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What You Need to Land Those Freelance Web Developer Jobs

Last updated: June 19, 2019
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With our ever-growing reliance on the internet, it’s hardly surprising that freelance web developer jobs are not just plentiful, they’re predicted to grow at a faster than average pace over the next few years.

Venturing into web developing as a freelance career is a great way to ditch your full-time job and start working for yourself. While freelancing may remove the security of permanent full-time employment and its associated benefits, the pros can outweigh the cons.

Web developing and coding is a fast-changing industry, which means being able to work on multiple projects at the same time gives you the flexibility, dexterity, and the ability to stay current on trends — putting you at the top of your game.

Many companies are also more interested in your ability to code — and code well — than your job history or degree, and the rewards, of course, can be lucrative.

Convinced you need to start applying for freelance web developer jobs? Read on. This article will cover the types of web developer jobs available in the freelance market, how much you could earn as a freelance web developer, as well as how and where to find those jobs.

Types of Web Developer Jobs

The job title “web developer” may sound straightforward, but did you know web development can actually be separated into three general categories?

Deciding which one of the following three areas to specialize in and focusing on improving your skills there will give you an edge when it comes to applying for jobs.

Front-End Developer

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Websites tend to fall into two parts: the parts that you see (the “front end”) and the parts you don’t (the “back end”). The back end is what makes the front end possible and visible, but more on that later.

If you’re thinking of specializing in front-end development, you’ll need to be fluent in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, three of the main languages used in web development. Udemy offers some great online courses for web development to get you started. On top of that, you’ll need to know how to utilize JavaScript libraries such as jQuery.

A front-end web developer is not a web designer, and it’s very important to remember that distinction. Think of web designers as graphic designers, in that they’re responsible for the creative process of making the web pages look good, while front-end developers look after the user interface side of things.

Front-end developers build the bones of a website, while web designers create the flesh. As such, designer and developer have to work closely together. If your skill set includes graphic design and coding, packaging your services can make you very desirable as a freelance developer.

Back End Developer

As mentioned earlier, the back end of a website is what makes the front end possible and visible. You probably won’t be able to directly “see” the results of your work on a website. However, without back-end developers, websites don’t exist.

To specialize in back-end development, you’ll need to know how to work with servers, web applications, and databases. This means is you’ll need to know how to use programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, and Python, as well as server-side web application frameworks such as Ruby on Rails. Familiarity with tools like MySQL and Oracle will be essential as well.

When you work on the back-end of websites, your main concern will be ensuring that the servers, applications, and databases communicate with each other seamlessly and securely to provide a smooth experience for the website user.

Full Stack Developer

If you’ve got skills both as a front end and back end developer, you’re a full stack developer. The edge that full stack developers have is that they can start and complete website projects on their own, which is helpful, particularly since it can sometimes be difficult to determine where back-end development concludes and front-end begins.

Needless to say, acquiring the skill set to become a full stack developer is probably the best way to succeed in freelance web development since it opens you up to potential clients in all three areas.

How Much Freelance Web Developers Earn

Like most other jobs, how much you can earn will depend on a number of factors, including your location, your specific skill set, and the number of years’ experience you have.

But the average salary of a freelance web developer in the United States is estimated at around $70,000 a year, while a full-time junior front-end developer earns about $55,000 a year. If you’re living in New York however, you could expect to earn upwards of $100,000 annually for a full-time job in front-end web developing.

Of course, if you’re looking for freelance work on freelance websites and job boards like Upwork, there’s a high chance you’ll need to determine a reasonable rate to charge by the hour in order to earn the annual income that you want.

The great thing about web developing is that it’s a job that has comparatively low upfront investment for very high returns. By that we mean potential clients are often more interested in seeing what you can do, not what type of degree you have. So you don’t have to spend years studying to acquire a degree or even attend courses to gain certifications. You can even learn how to code for free through resources like Codecademy, GitHub, and Stack Overflow.

How to Get That Freelance Web Developer Job

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While most potential clients may not be overly concerned about your degree or certifications, they’ll be extremely particular about what you can actually do for their website. So make sure you have an impressive portfolio in order to get that job.

If you’re just starting out in the industry, you may think building up an impressive portfolio is impossible, but think again. There are plenty of opportunities available even for entry-level developers, starting with … your very own portfolio website.

Portfolio websites not only give potential clients an overview of what you’ve done, other clients you’ve worked with, and skills you possess (when you think about it, it functions as a digital résumé), they also show exactly what you’re capable of. So even if you don’t have an impressive list of past projects, the very look and feel of your portfolio site will speak volumes.

Don’t just rest on your laurels once you’ve finished that awesome portfolio website, though. You can continue to up your skills and add to your portfolio by contributing to open source projects.

Open source projects are an excellent way for you to practice your skills and network. You’ll also learn how to collaborate with other developers and get real-world experience. Having the likes of a GitHub and Stack Overflow account, and working on open source projects tells potential clients that you’re up-to-date on trends and have initiative.

If you’ve worked for or with anyone, ask them for a testimonial that you can put up on your portfolio site. Remember to also link to relevant social media profiles like LinkedIn, as that’s one of the places where you’ll find new clients.

Where to Find Freelance Web Developer Jobs

So, you’ve done the research, you’ve planned out your freelance strategy, you’ve gained the necessary skills, and you’ve developed an impressive portfolio site. Now the fun begins.

If you’ve previously worked in the tech industry, it’s time to cash in on those contacts you’ve made. While a quick phone call or email to inform people that you’re available for freelance work may not result in an immediate job, you’ll be on their minds when a project that requires a web developer does come up.

This is also when your forays into open source and free coding projects will come into use. If you’ve shown particular aptitude in coding and collaboration, the online developer community will sit up and pay attention. The next thing you know, you could be invited to join a team for a paid project.

At the same time, you should browse through the many freelance websites to apply for jobs that interest you. While most of the projects available on online job boards may be small or short-term, they’re great if you’re just starting out as a web developer because they help you add to your portfolio site. And once again, networking is key for freelance jobs, and having profiles on freelance websites and working with people helps.

Here are some freelance websites you may want to try:

Begin Your Freelance Web Developer Journey Today

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In many ways, freelance web developer jobs are great for both newcomers as well as those with many years of experience. There are plenty of opportunities for either set of skills, and the abundance of open source projects out there means you can continue to practice and hone your skills, while waiting for the right paying project to come along.

So don’t simply briefly entertain the idea of freelancing, get started. There are little steps that you can take now to make your dreams of becoming a freelance web developer a reality.

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