How To Freelance As A Web Developer: Basic Rules For Working For Yourself

Being a web developer isn’t just about working from home. With some effort, you can work for yourself without depending on any one client or firm by going freelancing. To do this, you will have to learn how to independently sell your skills and experience, build interaction with a client, and even establish accounting. Freelancing offers more opportunities than working for someone else to earn money and build your small business as a professional web developer, but it takes some effort to reap these benefits.

Note. Often people put an equal sign between remote work and freelancing, but they are not the same thing! Freelancing involves an independent search and management of clients, often several at once. In the case of remote work, as a rule, the developer is already working for some company or person that provides him with a regular flow of tasks. Our blog already has a separate article on the advantages and disadvantages of both freelancing and working in the state.

Read also: Transition To Freelancing: A Step-By-Step Plan

The main features of freelancing for a web developer

Freelancing is self-employment, comparable to self-employment. In addition to fulfilling your direct tasks – developing and maintaining websites and web applications, you need to spend time searching for and negotiating with clients, and as you grow, more on management and accounting. Nevertheless, in such a scenario of the development of events, there is a chance to earn more than colleagues on the average in the market, but you will have to put in a lot of effort at the initial stage, learn how to effectively manage your personal time, self-presentation, search and manage clients.

If when working for someone in the state you can be sure of a more or less stable flow of tasks, then freelancing at first, the flow of tasks and income will be unstable. Most likely, if you have already worked somewhere, in the first couple of months you will have a drawdown in income. You also need to be prepared for a fickle flow of tasks: there may be no work for several days, and then there will be no time even for sleep for several more days.

Do you need freelancing

Everyone should answer this question independently for himself, taking into account his own initial data. The easiest way is when you firmly want to make freelancing your main source of income. Here are the main reasons why developers decide to take this step:

  1. You don’t have any job yet, at least not related to web development. Despite the lack of practical experience, a potential client base and a small number of relevant works in the portfolio, quite often completely newbies go to freelancing. Few companies are willing to hire such developers, so the only way out is a set of single orders on the side. Over time, a person grows as a professional, acquires clients, learns to build work processes and the need to work for some in the state disappears by itself.
  2. I don’t like the current routine. Work from 8 am to 5 pm every weekday, although stable, is not very flexible – it is unlikely that someone will often rearrange the schedule to suit your needs. Some people just find it inconvenient to work at the specified time on a regular basis. Freelancing in this case is a great way out – you can create a schedule yourself, including working at night, on weekends or vice versa, making yourself less working hours or one more day off. It all depends on the flow of tasks, the ability to organize your own time and needs.
  3. I want to increase income. Yes, you can make good money working in the state, but working for yourself you can earn more if you try hard. Often, experienced developers start their own small business: they quickly gain a client base on freelance, attract other developers, organizing an agency and becoming its director.
  4. I want variety and more individual projects. Often, working in the state involves performing approximately the same tasks, which can get boring over time. Freelance allows you to select those projects that are more interesting to you.
  5. I like not to depend on anyone. Yes, freelancing is not the most stable type of income, especially at first, but at the same time you are less dependent on other people. Often you work simultaneously with several clients and projects, so if one of them “drops out” for some reason, you will not completely lose your income, and this gives you more room to maneuver. If, for some reason, a permanent job “drops out”, then you will immediately lose most of your income, if not all of it, and it is not known how quickly you can recover the losses.

True, freelancing is definitely not suitable for all people:

  1. You like stability – you got a job as a developer in the state, you get a stable job and salary, there are growth prospects in the near future. In such cases, there is not much motivation to go freelancing – perhaps you should develop as a full-time employee.
  2. You are a beginner developer. Although beginners often get their first practical experience through freelance projects, more experienced colleagues recommend working in the state for the first time in order to gain experience and understand how work processes work.

The main fears and myths about freelancing

If you have already decided to go freelancing, it is recommended that you first work out the main fears so as not to turn around halfway:

  1. Freelancing is too big a risk – I have a family, loans, mortgages and so on. This is really risky, especially if you have mandatory payments that cannot be reduced in any way. In this case, it is recommended for the first time to combine work in the state and freelance, or to accumulate an airbag for several months. In the long run, freelancing is more stable than working in the state, however, if you have been able to gain a customer base during this time, it is good to upgrade your profiles on freelance sites. The company may start having financial problems, therefore, there is a risk of a pay cut or even dismissal. In freelancing, you are more dependent on yourself.
  2. Finding your first job is impossible. Quite realistic, however, it depends on your skills, portfolio, ability to present yourself. You can learn everything you need on your own, do the first work in the portfolio “for yourself”. Yes, the process of searching for the first orders can take weeks and months, you need to be prepared for this. The more projects you complete, the easier it will be to get new projects.
  3. Suddenly my skills are unclaimed. If you are engaged in web development, then your skills will be in demand in any case. Yes, there are fewer offers for certain positions, but in general, with the correct presentation of yourself and your skills, finding a job will not be a problem.

Conclusion

Becoming a freelance web developer is not that difficult if you have a good base of knowledge and skills. The most difficult stage will be the search for the first customers. Even with correctly designed profiles, it can take up to several weeks, so you need to be prepared for this both mentally and financially. Although freelancing allows you to earn more, you need to constantly keep your finger on the pulse, as there is competition in the market, plus, from time to time you will have to update the pool of regular customers. A web developer can achieve consistently high earnings by working as a freelancer for about 1-2 years.

Navid Anjum

Full-stack web developer and founder of Laravelaura. He makes his tutorials as simple as humanly possible and focuses on getting the students to the point where they can build projects independently. https://github.com/NavidAnjum

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