancers will find handy, from award-winning accoutancy software to quality business cards. It all helps you go from zero to own-boss quicker than you think.

What people are saying about it

"I learned something on every page" @pete_naish

"Fantastic book; read this a year after starting and it still has some great tips to abide by" DM

"This is a well-written book packed with priceless information for those intending to make a career as a freelance developer. I wished I paid more for it!" KM

"Marvelous book. Light read, full of useful info. Heartily recommended for everyone who is thinking about freelancing or has already taken the leap." ST

"A really interesting book about freelancing. Recommended if you're thinking about it." @pyriku

"Really impressive. I wish I'd had it when I first started freelancing." @prydie

"Read a nice e-book about starting out as a freelancer by @stevejalim" @redskyforge

"For anyone thinking about doing the freelance thing, check out this gem of a book" @madteckhead

What's in it?

It covers a heap of key topics: from striking out on your own to keeping clients happy; from managing your finances to winning new work; from avoiding bad gigs to perfecting your work/life balance and lots, lots more.

The current version available is v0.9, with the plan that relevant feedback will be worked in before the book hits v1.0. And because this is Leanpub, when you buy v0.9, you'll get those updates for free. So if you're reading the book and feel like there's some more detail you want it to contain, ask Steve and he'll happily look into it.

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
        • So, what’s in this book?
        • And what’s not in this book?
        • So, who is this book for?
        • A note for non-UK readers
        • Feedback for future releases
  • End user licence agreement
  • Thank you
  • Release Notes
      • Version 0.9
  • Life as a freelance dev: are you really sure?
    • Why being freelance is great
    • Why being freelance is awful
  • Set your sights: what kind of indie operator will you be?
    • Choose the kind of work you want to be doing
    • Freelancer vs contractor vs consultant: what’s in a name?
    • Being a specialist vs being a generalist
  • The skills you’ll need
    • Starting from scratch as a freelancer
  • Practicalities
    • Picking a business entity
      • Sole trader
      • Limited company
    • Picking a business name
      • Name validation
    • Tools of the trade
      • Hardware
        • Mixing work and play
      • Software
        • Code editor or IDE
        • Version control
        • Time tracking
        • Bug reporting/ticket management
        • Invoice generation and accounting
        • Put your money where your mouse is
        • And finally…
    • Where to work
      • Dedicated home office
      • Café-working
      • Hot desk in a shared workspace
      • Rented desk-space / office
      • So, which is best?
    • Working on-site with a client
  • Getting Started
    • Finding work
      • 1. Show you can do good work
      • 2. Build a professional network
      • 3. Make clients happy / Deserve good word of mouth
      • And there’s more…
      • Remember: finding work takes time
      • Bonus tip: what are clients looking for?
    • Micro-lecture: Don’t poach clients
    • When to say yes to new work
      • Signs of a good client
      • Know your limits
    • When to say no to new work
      • How to spot a bad-news client or project
      • Take care with hand-me-down gigs
      • How do you say no to a client?
        • ‘Bad for me, bad for you’
        • Firing a client
    • How much should I charge?
      • Ok, but how much should I charge?
      • No, seriously now, how much should I charge?
        • Update, Summer 2014: HOT TOPIC ALERT
      • Keeping your rates (and your skills) up to date
    • By the day or by the hour?
    • Presenting a quote for a project
      • Breaking it down
    • Getting estimates right
        • Timescale I: How many units of work will it take?
        • Timescale II: When can you fit in those units of work?
        • Working out the cost
  • Oiling the wheels
    • Five PM tips to keep things running smoothly
    • Five PM tips to keep clients happy
    • Five PM tips to keep yourself sane
    • Five PM tips which don’t fall into the lists above, but are definitely worth remembering
    • Five tips for working alongside staffers as a freelancer
    • Tips for time management and tracking
    • Tips for arranging your next gig
    • Tips for backups and data security
    • Tips for when you’re sick
    • Tips for managing time off
      • Arranging time off
      • Holiday money
    • Tips for when things go bad
        • Handling bugs and outages
        • Handling bad estimates
        • Handling clients who aren’t happy with your work
  • Money matters
    • Managing your finances
      • What are the three best things I can do to keep my business finances in order?
      • Accountants: do you need one?
      • What kind of records should I be keeping?
      • Any tips for bookkeeping apps? Can I just use a spreadsheet?
      • Expenditure
      • Cash flow
    • Good invoices
    • Taxes
      • Sole trader
      • Limited company
      • What about VAT?
      • IR35
    • Surviving quiet patches
  • Legal
    • Contracts
      • Do I really need a contract with a client in order to do work for them?
      • What should a contract contain?
      • Where can I get a model contract?
      • What about using a contract a client provides? Is that OK?
    • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
    • Intellectual property
      • Copyright / Code ownership
      • Licenses
        • Licensing your code to third parties
        • Using third-party code in your work
    • Insurance and liability
    • Data protection
  • Challenges
    • Working alone after working in a team
      • Bouncing ideas
      • Social contact
      • Venting
    • Dealing with tricky clients
      • The Indecisive Client
      • The Naive Client
      • The Vague Client
      • The Overly Prescriptive Client
      • The Overly Demanding Client
      • The Scope-Creep Client
      • The Unavailable Client
      • The Overly Nice Client
      • The 24-7 Client
      • The Contemptible Client
      • The Non-paying Client
    • Improving as an independent developer
    • Striking a good work/life balance
  • Deals Directory
      • Current offers
      • Want to suggest an offer?
    • Codebase: Source-code hosting and project management
      • About Codebase
      • The deal
      • How to get it
    • FreeAgent: Online accountancy software
      • About FreeAgent
      • The deal
      • How to get it
    • Kanbanery: Visual project management software
      • About Kanbanery
      • The deal
      • How to get it
    • Kashflow: Online accountancy software
      • About Kashflow
      • The deal
      • How to get it
    • MOO: Custom Business Cards
      • About MOO
      • The deal
      • How to get it
  • Afterword

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About the Author

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