In 2024, many web developers are pursuing freelance opportunities and setting up their own business to develop a freelance career. Our Web Development course will give you the best possible platform to launch your own venture by equipping you with the all the skills and knowledge to tackle the industry as a sole trader or entrepreneur. Find out more about our degree and read our blog below for guidance on how to be come a successful freelance web developer.
The freelancing lifestyle can be an appealing career path for many creatives wanting to work flexibly and choose their own projects within the world of web development.
Many can work from wherever their laptop can connect to the internet, enjoy creative freedom and work on opportunities and with clients of their choice. Of course, there are other challenges to pursuing this career path too. You need to ensure there is a steady stream of prospective clients to work with, manage the administrative tasks of running a small business and ensure you’re on top of the all latest trends and skills to stay relevant and in-demand.
In our blog, we will explore both the challenges and opportunities facing freelance workers.
This includes what it means to be self employed, how to refine your skill set and start freelancing while achieving the optimum work life balance. All of this advice is aimed at giving you best possible chance of becoming a successful freelance web developer.
What is a freelance web developer
A freelance web developer works on a contract or project basis on web development projects, whether that be a website or mobile app.
They are responsible for delivering a finished product after discussing their ideas and brief with a client.
These creatives aren’t bound by the normal employment contract with all the usual clauses that come with working exclusively for one company. Instead, as a freelance developer or freelance business, you can pick and choose what kind of work you take on, how many projects you want to work on at the same time and when you deliver your work.
Why you should consider Freelance Web Development
Many web development experts choose to embark on a freelancing journey as they like to work across various projects, flex their programming skills in different ways and keep their own hours.
Whether it is as a back end web developer or front end developer, there is huge appeal for some creatives in being their own boss and pursuing their own freelance projects. You can also set your own rates and negotiate over how much you get paid for every piece of work.
As you work for a range of different clients, you can also take on clients from wherever you want – so in theory, your web development skills can be utilised on projects based all around the world.
Find the Best Way to Learn Coding Skills
Studying a Web Development course at SAE can be a great way to learn the technical skills required to become a freelance web developer.
Our two-year programme offers students the chance to learn the latest practical skills, the most effective ways to collaborate and gain experience with industry tools and web applications including Photoshop and Dreamweaver.
Useful Skills for Freelance Web Developers
Alongside your technical skills as a freelance web developer, you will also need to focus on your communication skills, particularly as you will likely have to work with an array of different clients operating in different sectors.
Business skills and a knowledge of the best project management tools will come in handy too, especially when plotting a growth strategy and perhaps even taking on other team members. If you want to expand your venture beyond a full time job to hire other web developers and more potential clients, then you will need to consider the structure of your business too.
How to start Freelancing as a Web Developer
To begin with, freelance web developers need to invest some time in researching what they want their business to be and any initial costs that might be incurred.
For example, perhaps you need to source appropriate IT resources for your work. You may want to work from home but if you are interested in office space, then this will be an additional cost. Alternatively, you may want to split your time between home and local coffee shops.
Many freelance developers will need a website to showcase their best work and attract future clients so you will need to purchase the domain name and spend time on keeping your site’s web pages updated. If you are hoping to attend industry events to find future clients, then business cards could also be useful too.
Your freelance finances
As a freelance web developer, you will be likely be working for yourself on different projects with multiple clients. This means you will not be reliant on a monthly pay check but will be paid in different instalments, often at different times of the month.
There are financial implications and responsibilities for freelancers. You are responsible for paying your own tax each year. If you want to put money away into a pension, then you will need to set this up yourself too. You will also need to keep track of any personal expenses in your bank account, while simultaneously reviewing your monthly outgoings and payments to ensure you are earning enough to keep on top of your costs. Liability insurance and health insurance may also be necessary to purchase too.
It can take some time to adapt to the freelance lifestyle and working out business expenses can create a busy schedule. The benefits include the greater freedom to work with an array of new clients and it can be extremely lucrative if you find the right projects for you.
Create your business plan
If you are going to run your own freelancing business, search for freelance work or offer a business that can compete with other freelancers providing the same services, then a plan can come in handy. This will help you stay on top of all the tasks that need attention, whether that be sourcing more customers, developing your personal brand or refining your skills to ensure you can create eye-catching visuals.
Your plan should include an overview of your strategy, your target market and a schedule. Other elements can focus on a cash flow forecast and expense budget. It will also help to keep you motivated by including some business aims and milestones alongside a timeline.
Conduct market research
Doing some research into the market as you begin your freelance web developer journey can help you focus on your brand and niche. Look to your peers and fellow professionals to see how they conduct their business and showcase their web development services.
By undertaking some research into the web development marketplace, you can hopefully discover the best ways to find new business and individual clients.
It could also help you focus on the direction of your business too – so enabling you to decide on the area you want to prioritise in your freelancing career – from back end development, coding skills to working as a full stack developer.
Build a portfolio website
As a web designer, the best way to show off your abilities is, perhaps quite obviously, to build your own website.
This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate what you are capable of as a web developer. Consider what you want to include – so this should consist of a portfolio of past work and past projects, any great websites that you are proud to have worked on, your education, any qualifications you have achieved, essential skills and abilities. Any customer testimonials will also go a long way in demonstrating how you can be trusted and relied on to contribute to fantastic projects.
Contact details are also essential so include an email address or contact form for potential customers to reach you on.
Finding freelance web developer jobs
Searching through job listings websites is an obvious way to begin looking for freelance work as a freelance web developer. There are some websites where this work will be advertised. For example, the If You Could Jobs and The Dots websites both list creative opportunities.
However, you should also focus on ensuring you have a professional presence online where you can showcase your skills as a web developer. You can build your own website to demonstrate your areas of expertise while developing a profile on LinkedIn is also an effective platform to grow your freelance career.
One of the most effective ways to source new opportunities is through word of mouth recommendations. If you have a website, then make sure testimonials from clients are highlighted. If you are on LinkedIn, then populate the recommendations section of your profile with positive reviews from colleagues and customers.
Create your marketing strategy
Being a freelance web developer provides you with a wealth of marketing channels. Here are some different methods:
Referrals: Attracting more customers through word-of-mouth or referral marketing is an excellent way to market your business. Remember, always be professional when asking for referrals with past clients and customers.
Website: Deploy an SEO strategy on your website to ensure you rank well on Google when any prospective customers are searching for web development services. This can involve undertaking keyword research and producing specific content to enhance the visibility of your online presence.
Social media: Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Facebook to drive traffic to your website and services. There are more channels out there but consider who your audience is and which ones they might use. It’s better to concentrate on one or two platforms rather than spreading yourself too thinly across more.
Content marketing: If you’re looking to establish yourself as an expert and generate potential business leads, then content marketing can be an effective strategy. Creating blog posts on specific topics or publishing videos with your thoughts on industry trends or practices can help establish your personal brand while lending more legitimacy to your portfolio website.
Attend events: Attending web development conventions, seminars, even webinars are all effective ways of getting your name and face out there in front of potential clients. These events can help you enhance your skills and knowledge while simultaneously expanding your network too.
Be proactive – and always willing to help or start new projects
Adopting a proactive and vocal attitude to sourcing work and looking for new business can be an effective way of developing your venture.
There are plenty of professional online communities – so on platforms like LinkedIn or online forums or spaces such as Reddit or Discord. Being active in these spaces can be an effective way of networking and demonstrating your skills and experience. Doing so will not only help peers or other new freelance web developers, but can also be a great way of expanding your network too.
Charging your clients as a freelance web developer
How much value you should put on your work and services? This can be a challenging part of working as a self-employed professional. When starting out it can be difficult to know your worth as you want to attract more sales and it can be tempting to undervalue what you offer. Try and spend time thinking about your rates on both a daily and hourly basis. If you have a clear idea about what you charge before meeting a client, then it will help show you are professional and take what you do seriously.
Focus on the type of freelancer web developer you want to be
As a freelance web developer, there are myriad ways to turn what you do into a full time job.
Some small businesses succeed by offering a portfolio of different services and solutions to their clients. Others are able to specialise to attract business – whether that be website type, programming languages, tech stack, client industry, and client region.
As we’ve seen, pursuing a career as a freelance web developer can offer fantastic creative rewards. If you take on multiple clients, then it can offer a rich variety to your work and gives you the chance to contribute to different projects.
If you can balance the creative side with the responsibilities of operating as a sole trader or limited company, then there is plenty of satisfaction to be enjoyed. Good luck!
STUDY web design and development at SAE
If you want to work in web design, understand the latest technology and work out how to network and enhance a portfolio, then our Web Design and Development degree could be for you.
Our facilities and expert tutors are well placed to give your career the best possible start in this fast-paced and dynamic industry.