Are you a front-end developer thinking about making it on your own? Or, perhaps, you’re thinking of starting a new career?
As more businesses adopt internet marketing, there will continue to be high demand for developers with skills such as full-stack, back-end, and front-end development.
If freelance front-end development is what you’re interested in, here’s how to go about it successfully in five steps:
1. Learn the Core Front-End Languages
Front-end development involves building the structure of websites, and ensuring that users are able to interact well with the website and its content. Most modern websites are highly dynamic and have a lot going on at the back-end. Without an effective front-end, users wouldn’t be able to access the back-end and use the website.
It’ll take you some time to master these skills, but once you have, the rest of the process will be a breeze. While you will have to invest some of your valuable time into practicing these skills thoroughly, you can learn web development completely for free.
2. Develop a Front-End Portfolio
Once you have acquired the necessary skills, the next step will be getting to work creating some real projects to show off to potential clients.
As part of your learning experience, you’ll likely build several different types of websites. This will be a good start for your portfolio. If you’re not sure where to start, consider building websites for pet projects, charities, family, or friends. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, reach out to a local business that could do with a website update and try to drum up your first client.
You should also build a portfolio website for yourself. Building yourself a website gives you a chance to further improve and demonstrate your skills. Additionally, your website is a way for clients to find you online. Don’t forget to include a contact form!
Once you have a portfolio website and a few projects under your belt, the next step is prospecting for clients.
3. Find Clients as a Freelance Front-End Developer
There are three main ways to find clients for freelance front-end developers.
Online marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and so on provide a platform for freelancers to meet with potential clients. They tend to attract lots of freelancers, so these online marketplaces can be competitive, and many freelancers find themselves competing on price. This is where you’ll stand out by being able to prove your expertise.
If you would like to avoid this high level of competition altogether, there are still two other major ways to find clients.
Business development will require you to think and act like the CEO of your own company (which you are as a freelancer). You will need to learn how to network effectively, close deals, and market yourself.
Generally, the process is rocky in the beginning, and you’ll need to put in a lot of effort into generating some leads.
However, if you’ve created some projects for your friends and family, or perhaps a charity that you believe in, there’s a good chance that these projects may lead to referrals for you.
Inbound marketing involves leveraging your prospects’ interests to draw them to you using pull marketing techniques. To do this effectively, you’ll need to develop a strong brand and create helpful, interesting content that meets your prospect’s needs. This will help draw organic traffic to your personal website.
4. Develop a Personal Brand
As we previously mentioned, developing a strong personal brand can be the key to attracting the right kind of prospects who need your skills and are willing to pay a fair amount in exchange.
There’s no quick fix to developing a strong personal brand. As a prerequisite, you need to get your hands dirty by developing several projects. This will prove you know what you’re doing and can see a project through to the end. Next, you’ll need to do some self-promotion using the inbound content marketing techniques we discussed earlier.
The keys to effective promotion of your brand are being clear about who you are and what you do. Secondly, you’ll need to stay top-of-mind with your prospects by being consistent with your messaging.
5. Get Organized
There’s more to becoming a freelance front-end developer than just knowing how to code. To grow as a freelancer, you’ll need to develop a business structure that promotes efficiency and enables you to scale seamlessly.
Fortunately, these processes are easy to automate using tools such as:
- Quoteroller: Quoteroller provides a way to create and send proposals to clients in a matter of minutes.
- Trello: Trello is a great project management system that helps you keep track of multiple projects. This is particularly important if you have more than one client.
- Google Drive: One of the most popular tools available, Google Drive is an excellent way to leverage cloud computing in your freelancing career, allowing for the safe storage and organization of your data.
- FreshBooks: You can use Freshbooks to help organize expenses, projects, and invoicing all in one app.
Even for the most experienced front-end developers, there’s always room for learning. Once you’ve picked up the basic skills, one of the best ways to keep learning is by being a part of a supportive community.
There are quite a few on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, and others, where you can seek constructive feedback, ask questions, or even contribute to relevant discussions—one of the best ways to learn is to teach, after all!
Get Started as a Freelance Front-End Developer
Front-end developers are in high demand and will likely continue to be so for the foreseeable future. If this is a career path that interests you, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to earn a decent income.
To get started and grow successfully, you’ll need to learn some basic skills first, get some practice in and show your work off, find some clients, build your personal brand, and stay committed to learning.
As we mentioned previously, there are other career paths in web development to consider. If you enjoy working with all the different aspects of building websites, you can try becoming a full-stack developer.
Becoming a full-stack developer requires an extensive and specific skillset.
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