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How to become a Freelance Developer

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There can be a number of reasons for which one might want to work as a freelancer. Independence, flexibility in work timings, and no upper limit on earning are some of the attractive things about freelancing. There are many students who want to get started as a freelance developer during their college days for some extra money. Freelancing is an increasingly popular profession in India. India has 15 million freelancers and is on number two after the US. Around 60% of Indian freelancers are less than 30 years of age. Freelancing can be done as either part-time by working on projects in your free time or full time as a substitute for a job. For beginners, it is always good to start with part-time while sticking to the current career position and building a reputation for increased chances of getting contacted for projects. How to get started? First of all, you will have to decide your domain, that is, the field of your interest/skill suitability. For example web development, iOS app development, Android app development and so on. You may just pick one and start targeted learning or you might like to explore a bit of everything before choosing a domain. You might already have expertise in one of the domains with experience of having some projects done. Whether you are an absolute beginner or an expert, the gaps in your understanding can be filled either by utilizing online resources like tutorials, documentation etc. or by undergoing a formal training. Each domain has its own skillset requirement. These skills include knowledge of programming languages and popular domain-specific frameworks. For example:
  • Java/Kotlin for Android App development.
  • HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for front end web development.
  • Python for App development on numerous platforms(like Django is a Python framework for web development) and many more.
  • In general, you will have to be very good with the use of suitable data structures and design and optimization of algorithms.
Making some Projects: After deciding your domain, you will have to do some projects(if you haven’t already) to get proficient enough. It is important that you are well versed in the technologies you use because time wastage in basic doubt clearance during actual development might lead to your failure to meet deadlines. As mentioned earlier, you can do your learning by either going for formal training or opt for an ad hoc approach using online resources. There are plenty of online resources for almost all the domains out there, some of them are:
  • Popular Tutorial Websites like GeeksforGeeks, TutorialsPoint etc.
  • Online Forums like GeeksforGeeks Forum, StackOverflow, Quora etc.
  • Online course platforms like Edx, Udemy, Coursera, Udacity, Plural Sight, Khan Academy etc.
  • Major YouTube Channels like TheNewBoston,, Envato Tuts+, mycodeschool, Derek Banas etc.
Once you are done with basics and have done a few projects, you can register yourself at some platform for freelancers and get started. There are many popular platforms like Freelancer, Upwork, Fiverr etc. It is advisable to start small and build your reputation. After building a good enough reputation and a brand name you can consider creating your own website for your work. This will increase your per-project income as well as further build up your brand. This can be later utilized if you decide to switch to a regular job. Two Main Aspects of a Freelancer:
  • First is having knowledge of who are your potential clients and second is how much should you be charging for your work. If you are using a freelancing platform then you will have to browse through projects for hire, in case of your own website you will have to build your own networks. Which can be done by utilizing the previous reputation built with clients.
  • The second aspect is setting your rates. There are many factors which you should consider while setting the rate for a project, which includes client location(rates for similar projects vary with geographic locations, Indian clients are usually willing to pay less than US clients), complexity of the project(higher the complexity, more the rate) and your own requirements. Most developers set their rates on an hourly basis. The key is to ask other freelancers about how much they charge and based on their rates and skills you can decide what you should be charging that would be considered “fair”.
The most important thing for an active freelancer is brand value. As discussed earlier, you should start small and slowly grow your value. This can be done by:
  • Registering on almost all sites and building one for yourself with some great SEO.
  • Building a network by getting in touch with other freelancers, potential clients and other influencers of your domain both online and offline.
  • Being Fair and decent when it comes to charging for your project.
  • Staying updated and being ready to learn new things continuously.
  • Taking detailed and parameter specific feedback from clients after project delivery.

Last Updated : 22 Mar, 2019
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