What You Need To Know To Start as a Freelance Web Developer

Apr 26, 2022

18 Min Read

Freelancing has improved many lives significantly. We’ve gathered information from many freelance web developers who worked for almost five years, and they shared what they’ve learned in this freelancing world. Questions like:

  • What should I know before I start freelancing?
  • What if they refuse to pay me?
  • What about clients from other countries?
  • Is it necessary for me to register my business?
  • Is it possible for me to make enough money?
  • What method will they use to compensate me?
  • What is the best way for me to find clients?
  • Am I up to the task?

Suppose you don’t know where to begin since many thoughts run through your mind. This article will assist you in answering those questions and more.

There’s no time to waste — let’s get started!

What Does It Mean To Be a Freelance Web Developer?

Freelance web developers are self-employed programmers who construct websites for various customers and are compensated for each assignment.

They can establish their pricing, pick which clients to deal with, and work on as many projects as they like since they don’t work for an employer.

Freelancing in web design is also a possibility. But we’ll get to it later.

How Much Time Does It Take to Become a Freelance Developer?

This is dependent on several things, including your current coding skills, business skills, and the amount of time you can devote to expanding your company each day.

One individual may become a successful freelance developer in six months or less, while another may take more.

Just a few additional points:

  • Set reasonable goals for yourself. This isn’t a get-rich-quick scam by any means. Instead, you should learn how to code, advertise your firm, and get customers.
  • Do you intend to work as a full-time freelance developer? If this is the case, you may need to undertake some more preparation. Of course, it will take longer if you have a day job, but your day job will keep you afloat until you can freelance full-time.

What Are the Requirements for Working as a Freelance Web Developer?

You’ll need a combination of coding and business skills to be a successful freelance web developer.

Coding Skills

It is required of web developers to be able to code. You can begin by studying HTML, CSS, and Javascript. You can attend free and paid online and offline classes or Bootcamps to learn how to code if you’re beginning from scratch.

You can start freelancing with merely HTML and CSS expertise at the very least. However, if you don’t want to deal with coding, you can utilize a content management system like WordPress or WebFlow. Successful freelancers take this typical path, and it’s entirely acceptable.

Business Skills

Not recognizing this as a business is a typical error made by novice freelance web developers. Building a business requires a diverse range of abilities, including but not limited to marketing, branding, pricing, bargaining, networking, and much more.

Because it’s your business, you’ll be in charge of everything from customer acquisition to cash flow management.

If you want to be a successful freelance developer, concentrate on your code and business skills.

For a bonus tip, you can also outsource all your skills. Outsource X job if you don’t like it.

How Much Money Can a Freelance Developer Make?

Your earnings are directly proportional to the amount you charge and the number of customers you have.

  • Is it possible for you to make $5,000 every month? Yes
  • Is it possible for you to make $10,000 every month? Yes
  • Are you capable of earning $20,000 or more every month? Yes

We’ll go through the things you should think about when pricing your services and some tactics you can take to increase your earnings.

How to Get Started as a Web Developer Freelancer

Here are the things you should know to get started as a web developer freelancer:

Evaluate if Web Development Is Your True Calling

So many people are lured to the “next big thing” or a trend that others appear to like. The freelancing business has seen extraordinary growth in recent years, with many new web developers entering the market monthly. It is a growing trend that is expected to continue in the future years.

However, you don’t want to jump on the bandwagon simply because a high school friend is doing it and making six figures each month.

Web development isn’t easy, and building a freelance business requires time and effort like any other business. Depending on the complexity, it can take you months or even years to complete the process. It isn’t something you can begin doing today and be successful the following week.

You must be passionate and motivated to stay with anything long enough to experience success. The following are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Is it exciting for me to think about building websites and web apps?
  • Is this a career path that I would enjoy?
  • Will web development fit with my family’s lifestyle?
  • Am I prepared to outsource work if you don’t like it?
  • Is it possible for me to sell my freelance business?

If you’re still undecided, you can read many articles out there to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of freelancing.

What Is Your “Why”?

If we don’t know why we’re doing something, it’s far simpler to give up at the first obstacle.

Consider why you want to work as a freelance web developer. Consider your ambitions, goals, and motives.

There are several whys for this:

  • First, you want to make your own decisions about your money and time.
  • Second, you desire to work on projects that you are enthusiastic about.
  • Third, you want to educate others to do the same.

For some, teaching people to fish is one of their main “whys.” However, they empower and equip individuals to create a good change in their own lives and help them do the same.

If you want to fulfill your “why,” it will keep you going when you’re weary, lose concentration, or feel demotivated.

Revisiting your WHY will re-ignite your desire to recognize that you’re doing this (the work, administration, etc.) for a more significant benefit.

What Is Backend, Front-end, and Full-stack Development?

There are two primary areas of web development: Back-End Development and Front-End Development.

Back-end web development is concerned with logic and problem solving, while front-end web development is focused on design and visual appeal.

Everything that isn’t visible on a website is backend programming. Like a vehicle engine, a backend system keeps the website going. For example, consider a server (a sizeable hard drive containing all the site’s content) that processes all the website data before delivering it to the browser whenever someone attempts to view the site.

Meanwhile, front-end programming is everything on a website that you can see, interact with, and click on. Design, color, typography, buttons, images, videos, and so on are all part of it. The interior designers of the home developed by backend developers are front-end developers.

Back-end web development is for you if you like working with data, solving problems, and dealing with logic.

Front-end web development could be a better fit if you appreciate creating, organizing visual components, and understanding website psychology.

Are you capable of doing both tasks? A full-stack developer does just that.

Remember that you can easily construct WordPress websites using no-code solutions like WebFlow, Oxygen Builder, or Divi. It’s been utilized on practically all of our WordPress sites.

Define What “Success” Means to You

People’s definitions of success differ. It may imply more time for others to do the things they like. You must first know where you want to go.

Consider the following questions:

  • As a new freelance web developer, what does it mean to be successful?
  • What is my ideal way of life? Do I want to be able to travel, start new businesses, spend more time with my family, and so on?
  • What is my monthly income goal?

Break it down into smaller objectives after you have a clear vision of what type of success you want.

Here’s an example of a situation:

  • Success: Increasing your earnings while working less, allowing you to spend more time with your family.
  • Goal: Your goal is to make $100,000 or more while working 20 hours or fewer each week.

Now, break down the goal into monthly goals that are quantifiable. Then, if you achieve your goal, you can consider that a piece of success.

Make an Action Plan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” as the saying goes. On the other hand, an action plan is a tool that will help you achieve your objectives. It breaks down your goals into quantifiable targets and the necessary measures to attain them.

It’s also important that your action plan be practical. You must examine how much time and money you have available each week to focus on your objectives, talents, skills, etc.

Below is an example of an action plan:

  • 1st Month: Learn how to use HTML and CSS
  • 2nd Month: Learn how to use Bootstrap/Tailwind and the principles of design
  • 3rd Month: Use HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap to build websites
  • 4th Month: Learn how to use JavaScript
  • 5th Month: Learn more sophisticated concepts. JavaScript
  • 6th Month: Build websites through WebFlow or HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
  • 7th Month: Build a personal brand by creating a personal portfolio website
  • 8th Month: Make contact with companies and offer to construct websites for them (for free to gain experience)
  • 9th Month: Concentrate on expanding your knowledge and determining what you need to improve
  • 10th Month: Create a portfolio with at least three client websites
  • 11th Month: Learn the principles of freelancing and business
  • 12th Month: Make contact with potential clients, market your business, and get paying clients or a job

Find the Most Effective Method for Learning Coding Skills

There are two approaches to learning how to code: Purchase a premium course or learn on your own with free tutorials

Which path you should choose is determined by your previous coding skills, budget, and learning speed.

Paid Courses or Bootcamps

Pros

  • A planned flow and curriculum will be provided, with smaller classes, goals, and tasks split into smaller chunks.
  • When you’re stuck, you generally have access to a community of learners or coding mentors who can assist you.
  • Some Bootcamps have been shown to move learners from beginner to junior level in six months.
  • Some Bootcamps also include job placement assistance and one-on-one career counseling.

Cons

  • Coding Bootcamps are not cheap, with some costing upwards of $2000.
  • It may be challenging to fit in the weekly courses if you have a hectic schedule.
  • While Udemy courses are inexpensive, they still demand a minimal financial commitment.

Free Tutorials

Pros

  • For individuals on a tight budget, there is no fee.
  • Your pacing is entirely in your control.

Cons

  • There is no accountability group to hold you accountable.
  • There will be more significant confusion and delays if there is no organization.
  • There is no way to connect with a community of students and coding specialists.
  • There is no assurance of a job, and career counseling is not available.

You can enroll in free classes on websites like Udemy and watch YouTube tutorials if you want a low-risk approach to get started.

Concentrate on a Certain Niche

It will be simpler to expand your knowledge and establish a reputation if you concentrate on a specific niche.

Let’s have a sample scenario.

Angela, a law firm’s HR manager, has been entrusted with finding a developer who can overhaul the firm’s website to increase sales. So Angela goes to Upwork and posts a job ad describing her requirements.

Within seconds, a developer named Mark had already submitted an application outlining his relevant expertise. Angela observed that most of his work entailed designing websites for e-commerce sites in his portfolio and résumé. He has no prior experience creating websites for law firms. She chooses to wait a few more days to see if there are any more applications.

Another developer named Mike delivers an application a few hours later, and Angela’s eye is instantly drawn to it. Mike, he claims, is a web developer specializing in creating high-converting websites for law firms. That is perfect for Angela!

New web developers often try to please everyone, but this gives the idea that you’re just another coder who can be quickly replaced.

To build a successful freelancing business, you need to be an expert in a given sector. For example, if you positioned yourself as an experienced web developer for law firms, you want to be the first person that comes to mind when a law company requires a website.

If you’re an expert for a specific niche:

  • Clients will gladly pay a higher price for your services.
  • Your reputation will swiftly spread across your industry, resulting in word-of-mouth referrals, the most effective marketing method.
  • It will be easier to earn six figures while working less.

Examples of niches in which you can specialize:

  • Audiologists
  • Roofing businesses
  • Deck installers
  • Coffee shops, florists, barbershops, salons, and other small local enterprises
  • Shopify or other platform-based e-commerce sites
  • WebFlow websites

Narrowing down your niche may seem counterintuitive since it means passing up a lot of possibilities, but it will pay off in the long term.

Make an Eye-catching Portfolio Website

After you’ve decided on a niche, the following step is to create a portfolio website to showcase your skills.

Real websites or applications you’ve worked on, customer testimonials, and your expertise in your sector should all be included in your portfolio.

It’s important to note that the portfolio isn’t just a collection of websites. It clearly outlines what you can do for your target client (i.e., gain more consumers) and demonstrates your skills with example websites, blog articles, and customer testimonials. Finally, at the bottom of the page, create a form that prospective customers can use to obtain a quote.

If you join a Bootcamp, you’ll certainly already have some projects under your belt that you can add to your portfolio.

But what if you’re a complete novice with no previous experience?

You can choose between two options:

1. In return for a testimonial, you will create two websites for free

Working for nothing may turn off some individuals, but keep in mind that the aim is to build a solid portfolio quickly.

There are two steps to this method.

Step 1: Send an email to the business owner with your offer.

Their email addresses are in the yellow pages, local periodicals, online directories, and social media profiles.

Another option is to seek out existing websites and offer to fix them for free if you believe they are inadequate.

Here’s the sample email you can send them: 

Hi [name],

I recently discovered your [niche] business and observed that you do not have a website.

I’m a web designer, and I’d be happy to build your website for free (no strings attached) in return for a testimonial that I can post on my site.

I’m seeking a few testimonials to assist me in the future.

Would you be interested in taking advantage of this offer?

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries.

Regards,

Your Name

Your Contact Details

Step 2: Build a website. If you want to complete it sooner, you can develop it yourself or purchase an inexpensive theme on Themeforest.net (typically for about $15).

2. Purchase two domains and build your websites.

If all you need to prove is that you can build fantastic websites, then buying two domains relating to your intended niche and building the websites makes perfect sense.

It won’t win you any testimonials, but it’ll get you started quickly.

Set Your Price

To be successful, you must have a price strategy.

If you set your prices too low, you’ll overwork yourself and lose money.

You won’t get any clients if you charge too much.

When it comes to price, consider the following three factors:

  • First, your price strategy is determined by the niche you’re targeting.
  • Do not charge on an hourly basis.
  • Third, offering three different price alternatives will help you attract more clients. 

1. The Niche You Target Determines Your Pricing

If you offer a small bakery $1,000 for a website, you risk exceeding their budget. On the other hand, if you price a law firm $3000, they may believe it is too low and cast doubt on your skills.

You must ascertain the price point your target market is willing to pay for a website.

2. Avoid Using Hourly Pricing

It is a contentious subject, but we want to emphasize something critical.

If a dentist removes your wisdom teeth in 30 minutes or less, you are unlikely to request a reduced charge, correct?

If a heart surgeon completes the operation in two hours, you will not reply, “I will only pay you $300 since it took you two hours.”

If someone completes a job quickly, it does not mean the service is less valuable – it just means they spent an awful lot of time honing the skill until they mastered it perfectly and effectively.

The same holds for web developers. Simply because you completed a simple WordPress website in a day does not automatically entitle you to charge your daily pricing.

As a freelance web developer, your goal should be to charge a rate that reflects the value of your work. What value do you provide to your client’s business?

3. Provide Pricing Alternatives

When you begin communicating with prospective customers, they will want a proposal or estimate.

When this occurs, always provide at least three alternatives. It looks like this:

  • Option 1: $400 in total
  • Option 2: $900 in total
  • Option 3: $1,950 in total

Including upsells has three significant benefits:

  • First, you’ll work with clients with a range of budgets and requirements.
  • You’re presenting an enticing value-based offer that prospects will find difficult to refuse.
  • You’re possibly raising the amount of money you receive from each project, which will help you reach your objectives quicker.

Think about what your clientele may require to improve their website before deciding on upsells for your business.

Make a Short and Long-term Marketing Plan

It’s time to create a marketing and promotion plan for your business now that you have a niche, a portfolio website, and a price structure.

You should have a short-term and long-term plan to create a long-term business.

A short-term marketing plan concentrates on making money today/this month, while a long-term approach focuses on creating a brand and achieving returns 6+ months in the future.

Most freelance web developers fall into the “daily grind” trap, devoting their time and attention to finding clients and finishing tasks. Developing a brand is often overlooked. Here’s how to fix it:

Short-Term Strategy

These are the top three tactics for quickly finding clients: 

1. Paid Advertisement

Google AdWords and Facebook advertisements are the two most popular paid web ads.

Google advertisements display the results at the top when someone searches for a similar term. The business is charged every time someone clicks on the ad.

The theory behind Google AdWords – and any sponsored advertisement, for that matter – is to figure out how much you’re willing to spend to make a purchase.

For example, suppose you’re selling a $1,000 website. Would you be prepared to pay $50 to get a confirmed client who can sign up for a monthly marketing package?

Would you be prepared to spend $200 to convince a client to purchase a $375 website?

You must select how much you are prepared to spend to make a single sale.

The same is true for advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Ads can be a very profitable method to gain clients, but they have a high learning curve.

It’s beneficial to develop these skills since you can give them to clients as a service.

To get started with Google Ads, click this link: Ultimate Google Ads Training 2021: Profit with Pay Per Click.

Here’s the link to get started with Facebook Ads: The Complete Facebook Ads Masterclass 2022.

You can learn more about LinkedIn Ads through this link: LinkedIn Ads Course From Scratch – LinkedIn Ads 2021

2. Facebook Groups

Many people neglect this strategy, but you’ll be on your way to long-term success if you execute it correctly.

Simply start a Facebook group in your niche and invite others to join.

For example, if you’re selling websites to wedding vendors, You’ll start a Facebook group for local wedding vendors. Then you’ll add value by giving helpful digital marketing advice, high-value blog entries, tips, humorous memes, and other exciting stuff.

People will eventually see you as a wedding marketing expert if you keep doing this. If they ever need assistance with their website or marketing, You’ll be the first person they call.

You can also send individual messages to each member or make periodic posts to the group on how you can assist them in growing their business.

Creating and managing a Facebook group might be frightening, mainly if you’ve never done it before, but keep in mind that you don’t need 1,000 members to get started. Starting with 50 targeted members is fantastic.

Your first goal should be to convert 10% of these members into paying customers and then continue to expand the group from there.

It is a short-term and long-term strategy for gaining customers and establishing yourself as an expert in your niche.

3. Direct Outreach

Another short-term strategy for obtaining clients is to hunt for them manually. This method takes a long time and requires tremendous effort, but it pays off eventually.

Here are a few areas to seek for clients:

  • Craigslist/Yellow Pages
  • Local business directories on the internet
  • Flyers, newspapers, and brochures are all examples of local print media.
  • Google
  • Social media sites

Then you must learn the following:

  • Is there an online presence for them? Continue to Step 2 if you haven’t already.
  • Do they have a Google listing for their coffee shop, law firm, or wedding boutique?

It’s a positive indicator if the response to both queries is no. It’s now up to you to track their contact information and pitch your services to them. 

Send them the following email:

Hi [name],

I would like to [put compliment here]

I’ve assisted [insert what you’ve DONE for a comparable company]. I’d love to talk with you and see if I can guide you in doing the same.

When are you available for a brief call to go through the details?

Regards,

[Your name]

What if you’ve never done something like this before?

Replace the sentences “I’ve assisted…” and “I’d love to discuss…” with the following:

Your website could be significantly enhanced to increase sales [enter result]. I’d want to talk with you about how I can serve you with this.

Follow up after three days if you haven’t received a response.

If they don’t respond, call them.

Before we go any further, we’d want to stress a few points:

First, this strategy requires a significant amount of effort. You should contact as many companies as possible. You can’t argue something doesn’t work because it doesn’t function on seven different websites.

Not every client will respond positively.

Many of you will be hesitant to use the term “sell.” This term conjures up ideas of nasty marketers, and no one wants to be associated with them.

It happened to some as well, but they quickly realized something:

  • They’re building a website for this company that will help them expand.
  • They’re assisting clients in growing their business, and clients simply pay them for it.

It becomes your job to market them your services if you understand how your services can help them grow their business. With this shift in viewpoint, you’ll be able to sell your services with greater confidence.

Furthermore, there are appropriate methods to market your services without becoming too “salesy.”

Long-Term Strategy

Set out a few hours a week to create your brand while performing sponsored advertisements, direct outreach, and Facebook group marketing.

As previously said, developing your brand entails placing oneself as an authority figure in your niche. It will take more effort, but the payoff will be well worth it.

By completing the following, you can establish yourself as an expert:

  • Guest posting on relevant blogs
  • Podcast appearances
  • Creating niche-relevant content which ranks on Google
  • Making a YouTube channel or starting a podcast
  • Continue to grow your social media, LinkedIn, and newsletter communities.

There are a plethora of other methods for enhancing your brand. The essential thing is to be true to yourself and provide genuine value.

Content writing is one of the most undervalued methods. Here’s how you can use content writing to improve your brand and market your services:

  • Write a piece of relevant content related to your services.
  • Ensure that it is Google-friendly (SEO).
  • Potential clients will soon find you and your services.

We receive and continue to get a lot of client leads due to this strategy. It works well, so try it!

Additional Tips

Here are some more things you might want to consider.

1. Provide Exceptional Service to Each Client

Nothing will work if you don’t deliver good service, no matter how effectively you sell your services or use the best methods to establish your reputation.

“Every interaction, in any form, is branding,” says Seth Godin.

Making fantastic websites isn’t the end of excellent service.

It also entails clear communication throughout the project, producing outputs on schedule, and maintaining a professional demeanor.

Suppose you provide the most satisfactory possible service to your clients. In that case, they will gladly suggest you to anybody in their network who needs a website – which is significant given that 92 percent of consumers trust referrals from family and friends more than any other type of marketing.

People will come in if you have good marketing. A positive experience, on the other hand, will keep them coming back and transform them into committed consumers and brand advocates.

2. Discipline Wins All Time

After reading these incredible strategies, you could be pumped up and ready to take on the world.

However, you will soon become exhausted, frustrated, and demotivated doing a lot of work. In addition, you won’t want to send out outreach emails and publish blog posts simultaneously. So, should you take a step?

When your largest “why” isn’t enough to motivate you, you’ll have to depend on sheer discipline.

It will help if you create a list of the things you need to accomplish and build the discipline to stick to it, no matter how you feel.

You will achieve your goals no matter how long it takes if you are disciplined enough to stick to your action plan day after day.

That’s the process for becoming a successful freelance web developer.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to freelancing, but we hope these pointers and strategies are helpful.

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