7 Basic Steps to Start a Freelance Development Career
How would you like to work from a place that you love, while wearing the comfiest of clothes?
Yes, freelance work can help you do this and much more.
The remote working trend is increasing and so is the popularity of freelancing as a career choice. If you are an experienced developer or aspiring to be one, becoming a freelance developer might be a great career choice.
For this piece, I’ll be defining freelance developers as self-employed professionals who code for a living. Since they don’t code for one specific employer, they get to choose their projects and prices.
To be a successful freelance developer, you’ll need a balance of business and coding skills.
There are different types of developers that possess varied skills as per their area of expertise. The most common types of developers are web developers, app developers, Blockchain developers, NFT developers, Full stack developers, Android developers, iOS developers, and game developers but there are many more.
Is freelance development work the next step in your career path?
Why Become a Freelance Developer?
Imagine making money from the comforts of your own home. As a freelance developer, you get to be your boss. You’ll also get more control over what clients you want to work with and when you wish to work.
It also helps to add to your career holistically, as you will be playing multiple roles including that of a project manager, salesperson, customer support, bookkeeper, Chief Cook and Bottlewasher, etc.
Better work-life balance is another perk of being a freelancer. Being able to pick your working hours and projects works wonders for your mental and physical health.
If you are someone who enjoys coding, as a quick recap you’ll get:
- Better work-life balance: You will be able to have a better work-life balance as you will not be bound by fixed working hours.
- Being your own boss: You get to be your own boss without having to deal with office politics and hierarchy.
- Flexibility to choose: You can choose your own projects/prices/working hours/clients.
7 Basic Steps to Become a Freelance Developer
If you are someone who wants to pursue freelance development work, here are the seven basic things to consider to make your journey smoother.
Be Introspective: Is Web Development Your Passion?
This is usually the easiest type of freelance development work to start with. But don’t hop on the freelance web development bandwagon just because it is the next big thing!
Web development is not a piece of cake and establishing yourself as a freelancer might take some time and effort. The process might take months, or even years, to start earning well as a freelance developer. To stick with something for a long time consistently, it helps if you are passionate about it.
Wondering if you are ready to take the plunge? To help you reflect ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the thought of making websites and web apps excite me?
- Would it be a forward-moving choice for my career?
- Do I have enough knowledge and experience to take up freelance projects on my own?
- Do I have enough funds to fall back on in case things are a little slow in the beginning?
Find Your Niche
If web development isn’t the path you want to take, finding your niche will be the next step when you plan to become a freelance developer. Being a jack of all trades and master of none is not going to bear any fruits for you. Y
Your personal value will increase as you begin gaining expertise in a particular area. To build your niche skills and gain foundational knowledge, look into different online courses and learning modules.
When you have built your skills in a way that aligns with your niche, marketing yourself as an expert becomes much easier. It also helps clients to gain trust in you and what you bring to the table. Establishing yourself as a subject matter expert will also help you find better-paying clients.****
Build Your Portfolio
Once you have found your niche, start building everything and anything related to your area of interest. The best place to get started is by building your portfolio website, it is the one website that you will keep updating, editing, and continuously developing throughout your career.
Your portfolio should exhibit who you are and what skills you possess as a freelance developer. Keep a blog that answers client queries, start interacting with people on social media, and keep building more.
Use your portfolio to display your skills and gain more clients. Boost your personal brand by practicing your niche skills often, building your own ideas, and exhibiting your technical chops.
Start Creating Your “Personal Brand”
Creating your own personal brand as a freelance developer is no walk in the park, but doing so will bring so many opportunities your way. Keep hustling till you make your name out there as an expert in your field.
Sometimes it might take a few years before you start onboarding big-ticket (full-time) clients, but patience and consistency are the keys to success.
You can do this by building a network, imparting knowledge through blogging and vlogging, sharing with your network, and connecting with more and more people through multiple channels.
For people to know about you and your skills, you’ll have to talk to a lot of people both offline and online. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, etc. for online marketing.
Learn How To Manage Work and Multiple Tasks
As I mentioned before, becoming a freelance developer is much more than just knowing how to code. It requires you to be a project manager, a salesperson, a bookkeeper, and a head of customer care — all at the same time.
The business skill areas are equally crucial for your freelancing career to grow.
Utilize the help of project management tools like Jira, Trello, Asana, OneNote, etc. to manage your work and keep track of upcoming tasks.
Learn how to get work done within the scheduled timeline and keep the client satisfied with the quality and quantity of work.
Keep Building Your Experience
Now that you have developed expertise in an area of your choosing and built yourself a portfolio, it’s time to start working on some real projects to show the potential clients.
Register yourself on freelancing websites such as Upwork, Unremot, Fiverr, etc. to take on jobs and gain experience. You can either do this along with your full-time job to get a taste of freelancing or dedicate all your time to freelancing projects (if time and money allow.)
Remember you are still in your learning phase here, so try to get the maximum out of this and evolve as a freelance developer.
Don’t Give Up
Establishing yourself as an expert is going to take some time.
Don’t lose hope in the process and be consistent.
It is possible that you will take more time than usual to finish up your first project, so giving your client a realistic idea of when they should expect to get the deliverable is a smart move. It is better to be upfront than to tell them once the timeline has passed.
It’s Important to Start Somewhere
There are dozens more reasons you should start your journey as a freelancer.
And while there is no fixed way for becoming a freelance developer, we have covered the basic steps that one should take to begin their journey.
My advice would be to keep learning on the way and implement these learnings to grow faster. Don’t let your confidence stop you from taking on bigger projects.
Keep believing in yourself and invest in yourself as a freelance developer.