Finding web development clients will be one of your first tasks when you start working. Most often, people ask how to achieve this. Start by submitting as many applications as possible, and don’t stop until you get a positive response.
Many people get their first client through a chance personal encounter that doesn’t necessarily seem to lead to work. Everybody has, as I often quip, “some uncle/aunt/cousin/sibling/colleague with a gardening business that requires a website.” When you cast a wide net, a surprising number of potential jobs will surface.
You must be noticeable if you are a freelancer. Clients will find you that way, and a random uncle, aunt, cousin, sibling, or coworker will know you’re available for work. Additionally, you should actively participate in online and offline groups and let people know that you have started freelancing.
Professional relationships and friendships
You should aggressively maintain and cultivate your professional relationships and friendships. Working remotely while freelancing, in particular, can be lonely. I’ve collaborated on projects with pals throughout the years, either in shared apartments or coworking places.
Building a social network to assist you in your work and personal life is not only a wise lifestyle choice, but it also allows you to share job prospects. For instance, as a more experienced freelancer, I keep a list of other freelancers to suggest for work when I’m not available.
You might also think about joining legitimate freelance communities. Personally, I haven’t employed a formal agency framework or freelancer website. But I know people that have found success with other companies, like Malt or smaller agencies or listing websites.
There are currently a ton of websites available, and you might be successful using a service I’ve never heard of! However, there are undoubtedly some scammers online as well as websites with unfairly low prices, so exercise caution. The best way to determine if a site is appropriate for you is probably to see if one of your friends or coworkers has already used it and to make a list of the different project types and costs that are listed there.
I hardly ever use LinkedIn as a social network. However, I will regularly receive work-related calls there. Many businesses appear to conduct automatic searches for “developer” or specific stacks/frameworks. As a result, I regrettably receive a large number of automated recruiter spam messages on LinkedIn. However, I have performed for a few clients who approached me personally and who shared my tastes. Therefore, I do believe it is essential to keep your profile accurate and up to date and to frequently read your direct messages.
I also keep a Twitter account, which is typically how I hear about writing or blogging assignments, but I’ve never received any inquiries from there for more conventional developer jobs.
Your portfolio website
You’ll probably also require a website for your online portfolio. Personally, I find creating portfolio websites to be really stressful. Typically, the websites you create don’t fully represent who you are. Therefore, this process could be much more difficult than a typical project.
If you’re not having fun with your website, don’t stress about it too much. The majority of clients don’t exclusively find freelancers on their websites. Only if you are already in contact and they look you up online will they be able to see it. So, while if having a website is generally a good idea, I don’t think it needs to be a major undertaking with top priority (unless you want to create an incredible blog ✍️ or just love designing, of course 🧑🎨).
Don’t stop looking
I hope you’ll have a lot of interactions with intriguing companies seeking for freelancers once you truly start putting yourself out there. But if there’s one great tip I can impart, it’s to keep seeking for projects and entering the competition.
Before the contract is really signed and you begin working, you are not need to. Company priorities are constantly changing. A wonderful conversation can result in weeks or even months of waiting. So keep swimming and swimming and swimming. 🏊♀️
Instead, submit an application or a proposal for something that interests you. That’s the finest situation you may be in if you receive way too many job offers! You can choose only the offers you are fervently interested in and kindly decline the rest. Additionally, you may always try recommending your friends for the job offers you decline. 👭
I should say right away that getting clients requires a lot of time and work, especially in the beginning. In essence, it is also unpaid. As a result, you must make sure that your fees are reasonable given how long it takes to get a client.
Contracting advice for web development projects
The last step before you start coding is to create the contract and close the deal with the client once you’ve reviewed your project proposal with them. I’m not a lawyer, and laws differ greatly from one nation or jurisdiction to the next, but here are some things to think about:
- Clear understanding of the project’s scope: Generally, a contract should define what the task comprises. To be as specific as you can, you can consider copying and pasting your project proposal.
- Deadlines: All project deadlines must be included, along with a summary of what needs to be accomplished. Meetings with the client to review the completed work and obtain approval may occasionally be required as part of a deadline. I prefer to plan these meetings in advance and include them in the agreement. You won’t be overloaded with unplanned meetings if you do this.
- Schedule for payments: If you’re charging for your time, you may simply select a weekly or monthly payment cycle. Another option is to base your charges on when specific deadlines or milestones are met. Before beginning to code, you might want to think about asking for a portion of the payment up front.
- Non-disclosure Agreement: Clients frequently request to sign an NDA, which may be drafted independently of the contract. Although NDAs are very common (and examples are simple to get online), I’ve discovered that clients typically furnish the NDA for me. It’s common practice to sign a contract stipulating that you won’t discuss the details of the client’s business strategy, etc. But I’d be careful not to sign anything that seems to have oddly harsh penalties or to be suspicious.
- Preparing for disaster: What happens if all hell breaks free and the project fails should be spelled out in your contract. This could be the result of a mishap, a health issue, or just general unhappiness.
- Intellectual property is a complex topic for independent contractors. Typically, I structure my contracts so that I retain ownership of the intellectual property up to the moment at which the client pays the last bill, at which point it passes to them. This, in my opinion, is a solid approach for me to safeguard against “worst case scenarios” and ensure that no one can steal my code unless they have paid for it.
- Liability: Another tricky topic for independent contractors is liability. If your negligence or professional misconduct results in harm to the client, you could be held personally accountable. Probably the best course of action is to buy insurance. However, in some areas you might be able to restrict your liability, especially if your code results in losses.
- Continuity: You should have a plan for what will happen when the project is over.
– Clients frequently worry that the freelancer will vanish after the project’s deadline and they won’t know how to maintain or further improve the code. As a result, I frequently stipulate in my contracts that I will create documentation and/or tests (and I always allow adequate time for this!). These make it possible for future developers to join the project and ensure that the code is stable.
– Maintenance fee: You should probably mention that any additional maintenance work after the final invoice is given requires payment. I typically do so at my usual fee, but I make sure to specify this in the contract so the client is aware that I will be charged for maintenance work.
– Retainer: In a few instances, clients who were happy with my work requested a monthly retainer for problem repairs and maintenance. I’ve never negotiated a retainer in the initial contract, but you might want to let the client know that if things go well, you’d be willing to sign a supplementary agreement to that effect. Building recurrent revenue over time through methods like retainers can significantly stabilize living as a freelancer.
Looking ahead 🔮
Wow, there’s a lot of advice on how to get started there. I wanted to give you a sense of what you’re working toward and how much better it gets in case it all seems a little overwhelming at first.
Freelancing generally becomes less unstable as you continue. Most long-term freelancers have 1-2 clients with whom they enjoy working and continue to collaborate on a regular basis. Many independent contractors will also agree to retainer contracts that ensure they receive at least some money each month.
On the other hand, the beginning is incredibly thrilling. You might be less likely to dive headfirst into completely illogical undertakings if circumstances get more solid (which sometimes works out great and sometimes is really stressful). Many freelancers eventually settle into sustaining one or more part-time jobs in addition to sometimes taking on new, appealing projects. Therefore, be sure to take pleasure in the wacky beginning of your voyage. 🥰
With time, acquiring new clients becomes noticeably simpler. People will watch out for you as you become more integrated into communities and assist you in finding your way. When they see how wonderful you are, clients will also refer you to new jobs. As a result, over time, your pool of opportunities will expand. In time, you might discover that you have the ability to prioritize only the initiatives that truly thrill you or are consistent with your values.
Also keep in mind that you do not receive “benefits” or “employee welfare” if you work as a freelancer. Therefore, be sure to look out for your own interests and take good care of yourself. Make sure to take vacations, even if they are unpaid, and to avoid overworking oneself (it’s way too easy to do at first). You may create a fantastic work-life balance as a freelancer that matches with your ideal lifestyle. But it’s up to you to follow through. Good fortune!