How Onni grows and automates his freelance business with Xolo

Written by Xolo
on February 05, 2024 4 minute read

  🏆 Onni has been named Freelancer of the Month for December 2023. Check out his Xolo profile here.

Today you’ll meet Onni, a freelance software generalist from Finland who, three and a half years ago, embarked on a new journey with his partner as the two sought fresh opportunities in charming Tallinn, Estonia. Onni's expertise spans software engineering, team management, and product management, particularly in the backend and cloud infrastructure side of e-commerce, handling hundreds of millions of euros in transactions annually.

As he navigates the freelancing landscape, Onni offers invaluable advice to newcomers: focus on high-value actions, outsource non-core tasks, and cultivate connections with fellow freelancers for sustained support in this dynamic realm. Onni's journey with Xolo has not only shaped his freelancing experience but also serves as a beacon for those venturing into the world of freelancing.

Q: Onni, let’s get to know you personally and professionally. Who are you?

Hey! I’m Onni, from Finland originally. Just three and a half years ago, my partner and I decided to move away from our long-term home and travel to Tallinn in search of new opportunities. We packed our things and took the ferry.

We immediately enjoyed the low bureaucracy! Things like:

  1. Calling the tax office and getting legally-binding guidance with ease
  2. Emailing my family doctor and receiving a digital prescription
  3. Logging into the same digital ID app for online banks to grocery chains

I cannot recommend the beer and BBQ at Põhjala Taproom enough, and we’ve never grown tired of just how charming Tallinn’s old town district is.

I work as a software generalist with a few years of team management on top (recently I’ve been focusing more on product management). Over the last six years I’ve worked in e-commerce alongside large merchants and payments providers – moving hundreds of millions of euros annually. Recently I have been helping my customers to get better checkout conversions in order to really maximize the value from their marketing spends.

In addition to this, I have significantly helped with the growing cloud infrastructure bills by optimizing the services.

I’m not keen on being tied to certain titles and am willing to do whatever is needed to create a positive impact for the end customer.

Q: What pushed you into freelancing, or was it always the goal to fly solo?

Being a university student meant that I was applying to part-time jobs in my field, but no-one was accepting me with the lack of experience I carried at the time. It can be incredibly difficult to fire people in the EU, and taking this into account I decided to market my services as a freelancer instead.

Stripping away that risk for companies worked well, and now ten years later I’ve got a full-on software engineering career built. The people I’ve worked with have always been happy to recommend me to the next, and today I’m still continuing this same journey.

Q: What’s the best part about being a freelancer in your experience?

Two things stand out the most to me: the freedom to work when and where I see fit, and the control I have over my money and taxes.

I’ve always been saving and investing towards an early retirement, but as an employee I’d need to pay my social and income taxes first, then invest whatever remains. Freelancing lets me use my company to invest profits before paying taxes – an amazing benefit. It’s like having a 0% interest rate on a risk-free loan that I’m able to use for as long as I want.

Paying taxes is inevitable, but letting me postpone them gives me more time and money to invest in with profits. 

And I love to travel. November’s darkness can be pretty daunting here, so breaking away whenever for some free vitamin D is great. Recently we worked 4-day work-weeks and spent the rest of our time mountain biking and rock climbing. 

Q: What’s your best advice for those starting out now as freelancers?

Focus on the unique values that only you bring to customers, and outsource the things others can do for you. As an example, I’d recommend getting an accountant for your taxes rather than trying to learn this yourself.

Grow your expertise in the positions that you’re interested in, and develop your skills to match what future clients are asking to see. Getting your first job is the most difficult, but don’t ever work for free – a discount can be considered if you’re struggling to secure a customer.

Find other freelancers with whom you can talk. The nature of freelancing moves you from project to project. Other freelancers are great for discovering new opportunities and they can relate to the struggles you’ll face and provide support when you need someone to chat with.


Q: How does Xolo help you grow your freelancing business? 

During the last 3 years, I have tried a few different accounting providers and Xolo has provided the best service so far and I’m happy to recommend their service.

Xolo did not register my VAT from the beginning I thought that your service was not the best fit for me. I was using a smaller accounting provider who was not able to build similar automation as Xolo does."I then tried one of Xolo's competitors who was providing address and accounting services and was very disappointed.

I realized at that point that I had made a mistake and heard how well Xolo was working for my neighbors, who are also entrepreneurs, so I decided to come back to Xolo. Xolo didn’t support existing companies for some time, but you created support for this last year and I was very happy to come back.

Xolo gives me a nice web dashboard to perform everything I need, from sending invoices to uploading expenses. Xolo also provides an address service which is nice and they have forwarded some letters to me when I’m traveling. This is also nice for security since the company addresses are public in Estonia (just search from steamer) and by using the address from Xolo I don’t have to expose my home address.

I’m hoping for more clarity in the future on the accounting services, as during the busiest time of the year some communication issues showed up. I’ve just begun my journey with the new Xolo freelancer hub,  and look forward to seeing it eevolveinto a market leader platform. I’ve been here from the beginning and believe my skills will continue to stand out here.

Discover the all-new side of Xolo, built for top-freelance talent

Onni is part of our growing community, now boasting over 120K freelancers from around the world. If there’s one thing that resonates with us in his story, it’s shared by nearly every freelancer we come across: Community networking matters. Xolo is on the path to enable you to share a public portfolio for free, and apply to fresh projects with clients looking for strong and lasting talent. With Xolo you can seamlessly:

  • Discover freelancers in and out of your industry
  • Team-up to tackle larger projects (or create new ones)
  • Join clients in search of strong freelancer relationships
  • And feature your best work, rates and talents for all to see

Create your free Xolo freelance profile today, and instantly get access to Projects and the Xolo community.  

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