In this episode, Erik talks about his first project as a freelancer.
Years ago when Erik’s work on DoD projects was coming to an end, he knew he had to start building up his commercial portfolio.He went on a site called elance.com (which has since rebranded to become upwork.com). Upwork is a site where people can post different kinds of jobs they need done and freelancers can bid on those jobs or negotiate a price.
Erik found his first client on this website. It sounded like a simple project until he got on the phone with the client for the first time. That’s when he found out it was a legacy project, meaning it was work on an outdated website that used outdated technology. There was nothing really appealing to him about this project but he decided to take it on anyway. He finished that project and then the client called him for another small project, and another, and another. It was a great learning experience and it really helped Erik get his foot in the door.
That original small project eventually turned into a pretty big one. The more Erik worked on the outdated technology the more he realized it needed to be updated completely. The system was at least 15 years old and it wasn’t keeping up with the current technology. He convinced his client to let him rebuild it and it worked out great.
The big lesson learned here is that sometimes you have to do the boring work you don’t want to. Most people want to go after the shiny, new, exciting, project, and a lot of these older legacy projects get overlooked. But, there is a lot to learn from boring work, and many times it can turn into better work in the future. You just have to be willing to do what others won’t.