This article is an excerpt of my detailed tutorial “The Complete Guide to Freelance Developing” on this FINXTER blog. We’ll answer the following question:
What skills do you need to succeed as a freelance developer?
Teaching many freelancing students, I have come to learn that most don’t believe they have all the skills they need to get started as a freelance developer. And why should they come to that conclusion given that there are so many different skills to be learned?
- Business Strategy
- Copy Writing
Yet, while all of the listed skills are highly important for your freelancing business, I have yet to meet a single person that is highly skilled in all of those.
Consider each of those skills to be an axis of a multi-dimensional coordinate system. Now, you can assign to each person a score between 0% and 100% for each skill. Here’s the skill score card for two imaginary freelancers Alice and Bob:
Given are two freelancers: Alice and Bob.
- Alice has a talent for marketing and copywriting. She’s an average coder and not very good in administration.
- Bob is a master coder—the classical nerd—but he’s not skilled in marketing, sales, communication. He is a great administrator though.
Here’s the million dollar question: who’s the better freelance developer?
Posed like this, you may find the question ridiculous. Of course, it depends how both position themselves in the marketplace. Alice may have a small edge over Bob due to her people, sales, and marketing skills. However, it will be a close win because Bob’s programming skills are also highly valued by the marketplace.
Both will earn some money between minimum and maximum wage (say, around the average earnings of $51 per hour for freelance developers). The key is to understand that every single person on the planet has some value to the marketplace.
Let’s have a look at a third freelancer: YOU.
Say, Alice earns $55 per hour due to her ability to sell her skills. Bob earns $51 per hour due to his super programming skills.
Suppose you are a beginner in both: sales and programming. Your programming skills are only 30% and your sales skills are even worse with 10%. But you have solid networking, communication, and empathy skills as a human being. That’s all you need—you can offer value to the marketplace! Your skills are worth $23 per hour!
The only thing left for you to do is to sell your skills, keep engaging with the marketplace, and increase your skills over time. You’ll increase your sales and marketing skills. You’ll build confidence. You’ll increase your programming skills over time. By engaging the marketplace, you automatically increase your value to it. Your hourly rate increases with it!
So, do you have enough skills to get started as a freelance developer? Let’s have a look at the following video:
Start Freelancing Now or Learn More?
Most people never feel ready to get started with a project. They always want to learn more so that they feel better prepared for the tasks ahead. This may be a result from our modern-day educational system that teaches young people that they have to learn more and more before they can become successful in the real world. Grown ups with 18+ years believe they must learn for 10 more years before they can get started creating value and earning their own income.
The problem is that you’ll never feel ready no matter how much you learn. This is inherent in knowledge acquisition. The more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know, and the less ready you will feel to get started.
Therefore, a much better model will be proposed next. Most people understand this model rationally but they don’t internalize it—they don’t really get it.
So, what is it?
BIAS TOWARDS ACTION!
Your value to the marketplace is already larger than zero. If you start as a freelance developer, your hourly rate will be larger than $0. I don’t know what it is but you can already give value to clients. Say, you are a complete beginner and a client can hire you for $1 per hour. They will probably do it. Why? Because even as a complete beginner, you can create, say, $3 on their $1-spent, so you help them increase their business and they purchase as many of your services as they can afford. After all—how often would you buy $3 for a buck?
No matter what your current value, no matter where you start, the strategy is always the same: know your hourly rate, work for it, and increase it over time.
And what’s the best way to increase your hourly value? The answer is simple: create value for clients. Get started now. You have an actual value to contribute to clients no matter your current value. Just select any start hourly rate that you feel comfortable with. And then commit on the path to learning and improving your hourly rate by doing practical work for clients.
There’s no better way. If you want to improve your chess game, you better play chess a lot. If you want to improve your golf games, you better practice golf every day. If you want to become a more successful freelance developer earning a higher hourly rate—which is one of the key success metric of freelance developers—you better be out there on a freelancing platform doing the work and actually increase your hourly rate.
So, you go out there, create an account at Fiverr or Upwork, and get started today, now!
To commit on a quest to continuous improvement of your hourly rate, you can also check out the detailed FINXTER Python freelancer course.
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.