Freelance web developers: please talk about yourselves.

How much experience did you have at the beginning?
How did you get started and was it much work to get set up?
How do you find a constant stream of clients?
Do you make a living wage just from your freelance work?

Any other information you'd like to share is appreciated.

  • 0
    never been I to free lancing but just working for a company
  • 0
    @thmnmlst go on you will suceed
  • 0
    @thmnmlst Ha, that might be hard to sustain as you get older. Best of luck in your learning.
  • 1
    I'm 19. i am very passionate about computers, internet technology stuff etc. from 1 year I'm just learning full stack web development. still don't have a real working experience with clients. i just keep myself busy learning coding, using frameworks etc. so i think I'm better than a total noob now
  • 1
    I got my first client recommended to me from my teacher at 18. After that he knew another small business owner go knew another small business, etc.

    It keeps going until there are no more business in your area. :(

    Still had fun with the extra cash for a bit. I had years of teaching myself at that point in addition to being in my second year of career learning for general computing/digital forensics.

    Definitely too sporadic to live off.
  • 4
    I had my first client 17 years ago. I was 19, php and mysql. I learned from the next client to never freelance again.

    First it's support. Fucking stupid ass clients.

    Second, working hours. I don't want to work 24/7. I want to be unreachable after 1600, so I can spend time with what matters - my family (or gaming if you're that lucky..)

    Third, steady income. I make enough money to be very satisfied. I could make more, but who gives a shit - I don't spend the money I earn, value a team I can work with more than solo action.

    Anyways, my advice - get a full time job
  • 11
    ^ bitter response, holy.

    Don't freelance unless you're passionate about learning.

    Started ~5 years ago cold turkey. Knew I was sick of being an employee where I was and no idea how to code. Taught myself, then knocked down every business door in my city until I had a client.

    From there I built a marketing strategy, automated what made sense to automate and clients built up.

    Then agencies started outsourcing to me. Found one that I like, partnered with them by merging my client base into theirs and now own a profitable firm.

    No related post secondary education, no prior experience and no clue what to do when I started. Had I not been passionate about learning, I wouldn't be able to teach any client a damn thing, which lead to the high level client relationships I have, which in turn lead to an agency taking an interest in what I could bring to the table as a partner.

    Freelancing is profitable, but only when you're willing to learn how to make it so. Good luck.
  • 3
    @darkcode probably the best response I've heard in terms of other freelancers yet!
  • 0
    @darkcode Very inspirational! Although I can imagine most freelance ventures ending up like the post before yours, it's good to know that putting enough work in can lead to success.
  • 4
    I've been an off/on freelancer since I started in Web development 21 years ago. It's a rollercoaster and you live in feast or famine cycles most of the time. In 2017, due to a fortunate increase in potential clientele, I'm switching my role from that of primary "do everything" designer/developer to CEO of my own agency. The plan is to work "on" the business rather than "in" the business except for one favorite client. I'm finding that I enjoy making the money more than sitting in front of a screen nearly 24/7 trying to make everyone happy all by myself. Time to delegate and parcel out the rates amongst other freelancers and make a profit. Looking forward to an early retirement.
  • 1
    I started out with around 2 years developing small projects for fun and a few little ones that were released to the public before.

    I originally started freelancing in Java before moving my entire work flow over to web development as I had fallen in love with JS. My first ever client was for a purely Java role for a few little projects. The client bought out a small company of a few developers purely for their code and to remove some competition.

    When I left one of the developers recommended me to another company for a Java role which grew over time due to repeat trade into their full website allowing me to build a small portfolio.

    My client stream tends to have a reliable peaks and troughs around certain periods of the year where the companies I work with want minor changes made to meet some event or another or it is time for a complete re-design.

    I made enough to do what I wanted and pay any expenses I occurred however that was about it.
  • 1
    @darkcode so true freelancing is work and you have to keep learning but it can be profitable once people get to know you and your skills.
  • 1
    Started of about 5 years ago with a little Java (minecraft) and HTML, have expanded to CSS, JavaScript, mySQL and PHP later. You could probably say I have 3 years of experience because I was so slow in the beginning and didn't give it that much time.

    Started paid freelancing about 1 year ago, and got my clients through the professional networks of my parents and other relations (all of them are non-devs). I also landed a solid job through a local code club, the firm contacted the club to get a system a little cheaper than with pro devs.

    Until now I've been lucky with getting a solid flow of clients, though I'm not really depending on clients as I just turned 18 and live at home going to high school. Though if I ever need a continuous flow I guess I would use darkcode's method + try to utilize the full extent of my professional/social network.
  • 1
    To have been able to land solid deals with a lack of documented experience and being 17 as I was last year, I sold websites as a product instead of charging on a pr hour basis. In that way, as long as you are able to estimate well, you can earn quite a lot more than you would if you had to apply for $x/hr.

    If you're ok with handling clients you could probably sell hosting as well, just to get a small regular income. I've done that the last year just by setting up a VPS, making a control panel for users in PHP and giving ftp/sftp access.

    Anyways, I can't say I have very big projects or that I am very good, but I thought I could put in my two cents
  • 1
    I started seriously around 4-5 years ago, I'm 29 now. I've always been interested in coding and about 5 years ago I decided to have a go at rebuilding my works current site which was pretty bad. So I learned HTML, CSS and JS and some basic PHP and had a go and they liked it so that was my first real web dev job.

    I knew basic concepts of programming and had dabbled in Visual Basic a little so that helped. I came across Lynda.com and found the tutorials there amazing and exactly my learning style.

    Within a year I had a really good understanding of PHP and was on to Ruby and RoR which I love.

    I then jumped on freelancer.com and what is now known as upwork. Within a year I had built up a good enough portfolio that I was knocking back work, during this time I didn't stop learning, the money I earned from freelancing went straight back into resources to learn more or software like IDEs or things that made development easier.
  • 1
    One thing I found really hard during the whole thing was how to get that first job. I found it really difficult to try and convince a prospective client that even though I didn't have "real" experience with a particular language etc, That I had done a heap of training and was the right person for the job.

    So I started just targeting really small jobs, helping people out and then using that small experience as a stepping stone to the next job that was a bit bigger.

    I also learnt that a lot of the time you have to fake it to make it. Sometimes there were components to the job that I was honestly out of my depth on. But was determined that I would learn it and overcome.

    In the end it meant that for the first 2 years of real freelancing, I charged enough so that clients knew I was serious but was also cheaper than anyone else (although sometimes it meant charging more than others and explaining that their quotes were unrealistic).
  • 1
    I also found that it was really uncommon for other freelancers to go over and above what was expected of them. So I thought, if I wanted to stand out, I should go over and above, and that's what I did.

    Yes it cost me money and time and frustration, but as a result, every client I had couldn't say a bad word and all gave me glowing reviews, even if it took me a little longer because I was learning as I went.

    Anyway, by the end of that period I started taking on bigger jobs and getting better and better and learning more and more and started charging more.

    Then I started getting work without looking for it and had to knock jobs back because I was too busy.

    I then got offered to go on retainer at a company which has now moved to a 40 hr/week retainer.

    A bit of advice -

    Like anything, it's not easy but what you put in, you will get back. Never get an ego, never stop learning. If you think you know it all, it will bite you in the arse. Never stop learning and try to learn it all!
  • 0
    @doz87 Hey, thanks! I appreciate your insight. Lot of good info in those posts
Add Comment