What keeps you going day after day? Your motivation is the most important building block of your success. In the following, I’d like to give you some fact-based motivation why creating your coding business online can easily be the most rewarding decision in your life.
Yet, motivation is not everything. If you want to make your business work, you must show some persistence. You need to keep working on it for many months, even years.
There’s no quick and easy way to create a successful and lasting business. It takes time, discipline, and focused effort.
The truth is that creating a successful business is a straightforward endeavor if you have the right mindset, habits, and motivation. Using the words of legendary speaker Jim Rohn: “it’s easy to do, but it’s also easy not to do.”
This tutorial intends to give you all the motivation you need to sustain a long time (say, one or two years) working daily on your new online coding business.
In particular, you’ll find an answer to these questions:
- Why should you even consider working from home on your online coding business?
- What are the advantages?
- What are the disadvantages?
- What can you expect to happen after you decided not to follow the herd by working for a big corporation or the government?
- And, last but not least, what can you expect to earn as a freelance developer?
Let’s take a high-level perspective analyzing some major trends in society.
Related Article: The Complete Guide to Freelance Developing
The Workforce Disruption of the 21st Century
Massive change is the only constant in today’s world. One aspect of those changes is the nature of employment in a globalized economy. It becomes more and more evident that freelancing is the most suitable way of organizing, managing, and delivering talents to small businesses and creators in the 21st century.
Say, you’re a small business owner, and you need to get some editing done for an ebook project. Would you hire a new employee for this project? Or would you just visit an online freelancing platform and hire the best editor you can get for a fair price?
You may find the answer obvious, but I don’t think that most people have already realized the second-order consequences: online freelancing is not a niche idea but has the power to transform and, ultimately, dominate the organization of the world’s talent. It’s accessible to billions of creators and business owners. And it’ll become even more efficient in the future.
When I discuss the evolution of the traditional “job market” to a project-driven “freelancer market”, I often end up debating the ethical implication of this. Yes, it means that there will be less job security in the future. It also means that there will be a massive global competition for skill. The ones who deliver excellent work will get paid much better than their lazy, low-quality competition. You may not like this trend. But this doesn’t mean that it is not happening right now. This tutorial is not about whether we should or should not enter this area. It’s about how you can benefit from this global trend. But to take a stand on this, I find it a highly positive development towards a more efficient workforce where you can simply focus on the work you like, and you’re good at and outsource everything else.
To me, freelancing already is an integral ingredient of my existence. Here’s how freelancing impacts every aspect of my professional life today:
- By working as a freelancer myself, I funded and grew my passion online business Finxter.com.
- I hire freelancers for Finxter. The more Finxter grows, the more I rely on freelancers to create more value for my users.
- I host the most comprehensive Python freelancer course in the world. This is my way of centralizing and sharing (but also learning from) the expertise of professionals across the globe.
My online business would have never been possible in its current form (and scale) without leveraging the efficiency gains of freelancing.
This is great because before freelancing became popular, large corporations practically owned the monopoly for exploiting the benefits of globalized labor.
Today, every small business owner can access the global pool of talents. This way, new arbitrage opportunities open up for every small business owner who seizes them.
Both business owners and freelancers benefit from this trend (as well as the people who, like me, work on both sides).
So how can you benefit from the global freelancing trend? You can benefit by becoming an arbitrage trader: buy and sell freelancing services at the same time! You purchase the services you’re not good at. You sell the services you’re good at. This way, you’re continually increasing your hourly rate. Can you see why? A bit of napkin math will highlight the fundamental arithmetic of outsourcing.
The Benefits of Outsourcing
Say, you’re a fast coder: you write ten lines of code per minute. But you suck at customer service: you write 0.1 emails per minute. But you need to do both in your current position. To write 100 lines of code and answer ten emails, you need 10 + 100 = 110 minutes. Most of the time, you’ll be answering emails.
Let’s assume further that Alice has the exact opposite preferences: she writes only one line of code per minute (10x slower than you) but answers one email per minute (10x faster than you). To write 100 lines of code and answer ten emails, she’d need 100 + 10 = 110 minutes, too. Most of the time, she’ll be writing code.
Both of you spend most of your time doing work you suck at.
But what if you decide to hire each other? You hire Alice to answer your emails, and Alice hires you to do her coding. Now, you have to write 200 lines of code instead of 100 lines of code which takes you only 20 minutes. Alice now answers 20 emails instead of 10, which takes her 20 minutes. In total, you too finish your work in 20+20=40 minutes instead of 110+110=220 minutes! Together, you saved 220 – 40 = 180 minutes – 3 hours per day!
It’s a stupid idea to do everything by yourself! You’ll leave vast amounts of money on the table if you’re guilty of this.
The freelancer disruption will make the world much more efficient. So let’s get some clarity: is freelancing for you?
Python Freelancer: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Becoming a freelancer is an exciting way of growing your business skills, participating in the new economy, learning new technologies, practicing your communication expertise, learning how to sell and market your skills, and earning more and more money on the side. Technology and globalization have opened up this opportunity. And now it’s up to you to seize it.
But what can you expect from this new path of becoming a freelance developer (e.g., focusing on the Python programming language)?
First and foremost, freelancing is a path of personal growth, learning new skills, and earning money in the process. But in today’s digital economy, becoming a Python freelancer is – above everything else – a lifestyle choice. It can give you fulfillment, flexibility, and endless growth opportunities. Additionally, it offers you a unique way of connecting with other people, learning about their exciting projects, and finding friends and acquaintances on the road.
While this sounds nice – becoming a Python freelancer can also be a struggle with the potential to make your life miserable and stressful if you’re approaching it with the wrong strategies and tactics. But no worries, this book is all about teaching you these.
So is being a Python freelancer for you? Let’s discuss the pros and cons of becoming a Python freelancer. The list is based not only on my personal experience as a Python freelancer — working for diverse projects in science, data analytics, and even law enforcement — but I have also assembled the experiences of some of the top experts in the field.
Related Article: Python Freelancer — To Be Or Not To Be?
The Good Things
There are many advantages to being a Python freelancer. Here are the most important of them:
Flexibility: You are flexible in time and space. I am living in a large German city (Stuttgart) where rent prices are growing rapidly, year after year. However, since I am working full-time in the Python industry, being self-employed, and 100% digital, I have the freedom to move to the countryside. Outside large cities, housing is exceptionally cheap, and living expenses are genuinely affordable. I am earning good money matched only by a few employees in my home town — while I don’t have to compete for housing to live close to my employers. That’s a huge advantage which can make your life wonderfully peaceful and efficient. Taken to an extreme, you can move to countries with minimal living expenses: earn Dollars and pay Rupees. As a Python freelancer, you are 100% flexible, and this flexibility opens up new possibilities for your life and work.
Independence: Do you hate working for your boss? Being a Python freelancer injects a dose of true independence into your life. While you are not free from influences (after all, you are still working for clients), you can theoretically get rid of any single client while not losing your profession. Firing your bad clients is even a smart thing to do because they demand more of your time, drain your energy, pay you badly (if at all), and don’t value your work in general. In contrast, good clients will treat you with respect, pay well and on time, come back, refer you to other clients, and make working with them a pleasant and productive experience. As an employee, you don’t have this freedom of firing your boss until you find a good one. This is a unique advantage of being a Python freelancer compared to being a Python employee.
Tax advantages: As a freelancer, you start your own business. Please note that I’m not an accountant — and tax laws are different in different countries. But in Germany and many other developed nations, your small Python freelancing business usually comes with a lot of tax advantages. You can deduct a lot of things from the taxes you pay like your Notebook, your car, your living expenses, working environment, eating outside with clients or partners, your smartphone, and so on. At the end of the year, many freelancers enjoy tax benefits worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Business expertise: This advantage is maybe the most important one. As a Python freelancer, you gain a tremendous amount of experience in the business world. You learn to offer and sell your skills in the marketplace, you learn how to acquire clients and keep them happy, you learn how to solve problems, and you learn how to keep your books clean, invest, and manage your money. Being a Python freelancer gives you a lot of valuable business experiences. And even if you plan to start a more scalable business system, being a Python freelancer is a great first step towards your goal.
Paid learning: While you have to pay to learn at University, being a Python freelancer flips this situation upside down. You are getting paid for your education. As a bonus, the things you are learning are as practical as they can be. Instead of coding toy projects in University, you are coding (more or less) exciting projects with an impact on the real world.
Save time in commute: Being in commute is one of the major time killers in modern life. Every morning, people are rushing to their jobs, offices, factories, schools, or universities. Every evening, people are rushing back home. On the way, they leave 1-2 hours of their valuable time on the streets, every single day, 200 days a year. During a ten year period, you’ll waste 2000-4000 hours — enough to become a master in a new topic of your choice, or writing more than ten full books and sell them on the marketplace. Commute time to work is one of the greatest inefficiencies in our society. And you, as a Python freelancer, can eliminate it. This will make your life easier, and you have an unfair advantage compared to any other employee. You can spend the time on learning, recreation, or building more side businesses. You don’t even need a car (I don’t have one), which will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout your lifetime (the average German employee spends 300,000 € for cars).
Family time: During the last 12 months of being self-employed with Python, I watched my 1-year old son walking his first steps and speaking his first words. Many fathers who work at big companies as employees may have missed their sons and daughters growing up. In my environment, most fathers do not have time to spend with their kids during their working days. But I have, and I’m very grateful for this.
Are you already convinced that becoming a Python freelancer is the way to go for you? You are not alone. To help you with your quest, I have created the only Python freelancer course on the web, which pushes you to Python freelancer level in a few months — starting as a beginner coder. The course is designed to pay for itself because it will instantly increase your hourly rate on diverse freelancing platforms such as Upwork or Freelancer.com.
The Bad Things
But it’s not all fun and easy being a Python freelancer. There are a few severe disadvantages which you have to consider before starting your own freelancing business. Let’s dive right into them!
No stability: It’s hard to reach a stable income as a Python freelancer. If you feel only safe if you know exactly how much income you bring home every month, you’ll be terrified as a Python freelancer. Especially if you live from paycheck to paycheck and don’t have yet developed the valuable habit of saving money every month. In this case, being a Python freelancer can be very dangerous because it will ultimately push you out of business within a few bad months. You need to buffer the lack of stability with means of a rigorous savings plan. There is no way around that.
Bad clients: Yes, they exist. If you commit to becoming a Python freelancer, you will get those bad clients for sure. They expect a lot, are never satisfied, give you a bad rating, and don’t even pay you. You might as well already accept this fact and write 10% of your income off as insurance for freeing yourself from any of those bad clients. I’m not kidding — set apart a fraction of your income so that you can always fire the bad clients immediately. You save yourself a lot of time, energy, and ultimately money (time is money in the freelancing business).
Procrastination: Are you a procrastinator? It may be difficult for you to start a freelancing business because this requires that you stay disciplined. No boss kicks your ass if you don’t perform. All initiative is on you. Of course, if you have established a thriving freelancing business, new clients will line up to do business with you. In this case, it may be easier to overcome procrastination. But especially in the early days where you have to make a name for yourself, you must show the discipline which this job profile requires. Make a clear plan for how you acquire clients. For example, if you are a Python freelancer at Upwork, make it a habit to apply for ten projects every day. Yes, you’ve heard this right. Commit first, figure out later. You can always hire your freelancers to help you with this if you have more projects than you can handle. Or even withdraw your services. But doing this will ensure that you never run out of clients, which will practically guarantee your success as a freelancer in the long run.
Legacy code: Kenneth, an experienced Python freelancer, describes this disadvantage as follows: “Python has been around for 25+ years, so, needless to say, there are some projects that have a lot of really old code that might not be up to modern standards. Legacy code presents its own fun challenge. You can’t usually refactor it, at least not easily, because other, equally old, code depends on it. That means you get to remember that this one class with a lowercase name and camel-case methods acts in its own special way. This is another place where you thank your lucky stars if there are docs and tests. Or write to them as quickly as possible if there’s not!” 
Competition: Python is a very well documented language. Although the code projects in Python are snowballing, so is the international competition. Many coders are attracted to Python because of its excellent documentation and suitability for machine learning and data science. Thus, the significant advantage of writing Python code that is fun, can sometimes also be the biggest curse. Competition can be fierce. However, this is usually only a problem if you are just starting and have not yet made a name for yourself. If you are doing good work, and focus on one sought-after area (e.g., machine learning nowadays), you have good chances to have plenty of clients competing for your valued time!
Solitude: If you are working as an employee at a company, you always have company, quite literally. You will meet your buddies at the coffee corner, you’ll attend seminars and conferences, you’ll present your work to your group, and you’ll generally get a lot of external input regarding upcoming trends and technology. As a freelancer, you cannot count on these advantages. You have to structure your day well, read books, attend conferences, and meet new people. Otherwise, you will quickly fall out of shape with both your coding and communication skills because you regularly work on your own. The ambitious way out is to continually grow your freelancing business by hiring more and more employees.
What’s unique in Python freelancing compared to general IT or coding freelancing?
Python is a unique language in many ways. The code is clean; there are strict rules (PEP standards), and “writing Pythonic code” is a globally accepted norm of expressing yourself in code. This has the big advantage that usually, you will work on clean and standardized code projects which are easily understandable. This is in stark contrast to languages such as C, where it’s hard to find common ground from time to time.
The Python ecosystem is also incredibly active and vivid — you’ll find tons of resources about every single aspect. As mentioned previously, the documentation is excellent. Many languages such as COBOL (wtf, I know), Go, Haskell and C# are documented poorly in comparison to Python. This helps you a lot when trying to figure out the nasty bugs in your code (or your clients’).
The barrier of entry is also low, which is partly a result of the great documentation, and partly a result of the easy to understand language design. Python is clean and concise — no doubt about that.
Finally, if you plan to start your career in the area of machine learning or data science, Python is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The library support is stunning — more and more people migrating from Matlab or R to Python because of its generality and the rise of new machine learning frameworks such as TensorFlow.
Knowing about those, let’s dive into the more worldly benefits of becoming a freelance developer.
What’s the Hourly Rate of a Python Freelancer?
Today, many Python freelance developers earn six figures.
How much can you expect to earn as a Python freelancer?
The short answer is: the average Python developer makes between $51 and $61 per hour worldwide (source).
This data is based on various sources:
- Codementor argues that the average freelancer earns between $61 and $80 in 2019: source
- This Subreddit gives a few insights about what some random freelancers earn per hour (it’s usually more than $30 per hour): source
- Ziprecruiter finds that the average Python freelancer earns $52 per hour in the US—the equivalent of $8,980 per month or $107,000 per year: source
- Payscale is more pessimistic and estimates the average hourly rate around $29 per hour: source
- As a Python developer, you can expect to earn between $10 and $80 per hour, with an average salary of $51 (source). I know the variation of the earning potential is high, but so is the quality of the Python freelancers in the wild. Take the average salary as a starting point and add +/- 50% to account for your expertise.
- If you work on the side, let’s make it 8 hours each Saturday, you will earn $400 extra per week – or $1600 per month (before taxes). Your hourly rate will be a bit lower because you have to invest time finding freelancing clients – up to 20% of your total time. (source)
If you want to learn more about the state of the art of Python freelancing and its earning potential, watch my free webinar about the state of the art of Python freelancing.
1.1 Million USD — How Much You Are Worth as an Average Python Coder?
What’s your market value as a Python developer?
I base this calculation on a standard way of evaluating businesses. In a way, you’re a one-person business when selling your coding skills to the marketplace (whether you’re an employee or a freelancer). When estimating the value of a company, analysts often use multiples of its yearly earnings. Let’s take this approach to come up with a rough estimate of how much your Python skills are worth.
Say, we are taking a low multiple of 10x of your (potential) yearly earning of a Python freelancer.
As an AVERAGE Python freelancer, you’ll earn about $60 per hour.
So the market value of being an average Python coder is:
Yearly Earnings: $60 / hour x 40 hours/week x 46 weeks/year = $110,000 / year
Market Value: Yearly Earnings x 10 = $1.1 Million
As it turns out, Python is a Million-Dollar Skill (even for an average coder)!
And the value of a top 5% coder can easily be 10x or 100x of the average coder:
“A great lathe operator commands several times the wage of an average lathe operator, but a great writer of software code is worth 10,000 times the price of an average software writer.”Bill Gates
So if you want to thrive with your own coding business, you need to think strategically.
Being cheap costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars. You simply cannot invest too much time, energy, and even money in the right learning material.
Here’s another quote from a billionaire:
“Ultimately, there’s one investment that supersedes all others: Invest in yourself. Nobody can take away what you’ve got in yourself, and everybody has potential they haven’t used yet.”Warren Buffet
Do you want to know how to go from beginner to average Python freelancer — and even move beyond average?
Then join my Python freelancer program. It’s the world’s most in-depth Python freelancer program — distilling thousands of hours of real-market experience of professional Python freelancers in various industries.
I guarantee that you will earn your first dollars on a freelancer platform within weeks — otherwise, you’ll get your money back.
But one warning: the Python freelancer program is only for those who commit now to invest 1-2 hours every day into their new coding business online. It’s not for the weak players who would rather watch 3.5 hours of Netflix in the evening.
If you fully commit, joining this new venture will be one of the most profitable investments in your life.
Code From Home! How to Be Happier & Earn More Money
What is the number one reason why you should consider working from home?
The number one reason is commute time. It’s healthy and makes you happier to skip commute time altogether.
Commute time is a huge productivity killer and drains your energy. Even if you use the time productively by listening to audiobooks or reading — it’s still a waste of your time.
When I became self-employed, my work productivity skyrocketed. At the same time, work became easier and less stressful. When I analyzed my days to find out about the reason for this, it struck me: No commute time.
Suddenly, I had a lot more time and more energy to create more content. Skipping commute time simply gave me more resources.
Working from home means that you don’t have these enormous drains of energy every day — even more so if you’re involved in a lot of office politics costs.
Many scientific research studies show that having a long commute time makes you less happy. It’s one of the top ten influential factors for your happiness — even more important than making a lot of money with your job.
Working from home is one of the best advantages of being a Python freelancer.
You save 1-2h per day commute time. Invest this commute time into your dream project every day, and you’ll be wildly successful in a few years.
You could write 2-3 books per year, finish ten small web projects per year, or learn and master an entirely new skill such as business or marketing.
What Does it Take to Be a Freelancer?
Surprisingly, many people fear to take the first steps towards freelance development. They are hesitant because they believe that they don’t have enough knowledge, skill, or expertise.
But this is far from the truth. If anything else, it’s a limiting belief that harms their ability to make progress towards their dream life.
The only thing it takes for sure to become a freelancer is to be human (and this may not even be a requirement in the decades to come). Everything else you already have in more — or less — rudimentary form:
- Communication skills. You need to ask and respond to questions, figure out what your clients want, be responsive, positive, enthusiastic, and helpful.
- Technical skills. There’s always an underlying set of technical skills for which clients hire you. They may want you to develop their next website, write their copy and ads, create valuable content, or solve any other problem. Before being able to deliver the solution, you first need to have the technical skills required to develop this solution.
- The ability and ambition to learn. You won’t know everything you need to know to solve the client’s problems. So you need to learn. There’s no way around. If you are willing to learn, you can solve any problem — it’s just a matter of time. And each time you learn more in your area of expertise, the next freelancer gig will become a little bit easier.
- Time. All of us have the same number of hours every day. You already have enough time to become a freelancer. You just need to focus your effort—and maybe even skip the Netflix episode this evening.
You see, there’s nothing special about what you need to have to become a freelancer. You already have everything you need to get started. Now, it’s just a matter of your persistence.
Are You Good Enough to Start Earning Money?
André, one of my early students at my “Coffee Break Python” email series, asked me the following question:
“How much do I have to learn to become a Python freelancer?”
My answer is straightforward: start right away — no matter your current skill level.
But I know that for many new Python coders, it’s tough to start right away. Why? Because they don’t have the confidence, yet, to start taking on projects.
And the reason is that they never have quite finished a Python project — and, of course, they are full of doubts and low self-esteem. They fear not being able to finish through with the freelancer project and earn the criticism of their clients.
If you have to overcome this fear first, then I would recommend that you start doing some archived freelancer projects. I always recommend a great resource where you can find these archived freelancer projects (at Freelancer.com). On this resource, you’ll find not only a few but all the freelancer projects in different areas — such as Python, data science, and machine learning — that have ever been published at the Freelancer.com platform. There are thousands of such projects.
Unfortunately, many projects published there are crappy, and it’ll take a lot of time finding suitable projects. To relieve you from this burden, I have compiled a list of 10 suitable Python projects (and published a blog article about that), which you can start doing today to improve your skill level and gain some confidence. Real freelancers have earned real money solving these projects — so they are as practical as they can be.
I recommend that you invest 70% of your learning time finishing these projects. First, you select the project. Second, you finish this project. No matter your current skill level. Even if you are a complete beginner, then it will just take you weeks to finish the project, which earned the freelancer 20 dollars. So what? Then you have worked weeks to make $20 (which you would have invested for learning anyways), and you have improved your skill level a lot. But now you know you can solve the freelancer project.
The next projects will be much easier then. This time, it’ll take you not weeks but a week to finish a similar project. And the next project will take you only three days. And this is how your hourly rate increases exponentially in the beginning until you reach some convergence, and your hourly rate flattens out. At this point, you must specialize even further. Select the skills that interest you and focus on those skills first. Always play your strengths.
If you want to know how much you can earn and get the overall picture of the state of Python freelancing in 2019, then check out my free webinar: How to earn $3000/M as a Python freelancer. It’ll take you only 30-40 minutes, and I’ll explain to you in detail the state of the art in freelancing, future outlooks and hot skills, and how much you can earn compared to employees and other professions.
Can I Start Freelancing as an Intermediate-Level Python Programmer?
For sure! You should have started much earlier. Have a look at the income distribution of Python freelancers:
It resembles a Gaussian distribution around the average value of $51 per hour. So if you are an average Python freelancer, you can earn $51 per hour in the US!
I have gained a lot of experience at the freelancing platform Upwork.com. Many beginner-level Python coders earn great money finishing smaller code projects. If you are an intermediate-level Python coder and interested in freelancing, you should start earning money ASAP.
The significant benefit is not only that you are getting paid to learn and improving your Python skills even further. It’s also about learning the right skill sets that will make you successful online: communication, marketing, and also coding (the essential practical stuff).
Only practice can push you to the next level. And working as a Python freelancer online will give you a lot of practice for sure!
Are You too Old to Become a Python Freelancer?
The short answer is no. You are not too old.
The older you are, the better your communication skills tend to be. Having excellent communication skills is the main factor for your success in the Python freelancing space.
Just to make this point crystal clear: there are plenty of successful freelancers with limited technical skills that earn even more than highly-skilled employees. They are successful because they are responsive, positive, upbeat, and are committed making the lives of their clients easier. That’s what matters most as a freelancer.
As you see there’s no age barrier here—just double down on your advantages rather than focus too much on your disadvantages.
Are You too Young to Become a Python Freelancer?
The short answer is no. You are not too young.
Was Warren Buffet too young when buying his first stocks at the age of 11? Was Magnus Carlsen, the world’s best chess player, too young when he started playing chess at age 5? Was Mark Zuckerberg too young when he started Facebook?
If anything else, a young age is an advantage, and you should use this advantage by relentlessly pursuing maximal value for your clients. If you do just that, you have a good chance to build yourself a thriving business within a few years.
If you are young, you learn quickly. By focusing your learning on highly practical tasks such as solving problems for clients by using Python code, you create a well-rounded personality and skillset.
Just to make this point crystal clear: there are plenty of successful freelancers earning more than employees who have very limited technical skills. They are successful because they are responsive, positive, upbeat, and are committed making the lives of their clients easier. That’s what matters most as a freelancer.
As you see, there’s no age barrier here—just double down on your advantages rather than focus too much on your disadvantages.
Where to Go From Here
If you want to become a Python freelance developer (and create your coding business online), check out my free webinar “How to Build Your High-Income Skill Python”. Just click the link, register, and watch the webinar immediately. It’s a replay so you won’t have to wait even a minute to watch it. The webinar is an in-depth PowerPoint presentation that will give you a detailed overview of the Python freelancing space.
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com. He’s author of the popular programming book Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), coauthor of the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books, computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.