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Freelance programmers using computers
Derek Wolff
Nov 30, 2020

9 Tips For Getting Your Start as a Freelance Computer Programmer

If you’re interested in a career as a computer programmer, it’s likely you know that you’re entering a lucrative field, regardless of if you manage to land a full-time job or have just started freelancing. Whether you just graduated with a degree in computer science or web development, knowing multiple programming languages can help you stand out in one of the most in-demand fields on the globe. 

While it’s no easy task to be a successful freelance programmer, it is exceptionally rewarding for those with a creative flair and excellent time management skills, one which can yield long term benefits. The potential rewards are equal with the hard work needed along the way.

Getting Started 

Learn the Language

Paramount to any computer programmer’s success is a deep knowledge of the programming languages required, which will help you take on multiple projects at a time from potential clients. FreeCodeCamp polled 65,000 professional developers at the 2020 Stack Overflow, where JavaScript reigned as the most popular programming language in the annual survey. HTML CSS, SQL, Python and Java rounded out the top-5.

Communication is Key 

Having good communication skills is an essential tool in any successful freelance programmer’s belt and can help form professional ties with potential clients. These skills can help you retain their services in the long term as you land one freelance job after another.

Follow Your Rules

Producing high-quality work is made easier when you set rules for yourself and stick to a preconceived schedule. Make sure you set a basic, fixed pay rate for potential clients and create a fixed schedule for meetings, updates and deadlines before the project ends.

Growing your Business 

Getting a Job

Naturally, getting your first job and the first client is the first step on the road to being a successful freelance web developer or computer programmer. Landing a job if  you’re just starting out and don’t have any experience can be rough.. Luckily most universities list services and job boards that are filled with potential clients looking to hire freelance computer science students. 

If you’re already out of school or have entered freelancing after a career change, don’t fret; there are plenty of opportunities available on job sites like Angellist. For those who specialize in freelance software engineering or user interface design jobs, Turing.com can be an excellent resource. Alternatively, you can use this guide to learn how to get referrals

Build Your Portfolio 

Quality web design skills will serve you well when it’s time to produce your online portfolio, a necessary introduction for potential clients where you can showcase your high-quality work. Testimonials from prior clients should be on display here as well as past projects, and the best online portfolios also include options for networking possibilities, which could potentially lead to long term relationships with dedicated clients.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Finding freelance work can be challenging, so don’t compound it by selling yourself short when clients ask for your rate. It’s important to carefully consider everything that you’ll be asked to do when it’s time to talk turkey, and equally important to take on projects you like doing as often as you can. Consider whether you should charge a flat rate to avoid by-the-hour work, which ultimately can be more profitable for you, especially if you possess excellent time management skills.

Finding Success

It’s All About Leverage 

Producing high-quality products with high-quality service should have your customer base coming back time and again, so why not leverage that. When you’re on good terms with a repeat client, ask them to produce a testimonial for you, or for a referral to reach a new customer base. Consider expanding your skills by creating a YouTube channel to advertise your web design work in a different medium.

Contribute to Larger Projects 

Another way to increase your client pool and your credibility among your peers is to contribute to open-source projects. This participation gives you more opportunities to boost your portfolio after you subscribe to publications, join online courses and read newsletters, allowing you to open new doors to earnings from potential clients. 

Stay Ahead of the Times

Staying on top of the current technologies and languages can set you apart from other programmers. No matter how successful you’ve been, you can always learn more. Consider signing up to learn additional programming languages and other industry-relevant skills. If you have the capability and enthusiasm to do so, consider building a mobile app to highlight your skills to potential clients in another unique way.

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