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The ultimate 'how to' guide to becoming a freelance developer

Research is showing that there has never been more opportunity to become a freelance developer

Maybe your current job has become more tedious than tremendous, or perhaps you’re just itching for more freedom. If mind numbing 9 to 5 work feels like an endurance event, it might be time to explore other options.

Think the freelance coding world is full to the brim already? That there can’t be enough web development and coding work out there to go around? Think again.

Good web developers are a bit like gold dust. There’s a shortage worldwide — especially if you’ve got front end and back end skills, or are thinking about becoming a full stack web developer. Your skills are needed in pretty much every industry.

Plus — the best part — freelance coding jobs come with a generous pay packet of an average £40,000 that only increases with experience.

Learning People | Freelance developer on laptop

Open your mind to a world of web development opportunities by going it alone and becoming a freelance developer.

Here are some top tips on how to go freelance and gain the right clients.

Make some preparations

Do some research and get an idea of your potential network. You may want to try and start building up some clients in your free time, even if that means working on personal freelance coding projects at the weekend whilst holding down your current weekday 9 to 5. 

Gather all your professional contacts and reach out. Start to define exactly what services you plan to offer, and agree a sensible rate.

If you want to go freelance, you need as much fresh and up-to-date training as you can possibly get. Get yourself booked onto one of our online coding courses to get your hands on some industry leading training. Even if you’ve got some experience of coding already, advancing your knowledge in all things code should be top of your to do list for before you hand in your notice.

It’s a good idea to be diverse with your learning so you can offer companies a solution for all their website development needs, including front end and back end. Look into our full stack coding course to cover all these areas. 

The benefits

Learning to code and going freelance is a great way to obtain freedom in your professional life. You can be your own boss and enjoy flexibility in your working hours. It is a perfect career adjustment for someone with a hectic lifestyle, someone looking to travel, or someone who wants to spend more time with family.

You are in control of how much work you want to take on and can agree a rate that both you and your clients are happy with. Proving yourself to be a reliable worker can open up invaluable partnerships and lead to higher demand.

Work from home or work from the beach: once you have the right resources you are free to complete projects anywhere. Freelancing is rising in popularity — in fact, it’s now estimated that almost 1/3 of the global workforce is freelance — meaning there are increasingly more hubs for freelance workers globally. 

Tips for getting started

  • Start putting a consistent brand together. Coming up with a brand name, website, and logo will build trust in you as a professional.
  • Make sure your website portrays the right message. This is the best piece of armoury you have to show off how great you are at web development. Check it’s functional, looks the part and includes some case studies and reviews from any previous clients you’ve had.
  • Gather some examples of your best work. If you’ve not got much experience this, doesn’t have to be client work, it can be any projects you’ve worked on. We advise getting a GitHub account so you can showcase your skills even if you haven’t had a load of clients lining up for your services just yet. Just make sure you’ve got a page on your site with examples of what you can do.
  • Post about your skills and services online. Be active on relevant social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, don’t be modest in sales emails, and really sell yourself via your CV and in person. 
  • Keep yourself organised to maintain a good impression. Consider collateral like invoice templates, contracts and accounts. 

How to get clients and build good relationships

Trying to get new clients may feel like standing at the bottom of a mountain looking up at how many steps you’ve got to climb before you make it to the top. But, honestly, once you get stuck in, that summit will be well within your reach. Consider the following when planning to reach out to potential clients.

Collate your contacts – Start putting all your potential clients into a spreadsheet so that you can keep an eye on the status of your leads. You never know when certain contacts may come in handy or need work later on down the line. 

Develop a USP – Of course, it’s sensible to be an all rounder, so getting full stack web development skills is a great start. But what makes your coding and web design work better than all the other folks out there? Is it excellent customer service, quirky designs, or knowledge of specific industries? Pinpoint something that makes you different and make sure everyone knows about it. Add it to your website, branding, email, slogan, content, etc.

Be proactive – Don’t just sit there and wait for leads to come to you. Your website and reputation may bring in a few leads, but it’s important not to rely on this. To be successful as a freelancer you need to be constantly on it when it comes to sales, even if it’s not your favourite thing to do. 

Optimise your website – You’ll probably know this already, but it’s surprising how many freelancers neglect their website’s SEO. Give your site a health check and make sure your content is search engine-friendly and attracting the right type of prospects. 

Put time into your client relationships – Don’t just win a client and then keep communication to a bare minimum. In a digital world, it’s easy to forget how important it is to actually speak to people. So, give your clients a call, meet up with them, and show them how much you value them. 

Go for it 

So now you’ve got a few great tips to get you started as a freelance developer. If you only take away one piece of advice, make sure it’s that your knowledge fountain is constantly topped up. Stay relevant with the latest coding skills.

Hear from our Full Stack Development student Joe, on his experience with the course and how it’s helped him dive into freelance coding: 

Chat to us today about which courses will suit you best, and once you’re qualified, you’ll have clients throwing themselves at you. Get out and do it and we promise, you’ll never look back.