How to Start Your Own Freelance Programming Business?

Everyone’s doing it – in the new gig economy freelancing is an ever growing popular option and many programmers are itching to ditch the 9-to-5 cubicle for the freedom of working from home, or better yet, some paradise island while having the considerable perk of choosing which projects to work on. At the heart of freelancing lies two considerations: can you find clients and monetize your work? Let’s have a look at how to go about doing just that.

How to Start Your Own Freelance Programming Business

Tips to Start Your Own Freelance Programming Business

Job Boards

Most new freelance programmers start at the bottom with online market places. The competition is fierce and there’s little hope of outbidding some corners of the world where very little money goes a long way, the same can be said for skills. Many far flung freelancers could program you under the table before you’ve had your morning coffee. However, it’s worth taking some of the skillset tests offered by these forums and browsing the jobs listed. You’ll quickly get a sense of which niches are in demand and what competitive prices look like.

There may be some gigs that appeal to you, in which case tailor make your bid and do your best to impress your potential client. Breaking into these crowded, highly competitive arenas may seem impossible but your patience will eventually land you your first job and a happy client who leaves a great review will lead to more of the same. In time you’ll have consistent work.

Be a Youpreneur

When a company hires you they are looking at your qualifications but when you’re a freelancer you have to sell yourself as a complete package. This requires next level interpersonal skills. This in itself makes it difficult for many programmers to go the freelance route. Are you willing to put yourself out there in person and online? You will need a good personal website with relevant content. Video content is more and more popular so it’s recommended that you create a YouTube advert for yourself. Potential clients want to know who you are, it builds trust and engagement.

Don’t forget to market yourself across all available platforms. Your Linked In network could prove valuable and recruiters may find you through this avenue. Don’t overlook your friends, family, current and previous colleagues and clients, these are often your best chance of referrals to lucrative projects and sustainable income.

Eternal Student

Once your fundamental skills are in place – a working knowledge of PHP Development, Objective-C, C++, Python, HTML, JavaScript and Ruby should cover the basics – become an expert in a niche. Find one that you’re interested in and check how many jobs are available. Then gain the necessary skills, build up a portfolio and advertise. One of the joys of freelancing is learning new things all the time, keeping yourself challenged and growing as a professional instead of running as a cog in an impersonal machine.

Managing Your Clients & Finances

Clients and finances can be major stressors for the freelancer. People skills are essential in dealing with clients. Be honest and communicative, this should stand you in good stead for a long term working relationship. Remember that your client will be satisfied so long as you bring value to them. They have hired you to help solve a problem. Managing your finances, particularly insurance, pension and healthcare may be a new challenge if you’re used to your employer handling all that admin. Remember to focus on your strengths and outsource if need be.

Plan of Action

Before you quit your day job for that paradise island begin by scheduling a few hours a week outside of office hours to explore the freelance programming options available to you. Develop a portfolio and bid on smaller projects – expect to bid on at least ten projects before landing one. It could take about six months to reach your day job salary so before you up and leave that comfort zone make sure you have enough saved or slowly build up your side hustle.

Don’t be afraid to make UI suggestions to clients. Remember that they’ve hired you to help solve a problem which may be bigger than the initial brief. Freelancing often requires a major paradigm shift from trying to meet the requirements of an employer to collaborating with a client.

The perks of freelancing are undeniable. You will learn so much with the bonus of working from home. The delight of having the autonomy to choose which projects you want to work on must be balanced with the very real danger of burnout. Remember to take enough time out and schedule down time. Good luck and enjoy the journey.


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