Everything you need to know about becoming a freelance coder

The world of freelance programming and coding provides endless opportunities. This is everything you need to know about becoming a freelance coder.
Everything you need to know about becoming a freelance coder

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Freelancers and computer programmers have the luxury of choosing from a wide variety of niches to work in. When you combine the two into a single career, you get a highly flexible lifestyle with a large control over the type of projects you work on.

Becoming a freelance coder is something that many people aspire to do, but most aren't quite sure how to go about it. So, we've put together a guide to help walk you through the process.

Let's dive in.

1. Decide what programming languages you'd like to work with

As you might expect, it's imperative that you choose what programming languages you would like to work with before embarking on your freelance career. This will have a direct impact on the type of projects that you will be able to handle.

Some of the most popular include C#, C++, Python, and Java. While learning more languages will help expand your opportunities, it's not required for you to master a large number of them. Learning between one and three is often enough to secure a sufficient amount of work.

Be sure, though, that you have a contemporary understanding of these languages — some freelancers attempt to transition into a freelance programming career in a certain language without having written a line code in years.

If necessary, consider refreshing your memory with tutorials or online courses to ensure that you're able to handle projects at a professional level. Otherwise, you might find yourself struggling while working for your first few clients.

2. Choose a niche to focus on

So, you've finally decided what programming language(s) you'd like to use as the foundation of your freelance career. This is something to be proud of since there are many programmers who have a large amount of difficulty choosing their path.

Now, you'll need to choose what niche you would like to focus on. In this industry, it's highly beneficial to become a specialist as opposed to a generalist.

Typical options include front-end development, backend development, web design, and software development. Some freelance programmers even prefer to make mobile apps.

Regardless of what you choose, you also need to ensure that your decision is something that you actually enjoy doing. Since programming is so mentally-intensive, you're highly likely to burnout if you are consistently working on projects that you don't like.

Keep in mind, however, that the early stages of your career will often involve you taking upon projects that aren't ideal for you. As you begin to establish a presence in the industry, you'll have more flexibility with the type of work that you secure.

3. Cultivate your portfolio

The programming industry is notorious for requiring a professional portfolio with a significant amount of diversity and depth.

As such, it's highly recommended that you have previous experience as a coding professional before transitioning into a freelance career.

In the event that you do not, however, you still might be able to secure your first few clients even if your portfolio only has independent projects. The good news here is that you have a large amount of flexibility when it comes to what type of projects you would like to work on.

For example, some developers create their own games in order to showcase their talents. But, you should be sure that the skills that you convey are relevant to the clients that you are seeking. You will also need to host your portfolio on your professional website so that you can provide potential clients with a quick way to view your past work.

Moxie offers a business tool that helps freelancers establish both short-term and long-term goals. This can help ensure that you consistently cultivate your portfolio and secure additional opportunities in the future.

4. Stay as organized as possible

A common issue that plagues freelance programmers is the inability to stay organized. But, it's not enough to simply have your files properly named or have a schedule written down in a notebook.

To stay as organized as possible, you'll need to make use of specialized software. Moxie provides a tool that serves as a centralized platform for all of a freelancer's projects. You'll be able to have a clear insight into your overall progress, deadlines, and even suggested actions for you to take.

You can also search through certain documents or programs by specific keywords.

Additionally, this will also serve as a hub for all of your client data, such as invoices and onboarding information. This level of utility is particularly useful for freelance programmers since this occupation inherently requires the management of a large amount of data.

5. Make a contribution to open-source projects

Most professionals who are looking to shift into this career path are familiar with open-source projects. For those who are not, however, these are simply projects with code that is publicly available.

Contributors to open-source projects look for ways they can improve the overall integrity of the code, and it can be a great way to beef up your portfolio if it's not quite as comprehensive as you'd like. Even if you do have a handful of projects to showcase, contributing to open-source projects illustrates that you care about the industry and developer community enough to further it.

This is essentially the same thing as volunteer work, and it looks great when searching for prospective clients. So, try to devote a couple of hours per week toward this obligation.

6. Consistently stay updated on the industry

The technology industry is constantly changing. Those who don't make an effort to keep up with these changes will be less marketable as programmers compared to those who do.

For instance, a newly emerging trend could make programmers who are familiar with a certain programming language highly favorable. If you're unaware of this trend, though, you won't know that you should be making effort to master this language.

Staying on top of emerging trends in the industry won't always get you clients, but it can certainly lose clients. So, get in the habit of devoting a bit of time each day toward reading about industry news so you have a strong understanding of the current landscape.

Additionally, you'll typically find that it also helps you work through issues you encounter in your current projects.

7. Join a community

This is advice that is often overlooked by freelance programmers. But, this could be one of the most useful things that you keep in mind throughout your entire career.

By joining a community dedicated to freelance programmers, you'll experience a large number of unique benefits. One of the most notable is the capability to use other freelancers as primary resources.

Talking with those who have traveled down the same path that you're currently on can provide a large amount of valuable insight that can be difficult to find elsewhere. You can also ask for advice associated with the non-programming nuances of working as a freelancer.

A common problem area for new programming freelancers is pitching themselves to clients, which can prove to be an obstacle that is difficult to overcome.

This is also a reliable way to stay updated on industry trends, as the conversation will typically revolve around these topics.

Gaining insight into certain info and resolving key issues allow you to jumpstart your freelance career and streamline your early success. After you get past the initial phase of securing the first few clients, you'll find that things go much more smoothly for you.

8. Optimize your client experience

Establishing a positive reputation online for yourself as a freelancer will serve as the foundation for securing new clients in the future. In order to do so, though, you'll need to provide a high-quality experience to every client that you work with.

This means being vigilant about adhering to deadlines, satisfying project criteria, and promptly notifying your clients if any complications arise.

A great way to maximize your client experience is through the use of Moxie’s discovery tool and project management software. These allow you to maintain seamless access to key client information and have a comprehensive understanding of your ongoing assignments.

When implemented correctly, you'll be able to handle your necessary tasks long before deadlines approach.

Becoming a freelance coder will change your life

As long as you keep the above information in mind, you can ensure that the transition into your career as a freelance coder goes as smoothly as possible.

Want to learn more about what tools are available for freelancers? Get started with Moxie today to kickoff and grow your freelance business. 

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Scott Fultz
Scott Fultz
In addition to being a polyglot software and database engineer, Scott is a singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist and yoga teacher. Creating cool stuff to help people prosper and feel happy, whether it’s a yoga flow, a song, or thoughtful and inventive software, has always been his mission. Scott is a husband and father of three humans, which is the most incredible job of all.
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