The Freelance Developer Preparedness List: Tips that will set freelance Devs up for success

There are few fields expanding at a more rapid pace than web development these days. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 27% increase in the number of web developer jobs between now and 2024, with an average salary just under $65,000 per year. If you’re just starting off in the industry or if you’re considering a move into the freelance realm, there are several steps you need to consider to get yourself ready for the battles ahead.


Get GitHub

If you don’t know GitHub, it’s far past time you learned. When you’re a developer, you have to be able to show your work in order to sell yourself. Since it opened nearly a decade ago, GitHub has housed more than 49 million projects concocted by more than 18 million users. It is absolutely vital that you can showcase your skill set in a professional, visual environment; GitHub is the best choice for making that happen at present.


Open (Source) Your Horizons

When you work on open source projects, you give yourself the platform to both show off your talents and forge professional and personal relationships that can be the base on which you build your career. Doing open source work implicitly lets other developers know that you are interested in improving products for everyone, not just looking to pad your resume and get paid.


Pick Up The Slack

Slack was once just a way for different project members to communicate each other. However, it’s evolved into so much more than that; becoming a hub of freelance communities where devs can meet and trade job information, solve problems, answer questions, and trade tips and tricks to make their work easier. Several of the best channels can be found here.


Start Me Up!

Working a large corporation has lots of advantages – good health care, paid vacations, 401(k) options, someone from accounting usually brings doughnuts on Friday morning, etc. But if you’re trying to cut your teeth and grow your brand as a developer, those things are most likely just afterthoughts to your career plan. Startups offer young developers the opportunity to hit the ground running. They need jobs done and they need those jobs done now. You’ll be given more responsibility, and when you perform well, you’ll have the chance to pitch your own ideas and really contribute to the overall growth of an organization.


Work Now, Freelance Later

Here’s a dirty little secret of freelancing: If you don’t have a powerful portfolio of previous works and glowing reviews from past clients, nobody is going to hire you. It doesn’t matter if you’re the the Harry Potter of HTML or the Michael Jordan of Javascript; until you have the visuals to show your prowess and the lip service from other customers that can turn customers’ heads, you’re nobody. Even though 1 in 7 web developers are self-employed, it takes a while to get there. Be patient and build your brand before taking the solo plunge.


Same Old, Same Old

Once you have a client who likes your work, do everything you can to keep yourself in their good graces so they’ll keep using you for more projects. Every minute you spend looking for jobs is a minute you aren’t honing your craft or making money with it. When clients are pleased and come back to you on their own, you are killing two birds with one stone: Getting more projects and also developing your brand with a client who you can use as a reference.


Public Works

Let’s face it, a lot of the code you write is housed behind firewalls, security measures, and on company intranets. That’s perfectly fine – work is work – but to impress clients you have to be able to showcase what you’re capable of. Telling a client “I did the back-end processes for Company X” doesn’t do a potential client any good if he or she can’t see those processes. So make sure and find jobs that allow you to display work that is readily visible to the public – the front end of websites and apps is always a surefire bet.


No Launch, No Thanks

We’ve all visited websites that promise bold new developments coming in …November 2024? If you apply for a job that has a launch date in the distant past or the distant future, you might want to keep on keeping on. Visionary though some of these projects might be, if they never actually go live, what good does it do your portfolio?


Skills That Make Sense

There might be a particular language or platform that you favor above all else, but if there’s no demand for that skill, you’ll need to refocus your expertise on those skills that are in demand. For example, I learned to program in COBOL in 10th grade computer science back in 1990, but it hasn’t exactly paid off in the long run. On the other hand, Java, Swift, and Objective C are all booming right now.


In short, there are a ton of challenges out there to becoming a top-flight web developer. Remember, your career is not a sprint, but a marathon in which you cultivate your brand and position yourself to climb the ladder to the top of the dev profession.


By: Nick G 

AND CO Guest Post: Hirable

Hirable Editors:

John White, Creative Director & Christian D’ Alessio, COO