How to Become a Freelance Web Developer

To become a freelance web developer is one of the most attractive careers of the 21st century. And it isn't without reason. There aren't enough web developers to satisfy the demands of the market, and the pay is really good.

But there's a major problem. If you're a web developer -or thinking of becoming one- you might know that working as a web developer in a company isn't great. Unlike the sales department, you get the ugly office and there aren't many options to move up the career ladder.

So do you have any alternative? Of course! You can become a freelance web developer. That way, you'll be able to manage your own time schedule, you'll be able to work for several companies at the same time, and you'll be independent.

If you're looking for an exciting life with a steady pay and being your own boss, we've prepared a three-step guide to become a freelance web developer.

First step: Become an awesome web developer

The first step is, of course, becoming a web developer. But there's more to it. You should become an awesome web developer.

If you study programming, they'll teach you how to create a website with HTML and CSS. Then you'll learn Java, PHP, Ruby, and other programming languages.

But would you be able to create the web products that your clients need?

If you intend to become a freelance web developer, you'll need to be able to deliver complete high-quality websites and web apps. And there's more to it than they teach you at school.

As a freelance web developer, your clients will want you to work with WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Shopify, and many other web development tools. You should know how to use each one of these before trying to get your first client.

There's more: an awesome web developer is the best at something. Yes, you should know how to do everything your clients want you to. But you should have some skill that makes you stand out from the rest.

You can be a specialist in a certain programming language, you can be a specialist on social networks, or you can be a specialist on dynamic websites.

There's an infinity of options for you to specialize in, but you should choose one of them and focus on becoming the best on it.

Second step: Becoming a freelancer

Once you're an awesome web developer, becoming a freelancer should be easy. All you need is a profile at a freelancing website like Upwork or Peopleperhour and patience to get your first client.

Or is it?

If you already found your niche and you're sure you've mastered it, you need to start building stuff. Anything. Whatever it is, it'll be enough to show your potential clients what you're capable of. And after you finish your first project, you should move to the next one. And the next one.

That's how you build a great portfolio. And having a great portfolio is essential for every freelancer. It will allow you to showcase your skills and your work identity.

Apart from a portfolio, you're gonna need a personal website. It doesn't need to be very fancy, but it's a great place for you to include your portfolio and to tell your personal story.

If you already have a portfolio and a personal website, it's time to get some clients. At first, the only places where you'll find new clients are freelancing websites. But after some time, as you build your personal brand, new clients will be trying to hire you. And they'll do it on your website.

With every new experience you have, you must update your portfolio and your list of services. As you learn new abilities, you should offer them.

Third step: Mastering new skills

The final step in becoming a freelance web developer is mastering new skills unrelated to web development.

This is quite tricky. Most freelancers will be content once they get a few clients and stop there. But you shouldn't.

Being a freelancer means you are your own boss and you can work on numerous projects for several companies at the same time. But you can go beyond that. You can create your own business and offer a full package - not just the web development.

The first clients you'll get will most likely want a very specific task from you: develop a website, create a web app, etc. But they also need other things, like creating and maintaining a blog, developing a marketing strategy, managing projects.

If you become as good at these new skills as you are at web development. you'll be hired to take care of all these tasks. Marketing, sales, finances, project managing, UX design. There are many areas you can explore.

Or maybe you don't want to master new skills. Maybe you just want to be a web developer and focus on it. That's alright. There's another simple way to offer full packages to your clients: you can get an associate.

Think about it from your client's perspective: he or she has to look for and hire a web developer, a marketing specialist, and a project manager to work for them. If instead, you could offer the complete service, you would be helping him or her a lot.

So if you're thinking of becoming a freelancer, you should spread the word. Try to get a couple of friends to become freelancers as well, or find freelancers on a website or coworking spaces so that you can all work together and create a successful association.

Conclusion

In order to become a great freelance web developer, you need to become a diversified freelancer. Also, you'll need to find a niche to specialize in so that it'll be easier for you to get clients who are looking for a specific task.

As you build your portfolio and your own website, you'll be getting more clients and learning new web development skills, which you can offer as new services to get even more clients.

If your want to learn the specifics of how to become a freelance web developer - take one of my courses on becoming a remote developer.  You won't only become a freelance web developer - but one that can work from anywhere in the world ;)

PJ Manning

PJ is the creator and CEO of TravelDeveloper.com. A digital nomad since 2012 - he's constantly looking for where to work and surf next.