Freelance Programmer Quick Start
A Cheat Sheet For Becoming A Freelance Programmer
I love freelancing as both a developer and as a writer.
Because I get to do something different, work on my skills, meet new people, and help them with their problems.
It’s a win/win.
I encourage everyone to give it a go, from those with zero experience to seasoned pros.
What better way to build your resume and add a little money to your life.
I first wrote the following as an email to a friend that wanted to get into the game, but decided to clean it up and share it with you.
Hope you find it useful!
Freelance Programmer Quick Start
The best way to get started is to just start. Seriously.
My process consists four steps.
Tailor them to suit your own needs as you gain experience as a freelancer.
Step 1: Targeting a Skillset
Are you already employed as a programmer? If so, you can just look for gigs doing what you do at work.
Are you learning to become a programmer? Pick one thing that you are good at and feel comfortable doing.
But don’t let me talk you out of anything.
I’ve found that part of being a freelance programmer is committing to learning new skills all the time.
Maybe you are bored with what you do at work right now, or don’t like that your learning path is so slow – you want to earn money now!
Train up in something and look for gigs that call for those skills.
Udemy, Coursera, EdX, and YouTube are all great places to pick up new skills.
Step 2: Your Portfolio
This isn’t as complicated as it sounds and doesn’t have to be fancy so don’t go overboard.
Having a place to send potential clients is the main thing you’re going for with your portfolio. It doesn’t have to be a complicated, hard to navigate website.
Fortunately there are plenty of options that are easier and cheaper than buying your own domain and hosting.
Go to Carrd, sign up for $9 a year, pick a template that you like, and put your information on there.
What kind of information? Well, for now just provide your contact info and a little about the services you provide.
Once you have completed your first freelancing gig, your portfolio site you is where you will put your customer testimonial.
Step 3: Landing Your First Client
You know what they say about the first time right? Yeah, so don’t be expecting a lot of magic here.
The point of this exercise is to land a client and complete the work to their satisfaction.
This new client is going to provide us with two things:
A testimonial that will help you get better paying work
Experience working with clients.
That’s it, so you have to make sure they are satisfied.
Go to Upwork, create a profile, and start browsing for jobs.
Search for jobs using keywords relevant to your technical specialty.
You will likely have to accept jobs that pay a lower rate than you are hoping for, but remember your desired outcome is to get satisfied customers that will give you a good testimonial and learn more about the freelancing process.
Once you have a good customer on Upwork, or any of the other numerous gig boards, it is possible to take that relationship to the next level. But don’t worry about that for now.
Focus on getting work, completing the work, and making your customer happy.
Bid on at least 10 gigs a day until you land one.
Create a standard format for the proposals that you will submit for each gig, that way all you have to do is tailor the words so they match the job and your bill rate.
This gets easier over time and you will develop a process that works for you.
Step 4: Your First Testimonial
Once the job is completed to your customer’s satisfaction, send them a testimonial to approve.
Testimonials from clients have a huge impact on your ability to win more work, as well as raise your rates.
So, how do you get one? Write a sentence or two about the work you just completed and send it to the client for approval.
They almost always say yes!
If they don’t want to approve the one you sent them, politely ask them to make any necessary revisions and send it back to you.
Head back to Carrd and create a testimonials section on your portfolio page.
BTW – I don’t think anyone ever really checks up on these testimonials. It’s just a form of social proof, so the more the better, but they have to be real. Don’t pump your landing page with completely fake testimonials.
These are the exact steps that I use to keep my pipeline flowing with freelancing gigs. It takes some patience, a little luck, and skills that you will build as you go.
Don’t get frustrated!
If you want a fantastic resource on becoming a web developer, you can’t go wrong buying Brad Traversy's Web Dev Guide. It’s insanely informative and the price is right.
If you have any questions or comments you can DM me on Twitter any time.
Thanks again for your support!
I hope 2023 is awesome to you.