As an aspiring freelancer, it might be easy to picture yourself working in sweats from your favorite spot at home. But if you’re planning to leave your current job to start up on your own, you might be worried about all the parts of your new life that you can’t picture yet. Use the following advice to learn how to be a freelance web developer.
Reasons to Become a Freelance Web Developer
The demand for web developers is growing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By branching off on your own, you can secure your piece of the market while it’s expanding.
As a freelancer, you can leave corporate baggage behind. It’s no secret that companies come with hoops to jump through and bosses who boss. Often employees feel like companies create so many hoops that they can’t do the actual work they were hired to do.
As your own boss, you’ll be able to weed away some of the frivolous pieces of corporate work. When freelancing, your work is remote and you manage your own schedule. Instead of working full-time from nine to five, you can plan for a 30-hour workweek, only work in the mornings or evenings, or just throw away schedules altogether. You’ll know when you need to buckle down to meet deadlines and when you can spend a little extra time with friends and family.
Running your own business definitely isn’t a walk in the park. It will force you to learn and grow. New clients and projects keep things interesting and challenging. This can give you a lot more personal development than a desk job might offer. It can also be much more exhilarating.
How to Start as a Freelance Web Developer
Expect the Beginning to Be Uphill
The start of this journey is usually difficult because clients don’t know about your freelance developer operation. It will most likely take at least three to six months to get your feet planted. Depending on your situation, consider starting your freelance work while you still have a regular job. During this time, it may help to finish a few projects that you can use to pitch your services to future clients. You can ask friends and family for projects or use job boards to find freelance developer opportunities. It also helps to have a few test runs before your livelihood depends on it.
Build Your Own Portfolio Website
A website will make it easy for your potential clients to see if you match their needs and expectations. It’s easy to share a link to your website which makes you accessible. There are a few more pointers on building your own website in the next section.
Build Projects to Display on Your Portfolio
As mentioned earlier, if you’ve had the chance to do some projects all on your own, display those on your website. If not, start working on some. Remember, the goal here is to showcase what you can do, so really stretch your abilities and produce something that you can be proud of.
How to Find Work as a Freelance Web Developer
Get the Word Out
Use the reputation and network you already have to get started. Tell family, friends, and past work associates that you’ve decided to freelance. Use social media or other channels to frequently remind your network what you offer as a freelancer. If you do a project you’re really proud of, let people know. This will help your network to keep growing.
Make It Easy for Clients to Hire You
Building your personal brand is an important start to getting hired. Getting the word out is useless if someone looks at your website, Facebook, or Instagram and is unimpressed. As a freelancer, marketing your business is really just marketing yourself. You want to make a strong, positive impression in-person and virtually. You can do this with the following tips.
- Making your channels cohesive so people can recognize your personality if they look you up
- Design your channels to prove that you are a reliable, talented web developer
- Make sure that each channel has your up-to-date contact information easily available
After that, your portfolio website is arguably the most effective channel for getting clients. But that only works if your website is functional. Too many developers try to show off their web development skills and make their website flashy. The purpose of your website isn’t purely to impress; it’s also to show your clients how to hire you. Your contact information should be easily accessible. And make sure your clients can find, view, and even print your resume and portfolio pieces.
The Secret to Thriving as a Freelance Web Developer
Specialize. You should still have a sturdy knowledge of the generals involved in web development. But once you’ve done that, choose a skillset to really perfect.
Developers sometimes worry that they need to know skills like graphic design to be successful. That could be useful, but some organizations have specialists for each aspect of a project and are looking for someone to fulfill a particular role. It may be helpful if you are easily identifiable as “the iOS guy” or whichever emphasis you choose.
How to Have Job Security as a Freelance Web Developer
Many organizations that use freelancers admit that reliability is a priority when hiring. This doesn’t mean that you have to be superhuman. Occasionally, you’re going to get too sick to work. Emergencies will come up. The key is to communicate very well with clients when anything like that happens. If you consistently meet deadlines, then those exceptions will seem rare to clients.
It’s also much easier to be reliable when you establish reasonable deadlines. It may take time to nail down how long different projects take you. When you’re starting out, it might be better to under-commit and over-deliver. But try your best to quickly learn how to estimate your deadlines accurately. Your clients will be grateful when you deliver timely results.
Have a Bank of Returning Clients
These returning clients can give freelancing more security. Clients are likely to come back to you for another project when they feel like they can trust you to communicate clearly and deliver timely results. However, work results alone don’t guarantee that a client will return.
Developing personal relationships with clients can seriously increase the likelihood of clients returning. You can develop those personal relationships in lots of different ways. Working remotely can be convenient, but when possible, try to meet in-person with clients. If that can’t happen, use video-calling technology like Skype, Slack, or FaceTime.
You can also make your work-related conversations more open and warm. Try to set up a form of communication that facilitates instant messaging instead of the occasional email. All of these small adjustments can help you bond with your clients. Then, when the time comes, they’ll feel more inclined to turn to you for their latest project.
It’s difficult to avoid dips in business. Freelance web developer jobs don’t come in a perfectly steady stream. You can count on a few weeks or even longer without any new projects coming in. When choosing the freelance-lifestyle, it’s smart to save as much as you can. While many prepare for those dips to last a few weeks, some freelancers fail to realize that the economy can create dips that last months. You won’t need to feel nervous or find a side job if you consistently save while business is good.
How to Navigate Estimates as a Freelance Web Developer
Recognize the Value of Your Work
It’s difficult to feel comfortable when you give your client an estimate. It helps if you can learn how to objectively gauge the value of your work. Once you can do that, avoid letting circumstances persuade you to increase or decrease what you know the actual value to be. If you give your client a low bid, you might end up feeling frustrated the whole time you work on that project.
It’s natural to worry that you could turn away clients by giving them a high estimate. But most clients will work to negotiate with you before walking away from the business deal. While you’re getting started you could look at project-based job boards to get an idea for how much people are charging for certain projects.
What Income to Expect as a Freelance Web Developer
Unfortunately, there’s not much in the way of reliable data regarding freelance-web-developer income. And you’ve got to keep in mind that your income as a freelancer doesn’t come with a benefits or 401(k) package. Part of a freelancer’s larger salary will most likely go toward those payments. Yearly salaries may offer more peace of mind.
Don’t be intimidated by the work involved in becoming a freelance web developer. It won’t be easy. But, if it’s right for you, the reward will significantly outweigh the roadblocks.