I’m A Freelance Web Developer: Here’s What I Learned The Hard Way

Hi, my name is John and I’m a freelance web developer. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from this job and other work experiences, but these lessons haven’t always come easy. A lot of times, I’ve had to learn the hard way what it means to be a freelancer and how to take care of myself as one.

Now, it’s time for me to share all that I’ve learned with you. For this article, I want to tell you about 9 things that are essential for any freelance web developer looking to survive in this cutthroat industry.

 Read on you won’t regret it!

1. Don’t Be Afraid

This is the biggest one, so it’s first on the list. “Don’t be afraid” is advice that can apply anywhere in life, and it definitely applies when you’re taking the leap from a day job to freelancing especially if you’re going solo. There are so many questions you might ask yourself: What if I’m not any good? What if nobody wants to hire me? What happens when I turn down my last job offer? How will I get money for food and rent?

Whatever fears or anxieties you have about launching your freelance career, know this: They’re all normal. It may seem strange to say that fear and anxiety are normal reactions to a choice that has probably been inspired by feelings of bravery and excitement, but in my experience, they go hand-in-hand; being fearless doesn’t mean feeling any fear at all it means doing what needs to be done despite those fears. So don’t let them stop you!

As a freelancer (or even as an entrepreneur), you’ll often need to ask yourself whether your fears are justified. Sometimes they will be; sometimes there really is something scary out there. But even then, what’s more, important is asking yourself whether they’re logical and well-founded and if they aren’t, why not put them aside?

2. I Learned How To Network

When you’re working as a freelancer, it’s important to build relationships with others in your field, because they can provide great benefits for both parties:

You’ll get feedback on the work you’re doing, and can learn from each other’s experiences

Your peers may be able to recommend you for a job that’s too large or specialized for them to handle alone

By understanding what other freelancers are capable of, you can make sure your strengths are unique enough to stand out among the competition (thus making it easier to sell yourself)

For me, this came in handy when I was looking for my first remote job. Because I’d done projects with people who worked at remote companies (and had gotten positive feedback), my application stood out among those who didn’t have any experience working remotely. And if one company wasn’t interested, there were others who already knew of me and were willing to take a chance on someone new.

3. Dedicate Time And Energy To Growing Your Business

Starting a business isn’t just about the work you do, which makes sense because not everyone can be in front of their computer screen all day. Once you’re done working on your projects for the day, spend at least an hour or two working on growing your business. This is when you should:

Set up that blog we talked about and start writing. There are many benefits to having a blog and even more so when it comes to SEO.

Learn SEO and link-building techniques to get more traffic to your website

Start freelancing writing articles for other people’s blogs. Just make sure they aren’t competitors!

Write some guest posts and post them on relevant blogs i.e., the ones that belong to your clients or those with audiences similar to yours (even better). You can also post these articles on social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., where they will reach many more people than just posting them on your own blog alone would do so make sure you share them often!

4. Some People Just Don’t Get It

It seems that a lot of people don’t understand the freelancing lifestyle perhaps because it is so common to have a 9-to-5 job. I mean, you have your boss, your team, your colleagues, and all these people to interact with at work. You get social benefits like company lunches or team outings. As a freelancer especially as one who works from home, you can become very isolated.

Most of my friends are still in college and some are working normal jobs. So when I tell them about my life as a freelancer, they just don’t get it: “Why don’t you apply for internships?” “You can always find a part-time job near campus!” “That’s too much risk for me to take. What if you don’t get any clients? Then what will you do?”

The ones who genuinely want to help would scour the Internet for blogs, eBooks, and other materials that might be helpful… but they all seem to miss the mark on what I actually need help with (or advice on). For example: “You need leads! If you have no leads then how will anyone know about your business?

Follow this 10 step approach using email automation software and Facebook ads and Twitter to create messaging that’ll generate traffic… blah blah blah…” These strategies may work well in theory (I never tried them), but without clients, there is not much point in optimizing our lead generation process.

5. Progress Is Discouragingly Slow

Becoming proficient in a technical field involves lots of trial and error, so stick with it. The beginning stages will be frustrating and seem to offer no returns for your efforts, but don’t let that discourage you. You need to keep working on it if you want to get better. I’ve thought about quitting hundreds of times, but every time I was ready to throw in the towel, something happened whether an unexpected client inquiry or a small improvement in my code that made me keep going.

There’s only one way out of this phase: perseverance. Your hard work will pay off eventually, but you need to be patient and stay focused on your goals.

Don’t compare yourself with others as they might have more experience or have some natural ability that gives them an edge over you; focus on what matters most: your improvement as a developer.

6. You Have Control Over Your Future

At the risk of sounding like an after-school special, I’m going to say it: you are in control of your future. Freelancing is a business, and you are the CEO. When you’re starting out, there will be no HR department or corporate structure telling you what to do. You get to decide how many hours to work, how much to charge, who you want as clients, and what kind of work you want to do.

If that sounds daunting and scary good! That means that this is something worth doing. If it feels easy and comfortable, then maybe it isn’t challenging enough for you. Take on a new project and push yourself beyond your comfort zone every once in a while. You’ll grow as an individual if challenges become goals and goals become achievements instead of failures or disappointments

7. Make Sure Your Rates Are In Check

When it comes to pricing, you need to understand yourself, your competition, the market, and your clients. First things first: know what you are worth. Research competitors’ pricing and see what they charge for a similar service. But don’t just stop there! You should also understand what your competitors offer and if they have a better portfolio than you, can negotiate bigger deals with clients, or have more experience in the field. All of this will help you see where you stand in the industry.

Once that’s done, figure out what the market can bear, and don’t be afraid to ask around. Talk to other freelancers or even people in different fields to get an idea of how much people would spend on a particular product or service in general (especially if it’s something completely new). Lastly but most importantly: understand what your clients can afford! They’re going through hard times themselves so make sure their budget is reasonable before offering any type of deal.”

8. I Became Better At Communication By Writing Daily

Too many people and especially freelancers don’t know how to communicate. When it comes to writing, communication is the key. More often than not, the best way to express something is in writing. If you don’t believe me, just examine the following passage from Thomas Haden Church’s movie Sideways:

“Almonds,” he said.

I said okay and tried another one; it was a little bitter, which I love.

He laughed at that and took a bite of his almond. The business village that ran up through town was also called the “business center.” It was named like that because all those businesses were in there, and they all did what they did in their own kitchens or offices, but when we got there on these nights they would all come out and stand outside on the lawn with their hands deep in their pockets and a beer or a wineglass in each other’s company; they were so happy to see us coming.”

9. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Asking for help when you need it is a crucial part of being a freelancer (or in any profession, for that matter). It is often not as bad as you think it will be. You don’t have to do everything on your own. The worst that can happen is that people will say no — and, in the same way that practice makes perfect, the more you ask, the better you’ll get at doing so.

There are also people in your network who want to help you but won’t know how until they’re asked. In my case, one of my best clients was referred to me by someone I knew from an industry meetup. Another client came through another referral. Others came via messaging on LinkedIn or Twitter and other social media avenues.

By talking directly with clients and learning how they work, I’ve made a point of networking in person as well as online; this helps build relationships with people who may not be looking for my services right now but might need them down the road.

Final Thought

Although freelancing is not for everyone, I have found that it works well for me. By treating my freelance business like a real business and learning from the mistakes I have made along the way, I have been able to succeed in this new career (in fact, I am loving it much more than my old full-time job).

If you are considering freelancing as a web developer or in any other field and think you will enjoy it, then give it a shot! However, do not rush into things unprepared. A good start to becoming a successful professional freelancer is getting some real-world experience before you jump in and go full-time.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a number of questions I get asked frequently. Here are answers to the most common ones:

How Much Does A Web Developer Charge? 

There’s no standard answer for this question. For example, your website could be as simple as one page with only text and images, or it could be an online store that needs database management and payment processing. Depending on the scope of your project, you could pay anywhere from $50 per hour to well over $100 per hour for work by a professional web developer.

How Do You Price Freelance Web Design? 

Again, there’s no standard answer for this question. You should look at several factors when deciding how much to charge: your skillset as a freelancer, what kind of work you’re delivering (is it just design or is it design + development?), the difficulty of the tasks involved in building and maintaining the site, etc.

How Much Do Freelance Web Developers Make? 

This varies widely depending on location, experience level, and field-specific skillset. According to Indeed.com in 2019, top earners in web development made over $109k annually while entry-level workers made around $58k annually but again, these figures vary widely depending on who you ask and where they live/work!

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