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7 fundamental freelancing tips for developers

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I think it’s fair to stay the ‘working from home trend’ is here to stay after the pandemic. Luckily though, this might open up new avenues for people who are looking for new professional challenges from the comfort of their homes.

So if you’re pondering taking up some freelancing to expand your horizons (and income), this article will help you get on the right track.

Full disclaimer: You probably know this by now, but I’m not a freelancer myself, however, all the tips and advice on this article have been collected from people who are successful at freelancing.

Focus on your skill set

The first step towards becoming a freelancer is to jot down a list of all your skills and then only choose the ones you’re most experienced in. Discovering your strengths will help you stand out from others.

Sure, you might be a jack of all trades in your current role, but it’s a lot easier to beat your competitors if you focus on a specific niche.

In the beginning, it’s also very important to build your reputation as an expert in a particular field. This will help you get permanent clients because if they’re looking for quality work then they’ll always prefer an expert over a general-purpose freelancer.

Later on, you may gradually expand your services in that skill to get more work.

Find low competition but profitable keywords

At this point, you’ve selected a skill to provide freelance services. Now, there could be many types of services that you can offer for each skill. For example:

So, the main idea is to rank your profile/service in search results. Clients frequently discover freelancers organically, so it’s important your profile or service show up in their search results — otherwise they’ll probably never find you.

Now to get it right, you’ve got to perform extensive keyword research. It’s absolutely fine if you have to spend a few days on it. A basic understanding of SEO will always be a benefit, especially at this stage of launching your freelance career, so I recommend getting familiar with SEO concepts if you haven’t done so already.

Your main target when you start out is to find keywords for services that no one is working on or has a very low competition. This is because you can easily push up your rank on low competition keywords compared to more popular ones.

Also, remember to find keywords that are profitable. People must be willing to spend money to buy your services, there’s no reason to waste time on services that no one is looking for. Your sweet spot is to go after services people are looking for, but also one where developers aren’t meeting that demand.

Select a few freelance marketplaces

Recently, I published an article about best freelancing websites on Live Code Stream. Have look there and find two or three platforms to get started.

The major benefit of a freelance marketplace is that they act as a broker, which highly reduces the chance of fraud as compared to dealing with clients directly.

The first step then is to create engaging profiles on these platforms. Basically, you have to provide details about your services as well as display an attractive portfolio.

Some platforms don’t let you display the portfolio. So, in that case, simply show your previous work samples to clients when they contact you.

The reason behind only working on a few websites is that you could easily manage workload. Later on, you may expand this list when you have expanded your operation to a full team. For now though, it’s better to start small.

How should I set the price?

You always have to keep a close eye on your competitors. Find out what services they’re offering and at what price. It will help you determine what employers are usually willing to pay for your services.

At first, always set a lower price than your competitors. Let the clients examine your work before you increase your rates, it’s also a great way to collect testimonials for future clients.

Search potential clients on social media

Despite great SEO work and proper preparation, it may still be difficult to find your first freelance project organically. Therefore I recommend you find and reach out to potential customers on social media networks and steer them to your profile on freelance marketplaces.

To do so, share your profile/service on social media platforms. For example, there are many groups on Facebook where people are looking for freelancers with specific talent. Similarly, LinkedIn can also be a great opportunity to connect with potential customers.

Initially, you have to give your best and do a tremendous amount of hard work. But, it will quickly pay off once you start getting continuous work.

Always provide high-quality results

The best thing about freelancing is there’s no limit on how much you can earn in a single day, month, or year. So, if you take it seriously and operate it like a proper business there will be loads of opportunities for growth. The only thing you need to do is to deliver the highest quality results to your customers.

I’ve even found that customer feedback/review/rating is the most important factor that helps you rank higher in search results of freelance marketplaces. So, if your clients are impressed with your work then they will definitely give you good ratings. In turn, it will increase your chances to get hired by more and more clients.

It can happen that you’ll actually need to remind or encourage the client to leave a review after the task is done — and that won’t happen unless they like your work.

So always keep in mind that a good customer feedback/rating is the key to success in freelancing.

Manage time efficiently

Freelancers quickly get overwhelmed when they start getting consistent work. At that crucial time, your time management skills come into play.

Unlike regular day jobs, freelancing is not usually a 9-to-5 job. But, you’re your own boss, so it’s completely possible to create the schedule you want and stick to it.

Conclusion

We’ve all witnessed the vulnerabilities of a regular full-time job during the COVID-19 pandemic… but it’s highlighted the possibilities of online freelancing work like never before.

If you still have any doubts, I’d just like say you did the right thing by selecting freelancing as a career. It’s capable of giving you a way better income source then your current job. But, only if you follow the guidelines mentioned in this article. Put in the work, and you’ll reap the benefits.


This article was originally published on Live Code Stream by Juan Cruz Martinez (twitter: @bajcmartinez), founder and publisher of Live Code Stream, entrepreneur, developer, author, speaker, and doer of things.

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Published October 16, 2020 — 06:30 UTC