Freelance Developer Series – Getting ClientsReading Time: 4 minutes
If you’re thinking about moving from a developer job to be a freelance developer. There are a few considerations and they should be weighed carefully as the life of a freelancer isn’t for everyone. That said if you have decided to take the plunge then your first question should be an obvious one. How do I get clients?
As someone who has done this for a number of years and helped others do the same. I can tell you that getting clients as a freelance developer will take perseverance and time. With the following avenues, it is very possible for anyone seeking to achieve success in this area.
#1 Friends & Family
This seems like an obvious one but it should absolutely be your first port of call. Telling your friends and family that you’re a freelancer will not only give you a support base to start from but they will keep you in mind when a friend or their business needs a new website. Just make sure you have a website already set up that they can go to view your portfolio.
Although this is in fact a slow burn strategy because it relies on word of mouth and can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to even a few months to start bringing in projects. So you should start telling everyone as soon as you can.
#2 Freelance Developer Websites
Websites that take commission can seem like a bummer when you’re doing a lot of work. But it is honestly one of the easiest ways to gain client work relatively quickly. You’ll need a refined portfolio and be sure to make every pitch to a client unique to them.
I have found great success using these websites even if you are more expensive than the average developer. It doesn’t matter because you can extol your experience and quality of work to your potential clients. People pay for value so your pitch can’t be generic.
#3 Web Design Agencies
Local web agencies are your friends not your competitors. These agencies don’t want to turn away work but they might not be in a position to hire either. If you can build up good relationships with multiple of these agencies then you’ll get a steady flow of projects without having to search or bid for work.
Offering to come to in person meetings and represent their company will also help endear yourself to them.
#4 Find a middle man
Middlemen are people who have seemingly endless contact lists with work at the end of them. These companies never actually do any of the work but they’ll farm the work out to contractors and take a commission on top.
Finding these middlemen generally involves a little research but they can come in the form of web/software consultancies.
#5 Freelance Self Promotion
I feel it’s still important to put here but honestly this one is easily the slowest burn. Make sure your website and socials are updated regularly to improve backlinks and user return rate. Also be sure to make SEO specific to your area so you can target clients close to you. Targeting local areas really is the key because the keywords for “Web Design” are way too competitive for you as a freelance developer.
Specifically it’s a great idea to keep up with your LinkedIn. As most people on the platform are looking to make business connections and are likely to need or know someone who needs your services.
#6 Part Time Contracting
Contracting is a good source of steady income. You can find contracts that don’t require all of your time and attention. So they can act as a good time filler for when work is slow. In this department, recruiters are your best friends.
It does take a while to find the right contracts for your tech stack though. In some cases you will be expected to go through technical interviews to prove your knowledge. If you’re going for contracts then brush up on an algorithm website regularly to keep your CS knowledge sharp. These processes can take a while so don’t expect a contract to start over night.
#7 Round up time
Like most things once you’ve got the ball rolling it’s very easy to carry on. These avenues have personally worked for myself and others like me. Hopefully this knowledge can benefit you as well.
Also, be sure to look after your mental health, being a solo developer can be a challenge sometimes. We wrote an article on mental health for developers which you can view here.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments.