How to Become Freelance Android Developer in 2021 | Android Development With Donn Felker
So, how do you become an android developer? I did a podcast with Donn Felker on the same topic recently. In this podcast, Donn Felker and I discussed about his Android Development journey and his learnings from it in last 20 years. We also discuss about how you can become a successful android developer freelancer in 2021. I have added valuable insights from the podcast in this blog.
Even though you may get frustrated even though you feel like you may not know enough to do you need to do just start enjoy it have fun with it don’t give up because the more you learn the more you’re going to realize you don’t know so which is kind of an interesting thing. ~ Donn Felker
Donn Felker is a software developer with over 20 years of experience in building some of the most popular brands in the industry.
He is the founder of caster.io which is a software development video training company, he is also the co-host of a fragmented podcast where they basically talk about building good software and becoming better software developers; they have already released around 200+ episodes on on that podcast.
Donn has also created GIFstagram, it is the easiest way to turn a GIF into an instagram compatible video for free. You can also find some of his work in google play app store :
The first one being GroupOn this is basically an app which helps you to get promo codes and discounts whenever you buy something from your nearby shop so this app has around 50 million plus installs from google play store alone
The Second one being Calore Counter MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal is the world’s most popular health and fitness app and this application as well has 50 million plus installs from google play store.
He’s also worked on couple of other projects like The Poynt which is the all-in-one only omni commerce payment platform.
Ricky : So starting out with a very fundamental question like how did you come across android development and what made you think that okay this is something you’re really interested in ?
Donn : I ran into android development on accident in 2008 and I was working as a web software engineer at a consulting company and I was in between projects and the new android phone had just come out and so I got my hands on one and I wanted to start playing with it and so I created a couple of soundboard based applications and instantly those apps took off on the what’s known as the android market at the time I had no intention of becoming a android developer at the time it was just something I was doing for fun however immediately within a couple of months a few of my very rudimentary applications had over five million installs this is back when the android market had around a thousand apps that was about it. So at the course at that time some of my work was being noticed by other companies and they reached out to me through my developer page on the android market asking if I would create apps for them very shortly. After I started creating a couple of apps for a couple of clients on the side and just doing some open source work and I committed to a open source project known as robojuice and the lead maintainer of that project was actually one of the original folks at GroupOn and he needed some help and he reached out to me and said hey I’m looking for some help and that kind of kicked off my android full-time career as a consultant also as a freelancer in the android world but that was kind of the impetus to doing everything that I did inside of android and I ended up really enjoying it simply because it was something that was fun because it was new and you could create something that everybody throughout the world could use and wouldn’t enjoy in the palm of their hands
Ricky : So you’re basically into the android development journeys ever since android launched its very first application.
Donn : Yes, Correct!
Ricky : Integral part of someone who is starting out his freelancing journey is building his profile on freelancing platforms, so can you give some tips about how to build a great android development profile ?
Donn : Yeah one of the best things I can recommend folks doing to build an android profile is actually get involved in open source as much as you can. Now open source doesn’t pay you per se but what it does is it gets your name out there and when your name is out there what that does is opens the doors of opportunity for you and this is exactly what I did early on before android. Even I found an open source project that I might want to use and I find maybe it was missing some documentation and that’s what I would provide I would just provide a pull request to help fix documentation or I would reach out to the maintainer and ask if there’s anything I could help with now. Nowadays you can just go find a bug and try to fix a bug and submit a pull request that way but that’s the best way you’re going to get some notoriety out there is by participating in some type of open source project. Now secondly you could go to sites like Upwork or you could go to any of the number other sites out there those are going to be good to get your foot in the door just so you have some experience working with a client, managing the process of having a client and you wanted to kind of do this as I call like the stair-step approach to consulting meaning that you want to start small maybe you have a full-time job already but your goal is to become a consultant but first you need some experience under your belt so to do that you want to start working on the side and that’s what i did you can use the sites like Upwork and so forth a lot of the times you have to make sure you’re providing the correct amount of value because a lot of the time these sites are a race to the bottom so you’re going to find that people are just trying to undercut you on price and you also have to learn how to stand up for your actual rates and how much you’re charging because sometimes you’re going to see a client that will want you to rebuild an instagram clone for 500 US dollars and that’s just not even a reasonable consideration whatsoever. So yeah those sites are very valuable the main thing is you just kind of want to get out there open source being one way to kind of get your face out there. Upwork and those other sites are a good way to start managing the clients and then of course there’s additional ways such as blogging I recommend everybody write a blog even if it’s something that you’ve already seen written even by maybe you’ve seen me write about something you can write it in your own words and you actually put it out there now someone may pick that up and see it and learn from that simply because you wrote it in a way that they understand it better than maybe then I wrote it or somebody else wrote it and then from there you can go to you know create your own videos you can put them on YouTube you could do a whole number of things and and ultimately one of the things I recommend everybody strive for is to actually get in front of the public and speak and you know with a pandemic right now that’s kind of difficult but if you’re able to get into a small user group or even to a conference and just start speaking in front of people doors of opportunity are going to fly open faster than you can you could ever imagine because people see you as an expert when you’re standing on stage and you’re presenting information to them and help helping educate them so there’s a bunch of ways to do it but the main way out there to do it is just kind of get in front of people any way possible.
Ricky : So the crux of the point which you mentioned is try getting out and tell people that okay you are doing this thing, you know this thing, write about it create content about it and publicize yourself and bring yourself in front of the market.
Donn : Correct
Ricky : Let’s say if a person has built his profile on this freelancing platform Upwork or freelancer or Fiverr but it’s very difficult to get your first client on this platform because there’s a lot of competition as well and that too when you don’t have a single project on your profile. How to get your first client and get the ball rolling in the initial stage ?
Donn : It’s a good question everything when you are consultant and you want to be a a full-time consultant or a full-time freelancer you have to realize that you’re also a salesperson as well so you have to make sure that your product which is you looks as good as possible to whoever’s looking at you so if someone were to look at your profile and they’re I’m just going to use my name they look at don’s profile and they don’t see that I have any experience anywhere I’m not showing any apps that I’ve previously built of course they’re probably not going to to want to hire me versus somebody else who has a nice profile and existing projects so this kind of gets to the point of like what do you do when you start from zero which we all do I started from zero too and at that point what I decided to do was go out and actually build a couple of apps myself now this could be a To Do based application it could be maybe a little recipe application and you you hit a free recipe api and you show images you can use all these things that you’ve built and you start populating your profile saying here’s a project I built and you basically are building your online portfolio so when someone looks at your actual page they say oh well looks like don knows how to do x looks like it does y oh okay I’ve seen this example okay that’s a great looking app this is another screenshots of some more apps he’s done and these could have been apps that I have just done for myself just to build my portfolio because I don’t have any existing clients to show for that but I want to show my prospective clients say hey I do know what I’m doing here’s some proof of my work and furthermore if you are contributing to open source projects clients do view that and see that as valuable now not every client is going to see that as valuable because they don’t really know what open source is but a lot of technical clients will know because they’ll be able to recognize oh looks like this person’s also contributing to these five open source projects and if you mention that all of that are selling points on your profile which then ups your chances of someone actually selecting you and talking to you more and more so at the end of the day it’s all really about sales and marketing and presentation and you just have to make yourself look as as good as you can if you don’t have any experience you kind of have to go make your own experience and then showcase what you can do.
Ricky : Next doubt which many beginners have is how to price your freelancing work? Because many freelancers tend to undervalue themselves in the beginning days. How to go about it ?
Donn : This is a when you’re starting out this can be a difficult problem because you want to get the experience so there’s two ways you can go about this you could charge your full amount possibly not get the client or the experience or you can charge a lesser amount and get the experience but eventually what you want to do is make sure that you’re charging the correct amount that is the number one problem that most people have is just not charging enough so what I have done in the past is I started out and just getting some experience with a couple of small clients by not charging enough just to get my experience level up and as soon as I had some experience and on my you know inside of my resume then at that point in time I was able to charge more however if you’re gonna start that was only when I was doing this in a part-time fashion so my full-time income was still covered by my job and the part-time was just kind of extra money that was coming in and I was helping build my resume and my portfolio but if you’re going to go do this full-time then you need to take into consideration that you’re charging enough most people don’t charge enough they’ll take their yearly salary and they’ll divide it by 2080 and that will give you how much you make per hour according to your yearly salary now unfortunately that’s not the exact amount you make. Most countries US included you get extra benefits such as paid time off and health benefits, depends on the company and country but you actually get more so you’re getting paid substantially more.
Ricky : Can you suggest of some resources from where the beginners or who are just starting out android development they can learn to code ?
Donn : yeah it depends on what you depend on really what you want to do in regards to to coding there’s so many different ways you can go it depends on the type of app you want to do. I have nine hour course on Kotlin on YouTube on my YouTube channel. That’ll be out it’s up. I’d say one third of it’s out right now the rest of it should be out in the next couple of weeks and then you can watch the whole thing end-to-end for free from there. There’s a couple of other resources that you can go to of course google has the great courses out there on android as well on YouTube. Florian from coding in flow has a lot of good content out there as well and of course you have all the other learning platforms too such as uh pluralsight and so forth and stuff like that.
Ricky : Which language do you think a beginner should start with ?
Donn : If you’re going to start and you’ve never done it before you’re going to know you’re going to need to know java because at some level there’s going to be some java code somewhere inside of your android application or what’s usually is going to happen is you’re going to run into an example online that’s written in java so you’ll need to know how to read java and possibly even debug
Bonus Tip For Someone Who Is Just Starting Out By Donn Felker :
Don’t give up. I wrote a blog post called Learning To pProgram Sucks so you can just google that if you want to read it but the gist of it is that when I started the program I didn’t know anybody who knew it and when I started I was in my 20s already I had never touched a computer and it was very frustrating and at times I didn’t know how to fix my computer I would get maybe java would stop working or maybe maybe the ide would stop working and maybe I just had to reboot it I don’t know but back then I had no guidance whatsoever it was very very frustrating and so what i ended up having to do was just reformat my computer over and over and over and over I probably did this 50-60 times or more and that. There’s many times I wanted to give up but the one thing is I’m glad I didn’t so even though you may get frustrated even though you feel like you may not know, enough to do you need to do, just start enjoy it have fun with it. Don’t give up because the more you learn the more you’re going to realize you don’t know so uh which is kind of an interesting thing but the goal is to have fun with it and you’re going to have a great career as long as you just don’t give up keep trying.
Watch the entire podcast on YouTube to get a better insight :
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