Going Out on Your Own: How to Become a Freelance Web Developer
Are you getting tired of grinding it out at your day job? The good news is that striking out on your own is easier than it has ever been.
The internet has made it so that almost anyone can do their job from the comfort of their home. Reports show that at least one-third of the United States workforce has now done freelancing at one point in their career.
If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance web developer, you have a lot to learn. Keep reading to learn seven things you need to know if you want to make it as a freelancer.
1. Learn the Basic Skills
The world of web development is vast. You won’t be able to cover everything there is in your freelance career.
Knowing these basics means you can tackle most of the work out there. Spend the time to learn everything to the point that it’s second nature.
If your developing websites, you also need to know how to make a user experience. If you’ve done nothing but programming in the past, this is a skill you need to learn. The only thing you’re doing is wasting your client’s money if you build a website that people have a hard time using.
2. Find a Niche
You might think that being a generalist will make you more valuable. You would be wrong in most cases.
Being a generalist means that you don’t have a strong message to send to potential customers. You’re going to be telling them that you’re average at using a lot of technology. People want to work with experts.
You want to position yourself as an expert in a few specific web development fields. Doing this allows you to command higher rates and better target people who are looking for those skillsets.
If you want to stand out more, work on learning a web development skill that’s in demand, but not in supply. You won’t have as much competition, and your clients will have an easier time finding you.
3. Form a Company
It’s tempting to jump straight into freelancing and do everything under your own name. The problem is, this can cause headaches in the future.
It’s worth it to start a company to do business under. You can still use your name for your business, but you will do all your business under your company.
Doing this will allow you to separate your personal and business affairs. A separate bank account means you can quickly identify business income and expenses. This separation makes things easier when tax season comes around.
You can start with a simple LLC. This company structure is a pass-through entity. You’ll be able to file all your business income on your personal tax return.
4. Create a Portfolio
Would you be willing to hire someone that can’t prove they can do the job? The chances are you wouldn’t. A business won’t do it, either.
Creating a portfolio is a way to show potential clients what you’re capable of doing.
If you’re going for more technical jobs, create example web apps, and publish them on the internet. You can link to your software on your website. If someone wants to see your code, you can publish it to GitHub.
If you’re developing websites, clients will be more interested in how good you are at design. Create a few sample designs and showcase them on your site. You want to showcase your best work, so don’t put just anything out there.
5. Learn How to Sell
It isn’t enough to show someone that you can do the job. You need to help people understand that you know what their problem is, and you know how to solve it. You can’t do this if you don’t know how to sell.
Spend time learning how to focus on customers during your sales calls. Remember that people aren’t too interested in your credentials when talking to you. What they want is to improve their business.
Get your potential customers to talk about their problems and offer them solutions.
6. Network With Everyone
Don’t get into the mindset that someone doesn’t deserve your time if they aren’t a customer. Doing this means you’re missing out on a lot of networking opportunities.
Take the time to go to business events to connect with other business owners. Your goal is to position yourself as someone who solves web problems.
Even if nobody there becomes a customer, you’ve introduced yourself as someone that businesses can count on. You want to be the first person that comes to mind when the topic of web development comes up.
These business owners can be a source of customer referrals for your freelance business.
7. Learn How to Solve Business Problems
When you’re working at a regular job, your employer usually gives you your problem. There may be questions here and there, but you have a clear vision of what needs to be done. The same isn’t always true for freelance web development.
You need to learn how to ask your customers the right questions. People might not always know what they want or what problems they have. It’s up to you to figure this out so you can offer the solution that’s right for them.
Learn more about the problems enterprises and small business face, so you have the right answers available for them.
Becoming a Freelance Web Developer Isn’t Easy
It isn’t enough to be great at developing for the web. If you want to become a freelance web developer, you have even more skills that you need to learn. Use the steps above to get started the right way.
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