Freelance Web Developer? How To Work Smarter And Get More Done

Hey there! My name’s Adam and I’ve been a freelance web developer for about 10 years now. Over that time, I’ve tried out a ton of productivity tools and tricks to help me get more done during the day. From apps to techniques, it’s been a journey of trial-and-error to see what works best.

Here are some of my go-to strategies when it comes to working smarter, instead of harder:

How to Become a Successful Freelance Web Developer
Key Takeaways
The success of a freelance web developer depends on their ability to work efficiently and effectively.
It is important for freelance web developers to prioritize their tasks and set realistic deadlines.
Networking and marketing oneself are crucial for building a successful freelance web development business.
Providing excellent customer service and communication is key to maintaining happy clients.
Staying up-to-date with the latest web development technologies and trends is important for remaining competitive in the field.

Set Your Schedule

The first step to working smarter is knowing when you do your best work. Some people are early birds and get their most productive hours in before lunch, whereas others are night owls who hit their stride after the sun goes down. Of course, there’s a lot of variation within these groups, and figuring out where you fall can be tricky. 

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to pinpoint a specific time that works best for you if you know that you’re more productive in the morning than in the afternoon, then scheduling your most important tasks during those hours could go a long way toward helping you stay on top of things.

Becoming a successful freelance web developer requires careful planning, hard work, and dedication. Check out our step-by-step guide to learn how to get started and build a successful career in web development.

Check Your Email At Specific Times

If your inbox is constantly dinging with new messages which it probably is it may seem counterproductive to leave email off of your priority list entirely. However, if you allow yourself to be interrupted by every message that lands in your inbox, it will be almost impossible to give any single task the focus it deserves. 

Aside from creating an environment conducive to multitasking (which really isn’t all that effective), this habit can lead to unplanned deviations from your schedule and if those deviations aren’t built into the framework of how you plan your day, they can eat into actual project time without any warning (and without being reflected on in how much time a project takes or should take). It may not seem like missing three minutes here and there could amount to much lost time overall, but at scale, it really does add up over a week or month, or year.

Take Regular Breaks

It’s important to take regular breaks from your work, even if you’re a freelance web developer. You can’t just work 8 hours straight and expect to be productive. If you don’t take breaks, it’s likely that you’ll have less energy and focus throughout the day. In addition, it may increase the risk of burnout or stress-related illness like depression or anxiety.

When you take regular breaks, it helps keep your mind fresh so that when you return to work, it will be easier to get back into the groove of things.

Implement Power Hours

Power hours are a great way to manage your time and get work done. A power hour is simply one hour of undisturbed, distraction-free work. During this time, you must devote your full attention to working on your project. Don’t answer emails, don’t check Facebook, and ignore that little voice in the back of your head telling you to take a break.

Don’t push yourself too hard; power hours can be anywhere from 60 minutes to 90 minutes long. After each hour, take 10-15 minutes to do something else take a walk, go for coffee with a friend, or play with your dog (or cat). You can also use this time to eat lunch or dinner if that’s when you need it.

When you return to work after your power hour break, set another timer and start again! You’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish during just two hours of uninterrupted focus!

As a freelance web developer, it’s important to know when it’s time to let go of a difficult client. Our article on the signs your freelance web developer needs to be fired provides valuable insights on recognizing red flags and protecting your business.

Learn To Say No

Most people aren’t comfortable saying “no.” They want to be liked and they don’t want to let others down, so they say “yes” even when they really want to say no.

While it is important to maintain a good relationship with your clients and family, you still have the right to set boundaries and protect your time. You may also need to learn how to say no without hurting anyone’s feelings in the process.

Here are three ways of saying no without hurting anyone’s feelings:

Explain the importance of saying no: When you are asked if you can do something, start by explaining your current workload and why it is not possible at this time. This will help other people understand that you cannot currently take on anything else.

Say “Not now” rather than “Never”: If your schedule does not allow for something at this moment, then that does not necessarily mean that it is impossible forever. Our schedules change all the time, so always be clear about what you can or cannot do at this particular moment versus what could become available in the future.

Say “No” to things that don’t matter: When faced with any request (whether from a client or someone else), ask yourself whether or not this request matters? Is it an urgent priority? Is there a deadline? Often times we needlessly oblige others due simply because we do not want them to be upset with us – but in reality, they rarely care as much as we think they do! What matters most is being true.

Use Time-Tracking Software, Like Toggl, Or Rescue time

Time-tracking software is a valuable tool for freelancers. There are many different programs out there, both on desktop and mobile. Toggle, which has both free and paid versions, allows you to set different projects for yourself and then manually track the time spent on each one. 

Instead of having to remember to start your timer when you open your email or start a new project as soon as you’re done with one (which involves more mental energy), Toggl tracks the time spent on any application or website that you tell it to track. You can also choose between manually starting the tracking process yourself (like a traditional stopwatch) or allowing it to run automatically in the background.

RescueTime is similar except that it’s automated it requires no set-up before use. At the end of every day, you receive a report detailing how much time was spent doing what activity on your computer, including percentages so that you can see where most of your time went.

Are you looking to expand your freelance services beyond web development? Check out our guide on how to launch a freelance graphic design business for helpful tips on getting started and growing your client base.

Automate Billing With Freshbooks

Let’s be honest: billing is the worst part of freelancing, and that’s just a fact. You can save yourself a lot of time by automating your billing especially if you’re working with clients who have recurring payments. When you automate your billing, it will automatically send payment reminders to clients when they’re late, which will let you focus on other things. 

FreshBooks also lets you track your time and expenses, set up invoice templates (which saves time), and create recurring invoices all of which can help you work smarter, not harder.

You probably know someone who uses FreshBooks already (it’s pretty popular). I started using it this past year when my business was growing faster than I could manage everything myself. It has a mobile app that makes it easy for me to track my expenses on the go (and even take pictures of receipts), since I’m often out and about running errands for work. 

Cloud accounting makes it really easy to keep track of everything from anywhere; rather than having to dig through emails or old paperwork to get information on an old client or project, it’s all automatically saved in one place that syncs across devices.

Prioritize Communication With Slack, The Better Alternative To Email

If you’re not using Slack, our team highly recommends it. It’s a great tool to use for real-time communication with your team and clients. It can be used to share files, get feedback on work in progress and provide project management insight.

We don’t use it for one-on-one conversations related to work projects. If a client emails you directly, reply by email. For everything else related to the project, use Slack so others on the team can stay updated on project status, help out if needed and receive feedback from the client when they have time to give it.

Not only will this cut down your email inbox clutter but also free up time spent reading through daily emails keeping everyone up-to-date on their latest development workflow tasks and external client requests that may come into play periodically throughout the day!

Integrate Asana For Project Management And Collaboration

A project management tool is an essential piece of software for anyone who wants to be a freelance web developer working smarter. There are many different types available, but one that I use and recommend to others is Asana.

Asana helps you visualize your workflows, set deadlines, communicate with team members, and keep projects on schedule. It’s also customizable and allows you to create as many tasks as you need for any project. Asana organizes all of this information in a way that makes it easy to stay on top of your tasks and it even keeps track of who’s working on what if you have team members helping out! This can be especially helpful when someone else might need help from their manager or coworker before completing their work (which happens often in web development).

Asana also has integrations with other tools such as Slack and Google Drive, so if you already use those tools then integrating them into your workflow will save time by keeping everything organized within one place instead of having multiple tabs open at once (or worse: hopping back-and-forth between two applications while trying to get things done). Plus they offer free plans which include up to 15 users!

Starting out as a new freelance web developer can be overwhelming. Our article on the 9 mistakes new web developer freelancers make and how to avoid them offers practical advice on navigating common challenges and setting yourself up for success.

Get The Thinkific App To Stay Connected With Students & Courses On-The-Go

If you’re on the go and need to monitor your courses or respond to student questions, Thinkific’s mobile app makes it easy. Available for Android and iOS, this free app lets you:

Get push notifications of student activity (including course launches)

  • View and edit your courses
  • View student progress
  • Interact with students via comments

Enable notifications for course reviews To get started on the app, log in with your Thinkific credentials. You’ll then be able to view a list of all your published courses. Note that any drafts or unpublished courses won’t appear here. Simply tap into a course to view its dashboard.

Get Paid Faster With Stripe

If you live in the United States or Canada, Stripe is a great way to take payments from your clients. Not only does it help with invoicing and payment collection, but it also offers features like Stripe Connect, Radar for fraud prevention, Atlas for forming an LLC or C corporation in Delaware, Stripe Corporate Card for business expenses (the US only), issuing for instant virtual and physical debit cards, Capital for business financing (the US only), Sigma for analytics, Terminal for in-person payments with a hardware device (the US only), and Relay as a point-of-sale system.

You’ll want to make sure that you’re using online invoicing software that integrates well with Stripe so that you can easily send out recurring invoices.

Keep Your Contacts Organized & Up-To-Date

The most successful freelancers are masters at keeping their contacts organized and up-to-date. Your client list serves as the backbone of your business and can help you stay on track, reach targets, and make more money if you use it properly.

If you’re not already using a CRM tool, like Salesforce or HubSpot, now is the time to start. A CRM will help you keep track of your current customers and sales, as well as any potential clients that come your way.

It will also allow you to set reminders so that you don’t forget to follow up with anyone after an initial meeting. This lets them know that they’re important enough for you to remember them (even when there are hundreds of other things going on in your head).

Building a successful freelance web development business takes more than technical skills. Our guide on how to build a freelance web development business covers everything from managing finances to building a strong client base, providing valuable insights for freelancers looking to take their career to the next level.

Harness The Power Of Buffer For Social Media Marketing Magic

Let’s face it: social media doesn’t always capture our attention. But if done well, it can be a very effective way to market your freelance business.

As a freelancer, you know that marketing is crucial for your business. You might not have the budget to hire a digital marketer or agency right now, so using social media networks like Facebook and Twitter is a great alternative because they allow you to promote your work without spending any money.

When I first started out as a web developer in 2015, I had no idea how to market myself online or what tools would help me do it effectively (or efficiently). Then one day while browsing the App Store on my phone, I came across Buffer an app that lets users schedule their posts across multiple platforms at once. Immediately intrigued by how easy this sounded compared with manually posting every day on each network individually (which takes up too much time), I decided to give it a try!

The app has so many features but some of my favorites are auto-scheduling which is great for when things get busy & need automatic updating; adding links from anywhere just by clicking “Share”; and being able to share content from other people’s posts without having to copy anything over manually each time all of which make life easier for anyone managing multiple accounts themselves.

If this sounds useful for you then head over to the Buffer website where there are more details about how exactly it works and instructions on getting started today!

Final Thought

Working smarter, not harder, means being strategic about your time and energy

All of this boils down to one conclusion: Working smarter, not harder, means being strategic about your time and energy. By setting clear goals, planning out your days in advance, tracking your time and results regularly, and using the best tools for the job you’ll be able to work at a higher level than ever before.

Working smarter is a mindset you need to adopt. It’s something you have to do every day deliberately making decisions that support your goal of working more efficiently and achieving more results with less time spent working.

It’s a simple concept that is easy to understand but not always easy to put into action. But if you can maintain it as a priority for each day of work, you’ll be able to achieve much more than you ever thought possible.

Further reading

The Ultimate Guide to Web Development Freelancing: This comprehensive guide provides tips and strategies for launching and growing a successful freelance web development business.

The Freelance Web Developer Guide: Everything You Need to Know: This guide covers everything from finding clients to pricing your services, making it a valuable resource for both new and experienced freelance web developers.

Becoming a Freelance Web Developer: A Comprehensive Guide: This guide from Upwork offers practical advice on launching a career as a freelance web developer, including tips on building a portfolio and marketing your services.


How do I become a freelance web developer?

To become a freelance web developer, you’ll need to gain a strong understanding of web development concepts and tools, build a portfolio of projects to showcase your skills, and market your services to potential clients. Check out resources like The Freelance Web Developer Guide and Becoming a Freelance Web Developer: A Comprehensive Guide for more information.

How do I find clients as a freelance web developer?

There are many strategies for finding clients as a freelance web developer, including networking with other professionals in your industry, using freelance job platforms like Upwork and Freelancer, and marketing your services through social media and your personal website. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Web Development Freelancing for more tips and strategies.

How do I price my services as a freelance web developer?

Pricing your services as a freelance web developer can be challenging, but it’s important to consider factors like your level of experience, the complexity of the project, and the going rate for similar services in your market. Check out The Freelance Web Developer Guide for tips on pricing your services competitively.

How do I manage my finances as a freelance web developer?

Managing your finances as a freelance web developer requires careful planning and organization. You’ll need to keep track of your income and expenses, set aside money for taxes, and consider factors like insurance and retirement savings. Check out Becoming a Freelance Web Developer: A Comprehensive Guide for more information on managing your finances as a freelancer.

How can I stay up-to-date with the latest web development trends and technologies?

Staying up-to-date with the latest web development trends and technologies is essential for success as a freelance web developer. You can stay informed by following industry news and blogs, attending conferences and meetups, and participating in online communities like Stack Overflow and GitHub. Check out The Freelance Web Developer Guide for more tips on staying up-to-date with the latest developments in web development.

Is A Freelance Web Developer The Same As A Web Designer?

No, they’re different job roles. A freelance web designer is typically in charge of developing the design and layout of a client’s website. On the other hand, freelance web developers develop functionality for websites with programming languages. 

In this article, we focused on tips for freelance web developers, who create the functionality within programs by writing code and testing it throughout the process to make sure it works correctly. However, many programmers also have design skills and may act as freelancers in both job roles simultaneously.

What Is The Difference Between A Web Developer And A Web Programmer?

Web development and programming are similar terms that focus on slightly different aspects of building software applications for websites or mobile devices. Web programmers typically only write code to bring websites to life, while designers build all visual elements through drawing or illustration software such as Photoshop or SketchUp. Freelance web developers need skills in at least one programming language like JavaScript or Ruby on Rails as well as HTML/CSS to create code that can be executed by an end user’s browser or device rather than merely displayed by it (as with plain HTML/CSS). Both types of workers often work together when creating interactive sites because each has its own specialty: 

For example, someone might build user interface components using JavaScript while another handles backend processing logic using Python; then they’ll collaborate with graphic designers who provide mockups of what features should look like before adding content that represents those features into their markup structure before finally coding up front-end scripts based on what they’ve drawn together (which could be anything from adding new buttons onto pages just after clicking them in order).

What Is The Difference Between Web Development And Front-End Development?

The main difference between web development and front-end development is that web development is a broader term that refers to the entire process of creating a website, while front-end development is only one of the steps in this process.  Web development usually involves a variety of disciplines including Front end development, which is the creation of the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) Back-end development, refers to the server-side processes that are required for a website or app to function normally.

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