Becoming a No-Code Freelancer

Becoming a No-Code Freelancer

Simon Jenner

Thursday, 15 July 2021

It's easy to become a no-code freelancer, but it's flipping hard to do it well. Here are some tips from Million Labs.

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Behind our investment business stands the men and women of our now venerable no-code agency. Some work for us full time and some are freelancers that help us to manage our spikes in capacity and to build weird things that we have never done before. 
You might think our agency business sees freelancers as a threat, after all they can often deliver at a lower cost than Million Labs because they don’t have the overheads of a large business. However, freelancers are a critical part of the ecosystem. Beyond capacity and innovation they are often partners, helping us to find investments, fill bootcamps and deliver on our promise to launch one million startups. 
For Million Labs freelancers are friends not foes. So what advice would we give a plucky young no-coder looking to go out and sell their wares? Here’s my top tips: 
1) Build a differentiated brand
There are more than eighty agencies that can afford the $936 per annum agency account fee at Bubble. If you are launching now you need to differentiate your services and sell a clear message. Just like any busy market you need to find your own voice. 
There are loads of ways to expand a service around simple no-code delivery. Branding, marketing, education, mentoring, user experience, innovation, prototyping… there are a bunch of ways you can use no-code tools. Think about your target customer and design a service that fits. 
2) Don’t underestimate your costs
Sure you can develop for x bucks an hour, but how many hours does it take to win business? Also some of your clients will try not to pay you for one reason or another. You can think of this risk as a cost of business too. You also need to pay your taxes and get insured (nothing is scarier than being sued for the first time without insurance). So, you need to wrap all those costs up into your hourly rate if you want to survive beyond year one.
3) Get a proper specification
The age old challenge of defining exactly what is and isn’t in the scope of a project haunts the no-code community like Jacob Marley’s ghost. Client’s are rarely sophisticated enough to draft a clear specification themselves and don’t value paying you to do it. So it’s likely you will end up working on projects with loose specifications. 
This can be challenging when it comes to delivery and the client feels that you have’t built everything that they asked for. For instance, we had a project once where, up in a corner of a wireframe was a little speech bubble. The client felt that this was a clear enough indication that we should also be building a messaging system that wasn’t mentioned in their initial scope documents. Frustrating for all involved.
4) Manage expectations
We have more than one client trying to run a $5,000 project like they are building a $2m bank. Clients are always under a ‘Time Crunch’, they always want the lowest prices and they will demand pixel perfection. You can’t ignore this and hope it will go away. The best approach is to set expectations early and to be firm with the client. Don’t say yes to everything to win contracts that are going to break down and lead to refunds, discounts or bad reviews later. 
5) Don’t overload yourself
Jobs are like buses, they all come along at once. Freelancers fear lean times and so they tend to load up on jobs when they are available. Over estimating your ability to deliver is a killer. We’ve all been there. You’ll end up juggling projects and working nights and weekends to try to satisfy complaining customers.
We see it happen time and time again. Cooking your brain with 16 hour days on Bubble is a recipe for a nervous breakdown. We’ve lost more than one developer and a head of agency that way. 
Want to become a freelancer?  
We end up hiring one in eight of the people that go through our bootcamps. Some of our best people have come up through the business that way. We have never run a specific freelancer bootcamp, but if your interested in us doing so drop us a line at

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