Freelancer Insides: Marek Hlaváč, Freelance Web and Game Developer

Get an inside into the world of freelance web and game development from Marek Hlaváč, a freelance developer working out of Bratislava. Read for for advice on time management, tools of the trade, and more.

Marek is a Slovakian web/game developer currently working out of Bratislava.


Hi Marek, we are delighted to have you in our Insides series! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what are you up to?

Hello, my name is Marek Hlaváč. I am from Slovakia, and currently living in the Bratislava. In the past few years I have been working as a freelancer developer with focus on web and game projects

 

What exactly made you want to become a developer? And how long have you been freelancing?

I grew up with computers: playing games, using tools and surfing on the Internet. Later, I started to take computer lessons in school, which eventually led to my master’s degree in software engineering. I become developer just because I followed what I liked.

During and after school, I worked as an employee for two game development studios. But already by this point, I had been slowly moving to freelance waters and taking side projects.

When I left that job I knew I should try to dive into the freelancing, just for a while and see how the situation would pan out. And now it has been two years and I am not looking back.

 

Was it difficult for you to start freelancing? Did you face many problems? Could you share with our readers some lessons you learned along the way?

One of the main reasons that convinced me to start freelancing was that I really didn’t enjoy working on a same project for a long time. I just got bored and lost sense of individual progress. Now, I tried to keep myself working on multiple small or medium scaled projects, which leads to being able to communicate and work with many clients on daily basis.

In this setup, I think the biggest hurdle is to properly plan and manage the work. The software development field is known for the frequently changing requirements and having a number of issues estimating the time a project will take. In the end, work is often delayed, postponed, finished prematurely or overlapping with outside projects.
 

The biggest hurdle is to properly plan and manage the work. As a freelance developer, having the right plan is a MUST.


I learnt that if you are working with a poor plan that's following the wrong schedule, you will either burn yourself out or have too little work. As a freelance developer, having the right plan is a must; a proper schedule leads to stable working conditions and a better work-life balance.

This brings another problem: discipline. In other words, the ability to follow the plan. In my case, I overcome this by dividing tasks into smaller ones and sharing my progress directly with clients. The reasoning here is to create confidence in the project and motivating myself by gradual progress.

 

What do you love most about your work? Is there one particular project that you are especially proud of? 

I love to work on projects where I can learn new things and technologies. Especially, where art meets technology, as it is the rule of thumb in game development. You can check out some of my public projects here.

 

If you would search for your profile on Google, which are the three keywords you would type in the search bar?

1) Full-Stack Web Developer

2) Unity Game/VR Developer

 

What are a few of your favorite development tools and why? 

Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is my daily bread. I have been using Visual Studio and Sublime Text for a long time, and VS Code is a baby of the two. It’s free, open source with standard features, supports code editing of multiple languages, git, debugging and is in the active development with many extensions and growing community behind it.

 

How do you find new clients? Are there any tips you could give to fellow freelancers? 

In my case, there are two types of clients. First are those who contact me by reference. Either we know each other from previous work or they got contact by previous clients. The second are those who contact me directly through my web page or through online outsourcing pages.

I don’t know if there is perfect way to find a good or interested client. Based on my experience, the best clients are those with whom I cooperate longest. I think that if you work with someone for a long time then the relationship and your projects together will improve. You can create better connection and deepen the trust between yourself and that client. This is much more valuable than new clients every month.
 

The best clients are those with whom you cooperate the longest. You can create better connection and deepen the trust between yourself and the client.


What does your working routine look like and how do you manage the pressure of meeting deadlines?

I start working around 8:30 a.m. by opening my daily schedule. First, I try to finish high priority tasks, then progress with others. Sometimes, I have either online or offline sessions with my clients, it depends on project requirements and location.

I try to work 6 hours a day. This way I have time to learn and experiment with new things or work on my own stuff. To organize projects I use Trello and Google Spreadsheet, but I try to adapt it to client preferences.

Recently, I found this tool called Franz which merge all online communication (e.g. Skype, Slack, Gmail, Messenger, etc.)  and project management services (e.g. Trello) into one application that uses a single notification system. This really organizes my work, as everything I need to accomplish outside of my development tools is in one place and I don’t need to jump between multiple applications.
 

Besides your work, what are you passionate about?

I like playing board and computer games, listening to hardcore music, running and as a vegan, I really enjoy eating vegan meals. My favorite hobby is my girlfriend!

 

Freestyle! Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?
 

Start with small things and train yourself to progress step by step.


 

Where to find Marek Hlaváč

Jozef Hindicky Freelance Web Developer


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