How do you get clients as a freelance software engineer?
How does the German market for freelance devs work?
I've started working as a freelance software engineer in Germany this year and nearly everyone who has not been a freelancer before asks the same question: “how do you get clients?”
From what I've learned by research and by talking to other freelancers, this is my answer. 👇
There are 4 ways you can get clients:
Most of the German freelance software engineering market goes through contacting agencies like Hays, SThree, or Gulp.
These are platforms where you can create a profile, and state when you are available and for which types of projects.
Clients (and agencies) search for freelancers for their projects and contact you when they are interested.
Some platforms also allow clients to post their project tenders, so freelancers can contact them and bid on the projects with their rate and profile.
That's self-explanatory. Getting a project through personal connections will happen more and more if you continue freelancing over the years.
This also includes when clients contact you personally because you are widely considered an expert in your field and they specifically want you.
An important note is, even if you got a project through a personal relationship the client will probably require you to make the contract through a contracting agency. That's because of the two benefits described above (signing the contract will be faster, and it helps protect them against "Scheinselbständigkeit").
If you're a software engineer thinking about becoming a freelancer in Germany, you're right in time. The market is "hot" right now. Software development experts are in high demand.
Of course this depends on your specialization. Knowing how to set up wordpress and how to build a scalable and maintainable IoT backend are two separate things.
Ideally, ask people in your network who have freelanced before. They'll be happy to help you and answer your questions. And if you don't know the right people, get to know some! Either in-person or through virtual meetups or online communities.