Software Contracting (How to Get Started!)

Have you been wondering about the world of software contracting? This comprehensive article will explain software contracting and how you can get started in this profession! 

Some standard industry practices will be outlined, as well as essential facts and details regarding typical software contracts. 

1. What is Software Contracting?

Software contracting is writing software code as a contractor instead of writing or programming code in-house for a single company. A software contractor can work for multiple clients simultaneously. 

Software contracting allows programmers more freedom in accomplishing their tasks. Of course, a great responsibility is also required. 

After all: Managing all your contracts independently and delivering everything on time to a high standard is no mean feat!

Software contracting is suitable for highly productive coders and programmers who can manage their time to deliver excellent results without their quality of work suffering.

2. How Do I Get Started in Software Contracting?

Getting started in software contracting takes persistence and a can-do attitude. As a software contractor, also known as a contract programmer, you will need to push your brand initially. 

As an independent contractor, you are responsible for getting your name out into the real, gritty world of contractual software programming. 

Since you are not working for any company, you will not have a strictly outlined schedule. Instead, you have to work diligently to make one for yourself!

For instance, one way to do this is to send out CVs or to respond to listings and advertisements. 

You can also build a portfolio showcasing your talents, taking it straight to companies you think will either want or need your software contracting skills.

3. Do Software Contractors Get Paid More?

Generally, software contractors are paid more per hour than in-house coders. This is because software contractors can work for multiple clients simultaneously, so their time is spread out over a number of projects. 

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But there are caveats, and your salary will mostly depend on: how fast you can code and how many projects you can complete in a given timeframe. 

In-house coders are tethered to a single company and work on a salary basis. Of course, there are other factors such as education and experience that come into play but, in general, software contractors can rake in a higher hourly rate.

4. What Skills Do I Need to Succeed?

To succeed as a software contractor, you must have a strong programming background, work well independently, manage your time efficiently, and have good communication skills.

Alongside all the skills you use in a typical day of programming, you’ll also need the following attributes if you’re to represent yourself in the business arena and fearlessly negotiate for the best job contracts:

  • Confidence
  • Tenacity
  • An easygoing and trustworthy disposition
  • Steely resolve
  • Thick skin

The above are all necessary skills if you’re determined to succeed in this profession.

5. How Do I Get Clients as a Software Contractor?

Getting clients as software contractors can be achieved by being proactive and constantly on the lookout for new opportunities. You can find these by:

  1. Looking on freelancer sites like Fiverr and People Per Hour.
  2. Checking job sites like Indeed for “contracting jobs.”
  3. Using your LinkedIn profile to connect and grow a work-based network.
  4. Getting recommended from previous employers/clients.
  5. Setting up a website and Google Business Page.
  6. Networking at local business events.

The most typical approach to getting clients as a software contractor involves responding to advertisements posted by those looking to hire software coders and programmers.

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6. How Long Do Software Contracts Typically Last?

The typical contract for software developers and engineers is around six months. However, this number will differ based on the project that needs to be completed.

A standard IT contract could last as long as 24 months and as short as 6. However, it’s a different question when defining the length of a typical software contract.

Depending on the software’s nature and the contract’s urgency, a job could last anywhere between a couple of days to a year or more!

Some software contracts are small, requiring a bit of code-updating and overall software maintenance. In other cases, you may build large programs from scratch in various coding languages.

It ultimately depends on various external factors, and giving an accurate average timeframe isn’t easy.

As a software contractor, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your workload is sufficient and that you can complete the contracts you accept within the specified time.

7. What is Contract-to-Hire in Software?

In a contract-to-hire scenario, both employer and contractor share a mutual understanding that at the close of the contract, the contractor shall be hired by the employer on a full-time or permanent basis.

The process of contract-to-hire has several benefits for the software contractor.

Namely, it allows the contractor to experience working with an employer before fully committing to a fixed-term or ongoing employment scenario. 

As a software contractor working on contract-to-hire, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the company in ways that can’t be obtained from Google searches or brief interactions with employees.

You’ll get to know the company’s culture, values, and how it functions on a day-to-day basis.

From there, you can make an informed decision about whether it’s somewhere you can see yourself working long-term.

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8. Do I Need to Set Up My Own Website?

You should set up your website as a software contractor for the best chance of success. Your website will serve as an online portfolio, CV, and business card all in one – it will be the first thing potential employers or clients see when they search for your name.

A website dedicated to your services creates an impression to competitors and prospective clients alike that you mean business, and aren’t just some fly-by-night, lone-wolf operation!

Consider a safe project management tool where you can collaborate with clients and other freelancers to ensure a smooth workflow for your development areas.

Professionalism means everything when contracting, and you want to place in prospects’ minds that you’re a credible entity that can be trusted to carry out the job. 

Another benefit of setting up a website as a software contractor is the demonstration of your programming and coding skills

Let your website speak for you.

Allow it to show the world who you are and what you can do that makes you such a great candidate for software contracting work!

In Conclusion

Being a software contractor certainly has its pros and cons. 

While there’s a higher risk of potentially unstable employment, it comes with the potential for higher rewards as well. 

If you’re an efficient worker who can work on multiple contracts at once or a clever negotiator who can walk into a boardroom and secure the most lucrative contract for yourself, software contracting may be a path to venture down. 

Software contracting is a field that allows for flexible working times and practices, but you also always have to be prepared to do the hard yards.