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Getting Your First Gig as a Freelance Developer

As a freelance developer, you want to get as many gigs as possible. However, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd and land your first job. This blog post will teach you how to do just that! We’ll be going over what to do before starting the hunt, how to find good projects, and how to get hired – these are practical and actionable tips that work in today’s marketplace.

If you are a developer looking to get your first freelance gig, this blog post will give you the practical and actionable advice that you need. As experienced professionals in the software development marketplace, we have seen many software developers try and fail at getting their first job. 

Our goal in today’s post is to help make the job search process easier and more enjoyable so that you can find your perfect match sooner!

Follow these practical steps for success!

Before You Start Your Search

The first thing to do before you start your search is find out what kind of freelance work interests you.

Deciding on the type of services you would provide is dependent on your skills set and personality. Think about what you’re good at, or what you enjoy doing the most. Consider your interests when deciding on a kind of work to focus on.

For example, decide whether you want to be front-end, a backend developer or a full stack developer. Do you want to design apps or fix server side problems? Fix security vulnerabilities or specialize in building APIs. The choice is yours.

Confused? Here’s a tip:

Talking with other developers about their experiences, reading blogs or websites that discuss the industry, looking through job listings. Make a list of things like project type (web development? User experience design?), development languages, geographical location and hours of work.

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Most clients would assume any and every programmer can do it all – including their needs which might not be the case. And if you don’t set limits on what you offer, there is a chance that things will go wrong. For example, you might put yourself under undue strain taking on tasks you would rather not do. Secondly, chances are high you won’t do a great job and the client would be disappointed leading to a bad review or no future business.

Once you’ve decided on a niche that is right for you, it’s time to find yourself some projects!

Finding your first client as a freelance developer

One way to find a project is through freelancing websites like Upwork or Fiverr. These sites have listings for projects that you can apply for from the comfort of your own home! 

Friends, family, and close associates (Word of mouth)

When starting out, chances are you don’t have much proof of your skills. This is where close friends and family can really help. At first, you could decide to work for free and in return hope they recommend you to others. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Do it as an in-kind donation for their business and ask that they promote you on social media.
  • Offer a free consultation to them and their friends or business colleagues on how they could use your skills for the work you do (This is great because it builds up your portfolio with cases that are very relevant to what you’re good at)
  • You can also offer a trial period of one month, where if they’re pleased with the work you do they’ll give you a testimonial.

The most important thing to remember is that these people are close family and friends which means if they recommend or promote your skills, it will be because the connection has really had an impact on them. This means their words carry more weight which increases your chances of landing your first job as a freelance developer..

Networking and pitching at Local business events and meetups

In many cities and towns today, there are events that attract business owners, startups, developers etc. It is a great way to meet new people and network with potential clients. 

There are many ways in which networking events are organized: some of them have a specific focus (e.g., marketing, technology), while others try to cover more ground. It is important to find out which type of event suits your goals best and what you would like to achieve from attending it.

If the event has a specific focus, then make sure that you know about this topic well before going there and do some research on who will be at the event ahead of time so that you can prepare for any questions they might ask. If you are looking to network with other professionals, then it can help if you do some research on the people who will be there so that you have something in common when talking with them.

Tips that can help you pitch your developers skills to clients at event meetups:

  • Prepare for the event by researching who will be attending and what topics they are interested in. This research should help you narrow down your topic to a specific field, or identify potential clients if it is more general.
  • Create an elevator pitch about yourself that focuses on expertise in technology (e.g., programming languages, frameworks).
  • Practice your pitch in front of friends and family. 
  • Preparing a one page business summary can help when talking about your freelance developer services with potential clients. This one page summary would include the type of work you do, your skills and experience as a freelancer, when you are available to take on new client projects or how much time it may take for you to complete specific tasks.
  • Have something ready to show them (a portfolio, referrals, testimonials etc.).
  • Provide prospects with your contact information in case they want to follow up.
  • Be sure to keep your resume updated with all of the latest projects and skills, as well as any new achievements or awards in order to help companies find out more about you. 
  • Don’t try too hard or come off as desperate – If you want to appear desirable, it’s better to play hard-to-get.

Freelance sites

There are a lot of freelance sites to choose from. We have found the following three to be very helpful: Upwork, Fiverr, and Hiremotely.

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These sites will allow you to post your profile and bid on jobs. The advantages of working on freelance websites as a developer are that they offer you the opportunity to get your skills out there and showcase them. This is vital for building up your portfolio where potential clients could see what kind of work you do, who has hired you in the past and how much experience you have. 

Setting Up For Success – Road to 4-figures freelance business

The way in which freelance developers go about setting up their freelance business can have a huge impact on the success of it! 

Here are some important steps and considerations for those who are just getting started or want to improve their freelance business.

Build A Portfolio

When looking for freelance work or considering taking on projects, make sure that you have a portfolio of past projects, or at least some work samples. This will demonstrate your abilities and experience to potential clients- it also helps them see what type of style they want for their project!

Tip: Make sure that this section on your website is up-to-date and easy to navigate through by using categories or tags in order to make it easier for potential clients.

Dealing With Clients

When dealing with clients as a freelance developer, remember that communication can be key when deciding whether or not to proceed with the project. If you have any doubts about your ability to complete the project effectively, it’s best if you decline and provide a referral for someone else who may be able to take on the work more successfully.

When To Say “No”

Freelancers should remember that they are in control of their schedule, and if they are not available for a project, then that should be communicated with the client as soon as possible. If you let it go too long without responding or declining the request, then there may come a time in which you’re unable to take on any projects- leaving your schedule wide open!

When To Say “Yes”

When you have the time to take on a project. This doesn’t mean that you should say yes to every request, but if it’s something with which you’re comfortable and confident in your abilities, then there is no harm in agreeing to proceed.

How To Keep Yourself Organized

If there are any freelance developers reading this article who can relate to the feeling of constantly being buried in work, then the first thing that you should do is to get organized. We’ve found using the combination of a calendar and a time management tool extremely helpful. Ensure to have a daily schedule  and to-do list and stick to it.

Setting Rates

Setting rates as a freelancer is an important decision because it will ultimately impact the quality of your business. There are a number of factors to consider when going about this task, including how much you want your time worth and what type of clientele you’re trying to attract. 

Consider the average amount developers charge for your niche/skills. This number can vary from $15/hour to upwards of $100.

Also, take into account what your time is worth in relation to the amount you want to charge. If you feel that your time is more valuable than people are willing or able, then consider charging a higher rate; if not, go with a lower one.

Networking and Marketing your Skills

As soon as you land your first freelance gig, you’ll realize that there are so many other things to do besides just doing the work- you have to market yourself!

Networking is one of the most important parts about freelancing because it will help you grow your client base and improve relationships with clients. You can network creatively and passively by going to meetups in your city. It’s also important to remember that networking doesn’t always have a clear-cut definition – you may be able to connect with potential clients through social media or other avenues.

Be strategic with your social media presence – maintain an active Twitter account, write blog posts about your experience as a freelancer, and don’t forget to share content on LinkedIn. Maintaining these channels will help you stay in contact with potential clients.

If you’re a developer in search of your first gig, it’s understandable that you want to work with someone who will offer the best deal possible. There are many small details that go into freelancing as well such as contract terms and rates per hour or project. So how do you know if you should take an offer or not?

There are a few things you can look for to help determine if the offer is worth it. First, ask yourself whether or not these people seem trustworthy and competent. Second, will this project give me the experience I’m looking for? Third, would accepting this gig push back other projects that have been on my mind lately? And finally, is the rate of pay worth it?

Final Thoughts – how to get your first profitable gig as a freelance developer fast!

If you’re a developer in search of your first gig, it’s understandable that you want to work with someone who will offer the best deal possible. There are many small details that go into freelancing as well such as contract terms and rates per hour or project. 

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