It’s a dream of many to work from home and enjoy the flexibility and freedom that brings with it. You can schedule your work hours, work from wherever you want, and take breaks when you want! If you plan accordingly, you could make the same amount of money you would at a permanent role in a fraction of the time.
But with all that flexibility and freedom comes risk too.
We’ve got some tips for you that will hopefully put your mind at ease and give you a starting point. While you could jump straight in and start freelancing next month, it’s probably a good idea to take things a little more slowly. So here are some tips to make sure you get paid as an Independent web Developer.
Start by assessing what you already know. If you’re already experienced with a certain development field and you enjoy it, it makes sense to start there to minimise the time it takes until you can take your first client.
If you think there are some gaps in your knowledge or you want to branch out into a new field, take some time to upskill yourself in those areas. There are plenty of resources online, including the GoSkills collection of development courses.
You might want to brush up on your HTML or CSS skills for example. Once you’ve selected your field, it’s a good idea to pick a few areas within that to be your main focus. If you’ve selected front end development, you might focus on React apps or single-page apps in general, or platforms like WordPress or Umbraco. You won’t always be able to be picky about which jobs you take on, but it helps keep you focused in the long term.
That being said, keep in mind that you will be doing more than just that. As someone who works for themselves, you also have to be project manager, talk to clients, network and seek new contracts and clients, look after your financing and do your marketing. If you don’t know too much about these things, also take some time to skill up in those areas. Some will come more naturally over time and are things you can experiment with, like marketing, whereas looking after your finances and making sure you’re doing everything legally is important to get right from the beginning!
One final note about upskilling: don’t be afraid to jump in and learn as you go. All of the above sounds like a lot to learn, and if you did it all upfront, you’d never be able to start! Instead, get the crucial things out of the way, then learn as you go. Just be sure to be transparent with clients about areas you’re inexperienced with if they are crucial to the project.
As a web developer, the most important bit of online presence is arguably your own website. Take some time to think about what a prospective client would want to see to decide whether to approach you for a project. You’ll need an easy way for them to contact you – whether that’s a contact form or simply an email address – and you may choose to show some examples of your past work if applicable. Make sure you explain what it is that you can do for them and try not to be too technical without sounding like you’re talking down to them. Research how other freelancers or small agencies do it if you’re not sure!
Social media is a tricky one. Countless articles say you can drastically increase the engagement of your social media endeavours by including images or video in each post, so this might work better for those web developers who work with the visual side of things.
If you’re only going to choose one social media platform to find clients, I would personally recommend LinkedIn. It’s focused on business and networking and will let you grow your professional network quite easily. Make sure you update your profile regularly, share work you’ve done, and reach out to people whom you might be able to work with. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are other social platforms you can use to promote your business. Depending on what type of work you do, and who your audience is, you may have varying degrees of luck with any of these platforms. They are also a good way of proving you are a legitimate business, as these platforms are a record of how long you have been around, and people can leave you reviews and comments about your services.
Blogging is another good way of increasing your exposure. While you probably won’t generate direct leads from these, it’s a great way to become known as an expert in your field. Moreover, if you’re providing useful information to people, they are more likely to reach out to you in turn. In that same vein, consider talking at meetups or conferences to boost your reach.
Creating a High-Quality Portfolio Site: One of the best ways to demonstrate your technical skills is by having an amazing portfolio site of your own. If you want to be taken seriously as a new freelancer, you’re going to need a website that:
Showcases your expertise.
- Highlights relevant past experiences.
- Show who you are.
- Includes your contact information so that potential clients can easily find you.
The purpose of your portfolio is to educate, spark interest, and convince potential clients that they’ll want to choose you for their technical needs. That’s why it’s worth investing time into deciding what to feature on your portfolio and how it’s being displayed—before you start looking for new projects.
Once your portfolio site is up, start including a link to the site within your email signature and on your social profiles.
When you start your freelance journey, it can often be hard to find that first client to get you going. This is where your networking skills come in. Think about previous jobs and see if you can contact any of your past colleagues or managers to see if they know of any opportunities. Talk to other people in your professional network, friends, and family. Hopefully, if you’ve already done some freelance projects while you were permanently employed, you’ll have some existing clients that you could contact. Even if they don’t have work for you right now, you’ll remind them you’re available, and they might think of you for their next project. You’ll probably find that most of your work comes through word-of-mouth!
There are also plenty of agencies around which employ mostly freelancers. They find clients and connect them with freelancers who have the skills they need. Have a look around and consider signing up to a few of these, as you might get some work out of them.
In the end, I hope this article proved useful to you. If you decide to go freelance, I wish you good luck and hope these tips help you as you embark on a new career path.