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Living by the Code

First Edition ·

Before You Begin

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Section 1: 14 chapters
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Getting to Work

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15. An Interview with John Sundell
Written by Enrique López-Mañas

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John builds apps, games and developer tools. He also makes Swift by Sundell—a series of weekly articles and a podcast about Swift development, and co-hosts the Stacktrace podcast.

Connect with John

Twitter: @johnsundell and @swiftbysundell



You have switched from a large company, Spotify, to work as a freelancer. What are some of the non-obvious ways that working as a freelancer differs from working at a company?

Freelancing offers a lot more freedom, but with this freedom comes a lot more responsibility. You not only manage your own time, but you also manage your clients and the quality of the work that you do.

What kind of qualities do you think it takes — professionally or personally — to work successfully as a freelancer?

I think it mostly comes down to being very organized. You need to manage your own time and to make sure that you spend your time on the right things—but you also need to maintain great relationships with the people and clients with whom you work. Managing expectations is a big part of that. People need to know when and what you are going to deliver, and they need to be able to trust that you’ll stick to your deadlines. The classic phrase “under-promise and over-deliver” is key here.

How did you know it was time to become a full-time freelancer, and how did it feel to make that transition? What was your catalyst?

I became a freelancer to have the ability to work remotely. While a lot of companies offer remote work, I felt like taking on my own clients and working on multiple different projects would be an excellent fit for me, since it wouldn’t tie me to any specific location or any strict working hours. I thought working on my own would enable me to travel a lot more, to work on things like open source and community initiatives, and give me the power to organize my time. That was all very appealing to me, so I decided to give it a try.

John’s Recommendations

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