Freelancing 101: How to Freelance for Big Companies 2

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This is a guest post by Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson, co-founders of, 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.

As we touched on before, freelancing for a big company can be a very difficult yet rewarding gig. Here are some thoughts that will help you not go crazy and keep the end goal in sight, producing quality work for large audience while getting paid a high dollar amount:

Expect a lot of red tape

Expect to almost drown in a sea of bureaucratic voices, big egos and bad ideas proudly and naively shared. YOur emotional energy can be wasted in frustration, if you goe into the meetings ( on-site, or remote) understanding the trappings of a big organization, you will save yourself the headache and instead you will be able to listen and solve problems.

Don’t be a yes man (or woman)

There temptation to agree with the a high paying client exists, specially when you haven to secured a second payment, but be strong and realize that they have hired you for your differing opinions and perspectives. If this weren’t true, they would have kept the project in-house. Don’t blend in.

The “help me help you” conundrum

Big companies that hire freelancers are asking you for a fresh angle. It is safe to assume that if they are asking for your assistance, they will be receptive and readily available to participate. Truth is, that the sheer size and “thats the way it’s always been done” mentality of big companies makes it difficult for them to truly engage. They ask for your help and make it hard for you to give it at the same time.
This is the MO of a needy big company, they have so much momentum in their old ways that it takes them a long time to stop even if they have already pulled the brakes by hiring you.

Find a Champion

When freelancing for a big company, you will most like have to interact with other members of a certain team or division. Being the outsider, the hired gun or the”expert” might be intimidating to some and can make the “getting-to-know-you-” process more difficult. In addition, your voice is going to have to be that much louder or that much wiser to get some air time. This can be a cumbersome, time line killing process.

Instead, find a Champion, some one who you have rapport with that can be your tour guide as you navigate the treacherous waters of an established company. A Champion can lend credit to your opinions, run interference with critics and clear the way for you to deliver your message and your work.

So how can you find a Champion?

Its easier than you think, some one in the group of stakeholders will be compassionate or driven enough to realize that you were highbred for a reason and will gladly champion you. Look for the following tells:
– Good and saying hi and good bye
– Asks you non work related questions
– Fully engages in conversation
– Has a strong sense of responsibility

At the end of the day, use your common sense, don’t apologize for knowing better and don’t gloat. Remember that you are there to bring your particular style and value, fix a problem and continuously earn the trust of the decision makers.


Nicolas Acuna and Mikka Olsson are the co-founders of, a high-end iPhone& iPad design and development company. You can learn more about them here