This week’s interview is with Anatoli, a web developer with over 10 years’ experience developing websites and mobile apps. In this interview, we cover how Anatoli got into freelancing, what he likes most about this lifestyle – and the things he does to keep his business a step ahead the rest!
Hello Anatoli, thanks for the interview. Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and what are you up to right now?
Hello, my name is Anatoli Cholakov. I was born and still live in peaceful small city in south Bulgaria. I’m a Web Developer with a passion for the Internet and the digital world which began at a very young age when I dabbled with creating websites using HTML. Since then I have been hooked on creating elegant, usable and effective websites. I have over 10 years of experience in developing a wide range of websites and mobile applications. I do my best to satisfy every client I work with because this is the most important for every IT professional. I started my freelancing business during June 2015.
What was your inspiration and when did you actually decide to become a freelancer?
I was working for a few companies before I decide to become a freelancer. I started freelancing alongside my fixed salary job and soon created my own start-up providing freelancing services full time. The most inspirational part was the freedom to choose my working tools and my working hours.
The most inspirational part of freelancing was the freedom to choose my tools and own working hours.
Was it difficult for you to start freelancing? Could you share with our readers the most important lessons that you have learned on the way?
Starting a freelance career needs some patience. Building the network of clients started before I quit my fixed salary job. It is important for me the keep good relationships with all of my clients. Most of the new clients are coming from the recommendations of my previous ones.
What kind of services do your clients most frequently ask for? Is there any particular project that you are especially proud of?
I´ve especially been working on large eCommerce websites. I have also versatile experience with wide range of web applications. Most of the time I build complete web solutions myself but sometimes I work with few other freelancers.
Do you use other freelancers or companies to provide skills that you don’t possess or to delegate tasks that you don’t enjoy doing that much such as accounting, taxes, etc.?
As I mentioned above sometimes I work with other freelancers. The reason is that large projects cannot be completed quickly if you are the only one working on it. I built my network of freelancers from professionals I met in college and from previous jobs. In our digital world it is very difficult to find good partners. They are either not qualified or busy with a lot of work.
Now tell us, how do you find new clients that are interested in your services? Do you have any strategy that work better than the rest?
I am focusing on quality and satisfaction not on looking for new clients. When you do a good job the new clients come by word-of-mouth. I don’t use freelancing sites often but when I have a little more free time I am taking a look for interesting challenges.
How do you set yourself apart from your competitors? What makes you special?
Everyone has their own skills. I don’t consider myself different because of my skills. I consider myself different because of my responsibility and trustworthiness. I never get projects that I am not sure that I can complete on time and which can hurt the trust of my clients.
I’m not different because of my skills – I’m different because of my responsibility and trustworthiness.
What is a typical day like for you? How do you manage to balance work and life? Do you use any apps or software to help you organizing yourself?
Everyday is different for me. I still cannot find my perfect work-life balance. A typical day includes waking up in at 6.00 A.M. and having a cup of coffee while switching my laptop on. I usually start my day by going through the emails that have come in overnight and actioning on anything that needs my immediate attention. Then I prioritize the day’s tasks and get to work.
You have many years of experience building ecommerce stores. What are your top tips on building an online shop?
E-commerce is a very competitive field and usability is the most important thing for ist success. You have to make the buying process as quick and as easy as possible because if it is not the customer will simply looks for another e-commerce site to buy products from. The websites need to be visually appealing and make sure the content is unique. Ads bring in the traffic that converts into customers so create ads from day one. I could list many more tips but they depends on the business model.
Last but not least, is being your own boss what you expected? Do you ever think to go back to a full-time job?
Freelancing has it is own pros and cons. Working from home can pose many distractions from personal telephone calls to television, family and visitors, household chores and personal errands. You must be focused, motivated and disciplined. Freelancing match my needs much better than full-time job. The best thing about freelancing is the ability to work only in the most productive hours and taking a break when I am tired. Family is very important for me and going back to full-time job is something that I don’t even think about.
The best thing about freelancing is the ability to work only in the most productive hours.
Freestyle! Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
To become a successful freelancer you have to be able to motivate yourself. You don’t have a boss that will do that for you. You are the boss!