Making A Living Gladly As An Iphone Freelance Programmer

At the moment my first project with Ravensburger Digital is being tested. I’m eagerly awaiting feedback and if all turns out well it could be ready for release next week. In the meantime i’ve sent out 3 more project proposals, i have at least two others yet to be done, then there are two promised and three ongoing talks for potential projects or cooperations, former colleagues would like to hire me for an incredibly interesting project and finally there’ll be a minor update for 51 Japanese Characters coming soon and we’re thinking about potential spinoffs and cooperation to create a “Characters” series. There’s one more option to consider still: making a living on the iPhone App Store by publishing my own game(s). All i really need for that is some spare money to pay someone else to create art and audio for me. I’m also looking into proposing a business opportunity to a 3rd party whose work i admire and adore – so yet another option, this one i follow through simply out of sheer interest in the product that particular company creates – and it’s got nothing to do with computer games at all!

Overall i’d say i really enjoy being in such high demand, and i feel kind of bad already that i’ll eventually have to choose between some of these outstanding proposals. If i could clone myself i think i’ll need more than just one clone. I’m actually considering something similar to what Dr Touch is doing: a band of freelance game programming brothers working under one name and distributing the workload based on qualification, free time and interest in the project. In the long run it could lead to me actually starting a game programming service company, who knows? But let me not get ahead of myself, i’m still working on the base technology for my cloning facility.

I really, and i mean really, wonder why none of my other colleagues have chosen to go that road? I have some thoughts … because those were mine and i do what everyone does: i conclude that what i experience, others experience as well.

When i was first thinking to work as freelancer in late 2009, i expected to spend most of my time alone, to be disconnected from the people i have to rely on to get a job. To have a huge problem reaching out to contacts and getting them interested, or simply making new contacts. My worst imagination had me begging for projects for low prices just so i could sustain a living. But to the contrary, now i could easily find enough work for two. I’m lucky that i know some people who do have the contacts and that’s just as important as having the contacts yourself. And the payment … well, i’m currently expecting to earn more than in my last year as an employee with bonus program and stock options. But of course i have higher running costs as well.

I also worried about all the extra costs a freelancer has, and all the paperwork it involves. Especially considering taxes, and paying them monthly in advance. Let alone the process of registering a business and running it properly, with all the legal and tax issues to be considered. It turns out that a helpful tax consultant is worth a lot – if only to take away those uncertainties and worries. Yes, i just spent an hour filling out my first tax form – and 15 minutes on the phone with my tax consultant to make sure i’m making the important checks and correct entries that are in my best interest. Time well spent.

In addition i was put off by certain internet platforms  offering work for freelancers. I get a daily summary of jobs offered and over the last 2 months there have been only 2-3 iPhone programming jobs offered. The rest required absurd skills in insurance policies, high-technology systems, low-level engineering, highly specialized areas of expertise – it’s all about buzzwords like Kordoba, SAP BPS, CATS, ABAP-OO, SOA/ESB, Microsoft SCCM, Citrix, PL/SQL, HFM, PMO and roles like Process Analyst, IT Security Manager, Online Banking System Expert, Solaris Administrator, Oracle Consultant and of course the obligatory Business Analyst. Definitely not the kind of jobs i would know anything about. And that painted a skewed picture of demand – if you look in the right places, or advertise yourself in the right places (such as the cocos2d forum through which i got 2 contacts) and have the right contacts in your business it does become obvious what the answer to the question “What should we call a developer who concentrates on developing for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad?” is: in demand!

I’m still accepting offers and i’m always happy to talk about potential cooperation – if you think that’ll be interesting for you, check out my application website with CV and references. After all: more options means i can get to choose the best job at the right time.

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