Want to Be a Freelance Web Developer and Work from Home?
If you want to be a Freelance Web Developer and work from home, here’s What You Need to Know First.
If you are reading this article right now, you’re probably one of those hundreds of web developers who seriously considers becoming a freelancer. If you learned how to code and did all the hard work, maybe it’s about time to reap some of the rewards that these in-demand skills can offer you outside the four-corner premises of your company.
It’s a brilliant idea! But, err, how?
There are plenty of reasons why a web developer wants to go freelance. For starters, it’s a stellar area for career progress. You get to be your own boss, work your hours on your personal terms. As a freelance web developer, yes, sometimes you need to take on projects that pay the bills, but you also have more freedom to take on jobs that make you happy.
If you really want to be a freelance web developer, let’s take a look at…
A Few Things to Ponder
We asked some experts at web design Adelaide, who said, “web design and development has a different high level of expectation from clients. If you’re looking for an easy business to venture, then it’s better to move along.”
Clients want their sites to look better than everyone else, so they set their expectations so high that meeting them becomes impossible. And you’ll end up either disappointing them or re-educating them.
As a freelance web developer, you are your own boss and that means it’s all on you to find clients, and ultimately give what they want. The biggest warning we could give you is that if you want to be a freelance web developer — you need to be a good project manager!
Be prepared to manage your time, the project timeline, deliverables and customer satisfaction. If this isn’t your for-tee, working for a company may be much more rewarding than venturing into the world of freelance web developer.
Work-life balance is major consideration here. If you’re going to work at home, your dilemma would be ‘when to work’ and ‘when to stop.’ You might need to deal with clients with emergency requests which could mean working on weekends. You’re a freelancer, so your clients assume that calling you whenever and wherever they want is okay, which of course, is not okay but you don’t have a choice.
Who Should Consider Freelancing?
If you’re already a web developer, in all likelihood, you’re working in the same company or bouncing from opportunities every year and leaves when things are no longer interesting or beneficial for you. Now, you’re thinking about breaking away from your circular work life and calling your own shots.
On the other side of the coin, if you’re a tech savvy person who wants to build a skill set which allows you to work on your terms, freelancing is a lucrative option.
Being a boss has its perks and quirks. But as a freelancer, particularly in the web design service industry, getting started is very challenging. You need to run your own business, which includes managing the worst kind of employee that you might have, including yourself.
You need to be strict and should implement disciplines especially if you work at home. Imagine when your favorite football game is airing, it’s tempting to set aside your work first and come what may. It’s that hard.
So, in case you need some motivation, here are some facts about being a freelance web developer that may boost your spirit:
- Your skills are in demand. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sees a 27% growth of employment for web developers by 2024. In that period, there will be 39,500 available jobs.
- There’s a significant shortage of web developers across the globe.
- The rate for contract salaries is high.
If your decision is firm and you want to build a career as a freelance web developer, below are valuable tips that you can refer to have a good start and guarantee success in freelance web development.
1. Choose Your Niche and Specialize
Selecting a niche is imperative if you want to work as a freelance web developer because it tells you what to learn and helps guide your skill set. However, it’s not a recommendation to narrow your options too much. If you’re not that confident with your current abilities, try to build a skill set of complementary abilities other than coding or consider learning a new language altogether.
A developer who can also carry out an efficient and useful information architecture is rare. If you can develop this dual-skilled approach, you’ll see yourself generating clients left and right. If you don’t want to be a typical freelance web developer that people know, be an expert developer who specializes in a particular area.
It will be easier to make a name for yourself and advertise your skills if you can say you’re an expert in a sought-after or particular area or the only one who can do it.
2. Build Your Portfolio
After selecting your niche, the next thing to do is to build your portfolio. Start with your website, the one you that you’ll edit and update and continually develop in your entire career.
In web designing services, you’ll need outputs that you can show to your potential clients. It’s best if you have a half dozen projects, the ones that you can brag with pride and confidence which is your absolute best works. If possible, show a diversity of work to showcase your design skills. Use theme designs, templates, child themes, mock-ups, etc. Your portfolio must reflect the types of websites that you want to create.
You must keep both your portfolio and website updated with current trends. Make sure to incorporate a visible contact page so potential clients can contact you easily.
3. Market and Build Personal Brand
Advertising your name as an expert in the web development field is tough, but you’ll have to hustle for it so get ready for some sleepless nights if you want the freelance lifestyle.
You will spend a lot of your time marketing to work with potential clients. Your website is the best medium for them to see your work, but don’t expect them to find it on their own. You need to exert effort too. If possible, scout for new clients every day and again market what you’ve got. The process may get repetitive, but it’s necessary when starting out.
Regarding visibility, keep your goals simple. Relying on Google to provide visibility for your name is tough, so focus on affixing your name on your portfolio, social media profile and the problems your clients will search for and content to the terminology of your niche skill. There are numerous options for marketing techniques which you can use at your disposal, below are the following;
- Word of mouth
- Cold calling
- Social media platforms
- Writing a book
- Guest posting on websites and freelance websites
- Partnering with other developers and designers
- Contacting people in personal basis
- Handing out business cards, doing pro bono work for nonprofits
- Hosting free webinars for a popular website
- Supplying giveaway items like free downloads on your website
- Placing television, radio, local newspaper and even magazine ads
Advertising through word of mouth will take you a long way, so make sure to ask referrals from clients. As for your brand, be sure to appear professional and not just a hobbyist. You can use your name to fabricate your logo then use it across multiple platforms. Do the same for images. Get a professional image of yourself and use it everywhere.
4. Start to Organize
Your job as a freelance web developer does not stop at making codes. You need to carry the role of a project manager, head of customer care and salesperson too. You might lack experience in these areas, but they are equally important to the success of your freelancing endeavor. It means you need to organize.
Below is a short list of resources you can use to kickstart your freelancing endeavor.
- Google Apps for Work – for business documents
- Business Plan – for creating a business plan
- Basecamp – for project management tool
- Trello – for project management tool
- FreshBooks – for accounting
If you prefer to extend your resources, you can do your research, ask your colleagues, friends and other freelancers about the tools they use.
5. Develop Your Skills
- In freelance work, your portfolio and skillset are more imperative than a degree. You will need training with certification. Search for courses that develop skills that align with current trends in your field.
- You need an in-depth working knowledge of HTML and CSS. You don’t need to code the website manually, but a basic understanding of these two languages is always handy and helps you obtain a better understanding of what’s possible and what’s not.
- Stay updated with popular plugins, themes, and current trends. Keeping up with the latest trends and news is not easy especially when you’re working on projects, so you need to set aside time for it.
- Be a communicator and a listener. You need to know and understand what your clients want and need. Keep them updated throughout the whole phase of the project. There’s nothing worse than completing a site design only to find that it’s not what your client wants.
- Be creative. The knowledge of typography, layout principles, and image usage may not be obligatory, but it will develop you into a more valuable and successful web developer. If you can yield designs that clients will love, you’ll position yourself on the front line as an in demand web designer.
- Be detail-oriented. You need to pay attention to small details because a single lapse on details can be costly. Revisions will eat up your time and may cost you your current and future clients too because they might look for another developer and tell their friends about it.
- Develop your business skills. You’ll need to learn about business planning, operations, customer service, taxes, etc. so you need to hone your project management skills. Set goals according to the requirements of clients and break them down into smaller projects.
6. The Project
As a freelance web developer, be sure that you completely understand the outputs of the project before you start. It includes the website’s overall aesthetic and functions and project deadline as well. As a freelance web developer, understanding the complete web design process will be essential for project transparency.
Create a contract with the following inclusions:
- Title of the project
- Start date of project
- Completion date of project
- Description of the project
- Milestones with appropriate dates
- Definition of support after the completion of project
- Terms of payments
- Signatures from two parties
Ensure that your contracts are understandable and transparent base on the inclusions and exclusions, the completion date of the projects, as well as the expected payment date and payment method. It’s a good idea to ask for a deposit before starting on a project. It doesn’t only helps pay the bills, but it also shows the client is serious about the project.
Time management and project planning is the key to success for any freelance business and web developer service is not an exemption. You can use project management tools and a calendar to track the project and keep it on schedule. You will also need to track milestones and mark deadlines, schedule time for events, courses, marketing, etc.
7. Don’t Forget Your Business Plan
Just because you’re going freelance doesn’t mean that you won’t need a business plan. It’s a must! It will show you what your business will look like for the next 2 to 5 years. Even if you don’t create a formal business plan, you’ll still benefit from the information and research that it will render.
A typical business plan includes the following elements:
- Cover Page – your business’ overall description
- Executive Summary – it contains your company’s snapshot and goals
- Company Description – it tells what you do, what markets you’ll serve, what makes you different. It could also include your management and organization structure (if you have a team)
- Market Research – shows your market, industry, and competition
- Product/Service Line – a comprehensive review of the products and services you sell
- Sales and Marketing – your sales strategy and marketing strategy
- Financial Projections – the profit you expect to make and when you’re going to meet it. It’s important if you’re sourcing for funding.
8. Freelance Web Developer Rates
You’ll need to work with your rate before you start pitching to clients. It’s hard to find the right balance if you’re just starting out. If you don’t give the appropriate charges, you’ll get bargain hunters, and you’ll have a hard time paying your bills. If you charge too high, the expectations could be hard to live up.
What you can charge will depend on your experience, skill sets, and portfolio. It will boil down to what the client can bear, what’s the value of your work and how much you need. Create a payment structure. Some freelancers charge per hour, while others charge per project or per package.
The first thing to do is add up your personal and business expenses to find out how much you need to earn per month. Your rate should not go under your total expenses. You need to add a little for profit. You’ll need money to invest in courses and better tools, repair or replace equipment.
The next thing to do is check the billable hours which you’ll have in a particular month. If you plan to work 40 hours every week, then you will not have 40 billable hours. Pay attention to other administrative tasks that you need to deal with, such as working on your website, marketing, answering questions, learning, etc.
Don’t start working without a deposit, unless you already have a good relationship and understanding with your client. Typically, a deposit may range from 25% to 50% of a project’s total cost.
Some prefer to bill in intervals according to milestones while other freelancers prefer to send the bill when the project is near to completion. Some ask for the payment right away, and others request the payment within 5 to 15 days of completion. There are even freelancers who demand payments after 30 days, but it’s not advisable. Whichever way is feasible for you, make sure it’s well-indicated in the contract.
10. Bonus Section: Additional Factors You Need to Consider
- Expenses – You’ll need to stash enough savings until you can start earning a real profit. It could be months or longer before you get your first client and earn for the project. The more you save, the better. But of course, you don’t need living expenses if you’re working part time.
- Business License – Most freelancers forgets the need to obtain a business license. Every country is different, so you have to do research about it. In the US, every state is different so check with the local county clerk’s office and your state laws.
- Taxes – You’ll need to pay for taxes. Remember to incorporate it to your rate and set it aside when you get your fee.
- Insurance – Be responsible and get your insurance. It includes life, health, and business insurance.
- Retirement – It might sound a bit unnecessary, but don’t forget to set aside for your retirement.
Freelancing is not an easy field to venture. It’s full of pros and cons. But the rewards from this lifestyle will outweigh all your hard work by ten folds if you do it right from the beginning. Establish your reputation as an honest, hard worker and reliable web developer who treats clients with respect.
It will pay off time and time again as you continue your journey as a freelancer. Earn as many experiences as you can and always, always give your best for every project.