AUTHOR: Kiri Nowak

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the freelance coding world beckoning. Maybe your current developer job has become more tedious than tremendous, or perhaps you’re just itching for more freedom. Smashing day after day of mind numbing nine to five work can feel like an endurance event, but it doesn’t have to be this way...

Think the freelance coding world is full to the brim already? That there can't be enough web development and coding work out there to go around? Think again. Good web developers are a bit like goldust, there’s a shortage worldwide - especially if you've got front end and back end skills, or are thinking about becoming a full stack web developer. And, well, your skills are needed in pretty much every industry. Plus, the best part, freelance coding jobs are super well paid. Hello extra cash... oh how you’ve been missed!

So snap out of that ‘I must grind the nine to five’ trance and open your mind to a world of web development opportunities by going it alone. We’re not gonna lie, it’s hard at first, but the payoff, freedom and work life balance is to die for.

Here are some top tips on how to go freelance and win clients.

See also: Which coding anti hero are you: front end, back end or full stack?

 

Before you hand in your notice

Hold up! We’re all on board with you following your freelance dreams, but you do need to do some prep beforehand. You may want to try and start building up some clients in your free time, even if that means working on personal freelance coding projects at the weekend whilst holding down your nine to five job. 

Gather all your professional contacts, ask around on the sly, and start to define exactly what services you plan to offer, and sensible rates to charge to begin with. 

Oh, and don’t forget to drink as much as you bloody well can from the knowledge fountain. You know, like in the last hour or so of the wedding where you’re just downing any old half empty glass of vino you can get your hands on to make the most of the #OpenBar. 

If you want to go freelance, you need as much fresh and up to date training as you can possibly get. Get yourself booked onto our online coding course to get your hands on the freshest and most broad and varied training around. Even if you’ve got some experience of coding already, beefing up your knowledge of all things code with online web design courses should be top of your to do list for before you hand in your notice.

It’s a good idea to be wide spreading with your learning so you can offer companies a solution for all their website development needs, well that’s exactly what our full stack coding course offers. 

See also: 7 IT skills that are mega hot right now

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Swings and roundabouts

Sure, being freelance is pretty epic, but it’s not all plain sailing. Prepare to face everything the freelance world throws at you. We’re sure you’ve heard the positives, which mainly involve flexibility, the potential to earn more money, more time to yourself etc etc, the list is endless. 

But in order to reach the glorious deserted island where you can enjoy freelance life with a couple of ice cold Coronas and a side order of suntan, you have to cross the stormy seas. A.k.a late payments, let's face it, tricky clients, cash flow struggles and well, the battle of actually winning some business in the first place. But don’t worry, we’ll help you make your way back to the freelance island of your dreams.

See also: Empowering TED Talks to inspire a career change

 

How to make the change and put yourself out there

Right, now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty... Actually. Going. Freelance. It’s time to give your A game.

 

  • Start putting your brand together, this is the fun part. Coming up with a name, website URL and logo. www.pleasehiremeasacoder.com anyone?
  • Make sure your own website is a sight for sore eyes too. This is the best piece of armoury you have to show off how great you are at web development. Check it's functional, looks the part and includes some case studies and reviews from any previous clients you've had. No matter how big or small the project...

  • Gather some examples of your best work. If you’ve not got much experience this doesn’t have to be client work, it can be any projects you’ve worked on - we advise getting set up with a GitHub account so you can showcase your skills even if you haven't had a load of clients lining up for your services just yet. Just make sure you’ve got a page on your site with examples of your work.
  • Start shouting about how awesome you are. No one’s going to invest in you if you keep hiding behind that computer screen. Be active on relevant social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, don’t be modest in sales emails and really sell yourself via your CV and in person. 
  • Organise all the boring stuff, like invoice templates, contracts and *yawn* accounts.

 

See also: 6 crutial steps to starting a web developer career with no experience

 

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How to get clients and build good relationships

So you’ve set everything up, now it’s time to reel in some clients, because you’re totally the catch of the day. Ahhh fishing puns. 

Now, we know trying to get new clients may feel like you’re stood at the bottom of a mountain looking up at how many steps you've got to climb before you make it to the top, or you know, pass out from exhaustion or altitude sickness, but honestly once you get stuck in, that summit - and the celebratory beer - will be well within your reach. Here’s how to win some clients...

Collate those contacts - Start putting all your potential prospects into a spreadsheet or sales app so that you can keep an eye on the status of your leads. You never know when certain contacts may come in handy or need work later on down the line. 

Develop a USP - Of course it’s sensible to be an all rounder, getting full stack web development skills is a great start. But what makes your coding and web design work better than all the other folks out there? Is it excellent customer service, quirky designs or knowledge of specific industries? Pinpoint something that makes you different and make sure everyone knows about it. Add it to your website, branding, email, slogan, content etc.

Be proactive - Don’t just sit there and wait for leads to come to you. Sure, your website and reputation may bring in a few leads, but eventually that match will burn out. Soz. To be successful as a freelance you need to be constantly on it when it comes to sales, even if it’s not your favourite thing to do. 

Optimise your website - You’ll probably know this already, but it's surprising how many freelancers neglect their website’s SEO. So give your site a health check and make sure your content is search engine friendly and attracting the right type of prospects. 

Put time into your client relationships - Don’t just win a client and keep communication to a bare minimum. In a digital world, it’s easy to forget how important it is to actually speak to people. So give your clients a call, meet up with them, and show them how much you value them. 

 

Go for it 

So now you’ve got a few hot tips to get you started as a freelance developer. If you only took away one piece of advice, make sure it's that your knowledge fountain is constantly topped up. Never leave a gap in your skill set, stay fresh as ever, and you’ll have clients throwing themselves at you. What more could you want? Get out and do it and we promise, you’ll never look back.

See also: the Learning People's online coding courses

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