Fred, a young graduate, was wondering about his future while in his sophomore year of completing tech school. He was not an outgoing guy and would not fancy many friends. He also wanted to fend for himself as his siblings were about to enter college and the family needed funds. He planned to earn his pocket money. A full-time job was out of bounds for him as a student, and he needed to concentrate on his course work.
As luck would have it, he was proficient in Python and Java and he was confident about his skills. He could pursue more courses with the extra money earned through Freelancing. Being a freelance web developer now would pave the way for a strong career too. There are so many out there in the market like Fred who would prefer to do freelancing rather than working full time. Some are house-bound moms, those homebound due to accidents, or just anybody who wants to earn at their own pace.
Being a freelancer gives you better work-life balance, offer much freedom in working hours, clients, projects, and rates. You can also develop versatility in various languages and subjects. But it is not easy! It may be rain and thunderstorm or total drought. You need to balance your time and skills and be selective on projects and clients.
Here is a checklist for those looking to get started in freelancing as a web developer!
1. Develop Programming Skills Continuously:
It is more the merrier here. Don’t be satisfied with knowing a few programming languages. Keep yourself updated with newer, versatile in-demand web development tools and when they are developed. Develop your niche area and position yourself ahead of the curve. It is necessary at every step for every professional, be it a freelance web developer or full-time employment, to update his/her skills and knowledge by pursuing courses. However, it becomes a challenge as you select between courses and institutions.
What can you do?
You can search and find out about online courses. Learn the new languages and technologies as and when they emerge. Choose the best from a wide variety of courses that enhance your different skills.
Subscribe to newsletters and publications to obtain additional qualifications.
Get to do some free trials on websites to get more experience.
Enroll in courses that will interest you. Some courses are economically priced, but some are of really good quality and rigorous courses. Check out the content of courses and reviews of students before you decide.
Subscribe and Read journals; this is the most important in updating your profile. By subscribing to popular Journals, one can stay abreast with the latest trends in the Industry. Read books and update yourself; just as there are many journals, there are many books as well.
You must know how to present your skills, knowledge, and projects undertaken successfully. It is the only platform for clients to know and accept you. Your website is your profile picture, and that neither should be too loud nor be too mute! Create interesting, crisp and compelling content about your skills, experiences and specialties and the web development tools you are conversant with. Indicate that you built the site from the bottom up, and is replicable for the clients. This is an additional advantage for Web developers.
Show communication channels quoting e-mails, phone calls, and social media. It is a great idea to add a live chat platform on your website.
Be confident while setting your rates. Remember, organizations believe in cutting their costs and you need to choose, not feel victimized later. Knowing market rates and setting your individual rate is key to bagging projects. Most freelancing platforms, like Freelancer and Upwork, give you a fair idea about rates. As a beginner, you need to fix a moderate rate and review it later, based on time involved, the nature of the project and skills required.
Don’t accept projects at throwaway prices or work for free.
Don’t be over-confident to quote higher or equal-to-market rates.
Research and match your skills and check your status based on your skills, knowledge, and experience.
Although it is better to down quote the market initially to grab clients, it is always better to find projects with reasonable rates.
Follow this must-do list to make a mark online with your skillset.
Your website needs to speak like a marketer. Look up and register at sites that advertise freelancing projects as consolidators, like Upwork, Toptal, Freelancer, Guru, 99designs, peopleperhour, College Recruiter, rent-a-coder, iFreelance, Simply Hired.
Get testimonials from your clients and flaunt them too. When you complete any project, obtain a testimonial from your client and put it up on your site.
Contribute articles and tutorials for other sites to get noticed. Of them, the links of best ones must be added to your site. Some sites even pay for it, and you will be happy to grab projects based on your work.
Look for local jobs. You can effortlessly drop in on them and find out their needs and present your profile. It is a good idea to browse through websites of local businesses and offer your credentials and willingness to work for them.
Create a business card and offer it to all the people you meet, as they may turn out to be your prospective client in the future.
Create your presence both online as well as offline. Update your contacts and spread word about your profile and business.
Get into a friendly relationship with the people you meet, even if they are not interested/connected with your work. Creating, developing and maintaining contacts is always helpful.
Take part in online discussions related to your skill and knowledge and be updated about the changing web development tools in the industry.
Attend meetups of professional bodies, and be in contact with as many people as you can in your niche area.
Contribute to open source projects. Due to funds and knowledge shortage, working on open source projects is an added advantage. One should look for young but growing projects with the potentiality to succeed and try to fix their problems so that you make a positive impression on a potential client.
It takes time to build and develop a freelance web development business and sustain it. Be patient and remain stable. You need to assess yourself on the confidence scale more often so that you avoid feeling left out when you don’t see new projects arriving.
Be cautious. Use time gaps between projects to do more courses and fill your free time reading interesting books and pursue new short-term courses. Last but not least, be organized in time, space, hardware, and software. Update your hardware and software as and when required. There are plenty of web development tools for you to get accustomed to. Most importantly, remember to balance your personal life, coursework, and to freelance.
Size, quality and the rigor of projects is very important, but every project adds to your experience and résumé. You learn by doing a project in different industries. Write articles online for the journals you subscribe to. You may also write product reviews, helpful guides, and how-to articles. Try projects that may improve your website.
Being a Freelance Web Developer is a full-time gig, just like any other job. The only perks are that you get to work at your own pace, decide who to work for, and take breaks as and when you require, which you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. You decide your work schedule, and you decide your rates relevant to your skills.