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Becoming a freelance web developer

Discussion in 'Web Design Forum' started by tremour, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. tremour

    tremour New Member

    I've been self-teaching myself HTML, PHP and MySQL now since I was about 15, im now 21 and am fairly experienced with HTML, Dreamweaver, Photoshop etc.

    I'm interested in looking for web developer jobs and want some advice.

    I'm good with HTML, CMS (Mostly Joomla!) and moderatly good with PHP. At the moment im working on a personal project to improve my PHP and MySQL and to build some functions I could use later on with any websites I make.

    Is it worth me trying to seek for some local self-employed people who could use a website or an improved design and try to offer them my service for cheap to build myself some experience and earn some money at evening/weekends?

    And is there any charity's who would accept a website being made for them if they provided the hosting fee's.

    Any help/advice would be welcome,
    Thank you.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2015
  2. WritingOnTheWeb

    WritingOnTheWeb New Member

    You'll need to add Photoshop/Graphic design skills to that list if you want to make a good impression. Though I guess you probably already do.

    I'll just say that freelance web dev isn't easy.

    Freelance sites will probably convert at about 1/300 and that's usually due to foreign countries charging too little.

    Cold calling will convert about 1/100.

    Direct marketing depending on what way you do it should convert better.

    However I do guess you wouldn't be too clued up on marketing so just hit the phone and good luck.
  3. michelledancer

    michelledancer New Member

    When I first started freelancing I was also self-taught but had only been learning for a few months. Not that I was bad, I'm a quick learner, but I hadn't even really had chance to work on personal projects for a portfolio.

    I started on the dreaded job bidding sites, where I secured my first terribly paid job for the sake of getting some good feedback. I quickly learned to trust my judgement on which buyers were looking for the cheapest deal and which would pay real money for quality work, and selling myself to the latter came naturally.

    A lot of freelancers hate those sites but since my low-income start I've met a few regular clients and manage to regularly win work while being the highest bid.

    Personally I found approaching local people/businesses to be more hassle than it was worth. There are any number of terrible web developers out there that are very easy to find, so with no experience you'll have a hard time proving you're better than they are.

    Approaching nonprofits is a good idea, it's one I never tried so can't speak for the acceptance rate but it's advice that I've seen time and time again so it must work for at least some people.

    Get your personal project complete, build your own site and use that as a portfolio piece, maybe create something as a free download (WordPress themes are the obvious choice, far too many free ones are old-fashioned and crap), try elance.com and the like, and then even if you've not really made any decent money you have a portfolio with which to start.
  4. BarryFogarty

    BarryFogarty New Member

    Hi Tremour, welcome to the forum.

    I suggest going permanent with a company to hone your skills and get a bit of commercial experience under you belt. You can always run your self-employed business on the side until you build up enough work and contacts to keep you going full-time.

    Build your own freelancer site as well, to showcase your talents, put a portfolio of work on there so potential clients can see you know what you're doing. There are plenty of great examples of web design portfolios online, and as a bit of a shameless plug you can also check out my web design London portfolio.

    Lastly, contact other agencies to offer your services through them - this is often a good way to get started and gain experience without having to find your own clients directly. If you can offer a good service at a competitive rate, agencies will grow to rely on you when they have too much work on. I am always looking for talented and dependable designers, developers and SEO/SEM professionals to collaborate with. Get in touch, send me on your CV/portfolio, if a suitable project comes in I know who to turn to:

    Barry Fogarty
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
  5. kane

    kane New Member

    I think you are going on the right path. Build a very solid personal project and approach a decent agency for an internship. Do the internship 3 days a week or bargain if you can do it for less and do your self employed work. The internship is only there to add credibility to your name.

    It is difficult and almost impossible to get work without a recognisable name on your belt.
  6. DScott

    DScott New Member

    Perhaps for now you should approach local businesses who you are familiar with on a personal level?

    Maybe you are friendly the owner of a local shop who could use a website?

    I've always found that starting small leads to bigger things.
  7. ebsit01

    ebsit01 New Member

    First of all, you need to understand that it’s a highly saturated market, and you’re going to have to put in serious time and effort to turn this into a career. The freelance world is a wonderful place to be in!
  8. c69

    c69 New Member

    if you want to be a freelancer, you must know that ..

    Freelance money are not easy ;)

    I suggest you work full time, to learn your profession to the level when you can become self employed.
  9. AdamC

    AdamC New Member

    You have laid a good foundation so far with html and a little of php but you need a liitle more experience handling larger sites that will require more of php knowledge. Keep doing more projects just to push your limits and see where your skills need improvment and you can then start marketing yourself
  10. AdamC

    AdamC New Member

    the freelance world is a little saturated right now when it comes to web development jobs. What i would advice is for you to get a permanent job and do freelance jobs part time untill you get enough contacts and a feel for the market then you can decide what you want to do
  11. 2020Media

    2020Media New Member


    I'd suggest joining local User Groups and contributing. If you become a valuable and helpful member of the community it is likely you will be asked to help on other people's projects.

    Joomla User Groups

  12. AdamC

    AdamC New Member

    Another thing to consider: Adding un-paid work (coursework or volunteer) is a good way to build up your portfolio. Sometimes you may have to work for someone first before you go into full-time freelancing.
  13. Victorious

    Victorious New Member

    That is an absolute rubbish what you say. If you are good then you will most likely get a job simple.
  14. donflamingo9

    donflamingo9 New Member

    You could go and work in a permanent company and just work as a freelancer part-time. Considering your skills and your experience, you could easily be hired on freelance sites.

    Another option could be starting your own online business (anything that is related to your field) and then hire freelancers as your business grows.

    When you actually work as a freelancer the first thing you need to consider is to which freelance site would you be working. There are actually many freelance sites and that actually depends on your own preference on which site would you be working.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2011
  15. addmac

    addmac New Member

    Go permenant

    As people have said, going permanent is the best thing to do first, it will allow you to get some experience; doesnt mean you have to go full time for long, just means you will have a good professional referree and you never know you might pick up a thing or two.

    You can still do freelance work on the side, if you find it.

  16. BarryFogarty

    BarryFogarty New Member

    Going freelance

    Another benefit of going permanent first is if you get on well with your boss, there is a good chance they will give you freelance work when you leave. This is especially true if you get an agency job, where they often need extra hands to cope with demand. That is how I got my start, and the regular income allowed me to build my business.

    Concentrate on getting good experience, a good portfolio and glowing references/testimonials from clients. Learn a bit of SEO to market your site on the search engines. Enquiries from potential clients will soon follow!
  17. LeeB

    LeeB New Member

    Some good advice in this thread.

    I currently have the benefit of working part time whilst doing freelance work. Think I'm quite lucky that I've been able to do that to be honest.

    The first steps Id recommend would be to do some voluntary/personal projects just to get some experience working with clients as a freelancer.

    If you specialise in development, it's good to have relationships with a few designers, photographers, seo experts and even film makers. You'll find that if you can help someone out with work, they're a lot more likely to send some back your way.
  18. kathygreen

    kathygreen New Member


    Freelance work is definitely gonna be quite tough, so you should buckle up for it. Other than that just keep yourself updated with all the new technologies that keep popping up every other minute.

    Good luck with everything.

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