So, you have finally decided to take the plunge and become a freelance developer? Becoming independent on the work front is one of the best things that one can experience as it would now need to think & execute like an entrepreneur. You might be referred a rockstar developer in your team/organisation but the overall situation changes when you become a freelancer! Freelancing as a developer is a different ball game. When pitching for a project, you would be competing with other talented web developers (turned freelancers) hence you need to make a long-lasting first impression.
The million-dollar question is ‘What to include in the pitch so that your profile gets necessary attention when a potential client visits your profile?’ A strong online portfolio that highlights your core skills and achievements says a lot about the value that you can bring to the table if hired as a freelance web developer. It is about standing out from the crowd and an outstanding portfolio is the only way out to achieve the same.
Below are some of the actionable tips that can be used to create a niche as a web developer:
Create an online portfolio of your work
When you are freelancing as a web developer, designer, machine learning engineer, etc.; an impressive online portfolio can make a world of difference. Build a website that highlights the past work and experience. Choose a website design that also makes it easy for clients/visitors to reach you for freelancing work.
Share your technical know-how & learnings via blogs so that the audience knows more about your expertise. Functional links to important social media accounts e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. should also be added to the website.
Your online portfolio is the very first step to create a personal brand and personal branding is as important as the technical experience when you venturing into freelancing.
Leverage the power of Social Media
Social Media is an integral part of personal brand building since it provides you an opportunity to connect with the relevant people in your industry as well as potential & existing clients/customers. A freelance web developer has to think like a salesperson since he/she will be competing with other freelancers for development projects. Use LinkedIn for effective storytelling/brand building and Twitter to learn from other freelancers/subject matter experts.
You should also have an active GitHub account including personal web development projects meant for learning purpose. It is a loose reflection of your inclination towards constant learning & development. It is important to participate in technical discussions on developer community websites like Stack Overflow, HackerEarth, etc. as it increases your visibility (as a developer).
In all these cases, you are showcasing your technical strengths by lending support to other developers and creating a potential platform to pitch customers.
Maintain a uniform and professional profile photo across networks
It is important that your social media profiles has a profile photo. The photo quality should be good and it should look like a professional photograph. Avoid using selfies or group photos since the client cannot recognise you from the group photograph.
Once you have shortlisted a good profile photograph, you should use the same photograph as 'profile photo' on various business networking & developer websites like LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, HackerEarth, Stack Exchange, etc. This level of professionalism creates a good impression on the clients when they visit your profile.
Add client testimonials to boost profile value
Public appreciation from your clients in the form of testimonials not only boosts your confidence but also helps you secure more customers. Clients would pay for the development efforts irrespective of the quality of work but a happy client means more business opportunities.
Work of exceptional quality helps in building a good rapport with the clients and they are more likely to work with you again in the future. An appreciation in the form of Tweet, LinkedIn recommendation can make your profile stand out as a freelancer since it means that you are certified for your professionalism, on-time delivery, and technical expertise.
Find your niche
When you are starting out as a freelancer, you may lap the very first opportunity that comes your way. Things might not go as per the plan if you require a steep learning curve to build domain competency. Delayed delivery can create a dent on your profile and a bad rating from clients can hamper future prospects. No matter how good your website/blog is; the client will have a look at the previous customer ratings on your profile.
You should wait for the right project where you can lend your domain expertise so that you can deliver more than what is expected from your side. Since you have domain expertise, your solution/services will be based on your experience. This helps to build a long-term relationship by delivering quality solutions that add more value to your profile as well as the customer’s business.
Follow the learnings of the adage ‘Jack of all trades, master of none?’ to become a freelance superhero.
Network for the future
A grave mistake that freelance web developers tend to commit is working in a silo and cutting ties with the real-world. It can cause stress and fatigue in the long-run which can cause side effects on your career. As a freelancer, you have to stay updated with the industry trends and there is no better place to learn than industry conferences, meetups, & events.
You can network with other developers, learn from their experience, and enhance your knowledge. Participating as a speaker in technical conferences can open up new opportunities. Though connecting on social media is important in today’s times, there is a different experience when you interact with others in the offline world.
Be visible on popular freelancing websites
For a freelance web developer, discoverability can become a major problem and there is no better place to pitch for projects than popular freelance marketplace websites. You get an opportunity to learn about the nuances of freelancing since these websites bridge the gap between IT organisations and talented freelancers.
These platforms source information from popular social media channels; your profile weightage improves based on your past work, client experience/ratings, and various other parameters. Trusted freelance marketplaces are used by organisations (multi-national & startups) where they do not have in-house expertise for certain technical skills. In such scenarios, experienced web freelancers have a massive opportunity to earn revenue by delivering quality software to the clients.
To summarise, freelancing can be done by working on side-projects for your clients along with a day job. This experience can help in testing the waters as a freelancer and online freelance websites can help thrive your career as a freelancer in web technologies.
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