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Ask HN: What languages or tech should a freelancer learn for maximum ROI?
3 points by greedycoder 845 days ago | comments
I started out about eight years ago programming in PHP/MySQL and I've been freelancing for the past six. Over the last couple years, I've moved first to iOS and lately added Rails to my arsenal. I feel really good about my current situation, and I'm charging about $150 / hr.

However, I doubt this will last and I'm thinking about a few years down the road and what I should be investing in learning right now. I'd like to maintain or continue to grow my hourly rate, and while I know there are Wordpress developers who can charge $250 / hr, they're the 1% of the 1%. There must be niches where $250 / hr is normal. What are they?

What technologies, platforms, languages, etc. do you see where the supply / demand curve is the furthest out of whack AND the demand side has $$ to spend?




With the rates you're able to charge, I think you already have it as figured out as anyone. You could answer this question yourself and anyone else out there would have no better idea than you.

Personally, I feel like the once and always most valuable skill is knowing how to ship from A to Z and have a proven track record of this ability. In other words, you have pushed out a quality product which has had some success (probably not enough to quit freelancing or you wouldn't still be doing it.) I believe that most agencies out there don't have this skill / experience. There really isn't much room for it in most dev shops because it's not their specialty, the overhead is high and with a healthy client base, they just don't have the resources. But there there are handful who do this (many of the *labs types of agencies.) Being able to build a product is valuable, but being able to direct (consult) the client to success after the product is built is far more valuable IMO. As an extreme example, just think of how much 37signals could charge if those guys were still doing client work. They probably wouldn't even be building products, but rather consulting for astronomically high rates (but they would still be a bargain for those who could afford to pay the tab.)

Another huge value would be to put together an A team which would be able to pull off the above. There are lots of great independent freelancers out there, but not so many crack-shot teams. If you need evidence for this, then just go look at all the aquihiring which has been going on just to grab talented premade teams.

Of course, the end game is to make valuable products, and this can break you out of the dollars for hours grind. Build a great product and you can raise your income at internet scale.

Do all this and the actual technology / platforms that you use all of a sudden doesn't seem to be of much importance.

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