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The Path To Become A Freelance Web Developer

By James Lewis Jan 19, 2020 2456

Let’s get one thing straight, becoming a freelance developer is not going to be easy …

If I still have your attention you might just have what it takes to become a freelancer, after all, it’s the dream job of many developers. Being able to choose when and most importantly where you work has its perks, just imagine yourself, travelling the world, just you and your laptop sipping on an ice cold drink beside the pool in some tropical country.

(click, click) Let’s get back to reality. So you are trying to start out in the strange world of freelancing, wondering how to find your first client. It’s not as simple as these digital nomads you see on Instagram make out it is, but you’ll be pleased to know that web development is one of the most in-demand industries, and is constantly growing. You have started to look at the right time, and there is a massive haystack of potential clients, you just have to find your needle, or stand out enough that the needle finds you.

So the question is: How do I become a freelance web developer?

Hopefully, this post will explain how you can get your foot in the door of the strangely secret world of freelance web development.

Online presence

I can not stress how important this is, any client you are pitching your self to will always search for you on social media … now might be a good time to change your profile photo of you at 4am with your stained shirt walkingcrawling out of a club.

Make sure you have an up to date LinkedIn profile, this is after all the social media of the recruitment world, be careful of what skills you put down on our profile, there is no point in making out you’re a guru in C# when you barely managed a Hello World.

Until now you have most likely rejected all those pesky recruiters adding you on LinkedIn, … DON’T this will come in handy further down the line, having hundreds of recruiters that you can reach simply by posting is very powerful.

 

Your freelance website

This might seem like a daft point but the number of freelancers we see without their own website amazes me. Treat this as your shopfront for the world to see, sell your self, show them what they are missing if they don’t hire you, but whatever you do, please don’t put a photo of your pet cat up here.

Unless you have a bespoke CMS that you have developed for your clients ( I dought you have if you’re reading this ) I would suggest using a pre-built CMS like WordPress. Afterall the technology this site is built upon has not got to be mind-blowing, it is simply a brochure to display your services.

If you are not a seasoned designer there are literally millions of WordPress themes you can choose from to quickly spin up your site, paid for and also free.

A freelance’s website should showcase their previous work, services you are going to offer and most importantly an easy contact form, just make sure that you are quick to respond to your messages. If a client has messaged multiple freelancers they will most likely take the first to respond.

Marketing your services

You have probably been looking at sites like Freelancer.com … STOP … unless you want to build an entire site and branding package for a few quid. These kinds of sites have been flooded by developers from eastern countries who are able to offer their services at a fraction of what you can. It’s very difficult to find clients in the UK on here that are willing to hire UK freelancers when they could hire some else for 20 times less.

Attend local business networking events, there are always events on in every county across the UK, you’ll find hundreds of small start-up business owners looking to put there stamp on the online world, and they will need your services. Swap business cards, start conversations ( I know we are developers but it’s not that hard ) about your experiences, but whatever you do, don’t hard sell your services, these events are more about networking than selling.

Actively searching for clients

You must be thinking, if sites like Freelancer are not the best idea, then what is? You’ll find plenty of adverts for short-term contract work on local and nationwide job boards, and a lot of these are now being advertised as remote jobs allowing you to work where you please. Many companies now do not even have an in-house tech team, but instead rely purely on remote contract developers, if you get your foot in the door with a few companies like these, you will have a constant stream of work coming your way, creating new systems and supporting older one.

While getting into a few companies for a long time is easy to do, getting your name and work out to lots of smaller companies is great for networking. I’d rather have my name on 50 small companies minds that can send me work than just a few. Your name will spread like wildfire throughout local companies, without you even lifting a finger, finding smaller companies can be a bit of a challenge, and in some cases, you might have to approach them via LinkedIn or email marketing, but it’s becoming more common for local job boards to include a freelance/remote working section on their sites, so keep an eye out for these.

Job security

One of the biggest ties that stop developers making the jump to becoming a freelancer is the thought of not having a steady income, stop kidding your self that your job is secure. Bussiness is business and it changes direction fast, you could be made redundant tomorrow or the company you work for goes bust. There is no such thing as job security, but if you are your own boss at least you can control it, it’s up to you how many clients you meet or companies you have your foot in with.