How to begin consulting work?
Let me preface this by saying this is *not* a post asking for job offers or pointers to my resume. This is a request for feedback from qa/testing consultants out there.
I'm a mid-level tester with 2+ years experience. I'd like to do part-time qa contract work to supplement my income and gain more experience (I'm currently employed full-time as a test lead). I'd also prefer to do this via telecommuting. Any ideas/suggestions for someone new to the contract game? Any budding freelancers out there that want to share insights?
Thanks for any pointers and feedback,
Re: How to begin consulting work?
I think you need to ask yourself some questions, like:
- What have I got to offer?
- Who would want what I have got to offer?
- Would my current employer object to me moonlighting? (a lot do object)
- Have I got the consulting skills? With respect, 2 years is not a lot of experience, so unless you have other experience as well, you may struggle to get anything and/or struggle to do well
- Am I going to do this long term? or is it just for a short while?
- How much time am I prepared to spend? Consulting by telecommuting can be difficult, you often need to talk to people - in their working hours, can you do that and do your full time job?
If you can answer all of those positively, then go for it and find a post, consulting is a good life. Your best option for your first post is through past acquaintances, ex-bosses, friends, etc. Advertising is not a good spend of your money until you are established.
Re: How to begin consulting work?
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jonallenmt:
Any budding freelancers out there that want to share insights?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
I am not sure if I am "budding" but I am a freelance contractor (both W2 and 1099 whenever and wherever applicable).
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>I'm a mid-level tester with 2+ years experience. I'd like to do part-time qa contract work to supplement my income and gain more experience (I'm currently employed full-time as a test lead).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Doing "part-time qa" work is (or, at least, can be) different than "mid-level testing". So the question I would most settle in your mind: do you want to do basic testing contract work (more on the product side) or are you looking to do more strict QA contract work (on the process side).
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica">quote:</font><HR>I'd also prefer to do this via telecommuting. Any ideas/suggestions for someone new to the contract game?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
As far as telecommuting, that is sometimes possible with some clients: but it is not the most viable situation. QA and testing are social context affairs and that means you need to be present. Also, many clients prefer to see the person they are dealing with actually working within their environment. To work outside means you might have to setup open ports, VPN logins, etc and they may be more reluctant to do that unless you are established as a contractor. Sometimes, however, you can do process contracting where you go in only a couple of times a week. The problem is, of course, that you have to actually go in and that means during normal business hours - which will cut into your full-time position. Even without all of that, and even if you just consider "strict testing" positions, it can be hard to link up with people and get information because you have to do it all by phone and e-mail and some offices are a little more dynamic than that. Again, however, it is not impossible to find telecommuting gigs but most of mine that I have done that way have been with performance testing contracts that did not require capacity planning. I was able to do a few automation contracts that were purely "telecommuting" but that is also because I own legal automated tools and thus could provide that service.
Your big issue right now, and based on what I know, will be your full-time position. Does your employment preclude you doing any sort of contract work like this? (It should not but that is something that has to be asked. As Peter noted, some places can and will object and sometimes you might have signed something saying you would not do this.) The other hiccup you might have is that the full-time employment might scare off some prospective clients only because they will realize that the full-time position is really your focus and they want your focus on them.
So, a question to answer: Are you looking for QA contracting or "strict testing"?
Within that, what kind of testing? Automated testing? Full lifecycle testing? If you are talking about QA, what parts of the process do you want to be involved in and sell your services towards?
Freelance contracting is all about selling yourself and the services you can offer. Having a Web site that displays some of your thoughts helps. But, more than that, actually, knowing what you are talking about is a necessity. So make sure you do. The phrase "2+" in terms of experience leaves a lot of wiggle room since the "+" can mean either "a little more than this" or "a lot more than this".
So I would first ask you to state exactly what your experience is in terms of years. Then, within that, explain what you have done in those years. What type(s) of testing? Have you worked with different methodologies and/or processes? Have you had to establish methodologies and/or processes? Have you tested when there were no requirements at all? Have you derived test cases either from scratch or from existing documentation? I know you are a "test lead" right now and, thus, I could probably draw some conclusions on my own but it would be better for you to state them.
That list of statements as to your experience is then going to serve as the basis for the contractual services that you feel you can best offer not only in relation to your experience but also in relation to your other mitigating circumstances (such as the current full-time position).