How to Freelance as a Web Developer: A Step-By-Step Guide 🪜

  • Engineering, Dev & IT
Contra Tips
· 7 min read

Learn how to freelance as a web developer, with insider tips on earning a lucrative income while enjoying a flexible schedule as an Independent.

Picture this: A web development career where you call the shots, set your schedule and work with diverse clients. If you think this sounds too good to be true, think again. 

Freelancing allows web developers to break free from the shackles of working a typical 9-5. It’s an excellent opportunity to work for yourself (as the boss) and earn a higher income than many developers in traditional employment settings. 

In this guide, we’ll outline how to freelance as a web developer and share expert advice on becoming the best Independent in your field.

What does a freelance web developer do? 🤔

If you’re passionate about coding, design, and technology, freelance web development might be the right job for you. These self-employed specialists use coding, programming, and design skills to create, maintain, and optimize websites and applications for various clients. 

Freelance web developers typically charge clients per project, and their primary responsibilities include understanding client requirements, crafting visually appealing, user-friendly interfaces, and ensuring seamless functionality across devices. 

By collaborating closely with clients offering web developer jobs, these Independents transform ideas into digital experiences. They enjoy working on different projects, often undertaking builds for multiple clients simultaneously. It’s a dynamic role that allows for continual growth and requires high adaptability. 

Why should you become a freelance web developer? 💻

Becoming a freelance web developer offers freedom and flexibility. You can choose your clients, projects, and work hours — what’s not to love? This autonomy allows Independents to strike a positive work-life balance, which may be more rewarding than working as an employee. 

Here are a couple more reasons why web development is an attractive career path: 

Web developers are in high demand 👏

We live in a digital age, and the need for skilled web developers is growing. Businesses across industries require efficient, effective websites and applications to establish their online presence. This demand, which will only increase in time, translates to an abundance of job opportunities for freelancers.

Lucrative income potential 🤑

The average freelance web developer’s salary in the U.S. sits around $80,000, according to multiple job sites (at the time of writing). Freelance web developers often enjoy higher earning potential than their traditionally employed counterparts. These higher salaries partly exist because developers can charge competitive rates for their freelance work based on skills and experience. 

How to become a freelance web developer 👨‍💻

Becoming a freelance web developer requires passion, commitment, and strategic planning. If you’re wondering how long it takes to achieve success, it depends on how dedicated you are to learning — and honing — the craft.  

To kickstart your journey, follow these steps: 

Build your web development skills 🛠️

To succeed in this competitive freelance career, you’ll need to master tools like HTML and CSS for creating the structure and design of websites, JavaScript for adding interactivity, and responsive design to ensure your websites look and function well on laptops, smartphones, and tablets. 

Familiarizing yourself with version control systems like Git is excellent for managing and tracking your code and collaborating. You can also learn popular web development frameworks like Angular; this is ideal for creating sophisticated, efficient websites and web applications. Expanding your skill set in these areas helps build a strong foundation that will set you up for success. 

Decide on your specialization 🌐

The web development field offers various roles, each with a unique focus. Here are the specialties you can choose from: 

  • Front-end developers. These developers build the front ends of websites and web applications and design the interfaces that users see and interact with. 
  • Back-end developers. These developers focus on the behind-the-scenes aspects of websites and web apps. They ensure smooth operation by dealing with databases, servers, architecture, and more. 
  • Full-stack developers. On the other hand, full-stack developers work on client and server software. Essentially, they specialize in aspects of both front-end and back-end development. 

Our experts recommend selecting a specific area of specialization because it allows you to hone your skills and cater to clients who require tailored services. 

Determine your Independent business basics 📓

Being self-employed can be tricky, so getting the basics down pat is important. Here are a few things to think about:

  • What are your goals? Establish clear, achievable goals to guide your professional journey.
  • Who is your target audience? Identify your ideal clients. These may vary; consider including startups, small businesses, and larger companies. 
  • What are your rates? Set competitive rates based on your skills and experience. Research the current market demand for your services; this is also useful for informing your rates. 

Go online to find clients 👔

Leverage online channels to connect with potential clients. Opportunities are everywhere — from job boards to social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook and personal referrals. See more about this below.

How to get clients as a freelance web developer 💡

Securing clients is a crucial part of freelance success. To attract potential clients, build an impressive portfolio website (try our Portfolio tool for quick, easy templates). You can also utilize social media, professional networking forums, and web development communities and attend industry events, webinars, and conferences to stay informed about potential opportunities. Showcase your services on platforms like Contra, and don’t forget to ask for recommendations from existing clients and coworkers. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool for growing your business. 

4 tips for becoming a top freelance web developer 👍

Are you ready to excel in this new role? Here are four helpful tips for offering top-tier services and growing your client roster:

Specialize in a niche 🪄

Focusing on a specific area of web development allows you to become a sought-after expert. It also attracts clients who require specialized services, for which you can often charge more. Choose your niche based on your previous experience, or branch out after considering what you’re interested in and looking into what your competitors are doing. 

Stay up to date with industry trends 🔥

The world of web development is constantly evolving — staying current on what’s happening is a great way to remain relevant. Be aware of trends so you can market your services to businesses, and invest time in learning new programming languages, subscribing to newsletters, reading blogs, and watching tutorials. Expanding your knowledge helps demonstrate your expertise to attract potential clients.

Work on your organizational skills 📓

Freelancing often requires managing multiple projects and clients simultaneously. Strong organizational skills, including time management and effective communication, are necessary — they’ll help you efficiently handle your workload and maintain high professionalism. Remember that working as an Independent isn’t just about getting the job done. You must also manage yourself as a small business, including sales, project management, and human resources. 

Take your time with projects ⏰

Deadlines are important, but so is prioritizing quality over speed. Invest considerable time understanding your client’s needs, refining your code, and thoroughly testing your work. Taking the proper time ensures you deliver exceptional results — those results set you apart from the competition. 

Embrace your freelance potential with Contra 🤩

If you’re considering embarking on a full-time freelance web developer career, there’s never been a better time! This career path offers plenty, from freedom and flexibility to financial success. 

To maximize your potential as an Independent and manage your freelance business commission-free, join Contra. Upgrade to Contra Pro for exclusive benefits including a personalized portfolio, powerful analytics to enhance your business, and premium visibility in the discover section where clients are actively searching for independent professionals.

How To Find Work as a Freelancer: 7 Websites + 4 Tips 🦅

Wondering how to find work as a freelancer? Contra’s handy guide will fill you in with the best freelancing sites and freelance tips.
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