Become a Freelance Web Developer

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Do you have what it takes to become a web developer?

There are numerous reasons why you might be thinking about going freelance as a developer. It’s an evolving, fast-paced industry, there’s plenty of work around, and innovative individuals can make a real impact in the future of the industry.

But why learn to code, and why freelance? Before we get on to the hows of taking a Web development course and becoming a freelance Web developer, let’s first take a look at the whys.

1.Enjoy a better work-life balance

2. Be your own boss

3. Have the freedom to choose your working hours/clients/rate of pay

4. Make an impact in a fast-paced industry

5. Be at the cutting edge of technology with highly sought-after skills

6.Never be short of clients or creative, interesting, fulfilling work

Perhaps you’ve already trained in Ruby On Rails, or you learned HTML when you were a student. If so, now could be the perfect time to join the freelance movement and take advantage of all of the wonderful perks of being your own boss and taking back control of your career in the most exciting industry in the world: tech.

Why should you consider becoming a freelance Web developer?

Being your own boss has its disadvantages, including managing your own workload, finding clients and being the office manager, cleaner, CEO and Web developer for your own company. But the advantages far outweigh these negative aspects.

As a freelance Web developer, you’re in an excellent position right now. With over 1 million job vacancies in tech in the next year alone, these skills are hugely in-demand in a variety of creative and interesting areas.  

  • Your skills are highly sought-after in every industry

  • There is a huge shortage of Web developers worldwide

  • Contract salaries are frequently high

So, what do you do next?


Thinking about going freelance?


1. Find your freelance niche

While it’s certainly valuable to be a programmer who can do a bit of everything, your value (and therefore your hourly rate) will be higher as an expert in one or just a few. It will also make you easier to find as you won’t get lost among the many search results for Web developers in your location. It’ll be easier to advertise your skills and make a name for yourself, too.

Consider learning a new coding language altogether. For example, Ruby on Rails is very popular among startups, and Swift is the latest language on the block which could set you apart from your competitors.  

If you want to cast your net wider than coding languages, think about what other skills you could offer a client, such as user experience design. A developer who can also plan out a usable and effective information architecture is rare, and this dual-skilled approach will put you in a position of even greater demand. You’ll be what’s known in the industry as a ‘tech unicorn’ -- sounds good right?

2. Build your first website

Your portfolio website is the best place to start once you are comfortable and confident with your niche. This website is what potential clients will see first, before they even meet you, so it is crucial you regularly update, edit, and develop its pages for your entire career. No potential employer wants to see an out of date website. It just looks sloppy.

It’s a great place to practice too!

Your portfolio is a way of displaying your skills and having an easy reference for potential clients. Try out new ideas and be experimental. If in doubt, remember that your goal in self-representation is to be easy to find, easy to remember, and good to know. But once you’ve published your CV, previewed samples of your past work and added a contact form, what should you do?

Once you’ve built your portfolio, you need things to put in it, which is your opportunity to boost your personal brand by:

  • Practicing your niche skill

  • Building your own ideas

  • Exhibiting your technical prowess

You’re essentially killing two birds with one stone: you’re improving on and applying your new skills while simultaneously showing your wares to potential clients. Your portfolio is your shop window, so make sure that it, and its contents, represent your very best work. And if you want help making it better, help others by building a community around what you’re doing with regular blog posts which explain your processes and asks and answers questions.


Build your personal brand, grow your network

3. Building your personal brand as a freelancer

As a freelancer, your business is built off the back of your reputation. You are your brand, but not just that, you are who Google says you are.

By showcasing your work, building a network and teaching and blogging like an expert, you will find more than enough ways to connect with people and for people to find you, no paid advertising required. Word of mouth is far more valuable to you at this stage than any advert could be. It’s free too.

It’s crucial that you talk to people so attend meetups and events and start conversations on social media around what you’re doing.

Always keep in mind that you’ll have to talk to a lot of people to find and land clients, so be confident in what you’re doing and believe in yourself.

From a visibility standpoint, keep your goals simple. Focus on attaching your name across your portfolio, social profiles and content to the terminology of your niche skill, and the problems your clients will search for.

Here are some great websites for online marketing and what they can do for you:

  • Twitter – create a following by tweeting about current news in your niche, having conversations with people in your field and answering questions.

  • Quora - answer questions from people interested in your niche. Make these as detailed as possible: the more content you write the more likely Google is to associate your name with web development.

  • YouTube – create online tutorials and upload them using YouTube. Put them on your own website. Give them easy-to-Google titles like: “What is ” or, “How to ….” so that people can easily find them when they search.

What’s your next step?

To learn all about how our CTO, Martin Ramsin, learnt to code in three months before founding CareerFoundry, read the full story here: Learning To Code, A Web Developer’s Guide.


Posted 26 February, 2015

Rosie Allabarton

Content Manager at CareerFoundry

Rosie Allabarton is a writer who lives in Berlin. Her journalism specializes in technology, education, employment and women in technology. She works as a tech writer and content manager for CareerFoundry, an online educational platform that provides training in web development and UX design, providing career changers with the skills they need to launch themselves onto the tech scene. For more gre...

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