Web development freelancing
The web development/design industry is very flexible. Specifically, because you are doing work on a computer that has an internet connection you are not bound to a physical location. Why not take advantage of this flexibility and become a freelancer?
This tutorial focuses on:
- Should you become a freelancer?
- SWOT analysis
- The planning phase
- Finding freelancing jobs
- Dealing with clients
- Freelancing sites
- Work-life balance
Should you become a freelancer?
The first thing you should know - freelancing is not for everyone. If you are considering becoming a freelancer (full or part time), the first thing you need to do is evaluate if freelancing is right for you.
As a freelancer you need to have not only technical skills but business skills, organizational skills, and interpersonal skills as well. Do you have all these skills already? If not, can you obtain them? Can you focus on constantly improving them and making sure you're on top of your game?
It's alot different when you're working as an employee for a company. As an employee, there are other people in the company you work for who handle the business, organizational, and interpersonal aspects of building websites for people, you just do the technical stuff. This is the major difference between working as an employee for a company and freelancing. Can you handle all the responsibilities?
Freelancing personality traits
Besides handling all those responsibilities there are a few personality traits that are beneficial in the freelancing world.
- High level of confidence
- Long-term thinker
- Highly organized
- Likes challenges
- Works well under pressure
- Like what you do, see it as not just a job but a hobby as well and you love continuously learning and acquiring new skills
If you feel you can handle all the responsibilities, have at least some of the personality traits mentioned, and have looked through the cons of freelancing mentioned on our Web development freelancing vs. real job page and would still like to become a freelancer, then the freelancing world just might be for you!
If you have made the decision that freelancing is for you then it is now time to figure out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Lets do a SWOT analysis. The SWOT analysis is a planning method used to evaluate situations in businesses and projects.
The idea is to strengthen your strengths, eliminate your weaknesses, exploit your opoortunities, and eliminate your threats (if you can), or at least be stronger and better than them. Write down each part of the SWOT analysis and work towards solidifying yourself according to the ideas presented at the beginning of this paragraph.
The planning phase
The planning phase involves figuring out how you're going to get things done. This includes deciding if you want to go part time or full time, setting goals, figuring out what you will need, setting up a business structure, and more.
Full time or part time
First decide if you want to pursue freelancing full time or part time. This decision doesn't have to be absolutely set right away, you can always change your mind. If you want to go part time, start part time, see how things go, and if you really like freelancing maybe you'll go full time. If you want to go full time, we recommend you start part time as well; maybe you will come to realize that freelancing is not really for you. Start part time, see how things go, and if you really like freelancing then you can go full time!
By setting goals you are clearly defining your objectives, organizing your thoughts, and motivating yourself to achieve something. Setting goals brings organization to your life and your business - instead of loosely defining what it is you want to achieve, you are clearly defining what it is you want to achieve.
Recommended goals to set for beginning freelancers:
- Improvement of technical, organizational, interpersonal, and business skills
- Make the same amount of money or more within a year of becoming a freelancer that you would as an employee
- Have a unique selling position to make yourself stand out
- Learn new skills to be able to sell multiple services. Example - instead of just being a web developer, learn SEO and then advertise yourself as someone who can not only build websites but can also get them to the first page of search engine results
Figuring out what you will need
What expenses will you have is what were trying to say here...
A great computer (fast, runs well) with a fast internet connection is one of the most important things you will need to have. Consider if you will need a desktop computer, a laptop computer, or both. Also consider other hardware devices you may need like an external hard drive and a telephone.
You will need services from others like accountants, and companies/individuals in related fields to web development/design like graphic designers and copywriters. You may also need business cards, a domain name, and web hosting (for your online portfolio).
You will need to pay a price to setup a business if you want to work as a freelancer under a business name. This is recommended for tax benefits as opposed to working as a "sole proprietor"
Setting up a business structure
There are many options for registering a business including registering a business as an LLC, an S Corp, and a C Corp. Research the different options and figure out which one works best for you.
Business planning questions
Consider these business planning questions:
- How many competitors do I have? Who are they?
- What will my key success factors be?
- What is my strategy to get new clients?
- What are my long-term goals?
- What do my potential clients expect of me?
Setting up your office space
Your office space is more important than you think. Where you work has an effect on your productivity, creativity, pragmatism, and happiness. Make sure your office space has alot of natural sunlight, good temperature and fresh air, and is quiet and without interruptions.
NOTE: Don't always work at the same place, consider switching it up a bit. You can work in your home office some of the time, a local park some of the other time, and a local cafe some of the other time.
Finding freelancing jobs
There are many ways to find freelancing jobs.
Search for it
Look through classified ads, email owners of existing websites that look like they're outdated, ask your family and friends if they know some one. There is lots of freelance work out there if you look hard enough. Freelancing is a great way to gain experience.
Ask your friends and family if they know someone who might need web development/design work done for them. Your chances of getting work through someone you know are much greater than by trying to get work from a place where you do not know anyone. If you do get a job through "connections" don't take it for granted and always remember that this is something you are doing in exchange for money. Just because you got some work because you know someone in the company it doesn't mean you don't have to work hard.
Do some work for free
Yes, free. As bad as that sounds it will be worth it when you are able to actually put something in your portfolio. If you have even one thing in your portfolio as opposed to nothing, it makes a big difference.
NOTE: As a freelancer you MUST have a portfolio of your work.
Freelancing jobs sites
These are sites where people post available jobs for freelancers to pursue and freelancers can come and offer their services.
There are many websites on the internet geared towards freelancers. These sites will definitely help you in your freelancing career.
Much more sites are listed on our Web development jobs sites page.
Dealing with clients
Dealing with clients
Dealing with clients may not always be so pleasant, especially if you're not a people person. You will have all types of clients - from the really nice client who is technically savvy, easy to get along with, and doesn't have unrealistic expectations (ideal) to the really aggresive/annoying client who knows nothing about technology, is very difficult/stubborn, and has very unrealistic expectations (opposite of ideal). You will be dealing with all types of people as a freelancer. Be ready.
Whoever you are dealing with, you have to always remain professional. Make a good impression on the client, show them you know what you are talking about. If you set up a meeting and it's not in their office, make sure it's in a presentable place (for example, you can't have the client come to your house to meet you if the place is a mess). A good meeting place could be a local cafe or an office that you rent out for the day for your meeting.
When you meet with the client always have a pen and something to write on. Take notes. This shows your client that you are serious about communication. Keep in touch often. Follow up when necessary. Don't lose contact, don't be lazy, don't be mean or aggressive. Exceed expectations.
Questions you should ask your clients:
- What is your time frame?
- What is your budget?
- When someone comes to your website, what is it that you want them to do?
- How should someone feel when they come to your website? What emotions should be generated?
Whether you're going to persue freelancing full time or as a side project to your regular job, you need to have a proper balance between working and life. The best way to achieve this is to try different things as you go along instead of writing up a work-life balance theory and then applying it. Different things work for different people and you will only know what works best for you once you try it.
Work life balance recommendations:
- Take a 5-15 minute break every hour
- Sit in a room with lots of natural sunlight
- Work a maximum of ten hours a day
- Avoid isolation and loneliness. Work in a few different locations (home, park, library), work with others if/when you get the chance.
- Don't neglect your friends and family
- Keep work and life separate - don't let work and non-work times get blurred.
NOTE: You should try to have a work-life balance in any field in any setting (working from home or in an office).