Freelancing 101: How to Freelance for Big Companies

Categories Freelancing101

This is a guest post by Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson, co-founders of Ebbex.com, an iPhone and iPad apps development company. In the last year, they’ve had great success (and committed a fair share of mistakes!) creating apps for clients all over the world and decided to share their findings with the fine readers of Inspired Mag in the new Freelancing 101 series.


Sometimes, big companies find themselves looking for a reliable freelancer. This rare occasions are often caused by one of the following reasons:

  • They are backed up. Their in-house teams are busy and they have a project that needs to get done.
  • Lack of know-how in a new technology

If you are contacted by a big company, realize that you have a golden opportunity, go the extra mile for them and consider the following suggestions:

Charge cost or less for the first project

Big companies are deciding between multiple freelancers. If you don’t’ make money an issue, you are communicating that your priority is to solve their problems, not to get paid. By giving them a low price you are letting your work be the only thing that they see. At the end of the day, if you solve their problems and become a trusted source, money will come your way.

Don’t Worry about Scope Creep in the first project

Due to the multiple stake holders, corporate divisions, committees and bureaucratic red tape present in big companies, it takes time for them to fully define the problem they are asking you to fix. What might seem like scope creep is just the rest of the scope coming down the corporate ladder. Big companies need to know they can unload their problems on you.

Deliver Quality, Deliver Fast

This point seems too obvious to state since we are supposed to always try our best no matter who the client is. But when a big company is knocking on your door, limits need to be pushed until trust is earned.

Adjust to their Whims

The problems a big company might cause you when they change their mind, pale in comparison to the benefits they will bring your way when you earn their trust.

Envisioning the Sweet Spot

The end goal is to earn a big company’s trust, to be the one they come to every time they have a problem they can’t solve themselves. These are some of the benefits:

  • Steady cash flow
  • The satisfaction of creating important and influential work since a large number of people will end up using it

Great for your portfolio (If not restricted by NDA)

3 ways to land a big company as a client

1. Work your network, you never know how many degrees separate you are from a decision maker in a big company. Scan your LinkedIn contacts for that!

2. Stay current in all the trends and new developments in your field. As mentioned before, lack of internal expertise in new technologies is one of the reasons why big companies look for freelancers.

3. Have some luck.

Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson are the co-founders of Ebbex.com, a high-end iPhone& iPad design and development company. You can learn more about them here
  • I’m not sure if this is satire or not. If it is, well done. If not, I have some really basic questions for the authors:

    1. How do you raise your price after setting an initial discount as the baseline for the relationship?

    2. How do you push back on scope in subsequent projects after setting the expectation that any change, any expansion of scope, at any stage, is ok and shouldn’t incur greater cost?

    3. How does one deliver quality when one is cutting their price below what they need to make a living?

    This is honestly the worst advice I’ve ever seen for freelancers. That the authors’ website boasts about ‘getting what you pay for’ as the justification for their own pricing, to assert that freelancers don’t deserve to do the same is shameful.

  • Renee Stephen

    I’m completely uncomfortable with this. This article is advocating an employee-employer relationship but without the benefits of being an employee (a 401K, establishing operational processes and relationships, getting paid) and without the benefits of being a contractor (being able to say ‘no’ to unrealistic project expectations, setting timelines, getting paid).

    If you undercharge and fail to establish clear boundaries, you just completely undercut all your credibility as an outside expert. Don’t do it.

  • “3. Have some luck.”

    And that luck can only happen if you don’t give up, so keep trying!