How Do I Become A Freelance Web Developer? (Part Two)

In part one of this post we looked at a few things that were necessary to get in place before you start pitching clients as a freelance Web developer.

In this post, we’re going to finish up, looking at ways to get those first clients and jobs, and also how to make sure you bring professionalism into your career by becoming organised and focused.

Your First Clients

We all know you’re amazing at what you do. and we all know that if any huge brand happened to come across your portfolio, it would make absolute sense for that brand to pay you millions to design their websites.

Of course, it doesn’t work like that.

To get those first jobs and to make sure that you start to build up a client list this year rather than next, focus on job boards like Upwork and PeoplePerHour. You won’t get paid a lot, and the competition is fierce, but it means you get feedback, and that means testimonials.

Get organised

Basically, imagine your home and desktop are an office. On the desktop, ensure everything is in folders. Use organisation and note-taking software like Evernote like it’s your best friend (it is), and make sure that you always, always, tidy your desks (virtual and real) at the end of the day.

Prioritise tasks into sub tasks, and make sure that you are always fully aware of how every single hour of your working day is to be spent. All your work asks of you is 8-10 hours of real effort every day. Make it happen, and enjoy the rest.

Finally, keep that email at bay. Don’t look at email any more than once an hour. Clients will understand if you don’t answer immediately (and it looks like you’re desperate anyway), and it means you get to stay focused. Some of the top people in the world don’t even use email.

Stay on the job boards, and ask for referrals after a few weeks. Work, work, and work even harder, and keep clients happy. Work harder than the five people you see and communicate with in a working day. Within six months, you’ll be looking at a career in Web development.

How Do I Become A Freelance Web Developer? (Part One)

It’s kind of a big deal, becoming a freelance Web developer. You get lots of great stuff as part of your new direction (including the ability to work on projects you actually find interesting), but also some tough stuff along the way. Ten years ago, for example, there were far fewer Web developers, it was still a pretty new career.

That has changed. You can learn to code from home quite easily, and in your spare time. This means that the market has been blown wide open, and finding a job as a Web developer is that little bit tougher.

And if finding a nine-to-five is tough, you can imagine how hard it is to set up as a freelancer.

Don’t worry. I’ve got it covered.

You know what you’re doing, right?

We’d better get this part out of the way first. If you enter the freelance Web developer arena with just a couple of months experience and one or two skills, you’re going to be ignored. And there is nothing worse than starting a new career only to find that no one actually cares about what you do or who you are.

You need to make sure you are completely on top of the skills that are most in-demand in Web development. And if you are not, make sure you are fully trained and confident before you start trying to sell your services.

The most important (translation: in-demand) programming languages around right now are:

  • Python
  • Java
  • Go
  • R
  • Swift
  • PHP
  • MATLAB

If you can get at least a few of these down in your skill package, you have a stronger chance of making it as a freelance Web developer.

Set out your stall

You’re fully equipped with the skills that you need to fire up clients. Now you just need to get them. Your first step is a portfolio website.

Imagine that the only way a potential client is to understand how amazing you are is through your portfolio, a showcase of your best work, and then create it.

You can easily purchase a very inexpensive portfolio site, here is a great post that gives you a list of possibles.

Once you have your site, throw everything you can on there. Your best work should be front and centre. Then, you have a platform from which you can start to attract clients.

Once you feel you have all you need on the site, either expand with a blog (on the site) or elsewhere, linking back to it.

Now it’s all about building a brand.

Branding yourself as a freelance Web developer

This is where the real work comes in. You have set yourself up as a freelance Web developer and you have a great portfolio website. You may even have written some blogs and uploaded them to show your expertise in the Web developer space.

Now it’s about getting out there and networking.

Your mindset has to change a little here. Step back from feeling like a freelancer who just wants to get paid. You have to start with a sharing mindset.

So get on the social media networks that resonate with your prospective clients and make them part of your daily life.

For example, Twitter is a great way to share news about your space quickly, and to develop a reasonably quick following. It takes time to build up a presence on Twitter, but once you do, you’ll see some true benefits. We will look at Twitter in more detail, and how freelancers can gain from it, in a future post.

I often jump on Quora too. This is still one of the few places that feels right to me, as a freelancer. The reason is simple.

Quora is about answering questions and providing solutions, so it fits in neatly to the freelancer model. Many freelancers see themselves as consultants, and when you answer questions on Quora, you are acting as a consultant. It is well worth looking into if you haven’t already. If you’re interested, join my space on Quora here.

YouTube is another place where you can put that ‘consultative’ model into action. Create tutorial videos and work hard to make them truly useful. Share them everywhere and start to build a following.

In Part Two, we will look at how to move forward, get your first high quality gigs, and truly develop your offering as a freelance Web developer.