Think of someone who wasn't tenured, has any income, has a relationship for more than 8 years, and doesn't know what to do with the 30,000 Turkish Lira KYK(Credit and Dormitories Institution) debt, and feels trapped:
I'm delighted you had the opportunity to meet Ali Kemal before becoming a Freelancer. Especially nowadays, you probably experience and feel similar things, maybe more. Trust me; you are not alone. You are just one of the millions of people in our country who are "trapped".
This short article has one purpose: to share the story of Ali Kemal – i.e. me. It's totally up to you what you take away from this story and whether or not it has an impact on your life. It's time to close the introduction and get into the story's heart.
I'm Ali Kemal Serbet. I was born in 1995 in Istanbul. I studied international relations in my undergraduate studies and my master's degree in war research. I am a cynical software and entrepreneur who has earned my life by developing mobile applications.
When I looked back today at what I did, all I said was, "I am glad that I thought I'd be a freelancer." I'm going to suggest that your philosophy of life should be, "never give up, always stand up, be the last." Let me rewind the movie a bit and give a quick recap to show why this isn't empty self-help advice.
I got accepted from the seventh best university in the world and got a Presidential scholarship. However, I had to give up my dream one month before I went to England because the Prime Ministry -- and therefore the scholarship -- was abolished in the same year.
Then, I started my master's degree. I applied to the research staff in my sophomore year and was first on the list, but it wasn't enough to get me on the team. When all of the other factors I haven't mentioned came together, I took a life-changing decision: "From now on, I will take the law 'completely' into my own hands. Whether I succeed or fail, it will be all because of me".
When I decided that, I couldn't work elsewhere anymore. Because when I worked somewhere, the ropes would be in the hands of the team I worked with and the boss at the last point. I would do anything to avoid breaking this new principle that
I put it at the center of my life, but I also had to earn money to make a living. I had a wonderful family who supported me no matter what and a girlfriend who was there for me no matter what - she is now my wife. However, I couldn't stand in my comfort zone and be passive. There was only one way to make a living without breaking my principle: Freelance!
Being a Freelancer wasn't a new concept in my life. Before that, translating online video themes, downloading and editing, and selling, etc., I've done many things. However, I started to see working freelancer as a full-time job, not an additional income.
In 2019, we made our plans by sitting in a cafe in Pendik, Istanbul, with my friend of 12 years, Muhammed Furkan Yılmaz, whose story you can read on this site.
The industry we would serve as Freelancers was transparent: Software. We both worked hard with a superhuman effort because we weren't software developers. We got a little work, and we made it better.
In 2020, we founded our software agency, Etrexio Digital Solutions. We started receiving our first jobs not long after that. A German client asked us to create a mobile app for him in our first significant business. We have carried out a planned and systematic process. We have completed and continued to improve ourselves, taking and delivering new projects. We've improved our knowledge, as well as our freelance culture and company.
Etrexio is a small but successful software agency that currently serves customers worldwide. I married my girlfriend this year, Tuba, whom I mentioned earlier in this article.
Our initiative with Furkan, which we co-founded and conducted CTO, has received investment in Omnicourse, and I believe it'll be in great places soon. It's possible that the rapidity with which my story changed drew your attention.
I tried to tell my story in a top-view. Still, it was so detailed because there's something important that I believe in: If you become a systematic and planned freelancer, you can take the lead in your life and experience such a transformation quickly.
Providing brief information in a question-and-answer style would be more convenient. I will write the rest of it like an imaginary interview.
What are your recommendations for new graduates/beginners in the software area?
I recommend that they work intensively in the field of interest/want to produce projects for themselves. So they will see that they have increased their capabilities and achieved a great portfolio that will affect clients quickly.
What Freelancer platforms do you work on?
Although we also have accounts on Fiverr, we are currently only serving through Upwork. There are two reasons: The commission rates in Upwork are more acceptable, and the clients are of better quality.
What do you pay attention to when preparing your profile?
First, the profile photo should show a clear face with a color that will stand out in the background. Eye-catching colors are essential to stand out, as employers see a list that goes down when looking for freelancers.
In addition, it is essential to write a short and clear profile description that is easy to read and supported by emojis. If you use the right keywords for your area, the number of invitations you receive increases tremendously.
How should a portfolio be created?
First of all, it has to be aesthetic. I think there should be a cover photo for each project. In-app screenshots must also be delivered with a mockup. If you're starting and don't have portfolios, you must develop projects for yourself first.
This enables you to improve your technical skills and build a portfolio that will impact clients.
How do you know that's the right client?
Human recognition is a skill gained over and over time. Customers that don't fit the working style or have bad intentions will always exist. I think the best way to analyze the client is to have a video call and meet them.
So at the end of each application letter, saying, "let's have a short Zoom meeting when available," is very influential and necessary. The client is probably good if they are prepared for project-related queries, reply accurately, and communicate well.
How necessary is the knowledge of English?
If you want to be a good freelancer, a perfect knowledge of English is a "must". If you don't have enough English and/or confidence to have a video meeting, I think it's better to focus on this area before starting.
Because the budgets of the projects to be received by writing are too small compared to the projects received by having the meeting, if the customer is going to pay a lot of money, they should trust you, see you, and know you to work with you.
What makes working as a freelancer so difficult?
I'll tell you the disadvantages because everyone says the advantages. It can be challenging to maintain the balance of business and personal life. As a result, it is critical to complete tasks on schedule and take time for oneself without delay.
Besides, unlike the salary, freelancers don't have a regular income. That's why it's imperative to have the self-fiscal discipline to be a good freelancer. Otherwise, you will not be able to make the correct location to increase your income.
What are your tactics in clients' contact?
I think the biggest problem is meeting with the client all the time. The way to get rid of it is to inform the customer regularly (for example, every Monday) about the project. If you do this all the time and get to know the client, you'll notice that they don't want to meet. In addition to this, the most significant advantage is, to be honest.
The best strategy is to never lie to your customers. Unfortunately, because individuals lie unnecessarily—and this is so obvious—the customer will always prefer the fair offer, even if it is more expensive.
Contribution of Freelancer Guide to My Freelancer Story
Because you are usually alone wolf when you start working as a freelancer, you will find yourself technically and mentally in a challenging situation. Being a part of a group that has faced similar challenges as you in the past can boost your morale and save you time.
Although we have been freelancers for a long time, Furkan and I are still learning a lot and improving our freelance culture thanks to the Freelancer Guide. If you decide to become a full-time freelancer, I strongly recommend joining Freelancer Guide.