I occasionally make insightful, if somewhat obvious posts to the GeekUp community. One of my most linked to and pointed posts was in response to a common thread: “how to set up a freelancing business”. I formed “Kian’s Rules For Freelancing”, and present them here for your consideration. The old footnotes are recorded with numbers, the new footnotes are recorded with roman numerals.

Kian’s Rules of Freelancing

  1. Try and hit the ground running.
  2. The customer is not always right. They are, in many cases wrong.
    • The customer is rarely right. Often they’re very wrong.
    • The customer is never right. They are always wrong.[i]
  3. There are approximately 9 usable business hours in a day. Any more, and you’ll kill yourself.
    • Those are 9 business hours. Not necessarily 9 hours coding. Some days, you will do bugger all coding.
    • That is an average. There may be the occasional “oh shit” race condition which means that there becomes 26 business hours in a day. Remember to balance it out.[ii]
    • If you’re working less than nine hours a day, make sure the money is still coming into the pot.
    • As Paul Robinson has observed, GeekUp, open-source projects and community are often “business”. Remember to factor that in. [iii]
  4. Try not to bite off more than you can chew. [iv]
    • You are a developer, not a designer. If you need designs, hire a designer.
    • You are a developer, not a network engineer. If you need network support, hire a monkey.
    • You are a developer, not a 24-hour on-call support service[1]. If you need a 24-hour on-call support service, hire a minion.
    • You are a developer, not a one-man army of God. You are not going to single-handedly end poverty, restore world peace and produce cool music[2].As such, if the project looks like it needs an army, consider hiring an army.[v]


[1] Unless you’re stupid enough to sign up for that.

[2] Unless you’re Bono.[3]

[3] Or me.

New Footnotes and Annotations

[i] Usually this boils down to “the customer does not know what they want”. The sign of a good freelancer is the ability to beat the client’s real requirements out of them. A stick is a tax-deductible tool.[vi]

[ii] See the past three weeks of my life for a good example of this.

[iii] When you attend these events as a regular “Joe Blogs”, an employee for something-corp, you treat these events as learning experiences, possibly networking, but generally for fun. When attending these events as a freelancer, yes you’re doing all of the above, but you’re keeping an ear/eye open for new opportunities. That takes energy. Factor it in.

[iv] Refer to One Another As I Have Referred You (refer work to others, and hopefully they will refer back to you)

[v] Projects have costs. A business has to spend money. Spend money to make money. Learn. This. Lesson.

[vi] This is not a slight on businesses. Requirements capture is by its very nature hard.