Do you need qualifications to freelance as a web developer?

As far as freelance web development goes, there are numerous ways to make an income, even without qualifications.

Contrary to popular belief, qualifications do not make web developers.

Web development is in fact, an intricate art form and I firmly believe that there are two main qualities that differentiate web developers:

  • Experience
  • Willingness to learn

If you possess either of these two fundamental traits, you’re in good stead.

Experience is vital to becoming a successful web developer. Not only because it’s how your prospective clients will judge your skill and capabilities, but also because it will form the foundation of your talent.

Developers who have worked on a wide variety of projects, and have had first-hand experience in offering creative solutions in the form of innovative web development are far likelier to do well at undertaking new challenges.

Because the world of web development is so complex, progressive, and fickle, experience is super important. Probably more important than any other factor, when it comes to how your skills develop.

A willingness to learn, I believe, also has a key role to play.

Since the industry experiences changes and innovations on such a frequent basis, with new technologies being released by the week, and best guidelines changing completely over a period of mere months, a developer’s ability to stay ahead of the game is imperative.

Web development is one of those careers in which you’ll be learning for the rest of your time coding. There will never be an opportunity for a pause in your intake of new information, but equally there’ll never be a dull moment.

If you haven’t noticed, a web developer’s ability to fulfill these two vital criteria requires no qualification at all.

Qualifications, or a formal education of any kind, can certainly be helpful, and should therefore never be played down — but the key takeaway here is that educational qualifications do not distinguish a good web developer from a bad one.

As far as freelance web development goes, there are numerous ways to make an income, even without qualifications. Here are some ideas:

Directly with long or short term clients

You can offer your freelance web development skills to clients on both a short and long term basis. It’s probably best for you to decide the length of time you’d like to spend on any particular project on a case-by-case basis. Some developers tend to enjoy building long-term relationships with their clients, which can serve as a way to bring in a steady income over time.

Alternatively, working with clients on a short-term basis can be a resourceful choice for developers who tend to tire of projects easily, when work becomes monotonous or time-consuming.

Up-sell other services as a freelance web developer

Online presence is a big business. In fact, web development only accounts for a portion of any brand’s online presence. There’s a lot more to maintaining customer engagement and interaction. Up-selling other services in conjunction with your web development expertise can be another great way to keep your clients coming back. Maintenance, security testing, updates to the website contents, and hassle-free web hosting are all potential areas that your clients may be interested in.

Be sure to up-sell other services that you are capable of offering besides web development, if you want to build additional sources of income as a freelancer.

Selling your time vs selling your products

Once you’ve got the hang of it, freelancing as a web developer can quickly become a great, enjoyable career. In fact, after you have worked on a few projects you might find that there are segments of code that you find yourself using increasingly often, from one project to the next. If this is the case, you might consider building a saleable product or website extension that you can distribute online, or even sell for a small fee.

This not only adds another revenue stream to your portfolio, but means that while you sell your time to clients, you can simultaneously sell your products to your peers and colleagues.

Selling your knowledge

Web development is big business, and there are an increasing number of people interested in pursuing careers in the industry. New people are seeking to learn web development every day. After a while in the field, you may find yourself in a position where you’re able to offer your knowledge to others, and can act as a teacher or mentor to others interested in breaking into the industry.

Selling your knowledge in the form of online educational material is a fresh, up and coming way of earning money while you teach what you’re passionate about and continue to learn yourself.

Ultimately, previous experience and past works will speak volumes for any web developer. Far more than any qualifications likely would.

In fact, at this point I think it’s safe to say that prospective clients likely won’t care much for past qualifications. Recruiters select freelance web developers based on skill and capability, not because of their qualifications. To be frank, I’ve never been witness to a situation where qualifications have been more important to a client than the freelancer’s past experience. It’s just how things work in web development.

Possessing a diverse portfolio of projects is likely to take you a lot further in freelance web development.

The benefits of having qualifications in web development probably matter marginally more if you were to be seeking traditional full-time employment, but for a freelance web developer it probably shouldn’t cause you to lose sleep at night.

Do you want
online success?

Hey, we're Cocoon. We want to create a website that beats every competitor in its industry. Our only question is, will it be yours?

Yes, tell me more!