5 Things Every Upwork Freelance Web Developer Should Focus on (You Need to Try These)

Five Things You Should Know as a Freelance Web Developer?

These are the five things you should know when starting off as a freelance web developer, and they're the things that I wish I knew when I started in 2008 with my first business. 

The things we're going to cover are: the experience you need to get started, how much experience do you actually need to start? And also, we're going to talk about how to get started faster. So instead of taking half a year to learn stuff, or one year to learn stuff, or two years or five years, like some people do, how do you get started today or tomorrow. And we're going to talk about lead generation, what are some techniques and tips and tricks to get started with lead generation, get your first clients, so that ball gets rolling as well. 

And we're going to talk about who to sell to how to decide that. And we're going to talk about what the trajectory is, what is the learning process you're going to go through as a freelance web developer, to be able to build that first freelance web development career, or your first agency as a freelance web developer. 

Before we get started, click here to subscribe to my youtube channel, and then click on the bell notification icon to get future updates on my videos for freelance web developers. So why should you listen to me? Why am I qualified to talk about this? Well, I am currently working with over 200 agencies, here are some of them right here. A lot of them started off as freelancers, as freelance web developers, and they grew into agency owners. They currently have teams, revenue coming in, and they have an agency, a real business. So we start off with people who are freelancers, and we grow all the way to agencies. We've done this hundreds and hundreds of times. So yes, I am probably qualified to talk about this. 

How Much Experience Is Necessary?

So the first thing you should know when you get started as a freelance web developer is how much experience is actually necessary. Here, we need to make a distinction. There's developers and non-developers who still have experience in the industry, who can start off as an agency owner or offering freelance web development services. So for developers it is a little bit easier because they can be “true” freelance web developers, since they can actually perform the service themselves. 

Non-Developers Should Start an Agency from Day One

For non-developers, they're going to have to start an agency from day one, meaning they should have a team from day one and not do the actual coding themselves. 

So who are these non-developers? Because a lot of developers are looking at this, they're like, “why is he talking about non-developers, this is a video about freelance web development.” But you don't actually have to be a developer to offer freelance web development services. You can actually hire developers, if you have experience in the industry. If you're a former project manager, current project manager in IT, or you have software company or agency job experience, a lot of times you will be qualified to actually manage teams of developers, especially if you've done this at work before. 

Who Should Be Considered a Developer?

Now, for developers, it's a little bit more simple. Who can be a freelance web developer? Basically, if you've done projects in the past, if you've had jobs as a developer, you've educated yourself, you took coding boot camps, then you could actually become a freelance web developer, even as one of your first career choices. The reason for this is there's currently a very large demand for freelance web developers. And a lot of companies want to work with you remotely. And as such, they want to take a lower risk by hiring people on a freelance basis because, well, it's remote, it's International. And then they don't really want to have people in person, as staff members in a building anymore. That's not really how companies work these days. But let's get back to this topic in a few minutes. 

How to Get Started Faster

First, let's talk about how to get started faster. How do you increase the speed at which you learned this? And how do you make sure you can get started faster now rather than later? So the first thing you need to know is most developers when they want to start as freelance web developers, they feel like they're unqualified. In fact, even people I talked to who have 10 years of experience, they're like, “Oh, I don't know if I'm qualified yet. Oh, it seems like this is a level above me. Oh, no, it's scary,” and so on. In reality, even junior developers can become freelance web developers. 

There Are Enough Resources Already Available Online

And furthermore, probably you realize that as a developer 70%+ percent of the time, you're actually looking up libraries, you're looking up ways of solving a problem someone else has solved in the past, without having the experience of solving it yourself. That's kind of what real developers or, you know, developers that are doing custom work, do all day. They figure out solutions. Oftentimes, solutions come from existing solutions. They don't have to invent a whole new way of solving problems anymore. There are enough resources on the internet these days, where you can find solutions to almost any problems. There's enough pre-made software that you can pretty much download and modify on all kinds of websites that you can google, where you can create very complicated websites, very complicated platforms, and applications, and even mobile applications without coding it from scratch. That period is long over.

These days, things are done primarily through existing code for existing solutions and existing platforms. No one's going out there and coding PHP websites from scratch these days. And if they are, well, probably you shouldn't, because you can do it much faster. 

You Don’t Need to Have Experience with All Types of Projects

As such, as a freelance web developer, you're going to spend a lot of time researching and you don't have to have experience with every type of project that people can throw at you. And you can very easily scope out a project usually for a fee, especially if it's a custom project and figure out if you can do it, if you can't do it, you can reject the project and say I can't do this, I don't know how to figure this out, and then move on to something more simple. 

And then the major benefit of being a freelance web developer is you can pivot, you can change what you do on a dime. This means that you can change very easily which programming languages you use, and which platforms you use and which technology you specialize in. Now, this sounds crazy to a lot of people. But if you're smart, and if you're able to learn fast, and if you've learned programming languages in the past, it is relatively simple to learn new platforms and new programming languages, because they have a lot of similarities. 

Should You Go for Niche or Broad Knowledge?

Next thing you need to know to get started as a freelance web developer is should you focus on something very niche, something very unique and uncommon that very few people know and perhaps there's not too much demand for it? Or should you go for something very broad, like WordPress web development? Well, actually, both are viable. 

Here's the thing. If you go for something very niche, for something very unique, that very few people know how to do, you're automatically going to have fewer potential clients, because well, it's a less developed industry, a less developed niche within the industry, rather. Whereas if you go for something very broad, you're going to have lots of leads, but also lots of competition. And then you're going to have to become one of the top 10% of providers in an industry providing that service to be able to compete effectively and charge top-tier pricing. Whereas with something very unique and nice, you can have very few people you talk to, but at the same time, you're gonna have to pay you more, because you're a rare commodity as someone who offers something quite niche, but at the same time, you're gonna have less choice because of that reason. 

Now, this can be an advantage and a disadvantage. The disadvantage, of course, is you're gonna have to do a lot more figuring out if it's custom, if it's nice, if it's rare, because fewer solutions are available online, that have been predetermined, that have been figured out by someone else already. So as such, you're gonna have to do more custom work, more labor, more research. And as such, you're going to have to have more time to spend per project. So the price will have to be much higher if you do something quite nice and rare. 

What Is Your Trajectory?

So what is the trajectory you need to go through to be able to get to the point where you can offer freelance web development services, especially in Upwork. So essentially, first, you need to get the general knowledge, like how can you learn how to code. There's coding boot camps out there. There's free resources. You could read documentation. Test stuff by yourself. Sit down every day, and work six hours a day, essentially, or four, if you don't have six, until you become a developer. until you can do projects. Maybe take some online exams. Maybe do some tests on online websites to test your coding knowledge. And at some point, you'll be good enough to be able to do simple projects. 

Also, you can focus on specific platforms, there are platforms like Shopify WordPress, and iOS, if you want to go that far, where you can focus on a specific set of programming languages that basically simplify your learning curve. You don't have to learn all the programming languages out there. I actually have a few videos on which programming languages are suitable for which types of platforms and which platforms you should focus on. It's actually in the description below this article.

Learn How to Get Leads Effectively

The next step in your trajectory should be to learn how to get leads in the most simple, most effective way possible, where you don't have to have your own websites, blogs, and like 15,000 portfolio items. Essentially, what you should do is leverage existing freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. Yes, a lot of people don't like those, but I think they don't know what they're doing. In fact, I have a whole sequence of videos in a playlist below this article where you can learn how to use these platforms effectively. So you don't have to go through years and years of grind to get your first clients. It's actually relatively simple: send 10 proposals per day on Upwork. And I explain how to do this and how to get good results as a developer, as a freelance web developer in the playlist below. 

How to Price?

The next part of what you're going to be learning is how to price. Now, here's the thing about pricing. It is so broad. There's so many different platforms. There's so many different pricing options available to clients. You can compete on low pricing, high volume with large teams, high pricing, low volume with small teams. You can do all kinds of stuff. 

But the most simple answer that I can give you in a short video is essentially what I would do is start off with hourly pricing. The reason for this is when you’re starting off as a freelance web developer, your number one problem is going to be scoping projects, figuring out how long a project takes. As such, you should charge hourly to make sure that you get paid for all the work that you do. And don't get bullied into doing work for free for clients ever, under any circumstance. Fixed pricing on projects works great if you know how to scope a project. If you don't know how to scope a project perfectly which, let's be honest, almost no one knows, then it should not be fixed pricing. Because fixed pricing without a good contract, without good scoping, is a disaster for most companies. 

Hourly rates. You can sell your own hours. You can sell other developers’ hours and you can figure out as you go along, which is a client's responsibility how big a project should be, because that's what it is. Hourly pricing means it’s the client's responsibility to scope the project. And then you can advise them on this, but it's still their responsibility because they pay per hour. 

So as you can see, there's a lot of stuff to unpack here. So what I've done is as I mentioned before, I created the playlist for developers where we go into lead generation. We go into which platforms to learn, which programming language to learn, what is currently most in demand based on market research. So check those out in the description below this article, and I'll see you in those videos. Just go ahead and click and check out the videos. Also, I respond to the best comments below the article if you have a question. So see you in the comments and see in the next article.

What To Watch Next:

Programming language and platform tips:

Interested in building a business like this? Get on a call with one of our instructors and get advised on what you can do to build a business like this.

You may even get offered a chance to join the mastermind where we all share working business models (optional). Click the button below to apply.

Aleksander Vitkin

Aleksander Vitkin has helped over 700 people with a sincere interest in entrepreneurship and contribution, to start profitable businesses and quit their jobs.