I can write independent java, python, c, c++ code but I do not know every aspect of them. For example, I don't how to code with database in python/c/c++. I have few experience with GUI programming.

I was aware that most of the jobs isn't just need us to write an simple code. They may need some GUI and you need to upload the programming result to a FTP server via some ftp code with some I-don't-know-the-name plugin/library. I have seen a job of web scrapping by python, and the client wants the program to insert the data into a database immediately after the web scrapping, and delete old data older than 6 month.

A client won't accept a contractor to say "I will need to figure this xyz-technology for sometime before I can tell you whether I can do it". What is worse, is that you find you are incapable of doing his job for whatever the reason, you are screwed.

I am wondering, do you apply for a freelance job if you don't feel like an expert to all the fields/technology listed in the job requirement?

  • You don't need to be an expert, but you also need to not be afraid to learn new stuff on the fly. – JohnFx Dec 11 '11 at 17:29

Does freelancing require supreme ability on programming?

Not in my experience. I've met more than one freelancer that couldn't code his way through fizzbuzz.

I am wondering, do you apply for a freelance job if you don't feel like an expert to all the fields/technology listed in the job requirement?

Think of it as a wishlist of the customer - some things are more important than others. If you are competent in most of these you should apply. Worst that will happen is that you will not get the job. Best that will happen is that you will and in the process learn something new.

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  • +1 for the headsup on the fizzbuzz language, but I can't find a single book on the subject on Amazon, do I need to learn it this weekend? – amelvin Dec 11 '11 at 15:04
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    @amelvin - Surprised you haven't heard about it. Formalized by lady Ada Lovelace and implemented on every platform from UNIVAC to the iPhone. Charles Petzold and Donald Knuth collaborated on it and wrote the definitive 25 tome compendium on it - "FizzBuzz and all that". – Oded Dec 11 '11 at 15:11
  • I wonder just how many people actually went and looked for that book! – amelvin May 22 '13 at 8:40

I've been a freelancer off and on for the past 16 years (5 years freelance, 9 years in a single permanent role and then back freelance). A freelance developer should be the equivalent of a senior developer (if that's the role) and whether or not you are an expert in every area on a wishlist it doesn't always matter as the client invariably asks you to work in some other tech area/language/plug-in/whatever.

Also you should be prepared to be given tasks that are a paygrade or two below what you would be doing as a senior developer, and not be involved in decisions or meetings that you might expect to be in if you were permanent.

But in essence if you are self-motivated, don't mind constantly moving between clients, pick skills up quickly and can deal with your own career - then you'll be fine.

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I am wondering, do you apply for a freelance job if you don't feel like an expert to all the fields/technology listed in the job requirement?

Learning something like programming with databases on the job takes a very fast learner and a very relaxed project. Such conditions are not common.

So to answer your question, I would say No.

I suggest you build up your expertise in the areas you know you need to or focus on projects that are in your area of expertise. It may be OK, if you need to research some subjects, but too much research on the job in short engagements is usually not possible for a freelancer.

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  • Good devs can adapt, bad devs regardless of qualifications and experience are still bad. I'd rather hire an enthusiastic, inexperienced good dev than a bad dev with all the experience and qualifications in the world. – amelvin May 22 '13 at 8:44
  • INMO, To be able to get the good out of a good developer that has no background in the technology required for the project is a challenge for the team leader/PM in a team environment. Say, you have someone who is good in C# Windows Forms, when this guy is thrown in MVC project he may not be productive for long. At least this is what I think. – NoChance Jun 15 '13 at 5:00

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