How You Can Start A Freelance Web Development Business While Working Full Time

If you’re a web developer, you’ll have noticed that there are a lot of opportunities out there. It’s becoming so common to find remote jobs because companies are realizing how much cheaper and more efficient they are in the long run.

But why do some people prefer to set up shop as freelancers? There are plenty of benefits: mostly, it’s the freedom and autonomy that comes with being your own boss. Don’t get me wrong though it can be really hard work and will require a lot of effort on your part to make it successful. And like any new business venture, there is an element of risk involved. But if you’re up for the challenge (and don’t mind putting in the hours), then let’s look at what you need to do to get started!

How To Get Started As A Freelance Web Developer
Freelancing while maintaining a full-time job can provide additional income, flexibility, and skill-building opportunities.
Balancing freelancing with a full-time job requires careful planning, communication, and prioritization.
Finding clients as a freelance web developer can be done through online platforms, networking, and a strong online presence.
Rates for freelance web developers depend on experience, skills, and project scope, and should be adjusted according to industry standards.
Managing finances as a freelance web developer requires careful tracking, budgeting, retirement planning, and maintaining an emergency fund.

1. Learn The Skills Needed To Be A Freelance Web Developer

You can’t get hired as a freelance web developer without knowing how to use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. It’s important that you have a good understanding of these languages before you start seeking work as a freelancer.

In addition to coding, you should also learn some basic web design principles and be familiar with Adobe Photoshop or another image editing software program. It also helps if you know project management software tools like Basecamp, Trello, or Asana. Those tools will make it easier for you to communicate with your clients about their projects.

Starting a freelance web development business can be challenging, but with the right mindset and tools, it can be a rewarding experience. Our guide on how to build a freelance web development business offers insights and practical tips to help you get started.

2. Get Your Portfolio In Order

This is your main shop window. You wouldn’t expect a bricks-and-mortar business to be successful without a front door, right? A portfolio website is a digital equivalent for you as a freelancer.

If you don’t have any freelance work yet, you can use projects from previous jobs (or even personal projects) until you get some client work under your belt.

Here are some tips on how to make your portfolio shine:

Split up your portfolio in different areas for each of your skills. For example, UX design and web development should have their own landing pages within your site. This way the visitor will know exactly where to go if they want to find out more about a specific skill or project.

Include not only finished projects but also works in progress (WIPS). It shows that you are active in the field and interested in staying up to date with new technologies and trends.

Add testimonials and recommendations from clients that show how happy they were with working with you! If possible, include contact information so potential clients can reach out directly to ask questions about how it was working with you or what it was like doing business with you.

3. Learn Project Management

The third skill you’ll need to learn is project management. Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills, and experience to achieve the project objectives.

There are many types of project management including construction, software development, and event management.

Project managers use project management tools such as project management software to help them manage their projects.

Project managers must have the ability to communicate clearly with their teams as well as with other stakeholders and clients. Additionally, they must be able to work in groups and be organized and detail-oriented. The best way to learn these skills is through training courses offered by companies or online courses available on sites such as Udemy or Coursera.

As a freelance web developer, it can be challenging to navigate the industry without the right guidance. Our article on things I wish someone had told me offers first-hand experiences and advice to help you overcome common obstacles in the field.

4. Build Your Support Network

Building a support team of people who are willing to help you on your journey is one of the best ways to ensure success. You might want to get a mentor or find a community of other freelancers or clients who understand the challenges and triumphs that come with working as a freelancer.

If you don’t have someone in your life who can help you right now, it may take some time to build that type of relationship. It is important to be patient and give people time to get comfortable working with you, so they can fully trust you before they will help endorse your business.

You should also consider if there is anyone else in your life that needs you as much as (or more) than you need them: Your partner, family members, friends, etc. They may not be able to provide direct assistance for your business but depending on how selfless they are and how close they are to you, they may be willing to sacrifice their own free time or hobbies so that you can do what makes YOU happy.

5. Start Building Your First Project Portfolio

It’s time to start building your own portfolio and portfolio of projects. While you can build a home-brewed web app, it’s much more fun to work on a real project that other people are going to use. If you want to build yourself a good reputation and potential clients, you’re going to have to take on some real projects as a freelancer.

Fortunately, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Online job boards like Upwork allow you to hire professionals for short-term projects like furnishing websites or developing software applications for clients. Some of the best ones are for charities; here at Geeky Hobbies, we’ve helped the Make-A-Wish Foundation create websites for children who have strong interests in science and technology with the sites where they can chat with others who share their interests on topics like NASA space exploration or Star Wars miniatures battles.

The projects fit well into your lifestyle because they don’t require too much time commitment, but give something back at the same time by putting your skills up against those of other developers in real time under tight deadlines when there’s no budget for delays or mistakes.

Becoming a successful freelance web developer requires more than just technical skills. Our step-by-step guide offers a comprehensive roadmap to help you establish your business, market your services, and manage your finances.

6. Start Small And Scale Up As You Go Along

Staying with the idea of knowing exactly what you’re getting yourself into, I recommend starting with a small project. I started by offering to do a simple 5-page website for my friend Paul and charged him $1,000. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to get me started. I knew my way around HTML, CSS, and some JavaScript well enough to build a decent-looking website without any problems or headaches. 

However, I had never built a website from scratch before (and certainly not for money) and didn’t really know what to expect. So when Paul offered me $1k upfront (which was the first time anybody ever paid me for something tech-related), I gladly took it!

Now that you know the basics of points and miles and what good habits to keep in mind, let’s look at the best ways to earn them.

7. Set Reasonable Rates For Yourself And Don’t Undersell Yourself

Setting reasonable rates for yourself and your business can be difficult. There are many freelancers who are competing for the same jobs, and you need to make sure that your skills are worth what you’re asking for.

It’s important to remember that as a freelancer, you’re working for yourself. You have the freedom to set your own schedule and work anywhere in the world (as long as there’s internet access). Because of this, it can be tempting to undersell yourself during negotiations with clients. But this is dangerous ground not only do you risk losing out on a potentially good job opportunity; but you also risk hurting your reputation as a freelancer if it becomes known that you undersell yourself regularly.

8. Make A Business Plan, Set Goals And Milestones, I.E., Do Market Research

Hiring team members is a crucial first step in starting a freelance business. It’s also a major stress, as there are many people out there with the same skills and qualifications that you’re looking for, but perhaps not the same set of skills or qualifications that you have.

How could you know whom to hire? This article will outline some of the best ways you can get hired, how to find the right employees, and how to make sure your freelancers are on the right track while helping them achieve their own personal goals along the way.

New freelancers in the web development industry often face challenges that can be easily avoided with the right preparation. Our article on 9 mistakes new web developer freelancers make and how to avoid them provides insights and tips to help you avoid common pitfalls and build a successful career.

9. Plan Your Work Schedule

To make time for both your full-time job and freelance work, you’ll need to structure your schedule around maximizing productivity. In order to get this done, we recommend working on the weekends, holidays, and evenings, before you go to work in the morning, after you get home from work in the afternoon, before you go to bed at night, and also during your lunch breaks. 

If you’re finding it difficult to make time for a lunch break because of all this extra work, consider setting up a small desk for yourself in the bathroom of your office building. Also note that if you have a television set at home (and if so: congratulations!), we definitely don’t recommend watching it while engaging with family or friends. Instead of using TV as a way to relax and socialize with loved ones after an exhausting day of professional or freelance labor the way that most people do we think it’s best used as an opportunity for multitasking by incorporating it into your regular working hours.

10. Don’t Quit Yet… Keep Going!

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to execute it. Don’t quit too early. If you find yourself coming up with excuses why you can’t do this, then maybe this is not the right time for you to start a business. Keep moving forward and don’t give up! Results take time and you will see them only if you keep going.

If after some months of trying and nothing happens or nobody buys your services, then maybe it is a good idea to change something in your approach. Try advertising on other channels or send more emails each day (but still keep the quality high).

As I’ve said before, building a business takes time and it won’t happen overnight. Follow the steps above and stay motivated. If at some point things go wrong, remember that failure is part of the journey of all successful entrepreneurs so take this as an experience, learn from it, and move forward again.

Transitioning from a full-time job to freelance work can be a significant change that requires careful planning and preparation. Our guide to transitioning offers practical advice on how to make the switch and succeed as a freelance web developer.

Final Thought

As you can see, it’s very possible to start a freelance web development business while working full time. It just takes planning and focus. So now it’s time to use the tips I shared in this article, put together your own plan of attack, and get started on building the life YOU want!

I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below. Have you launched a freelance business while working full-time? What advice would you share with those who are just getting started?

And don’t forget to check out my other article about using social media marketing to grow your web development business!

Further Reading

Start Freelancing While Working Full-Time: The Ultimate Guide: A comprehensive guide to help you get started with freelancing while working a full-time job, covering topics such as finding clients, setting rates, and managing your time.

Why Freelance While Working Full Time (And How To Do It): An in-depth article on the benefits of freelancing while maintaining a full-time job, including practical tips on how to balance both roles.

How to Become a Freelance Web Developer: A detailed guide on how to become a freelance web developer, including steps on how to get started, what to charge, and how to find clients.


What are the benefits of freelancing while working a full-time job?

Freelancing while maintaining a full-time job can provide several benefits, such as additional income, flexibility in your work schedule, and the opportunity to build your skills and experience.

How do I balance freelancing with a full-time job?

Balancing freelancing with a full-time job requires careful planning and time management. It’s essential to set realistic goals, communicate with clients about your availability, and prioritize tasks to ensure that you’re not overworking yourself.

How do I find clients as a freelance web developer?

Finding clients as a freelance web developer can be challenging, but there are several ways to go about it. You can use online platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer, network with other professionals in your industry, and create a strong online presence through your website and social media.

How much should I charge as a freelance web developer?

The rate you charge as a freelance web developer will depend on several factors, including your experience, skills, and the scope of the project. It’s essential to research industry rates and adjust your pricing accordingly to ensure that you’re being fairly compensated for your work.

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

Managing your finances as a freelance web developer requires careful tracking of your income and expenses, setting aside funds for taxes, and creating a budget that accounts for any fluctuations in your income. It’s also crucial to consider setting up a retirement plan and maintaining an emergency fund.

What Is The Best Way To Get Started?

The best way to get started is by starting. Sounds obvious, but every time I was in a position where I was considering or gearing up for launching my business, I would overthink everything and procrastinate moving forward. Once I finally took the leap and just decided to go for it, it all worked out.

What Challenges Did You Face To Get Started?

The biggest challenge is getting that first client. Getting that first client is important because once you have one client and can successfully show them results then landing other clients becomes significantly easier. It’s also important because it gives you the confidence boost you need when starting out to continue building your business. For me personally, this process took about 6 months from when I launched my website until I got my first paying client.

What Advice Would You Give To Someone Just Starting Out?

This applies more so if you are doing this on the side while working full-time, but make sure that you have adequate support from your family/loved ones before taking the leap into freelancing full-time. Having their support will help greatly when things feel like they aren’t going well or if things get frustrating at times (and they will). Also, having their support will help motivate you, even more, when things are going well!

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