How To Be a Freelance Web Developer

How To Be a Freelance Web Developer

September 16, 2021

In a time 9-to-5 jobs are becoming less coveted, workers have found ways to find more freedom and flexibility through freelance work styles. Freelancers are digital nomads who can work from anywhere in the world using a laptop and a WiFi connection. They bring added value to tech companies as well as other industries.

If you’re organized, accountable, wishing to be your own boss, and want the opportunity to set your own hours, one career path that offers freelancers plenty of opportunities is web development.

Why Become a Freelance Web Developer?

Freelance web development allows you the flexibility to pick and choose your projects. Many value the opportunity to specialize in certain industries, coding languages, and create a niche that adds value to certain projects and clients.

Freelancing web developers are often considered to be more resourceful. Creative web developers often have specialized knowledge in coding languages and custom development tools.

What Steps Do I Need To Take To Become a Freelance Web Developer?

After you've put in the hard work and learned how to code, weigh the pros and cons of freelancing. If you’re a confident web developer with experience and a portfolio to match, you can easily take the steps necessary to pursue being a full-time freelancer.

There are a few steps to keep in mind, and many tasks to think about as you plan a transition into self-employment:

  • Identify your “niche” skill and brainstorm how you can bring those skills to specific projects. For example, you could just do front-end WordPress templates for marketing agencies, create e-commerce websites for local businesses or data visualizations.
  • Create a portfolio that displays your work and then use websites such as or Upwork to find potential clients
  • Use social media sites like LinkedIn to network within your own circle for referrals
  • Invest in the software you need to be productive, organized, and efficient
  • Secure enough clients to fill your time, and dedicate yourself to the success of their projects
  • Be consistent about how you manage your own business on the backend. Have your accounting organized, and your calendar well-managed. This becomes easier with time, and a dedicated process makes it easier to make it a seamless part of your job as a freelancer.

What Setup Might a Freelance Developer Need?

A freelance web developer will need a type of computer that can run secure, up-to-date software and a web browser. Depending on the types of projects you accept, a secure WiFi connection may also be needed.

Consider tools that you'll need to work and manage your business:

  • Payment/invoicing software
  • Project management software
  • Subscription services for development platforms
  • Staging environment
  • Version control
  • Illustration or web design tools
  • Data storage

Is Being a Freelance Web Developer Worth It?

There are pros and cons to consider before embarking on a freelance career. Some people prefer a structured work environment and oversight from management.

Others who are motivated and organized find that freelance web development has a lot of benefits. For example, work-life balance and only having to take on projects that you want, set your own rates, and control the levers of your own business.

Do Web Developers Work from Home?

Freelancers frequently work remotely from anywhere they have a secure internet connection. Occasionally, long term contracts require developers of all kinds to meet with teams, sometimes in an in-office environment.

Is Web Development a Dying Career?

Web development isn’t going anywhere. In fact, as more industries find ways to automate and get an online presence, web development is more needed than ever. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth of employment for web developers is at a higher average than other professions.

What Skills Do You Need To Be a Freelance Web Developer?

First and foremost, to be a freelance web developer you need to know how to code. Web developers write code to build the front end and back end systems of a website.

Different web developers use different languages, and many freelancers specialize in certain languages and have an in-depth knowledge of how to make websites work. Freelancers will need to have the skills to know how to learn or network with others who also understand web development when it comes to understanding compatible coding languages.

Other than coding, to be a successful freelancer you’ll need to be organized, self-motivated, and know-how to market yourself. You’ll likely be fielding projects from a variety of clients who have different expectations and needs, so good communication and reliability is important.

What Coding Languages Do You Need To Use To Be a Web Developer?

Web developers are typically broken up into three categories: front end, back end, and full stack. Front-end web developers focus on the look of the page. Back-end developers create a foundation for the web page to exist. Full-stack developers do a hybrid of both of these roles.

As mentioned above, there are a variety of coding languages web developers use. The essential language all developers need to know is HTML, which outputs the display. Front-end developers may use CSS, to change the look of a website and JavaScript for functionality.

Other languages are also common and serve different purposes:

  • Ruby on Rails is open-source software that developers use on the both front and back end
  • Python is popular for visual tasks and data organization
  • SQL is used for maintaining existing databases
  • Bootstrap is popular for creating style sheets for mobile interfaces

How Do I Start a Freelance Web Developer from Scratch?

If you have no prior web development training or experience, first consider your learning path and how you will build up the skills to nail your freelancing gigs.

There are multiple ways to become a web developer. A traditional route would be to obtain a bachelor's degree in computer science, but this is not the only option.

Many successful developers are self-taught or attend a coding bootcamp, which is specialized training that takes several months to complete. For example, Eleven Fifty Academy’s part-time coding bootcamp takes 24 weeks to complete with a certification at the end.

Do Web Developers Make Good Money?

According to U.S. World News & World Report, the median salary for web developer jobs is $73,760. However, as a small business, you can set your own hourly rates. As your skills improve, you can higher value build websites or web applications and take fewer hours.

How Do You Freelance as a Web Developer?

Before you get your first client, consider pricing and the value that you bring to the job. Your skills and expertise are sought specifically for special web development projects, and knowing how to plan and bill your time is the first step.

  • Use a spreadsheet or a calendar to effectively plan the amount of time it will take you to complete a project. And remember, like anything, the more you do it, the easier it will get.
  • Build a portfolio website that showcases your best work as your client list grows. Adhere to SEO best practices so prospects can find you. And measure how long it takes you to complete tasks and projects so you can be profitable.
  • As your experience grows, consider becoming an expert web designer in a niche industry such as e-commerce sites. Become the go-to freelancer when a company needs your skills.

Get started on your freelance web developer career today at Eleven Fifty Academy. Learn current languages and frameworks in Eleven Fifty Academy’s part-time or full-time coding bootcamps and see where your freelance path takes you.

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