Starting a freelance web development business

So you want to get into freelance web development? Here are our two cents, given our experience of over ten years in the web development industry.

Freelancing can be a great way to enjoy your career in web development. Individuals in all industries are taking up freelancing at an increasing rate.

According to the Freelancers Union, 35% of working people in the United States were freelancing in 2016 — an increase of 2 million people from 2014, and we bet it has only increased since then.

But is freelance web development a good choice for you?

Given our experience of over ten years in the web development industry, we thought we’d break down freelance web development into some pros and cons, in order that you can make up your mind.

Let's begin with the perks of freelancing as a web developer.

Flexibility

You’ll enjoy so much flexibility as a freelance web developer.

You’re able to work from wherever you want, and whenever you like.

Night or day, home or office, it doesn’t really matter.

Income Potential

As a freelancer, you have prospective opportunities to earn the income that you want.

With the option to set your own fees, and additionally how much work you’re willing to take on, the earning potentials can far exceed traditional employment, if done well.

Building Your Career

You will have the opportunity to build and develop a career in web development on your own terms, based on your personal reputation and the abilities that you have.

Scope for Learning

Also, when developing websites as a freelancer, you’ll find that you have a new-found ability to learn an infinite amount of knowledge by working on a broad scope of different projects.

You can dabble in multiple programming languages, work with different types of development environments, and pick up an array of new skills on the way.

Pick and Choose

You’ll be very grateful for the ability to choose the projects and clients you work with.

The option to be picky with the jobs you take on will mean that you finally have the luxury to embark on projects you enjoy and skip the ones you find boring or monotonous.

Keeping the Passion

Your passion for different causes and industries is something that will keep you getting up to code in the morning.

Web development is one of the careers that allow you to add value to organizations in a multitude of industries.

Not only will this allow you to further your knowledge of various sectors, but you can also feel a part of the industries you are most passionate about.

Diversity

Not least the thrill of working with a wide spectrum of international clients, you’ll feel content and experienced working with such a varied clientele.

Well, it would seem that the freelance life is quite rosy.

And indeed, it is.

However, something to remember is that freelancing, in any industry (for what it’s worth), brings a host of challenges that you would not otherwise face in traditional full-time employment.

Remaining aware of these difficulties is going to be important for your career as a freelance web developer.

Undercharging for your services

Doing too much for far too little is a trap that many freelancers can find themselves falling prey to.

You need to be able to pay the bills, so remain alert and don’t make this mistake.

If you find yourself scrambling for low-paid jobs that you can’t really afford to devote your time to, something is wrong.

You might need to take a step back and re-evaluate your pricing strategy.

Ensure that you aren’t being taken advantage of, and if you’re finding it difficult to stand out from the competition, you should try offering a higher quality of service, rather than attempting to compete by offering a lower price tag.

Making the mistake of overcharging

Conversely, overcharging is also a problem freelancers can fall victim to.

This, unfortunately, will get you nowhere.

In order to charge your clients higher than your competition, you need to have a clear, visible differentiation in your services.

Or, a unique selling point for what you are able to offer, that is simply too good for your clients to pass up.

If you’re still looking to raise your fees, you’re probably best letting the power of time take over, so that you can establish a strong name for yourself first, and then re-attempt raising your rates later.

It’s important not to get ahead of yourself before both of your feet are in the water, so to speak.

Don’t charge by the hour

Many freelancers charge by the hour, but this is usually a mistake.

Charging on a project-by-project basis will allow better for development of your personal portfolio and clientele.

Why?

Because everybody charges by the hour, and quite simply, hirers and recruiters find this unattractive.

Within the industry, hirers tend to prefer an honest, up-front cost breakdown, because this allows them to feel more secure in their allocation of payment.

Since web development is an intricate skill, many recruiters feel as though they can’t keep an eye on how you’re spending your time, and they can barely keep their eyes over your shoulder at all times.

Oftentimes, they prefer a lump fee, or perhaps a broken-down series of charges for any single project, in order to offer their trust that you are charging for experience and capability, rather than unproductive hours.

How to be a successful freelance web developer

Hone your attention to detail, but don’t focus too heavily on creating a perfect solution in every way. Clients will fall in love with the attention you pay to intricate details within the project, often praising you for minor details that make a huge difference to them and their target audience.

However, you won’t be able to develop a perfect solution for every aspect of their project, especially with time constraints.

Remain realistic, and focus your efforts on perfecting the elements of the project that your client puts the most emphasis on.

Investing your time into areas that they don’t believe their audience will appreciate is probably a waste of your energy because your client is likely to know their audience best.

Remember to maintain a balance between a well-developed solution, and your time. Time is a finite resource, and there is nobody knows this quite as well as a freelancer. Your labor, fees, and of course your other clients, all factor into how much time you can realistically spend perfecting any given part of a project. Therefore, ensure you are prioritizing your efforts and investing your time in the right areas.

One of the best sources of custom when it comes to freelance web development is repeat clients. Not only do you want them to come back, you need them to come back.

Repeat clients are very happy clients, and happy clients will transform your freelance enterprise by word-of-mouth.

Be sure to provide each and every client with a quality level of service, and deliver both an end product and ongoing support that not only meets their needs but surpasses their expectations.

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