Quora is an excellent source for information. However, it is safe to say that the vast majority of information on Quora is relatively low-quality. In this article, we compiled the best questions and great answers from Quora—all around the topic of freelance developing. So, let’s dive right into the first questions!
Answer from “Anonymous” on Quora: (highlights by us)
A typical website that took me 10–20 hours would earn me about $250 – 500.
I have a degree in computer science, so designing and building applications is more of my strength than building nice looking websites (although if I could do everything again I would have skipped college and just learned everything myself – I had already gotten through Calculus and AP science courses when I finished high school and the useful skills I learned at college I could have easily taught myself in 6–12 months, and I could have spent the remaining time becoming an expert in things like that would have tangible effects on my ability to earn income).
These days I have left behind the days of building simple websites and I now build web applications. This has allowed me to make far more income, sometimes over $200k US dollars per year.
I do not get work from sites like Upwork. The good, high playing clients with large budgets typically go through reputable agencies and most of my work I now do on a contract basis for agencies. I have gone from freelancing to essentially being a part time employee of two agencies, and they give me steady work. I do know other developers here in the US that build web applications on a freelance basis, and none of them earn less than $100k/yr unless they are having a slow year.
Note that here in the US at least earning $100k/yr freelancing is probably equivalent to a full time job with benefits that pays a $70k/yr salary because people who are not full time employees of a company pay far more in taxes and health insurance.
Let’s face it. For starters, it can be done from nearly anywhere in the world, or right from the comfort of your own home. You also have the freedom to establish and control your own schedule, hourly rates and workflow. Last, but far from least, is the fact that web developers is one of the most in demand industry to be working in at the moment. The demand is only growing, so the potential to find clients and to have a lucrative career is strongly in your favor!
Here we can discuss some points that how to start freelancing as a web developer :
- Establish Your Brand : How are you going to brand yourself? Many freelance web designers use their name as their brand this is great and can lend real personal attachment. Alternatively, like I did, consider using a more formal name for your fledgling business, especially if you envisage your business becoming more robust in the future. If you have plans to maybe turn yourself into a studio, with a couple of people working for you, you might want to start out with a more formal company name. Think about how you would like to be perceived – as an individual brand, or as a young company. Think about what your potential clients will read into this and ask yourself whether that fits in with your view as a freelancer.
- Create Your Online Portfolio : One thing a client looks for in a potential freelancer is whether you’ll be able to deliver. If you’re new to freelancing, there’s a 90% chance you’ll lose out on projects to a more experienced freelancer. After all, clients are spending a lot of money on their projects, and they want every penny to count. Occasionally, though, a prospective client doesn’t just choose the most experience freelancer, but instead spends the time to review the profiles of other freelancers who offered to work at a lower rate. Now you have a chance to convince the client that you are worth a try. To make a great impression with the client, you need to have a convincing portfolio.
- Attend meetups : Social connection can have a drastic impact on your career growth. The more well connected you are, the more likely you are to get projects. While social networking sites can be a great way to interact with people and to make new connections. Attending technical meetups is another excellent way to interact with people and promote yourself. Meetups give you a chance to share your knowledge as well as learn new things from fellow attendees.
- Develop a Sales Cycle : So, you need to formalize a sales cycle a process for finding prospects, cultivating your relationship with them, educating them about your services, offering your services to the right ones, fulfilling their expectations, and developing that relationship with them. You’re going to need ways to find good prospects. Start by identifying your ideal client, who are they, what do they do and where do they hang out. Start hanging out there too and engaging them in conversation. Work on your elevator pitch – that little burst of information that explains clearly to potential clients how you can help their business and why they should hire you to do it.
- Organize a Routine : Your day is going to need structure. It’ll help you if you can have a consistent structure for your working day. Have a daily schedule mapped out which works around when you are most productive and when you are more likely to get things done. I try and group like tasks together – if I have a bunch of phone calls to make, I try and do them all mid-morning. Emails I typically handle mid-afternoon. If I’m coding, I find that easiest to do first thing in the morning when my brain is fresh, and, oddly, last thing in the evening when I get a second wind. Go with whatever works for you. But being able to stick to a similar routine each day will help you.
- Find Your Community and Work It : The great thing about being a freelance web designer is that there is a tremendous community of professionals who can support you in what you do. It’s a very open, communicative bunch of people. So start following people on Twitter, getting to know them on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media hang outs. There are other people out there in similar situations and they have a lot to offer. LinkedIn offers a number of groups for freelance professionals. You establish your expertise and help people out who may be looking for your services. Be sure to get involved in the communities where you customers are. If you’re targeting a specific niche. Immerse yourself in the communities in which you operate and you’ll build up a really strong network – not just of other web designers but of potential clients and referrals.
- Market Your Services : To effectively market your freelance services, you should ask yourself, “Who is my target market?” If you’re passionate about one area of business or another that may help define your target market. Some sample target markets include:
- Local small businesses that do not have an online presence yet
- Non-profit organizations whose current websites are ineffective
- Sales companies who don’t offer online purchasing
You can also target a single industry.
“Success builds on success”
As you go, always look for ways to turn your successes into lasting advantages that will help you get more business in the future.
Some people charge an hourly rate, around 75$-120$. I think this is too tedious, a root for arguments, and an incentive to not work as quickly as possible. I charge a fixed rate that is dependent on the project scope (am I designing all the pages, is it on a CMS like wordpress, do they want ‘out of the box’ features, etc). Then it is payed in two installments: half as a deposit for the design, half to develop and publish the page upon completion.
From scratch, pretty much like any other job source, contact recruiters, peruse the want ads, the digital equivalent, craig’s list, Linkedin, Indeed, sometimes even news stories that mention a company and technologies that are inline with what I am capable of implementing.
If I get to the point where I know more of the specifics, such as, company projects specific to my nature, aware of direct people in charge of making hiring decisions, a specific project that has a direct sense of urgency, then I will by-pass conventional methods, such as going through a recruiter, throwing darts at the want ads, pushing out CVs in the dark and prepare a better script, for a specific person of the specific project that have specific needs.
I often find myself in the uncanny valley of optimization, with only 24 hours in a day, to either sharpen my technical understanding to the degree where I make myself indispensable to their needs or working on my golf swing, where I make myself known to the correct networks where the people in-charge of the actual decisions can be contacted directly.
This is difficult to pull off effectively, most of the time because with keeping up with tech and trying to backwards engineer not only the tech the target company deals with but moreover, the issues they are having with the tech and the problems they are facing which are often a proprietary secret that is not easily discerned. Or getting to know who is who in the selection game, by-passing the gate keepers, that just get in the way and to curry favor with the key masters that are the end-game target to land the contract.
In the end the term freelance, is essentially you are your own business, and either you have to outsource your own engineering department or marketing department or build them in-house, but it is hard to do both in-house without losing the integrity you need to excel at both.
Where to Go From Here?
Enough theory, let’s get some practice!
To become successful in coding, you need to get out there and solve real problems for real people. That’s how you can become a six-figure earner easily. And that’s how you polish the skills you really need in practice. After all, what’s the use of learning theory that nobody ever needs?
Practice projects is how you sharpen your saw in coding!
Do you want to become a code master by focusing on practical code projects that actually earn you money and solve problems for people?
Then become a Python freelance developer! It’s the best way of approaching the task of improving your Python skills—even if you are a complete beginner.
Join my free webinar “How to Build Your High-Income Skill Python” and watch how I grew my coding business online and how you can, too—from the comfort of your own home.
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com. He’s author of the popular programming book Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), coauthor of the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books, computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.