How to Be a Freelance Web Developer: Your Step-By-Step Guide

If you’ve been thinking about transitioning into freelance website development, now is the time to do it. According to the BLS, the average website developer earns an average of $73,760 per year. Additionally, the job outlook for website developers is expected to grow by 8 percent through 2029, which is a rate much faster than the national average.

But, how do you get started on this career path?

Check out this guide to discover how to be a freelance web developer.

1. Learn as Many Programming Languages and New Technologies As You Can

If you’ve already been working as a website developer and are just looking to transition into a freelance role, then you can skip this step. However, if you’re completely new to the world of website development, then your journey begins with learning new programming languages and technologies.

The more languages and technologies you know, the better. Here are some of the top programming languages you should learn:

  • Java
  • Javascript
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • Swift
  • Rust
  • Kotlin
  • Go
  • PHP
  • C

While you should aim to know all of these languages eventually, we recommend starting out with Python, as it’s both easy and fun to learn.

In terms of technologies, you’ll want to learn about:

  • Web browsers (ie, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.)
  • HTML and CSS
  • Protocols like HTTP, DDP, and REST
  • API (application programming interface)
  • Data formats like JSON, XML, and CSV
  • Client/Client-side (clients can be mobile devices, tablets, computers, etc.)
  • Server/Server-side

If you’re new to the web development game, this list can seem overwhelming. But, the more technologies and languages you pick up, the easier it becomes. Many web developers learn these programs and technologies by self-teaching.

However, you can also earn an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree. Or, you can attend a coding boot camp or earn a certificate in web development.

2. Figure Out Business Logistics

Once you’ve got some web development skills under your belt, it’s time to iron out the details of your business. Even though you’ll be working as a freelancer, it’s important to understand that you’re technically running a freelancing business.

For this reason, you need to take the steps that every business owner takes to legitimize themselves. While the business end of things can feel like a hassle, just remember establishing yourself as the owner of a freelance business will help you sound more professional to clients.

Here’s what you need to do to get your freelancing business off the ground:

  • Meet with a CPA to figure out which business structure to choose (ie, LLC vs Corporation)
  • Decide on a business name and register it within the state where you reside
  • Apply for a Federal EIN (if applicable)
  • Write a business plan detailing your goals, achievements, and direction

You can check out the US Small Business Administration website to learn more information about setting up your business. Additionally, you’ll also need to invest in the right equipment and software to set up your home office.

While your software needs will depend on the types of services you offer, some programs you may want to consider investing in include:

  • WordPress
  • Macaw
  • Mockplus
  • Dreamweaver
  • Weebly
  • Codepen
  • Github
  • MAMP
  • Adobe Suites
  • Microsoft

One of the great things about being a freelance web developer is that you don’t need a lot of equipment to get started. In fact, a lot of freelancers travel around the world just working from their computers.

3. Build Your Website

After you’ve ironed out the business logistics, it’s time to build your website. While it’s important for every freelancer to have a stellar website, it’s especially important for web developers, as the website you build is a chance for you to show off your skills.

It’s important to understand that your website is not just a portfolio- it’s a launching point for your business. So, in addition to samples of your work, your website should also include:

  • An “About Me” section
  • Client testimonials
  • A blog
  • Contact information
  • A services page

If you’re new to the web development game and don’t have any client testimonials or samples yet, don’t sweat it. Here are some ways to build your portfolio even if you don’t have professional experience:

  • Volunteer to build websites for nonprofits and charities
  • Build websites for friends and relatives
  • Build a website for yourself (for example, you could create a blog that you run on the side)

You don’t need dozens and dozens of samples to prove that you’re worthy of hiring to your clients. Even just a few solid samples will help you get your foot in the door.

4. Market Your Web Development Services

Building a website alone is not going to be enough for you to land clients. You also need to market yourself like crazy. Here are some things you can do to market your services:

  • Cold email potential clients
  • Connect with potential clients via LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Write frequent blog posts and update your site to improve your SEO rankings and drive in organic traffic
  • Create social media profiles
  • Create a Youtube page where you teach the basics of web development

While you can also use job boards, the above tactics will help you reach a wider client base.

How to Be a Freelance Web Developer: Are You Ready to Get Started?

Now that you know how to be a freelance web developer, it’s time to get started. Before you know it, the clients will be rolling in.

Of course, this guide is just a basic overview of what it takes to become a freelance web developer. If you’re looking to learn the in-depth ropes of succeeding as a freelancer, contact us today.