Freelance Web Developer? Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Dear Full-Stack Web Developer, Congratulations! You’ve just chosen one of the most exciting and lucrative careers on Earth. Welcome aboard!

Before I tell you about my journey as a freelance web developer, let me take some time to explain what exactly a web developer does. It seems like such an easy question to answer (developing websites), but in reality, there are many different types of developers out there. For example, from the outside looking in it might appear that being a full-stack web developer is the same as being a front-end or back-end developer. 

But when we look at these roles in more detail, we see that there are very distinct differences between these positions that make each one unique.

5 Mistakes You Are Making As A Freelance Web Developer
Starting in web development can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that everyone starts somewhere.
It’s essential to practice regularly, work on projects, and stay up to date with the latest technologies and trends.
Building a support system and connecting with other learners and professionals in the industry can provide motivation and support.
Attention to detail, problem-solving skills, and proficiency in programming languages and frameworks are essential for success in web development.
Finding a job in web development requires persistence, networking, and a strong portfolio of work.

Web Development Is A Career That Offers Both Challenges And Rewards

Web development is a career that offers both challenges and rewards. While learning on your own can be difficult, it’s also very doable.

Many people start out as self-taught web developers because they have an interest in creating websites and they don’t know any other way to learn web development. This is one of those scenarios where you think you know what the job entails until you actually get into it, only to find out that there are many things that you didn’t consider which will make your job harder than anticipated. 

For example, you might have thought being a web developer meant being able to code in certain languages, but soon discover that the role includes wearing multiple hats, such as being a business owner, marketing specialist, and accountant.

There’s no faster way to become disillusioned with your new career than by getting thrown headfirst into something without knowing what’s coming at you and then not having anyone around who can tell you whether or not your reactions are normal for someone starting out in this field.

Fortunately for all those beginner programmers out there who might be feeling a little lost (or more than a little), I’ve been through these same struggles myself and am here with some advice from my experience in the industry so far:

If you want to become a successful freelance web developer, it’s important to have a plan and take action. Follow our step-by-step guide on how to become a freelance web developer to learn the essential skills and strategies needed to succeed in this field.

It’s Hard To Learn On Your Own

As a freelance web developer, keeping up with the latest skills and technologies is crucial to your success. As you may already know, the web is in constant flux. What was once considered best practice five years ago has been replaced by something new and potentially better. The problem comes when there’s so much information out there that it’s hard to know what to pay attention to and what to ignore.

In addition, gaining new skills can be difficult if you’re learning on your own because it’s often necessary to find learning resources for a given skill or technology before you even know what questions you should be asking about it. In either case, these challenges are worth conquering because having a comfortable understanding of current tools will make you more valuable as a web developer and give you confidence in your ability to create websites that meet clients’ needs.

It’s Not Just Programming 

Being a freelance web developer involves many hats. You’re not only a programmer you’re also a business owner, marketing specialist, and accountant. It’s important to remember that the roles of employer and employee are blurred when you go freelance.

When doing any job, whether it be writing code or writing content, you have to know your audience. You need to know what they like, what they don’t like, and what their biggest problems are if you can do this before you even start working on something for them, you’re off to a great start! But knowing how many people will read an article is not as important as finding out how many people care about what’s being said in that article. 

If no one cares about it then no one will read it either way; therefore we should focus our efforts more on learning who our target audience is rather than just making sure everyone sees our content so that maybe some might actually care… And if they don’t care then why bother?

In The Beginning, Your Website Is Worth More Than You Are

Your website is the most important marketing tool for a freelancer. It provides the first impression of your work and it is the place your potential clients will go to see if you are worth hiring or not. You want to make sure that it is updated on a regular basis and easy to navigate. Here are a few key things:

Make sure your portfolio section has at least 3 projects and that these projects are only one click away from the home page

All of your projects should have a brief description and screenshots of your work so that it’s clear what you did.

If you can, add testimonials from previous clients in a section called “Praise” or “Testimonials” (or something similar). This will also help with social proof, which will lead more people to believe in you as an expert in this field.

All of these sections can be found on my own personal site at (insert URL here) as an example!

Starting a freelance web development business can be challenging, but with the right approach, it’s possible to build a thriving and profitable business. Check out our article on how to build a freelance web development business to learn the key steps and strategies for launching and growing your own business.

The Friends You Meet At Meetups Can Become Lasting Connections

It’s a tough business and you’ll need all the friends you can get. That starts with making connections. A great way to meet people is through networking events. has tons of local options for activities, and there are plenty of Web Development groups that host meetups regularly. 

If you don’t want to go alone, convince a friend or colleague to come along with you! It’s also important to remember that your network doesn’t have to be made up exclusively of peers they could also be mentors, clients, investors, or potential partners down the line.

The friends you make at these meetups can become lasting connections in your career. People (and opportunities) are more likely to show up when they know what they’re getting into, so it’s always good to keep an open mind and maintain good relationships with anyone who could help move your career forward!

A Good Portfolio Is Critical

The importance of a well-crafted portfolio cannot be overstated. If you are a web developer looking to get hired, this is your most important resource. It’s the main thing potential employers will look at when deciding whether or not to hire you. Your portfolio needs to convince them that you can do the job and that you’ll fit in with their team. It’s also an opportunity for you to show off your personality and demonstrate how good of a communicator you are (you’re going to have to communicate with clients on projects, after all).

A Great Portfolio Has Four Main Ingredients

When you’re ready to apply for a job at [company name], you’ll want to make sure that your portfolio is up to snuff. Here are the four main ingredients that will help you do just that:

A well-documented history of your past work: Make sure that your portfolio includes examples of all of your work, including projects from school and personal projects, as well as links to external work samples (such as portfolios or online galleries).

A strong message about who you are as an individual: Your portfolio should tell a story about the type of person you are your interests, skills, and accomplishments. This is particularly important if you’re applying for a position that requires specific skills or knowledge.

Samples of high-quality work (this one is very important!): The best way to show off your skills and talents is through samples of high-quality work. For example, if you’re applying for a graphic design position, include examples of logos and print ads that demonstrate your creativity and attention to detail.

Testimonials from previous employers/clients: A great way to prove how awesomely talented and reliable you are? Get testimonials from previous employers/clients!

Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process, but as a new web developer freelancer, it’s important to avoid some of the most common pitfalls. Read our guide on 9 mistakes new web developer freelancers make and how to avoid them to learn how to navigate the challenges and build a successful freelance career.

Writing A Blog Is Invaluable

Writing a blog is an invaluable tool for all freelancers, whether you’re in tech or not. You get to show potential clients examples of your work, writing skills, and ability to learn new things. If you’re having a slow month, your blog can become a valuable lead-generator and marketing tool.

A successful blog should showcase your personality and style of doing things. It’s also important to write about things that set you apart from other developers (if you’re into web dev). That will help separate you from the crowd and build a personal brand around helping people in specific ways that others may not be able to do.

A good way to start is by creating a simple website using GitHub Pages (free) or Jekyll-now (very easy), then composing a handful of posts focusing on problems/solutions that are common among other developers things that are easy for you but hard for them. Then when someone has the same problem as others have had before, they can find answers in your content!

There Are A Ton Of Resources Out There On The Web For Aspiring Developers

If you’re interested in learning to code on your own, there are tons of places you can go for free tutorials and more. Sites like CodeNewbie offer free coding tips and courses that are perfect for newbies. Just be aware that most free resources won’t teach you the exact skills that you need to do certain things in the real world. For example, a lot of tutorials will teach you how to build a to-do list app with JavaScript, but I’ve never had a client who’s asked me to make a to-do list app.

Still, even though most of these tutorials teach beginner concepts or very simple things, they’re still useful because they give you practice and familiarity with coding concepts and syntax which is better than nothing 

If you’re willing to spend money on your education (and I think it’s worth it), there are also plenty of paid resources out there that can really help accelerate your progress and learn exactly what you need for the job market. My favorite place for learning web development is Udemy just about any skill or question I have can be answered by an online course at Udemy. 

The courses aren’t always super high quality (some instructors don’t speak English as their first language and some lessons can be boring), but if you want to learn something specific quickly, it’s one of the best options out there right now. There are quite a few websites out there similar to Udemy I’ve heard good things about Treehouse, Code School, Coursera, and Pluralsight too!

Nobody Does It Alone Find Great Mentors And Role Models In The Industry

You’ve heard about finding a mentor, but maybe you haven’t gotten around to it yet. What if you don’t know anyone in the web development industry? It’s time to change that.

A mentor is someone who has already achieved success in the field you’re pursuing, and who can offer advice based on their experience. They can answer questions, listen when you need an ear, and provide guidance where it’s needed.

Having a relationship with a mentor will make your journey as a freelance developer much easier and they usually aren’t hard to find! If there are any local meetups or events around web development that interest you, start there: meeting face-to-face with people working in the industry helps build community and gives you access to motivational speakers and potential mentors. If none of those appeals to your schedule right now, mentorship can also be sought out online through social media or through email or skype (but remember: be considerate of their time).

As a freelance web developer, your clients rely on you to deliver high-quality work and meet their expectations. However, if you notice any of these red flags, it may be time to part ways. Learn more about the signs that your freelance web developer needs to be fired in our article on 8 signs your freelance web developer needs to be fired.

They Will Never Stop Learning

You’re probably thinking “I know!”, but it bears repeating because it’s the most important thing I can tell you. If you don’t continually improve your skills, you will quickly fall behind in a fast-paced industry.

To develop a personal learning habit, here are some ideas:

Set aside time each week to watch a tutorial or read an article on something new.

Try and watch one of these every day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be front-end related either – if there’s a part of your workflow you want to improve (writing emails more effectively perhaps) then give that some attention too.

Include learning as part of your work review process. Your employer should want their staff to be knowledgeable so include this as a discussion item in performance reviews and appraisals. You may even find yourself getting sent on courses paid for by your employer – that’s great!

Freelancing Has Its Ups And Downs, But Following Your Passion Will Make It Feel Worthwhile Every Day

Freelancing means that your income can fluctuate wildly. You have to be able to ride the highs and lows of client work and it can be tough you have to have the drive to keep pushing through those low points if you want to succeed. If this is something you are passionate about, though, it makes a world of difference. I love what I do and really enjoy working with my clients; I’ll never get tired of that feeling when an app I built for someone helps them in their work or life, and I love being part of making something come alive 

While freelancing does force you out of your comfort zone at times, ultimately you’re making your own decisions and charting your own course and that can be a real rush!

Web Development Is An Exciting Career With Lots Of Room For Growth, Challenges, And Rewards

At the time of writing, more than 50% of all internet traffic is from mobile devices. This means that businesses and organizations need to adapt their websites for mobile users or risk losing out on a large portion of their potential audience. Given the importance of this, it’s no surprise that companies are willing to pay top dollar for talented developers who can create beautiful, functional sites. 

However, if you choose to go down this path, you won’t be limited to building desktop sites there are also many opportunities in areas such as app development and game programming.

If you build it (and they will come), they will pay: The average salary for a programmer is $70k, but the specific amount always depends on your experience level and location. While this may seem like a generous figure now, keep in mind that coding skills advance over time due to changing technology and new developments in the field so if you get into web development early enough and stay up-to-date on changes in your industry, you’ll be sitting pretty throughout your career.

Web programming can be a challenging field, but there are steps you can take to make the learning process easier and more effective. Check out our article on 10 things I wish I’d done earlier when I began web programming to learn tips and tricks for mastering web programming and accelerating your career growth.

Final Thought

There’s a lot to think about as a developer, and even though it seems like there’s never enough time in the day to do all the things you want or need to accomplish, it will work out you just have to keep at it. If you’re wondering what else developers should be doing or worried about how to improve, here are some general questions that might be helpful:

What should developers do when they’re not sure of the best solution to a problem? Or if they don’t know what a certain piece of code is meant to do?

What’s the best way for them to get their name out there? And is there anything they shouldn’t be doing on social media?

How can they make sure their skills stay sharp so they don’t end up falling behind in this ever-changing industry?

How can freelancers grow their client base and find more projects while still balancing their everyday lives with family commitments and other obligations outside of work?

Further Reading

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Web Development: An article by FlippedCoding that shares helpful tips and advice for beginners in web development.

Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Got Into Web Development: Colton Williford shares his personal experience and advice on what he wished he knew before starting a career in web development.

11 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Started Programming: Jeroen Sormani shares valuable insights on what he wished he knew when he started programming.


What are some common mistakes beginners make in web development?

Some common mistakes beginners make in web development include not knowing where to start, not practicing enough, and not staying up to date with the latest technologies and trends.

How can I stay motivated while learning web development?

One way to stay motivated while learning web development is to set goals and track your progress. You can also join online communities and forums to connect with other learners and get support and encouragement.

What are some essential skills for web developers?

Some essential skills for web developers include proficiency in programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, understanding of web development frameworks and libraries, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail.

How can I improve my web development skills?

You can improve your web development skills by practicing regularly, working on projects and challenges, attending workshops and conferences, and keeping up to date with the latest technologies and trends in the industry.

What are some tips for finding a job in web development?

Some tips for finding a job in web development include building a strong portfolio of work, networking with other professionals in the industry, attending job fairs and networking events, and being persistent in your job search.

Although I have learned a lot by doing, there are some things that I wish someone would have told me before I started.

Here are some frequently asked questions I’ve come across:

How Do I Get Started? 

You just start! It does require an investment of time and money. Time to learn the skills you want to develop for your freelance business, and money for the tools you need to acquire those skills.

How Much Money Can I Make? 

The sky’s the limit with freelancing! The more clients you get and the more experience you gain, the higher your rate is likely to be. Think of it like any other job: how much will you charge per hour? Now think of it this way: what if you didn’t have a boss telling you what kind of work to do? You can set your own hours and build up as many clients as you want. It all depends on how hard you’re willing to work for it.

How Much Time Will It Take To Learn?

This varies depending on what exactly your area of expertise is within the field of web development. If building websites is something that interests then it doesn’t take very long at all (a few months or so). But if coding complex software or apps is something that sparks joy then don’t expect results overnight-it may take several years worth of learning new technologies at various skill levels before actually making a mark in these specific areas.

It’s important not just because being a freelancer requires certain personality traits such as discipline and self-motivation but also because there are other ways than simply working from home like creating an office space outside of your house so that when people come over they won’t see any clutter around them anymore!

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