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Freelancing has taken the job market by storm over the last decade. According to a survey by Fiverr, there are over 56.7 million freelancers in the US alone, many of which are programmers.
So how to become a freelance programmer?
It’s simple, but it’s not! There are myriads of platforms to find work, but it can take some time to create a consistent, sustainable income from freelance coding.
According to ZipRecruiter, freelance programmers make over $70k a year on average. That’s not bad, considering you have a flexible schedule.
If you know the tricks of the trade beforehand, it can be easier to find quality work. As the numbers tell you, there’s quite a lot of competition, and more people keep on joining.
Benefits of Becoming a Freelance Programmer
There are pros and cons to everything, and freelance work is no different. It’s just a matter of your own priorities as to what suits your life goals better.
- Freedom to work from anywhere
- Creating your own schedule to work
- Finding and working on projects you’re passionate about
- High income as you build your rapport and take on big projects
- Saves costs on commuting as you can work from home
- Opportunity to learn new skills
- Big savings
- No paid leaves (you have to work to earn money)
- No health insurance coverage
How to Become a Freelance Programmer
So you’re getting bored of your desk job coding things you’re simply told to do. Or perhaps you don’t make nearly enough money to pay your bills and enjoy your life. All of that can be solved if you program as a freelancer.
It takes time, skill, and a lot of effort, but the end results will be worth it. Here’s everything you need to know to become a freelance programmer:
Choose a Programming Language
The number one step is to choose a programming language that you love or is in high demand (even better if it’s both).
In the freelance programming world, specialists earn better than generalists. As a latter, you’ll be working with multiple languages, but it may be hard to find bigger and nicer projects.
What you need to do is find a niche within the programming world. This can be challenging as new technologies keep coming, so you also have to keep up with the new trends. That said, focusing on one or two areas will give you more opportunities.
The main thing is to learn the language you want to focus on. Now, many first-time freelance programmers already have the learning and experience in programming languages.
For those with zero prior learning or experience with programming, starting with the basics is ideal. Try simple languages like C or C++, and then move on to the language you want to learn.
Where should you learn to program?
- Online courses
- Credit courses from your local college
- YouTube tutorials
- Stack overflow
There are many online platforms giving coding courses for a fee or free of charge. You can take those courses and practice your skills before looking for work. The good news is you can learn programming in a matter of weeks.
Creating a Portfolio
Most clients would want to see samples of your work before hiring you. That’s not a problem if you’re a programmer already. Just use your best work to impress clients.
If you’re just starting out, you can develop a few samples to show your client. For instance, if you’re a web developer, you can create your own website and perhaps one or two websites to show your skills.
One way to showcase your skills and impress clients is to work on open-source projects. It’s an opportunity to learn more, while also developing credibility by solving problems. It can help you immensely when you’re starting out.
With remote online platforms, finding jobs is easier than ever. Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr, and Guru are some of the most popular platforms for freelancers, in general.
However, there are others as well, probably hundreds more, so do your own research to find which may work best for you.
Some freelancers also work independently, finding projects online. Job recruiting websites are the best place to start looking for such jobs. Many companies are looking for freelance developers for their one-time project. You can apply for those jobs, in addition to working on platforms.
Set the Right Price and Working Rules
The freelance world is incredibly competitive, but also exploitive at times. You don’t want to work for a low hourly rate. Yes, you’ll have to keep your prices low in the beginning, but as you gain more clients and expertise, you can increase it.
Also, set some basic rules for working online. Working from home or anywhere can be challenging too. You don’t want to miss deadlines or deliver sub-par work.
It’s important to set some fixed hours in a day or week to work. This way, you can focus more and avoid overworking.
Grow Your Network and Skillset
Programming is a continuously evolving field with new technologies emerging every year. If you want to stay relevant, stay on top of these technologies. Not only will it improve your work cycle but also deliver better results for your clients.
Similarly, creating a strong network is crucial to maintain a consistent income. If you’re working independently of online platforms, this is all the more important. Clients may refer you to other potential clients, so it’s better to stay updated.
Now that you know how to become a freelance programmer, it’s time to make it happen. A lot of people will simply read this post and forget about it, but you can avoid being that person. This line of work can be extremely rewarding if you play your cards right.
Freelance coding can give you flexibility, high income with time, and a drive to achieve more. You can be an expert in this field with practice and determination.