How A Freelance Web Developer Makes Money And Keeps His Clients Happy

Welcome! My name is Jason, and I’ve been a freelance web developer for the past 10 years.

My goal in writing this article is to provide you with a rough guide to starting your own freelancing business. If you have never worked as a freelancer, or if you’re just getting started, this is what I wish someone had told me when I was getting started: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I’m targeting three types of readers:

people who want to start freelancing but haven’t yet started (what I like to call potential freelancers)

people who are currently working as freelancers, but are struggling with it (newbie-freelancers)

experienced freelancers who want some new ideas on how they can improve their business (expert-freelancers)

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance web developer (as opposed to some other type of freelancer), then you probably already have some web development experience; however, it’s not essential that you have lots of experience. 

Don’t worry if your skills aren’t up to par right now; there are plenty of great tutorials online that teach programming fundamentals and best practices you’ll be able to pick up these skills over time as long as you put in the effort. 

In fact, one of the advantages of working as a freelancer is that it forces you to learn new technologies much more quickly than if you were employed at a company doing similar work every day. This means that your skill level will improve very quickly once you get into it! If anything doesn’t make sense or feels confusing at first keep reading! It’ll all become clear in due course.

How To Make Money As A Freelance Web Developer
Freelance web development can be a lucrative and rewarding career path.
Successful freelance web developers have a strong understanding of programming languages and frameworks.
Networking and word-of-mouth recommendations are effective ways to find freelance web development clients.
Time management and organization are crucial for freelance web developers to meet clients’ expectations.
Building a strong portfolio is important for freelance web developers to showcase their skills and expertise.

Be Candid With Clients Upfront

It’s always important to give your client a clear picture of what you can offer, especially if you’re still in the early stages of working together.

To help avoid future conflicts, here are some ideas for how to be candid with clients upfront:

Discuss your needs and expectations as well as theirs. This will ensure that you have a realistic idea of what they want before starting any work on their project.

Be clear about what you can and can’t do. If there is something specific they want to be done, then explain why it may not be possible or how it could be done differently than originally intended by them at no additional cost to them (if possible).

Set expectations and deadlines. Be honest with yourself and your client about the amount of time needed to complete their project based on its complexity level so that both parties are satisfied with when things get finished–and if things change during development then communicate these changes ahead so everyone knows exactly where things stand throughout every stage!

Starting out in web programming can be overwhelming, but with the right resources and mindset, you can succeed. Our article on 10 things I wish I’d done earlier when I began web programming provides helpful tips to get you started on the right path.

Listen To Your Clients And Really Understand Their Needs

It’s something that comes naturally to many of us, but it has a surprising benefit on business relationships: ask questions. Not just “yes” or “no,” but clarifying and truth-seeking questions. These are the kinds of questions that create further dialogue, which in turn creates more information, trust, and understanding. It also helps you learn what your client wants and needs – which will be the linchpin to creating a successful finished project.

One pitfall to avoid is assuming you know what your clients want before they tell you themselves; sometimes this can wind up coming across as presumptuous or even condescending (and for those reasons alone should be avoided). 

For example, if a client says they’re looking for their website to have a modern aesthetic (whatever that means!), don’t assume that you understand what the client means by “modern.” Instead, take some time to learn about them – see how past projects have been done from their perspective or another’s the point of view. This can give valuable insight into how much room there is for your own creativity in terms of style and design.

Understand The Direction The Client And The Project Are Going In

As a freelance developer, you have to be able to understand the direction that the client and the project are going in. You can find out about the client’s mission through their website and through research. Asking direct questions also helps you get a more accurate understanding of what they want. By knowing where they want to go, you’re able to help them achieve their goals while building your own portfolio along the way.

Knowing both the company’s direction and vision is important when it comes to understanding its needs. It allows you to see how they operate and why they do what they do, which in turn helps create a better product for them. Developers need not only to know how their clients work but also understand their business needs so that we can advise them on what works best for their project – whether it be a new website design or even just an update on an existing one!

Are you interested in building a freelance web development business? Our guide on how to build a freelance web development business provides actionable steps to help you get started and grow your business.

Set Realistic Expectations And Deliver On Time

Set realistic expectations. If a client comes to you with an unrealistic deadline, know that this is a red flag.

Deliver on time. At the end of the day, the only metric that matters is whether you keep your promises and deliver quality work on time.

Make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth. One way to level up your freelance career is to ensure that your clients are paying for more than just basic service they should be paying for the knowledge and expertise you bring to the table as well!

Your business is only as good as the clients it serves. If you want to do great work, find great clients!

Provide Quality Work And Allow For Revisions

The most important thing you can do is to listen to your client’s needs. You need to know what they want from their website and what they are trying to achieve with it.

You should ask questions about the type of web development experience your customers have and where they see the company going in the future.

If you are creating a basic website for a small business, it may be sufficient for you to create something that is functional rather than aesthetically pleasing. However, if your client has specific ideas regarding design elements or wants something more complex, make sure you’re providing quality work and allowing revisions.

It’s important that once you have completed the project, follow up with them to make sure they are happy with everything before making any further revisions.

Track Your Time Carefully

We all want to maximize our income and make the most of our time, so it’s a smart idea to track your time as carefully as possible. In fact, you should probably start tracking your time right now! Here are some ways to do that:

Productivity apps. For example Habitica and Toggl

Time tracker apps. For example TopTracker, TSheets, Harvest

Calendar app. For example Google Calendar and iCalendar

Spreadsheet. For example Excel and Numbers

Timer on phone (if no features are supported by your phone). For example iOS Clock App and Android Clock App

Notebook for writing down the time (if no features are supported by your phone). For example notebooks from Office Depot or Staples or Walgreens or CVS or Target or Walmart or Rite Aid or any other store that sells notebooks.

Whiteboard for writing down the time (if no features are supported by your phone). This is not recommended because whiteboards cannot be carried around with you at all times like a smartphone can, making accurate tracking impossible in any situation where you’re not using your whiteboard. However, if there is a whiteboard near you right now then go ahead and use it since it’s better than nothing. 

A word of warning though use a marker pen instead of chalk since chalk can get messy when used over an extended period of time, which will negatively impact how much money you can earn over the long term if you aren’t able to clean up properly because the mess distracts you too much from doing work efficiently as I mentioned earlier in this section when I was providing advice on keeping clients happy. 

Also, wet-erase markers are more popular than dry-erase markers these days so just stick with those unless all they have at your local store is dry-erase markers in which case go ahead and buy those assuming they don’t cost as much as wet-erase markers would because

Freelance web development can be challenging, but with the right approach, you can thrive. Check out our article on things I wish someone had told me as a freelance web developer to learn from the experiences of others and set yourself up for success.

Make Sure You’re Getting Paid What You’re Worth

Charge what you’re worth. In short, if you’re doing a job that requires a college degree or is inherently risky, charge more for it. The market for your services will tell you how much to charge. If people are more willing to hire you than others at the same price, then charge more because there’s proof of high demand.

Don’t be afraid to charge more than an hourly rate. For example, instead of charging $500 an hour and giving yourself a lot of stress and zero flexibility with last-minute changes to the project (and risking being overcharged), consider charging a one-time project fee of $10,000. With this method, you can negotiate slight changes in scope without having to worry about getting extra money out of your client or spending extra hours on the project without compensation and all parties involved will be happy with their arrangement.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a deposit upfront. If you do, there’s no chance the client will just stop paying at some point along the way and leave you with a half-paid bill and angry creditors because they couldn’t afford it after all (but also couldn’t admit that). It’s also good practice in general: most new businesses ask for deposits before beginning work so they don’t get stuck with bills that aren’t paid by customers who thought they could get something for nothing.

Hiring a freelance web developer can be a great way to get your project done, but it’s important to know when it’s time to move on. Our article on 8 signs your freelance web developer needs to be fired can help you identify warning signs and take action.

Your Business Is Only As Good As The Clients It Serves

The reasons for this should be obvious, but it’s worth repeating: Your business is only as good as the clients it serves. Some will be better than others, and you need to figure out which ones are paying their bills promptly and which ones aren’t. It’s important to keep in mind that not all of your clients will be great, some may be neutral, and a few might even drive you crazy.

But if you’re going to make money, no matter how much or how little, you must treat them all with respect and courtesy at all times. You should regularly check on what your clients need from you, whether it involves more phone calls or more emails from them. Make sure they’re getting what they want from their work relationship with you.

Becoming a freelance web developer can be a rewarding career choice, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Our guide on how to become a freelance web developer provides step-by-step guidance to help you get started on the right path.

Final Thought

To begin with, make sure that you’re getting paid what you’re worth. Don’t undercharge for your work because you feel like your clients won’t pay more. If a client is unwilling to pay a fair rate for your services, they aren’t worth working within the first place. It’s also important to remember that this line of work is long-term: suffering through an underpaying client now means having to rebuild your reputation later on to secure higher rates.

Once you’ve got a good price point established and are able to attract clientele who will be willing to pay it, it’s time to hedge against any future issues by making sure that the businesses and people you’re working with are as professional as possible. 

You need clients who can communicate effectively and respect deadlines in order for them (and their business) to succeed; if you don’t have these assurances from a potential partner, don’t work with them! They’ll be wasting both their time and yours by partnering up in this way.

The bottom line is that freelancing web development can be lucrative but only if done right. Make sure that you know what kind of clients will best serve both yourself as well as their own needs before jumping into anything too quickly!

Further Reading

The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Web Development: This comprehensive guide provides tips and advice for building a successful career as a freelance web developer.

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Developer: This guide provides step-by-step guidance on how to become a successful freelance web developer, including tips on finding clients and building your portfolio.

A Simple Web Design Process Freelance Clients Will Love in 7 Steps: This article provides a clear and concise process for freelance web designers to follow when working with clients.


What skills do I need to become a freelance web developer?

To become a successful freelance web developer, you should have a strong understanding of programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. You should also have experience working with web development frameworks, and be comfortable using tools such as Git and debugging tools.

How do I find freelance web development clients?

Networking and word-of-mouth recommendations are often the best way to find freelance web development clients. You can also look for opportunities on job boards, social media, and freelance marketplaces.

How much should I charge as a freelance web developer?

The amount you charge as a freelance web developer depends on a variety of factors, including your experience, skill level, and the complexity of the project. It’s important to research industry rates and tailor your pricing to your specific circumstances.

How do I manage my time effectively as a freelance web developer?

Managing your time effectively as a freelance web developer requires discipline and organization. Setting clear goals and deadlines, using project management tools, and prioritizing your workload can all help you stay on track and meet your clients’ expectations.

How can I build a strong portfolio as a freelance web developer?

Building a strong portfolio as a freelance web developer involves showcasing your best work and demonstrating your skills and expertise. You can do this by including case studies, testimonials, and other relevant information that highlights your experience and capabilities.

How Much Should I Charge?

It’s good to have a minimum hourly rate, but you may also consider charging by the project if you’re working with a client you know well or have worked with before. If you’re working on an hourly basis, make sure to track your time honestly and accurately so that the client pays you fairly for all of your work.

How Do Freelance Web Developers Keep Their Clients Happy?

We keep our clients happy by delivering high-quality work that meets their expectations, on time and within their budget. We also communicate clearly with them throughout the project to make sure we’re always on the same page.

How Much Do Freelancers Make?

Freelancers typically charge by the hour, but it depends on their level of skill and experience, as well as the field they work in. For example, a programmer might charge more than an SEO specialist because programming is more complex.

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