It’s easy to advise other people but it will become very difficult when it comes to DIY. Before you start freelance web development, you should have rock-solid proof of work. And even you start pitching your prospects. So it’s important to follow those people who have done freelancing & web development themselves (successfully).
Back in 2016, I tried a lot of online courses, blog articles & guidelines, and YouTube videos. After a series of failures, I realized that I had been following those gurus who hadn’t done freelancing themselves, nor did they have a proven track record of being a web developer.
Literally, anyone can hire an article writer and write an awesome guideline on how to become a freelance web developer. But my question is the article writer have any practical experience as a web developer? The answer is simple- No.
However, an expert writer can research well, find some other related blog posts, and write a new one on top of that. And after publishing, it may rank well on the search result and newbies will follow & fail (mostly). And this is why sometimes the search result sucks!
Please note: This guideline does not teach you web development. It shows you how to start freelancing as a web developer in the correct manner.
How to become a true freelance web developer with consistent income?
Becoming a web developer is only half of the game. You have to land jobs regularly and make a consistent income every month. Otherwise, there is no reason for doing freelancing web development, or something else.
You got the idea! But how to actually do it?
I wrote this guideline based on my personal & professional experience. Most importantly, I will walk you through the process as a web developer and not as a content writer. That’s why I will ignore the word count, interlinking, keywords, and other SEO factors. So you can get the most out of it.
What does a freelance web developer do?
A freelance web developer manages his living & lifestyle by creating websites for other people & businesses. The freelancers not only build websites but also do marketing for their own businesses.
To be specific in the field of work, a web developer creates the features & functionalities of a website. Most of their work is related to the back end.
Related: What is web development?
Web developers are not limited to only the back-end, they also work on the front-end. And if you’re working alone & without a team, then you have to manage both sides.
However, web development is slightly different than website design. Web designers only work with the front-end design of a website such as the color, layout, user interface, etc.
Anyway, my personal recommendation for you is do not hang with the difference between these web design & development, and don’t spend too much time separating them. Just try to keep creating websites in the way you feel good.
What skills do you need to become a freelance web developer?
Web development is a wide range of fields but you should focus on a small part of it & become an expert in that specific area. For example, web development for therapists, restaurants, fitness centers, etc.
For my own business, I target small business owners & entrepreneurs.
Either way, you have to come from a specific or different angle in order to succeed within a short period of time. From there you can increase the service area gradually & one after another.
However, marketing skill is a must for successful freelancers, no matter if you’re a web developer or a video editor, or something else.
So, aside from the programming, designing & developing skills you also have to know how to find clients & sell your services.
Build & grow your client source
Getting clients is a crucial part of freelancing, especially at the beginning stage of your web development career. This is just because you are not easily findable, accessible & there is a lack of reputation. So you have to solve these issues as soon as possible.
Many people think that freelancing marketplaces are the only places to do freelancing. But this is a totally wrong assumption. Most importantly, freelancing websites are not reliable places to start freelancing. Because there is no consistency in getting jobs, competitive low pricing, parallel competition among junior & senior developers, etc.
Freelancing marketplaces are review-focused platforms and their system will make you work for peanuts just for the sake of getting reviews. Also, there are some ultra-modern newbies who buy reviews to stand out. So you can’t compete with them by your actual work quality. To learn more, read why you should not depend on freelancing marketplaces.
Finally, they will take 20% commissions from your hard earnings which is way too much than logical.
How to grow your client source?
Since the freelancing marketplaces are not dependable & reliable, how to build & grow your client source? I am happy to ask because I will give you the answer right now.
The topmost & effective way to start freelance web development, build client sources & get jobs is through your own website. It could be your portfolio or business website.
But do not just create another website on the internet. Create traffic traffic-driven website that makes a bridge between you and your prospects. Creating an effective website for your freelance business will remove the barriers and open all sorts of possibilities.
Showcase your past work samples
Human beings are habituated to checking samples before they buy anything. And even if they have a specific brand in mind, they will try to explore a couple of them before making a final decision. In the same vein, your web development as a service is no different.
That means you must have to have past work samples even if you’re a beginner. At this point, you may think about how in the world it’s possible to showcase past work samples if you’re just getting started!
If you need inspiration & brainstorming, see how to build your portfolio when you’re a beginner.
Should you completely ignore freelancing marketplaces?
No, you can work on a freelance marketplace temporary basis. Think of freelance platforms as a tool that can be used in a survival situation or until you start getting clients through your own website. Also, you can use their platforms when you have no marketing skills.
But do not hang with them. Keep in mind that your main focus should be building your personal client source through your own website.
As you may know, you will not get clients from your personal website as soon as you start. It will definitely take some time. In the meantime, you can work on freelance marketplaces part-time and consistently make improvements to your portfolio site.
Answer to common questions
If you spend 6 hours daily, it may take you 3/4 months to learn web development at a certain level (beginner). And it will give you the opportunity to land small projects & it will bring low-budget clients to you. After you gain web development at a decent level and start building your own client source (that I mentioned in this post), it may take up to 6 months to get clients from your personal website.
As you know, it always depends on quality, experience, and many other factors. See another post where I explained the earnings of a beginner freelancer.
If you’re patient & if you enjoy building websites then it will be a reliable career for you. Otherwise, you may waste time & money and even you may have to end up with unhappiness.
It totally depends on your worth, the volume of work, complexity, urgency, etc. You can check this post from a buyer’s perspective to get an idea.
Before you start freelance web development, you should have a portfolio website. If you’re thinking of building your portfolio after getting some real projects then you’re delaying the process of being hired. You should focus on building your own client source through your personal/own website instead of freelancing marketplaces. This process of freelancing gives you the opportunity to make consistent income and it has reliability.