By Pau Labarta Bajo, mathematician and data scientist.

Practical Tips From A Toptal Freelancer

If you are a nerd-ish data scientist who wants to start working as an independent (remote) freelance data scientist, this article is for you. The transition from your current 9-to-5 job to remote freelancing is a liberating experience. The ultimate payoff is immense, including:

  • higher learning speed, as you are constantly taking in new projects and working with different technologies.
  • opportunity to work with cutting-edge startups, without having to leave in a small room in San Francisco.
  • freedom to organize your days, weeks, and months, plus no one is counting how many vacation days you have taken off this year.
  • higher hourly rates, which translate into higher paychecks at the end of the month.

One Freelance Data Scientist’s Path

My name is Pau Labarta Bajo. I am a freelance data scientist and ML engineer who works as a remote freelancer for the last 2+ years. Before, I used to work as a data scientist in a top mobile gaming company, Nordeus. Around me, I had a crew of great data scientists and amazing data engineers. By the time I joined the team, they had already built the data analytics platform in-house that helped the company manage a game with over 2M daily active users. I felt I was another bee operating inside a well-established swarm. 90% of my time was spent on technical stuff, including data analysis to improve the product and ML development to increase its efficiency. 10% of the time was on communicating to the rest of the team what I was working on.

That split feels great for nerds like us, data scientists, and ML weirdos. However, this comfort has a price that came to me in two constant thoughts

  1. While Machine Learning techniques and applications pop up everywhere, I keep on using the same techniques to solve the same problems, again and again. Boring.
  2. Why do I have to wait for yearly assessments, based on someone else opinion, to get a raise? There must be a better way.

Eventually, I quit my job to start working as a remote freelance data scientist. The transition has been both challenging and incredibly enriching. On the way, I have collected a few learnings that I condensed into 4 practical tips, to help you join me and start walking on the other side.

Photo by Fan D.

1. Stay calm and do not underprice your expertise

The first question you have is: where do I find my first project?

There are tons of data-related jobs on the…

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