Freelancing has become a viable option for programmers nowadays. It has been gaining traction over the past few years because of its convenience and flexible work schedule.
Programmers, as well as other professionals, are turning their backs on the usual 9-to-5 job to work at the convenience of their home. This means no more commute, office politics, unreasonable quotas, and idleness at the office.
Freelance programmers now have the luxury to choose who they work with as well as the process of how they work.
However, despite its advantages and benefits, obtaining clients and collecting leads can be quite difficult. Freelancing is a highly competitive arena.
For this reason, some programmers, especially those who just started freelancing, are having a hard time landing new clients. They might have the perfect skill set and experience for the role but if they oversell or undervalue their services, then it would not matter to clients.
To that end, we provided some tips and strategies to help you get your programming services up and running
1. Identify your niche
Freelance programmers who specialize in a niche look more appealing to clients. It shows that you are particularly skilled in that area and you are committed to learning all you can about it, so your chances of getting hired for a project would also likely increase.
Being a jack of all trades is good and all but if you are still at the onset of your freelancing journey, then it would be best to be a specialist in a niche. As a programmer, you need to identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. This way, you can build a niche following that is aligned with your skills as well as increases your rates based on your expertise.
For instance, you are skilled in several programming languages such as Java, Python, Lua, and so on. Upon doing background research on a potential client, you learned that they mostly use Lua. So instead of marketing yourself as an expert programmer, you can pitch yourself as an expert in Lua.
You can highlight some of the work you have done in Lua for the same industry. Because of your extensive knowledge and experience in using Lua, clients would most likely turn to you if they face any issues or problems relevant to Lua.
2. Create a portfolio
One of the surefire ways to impress a potential client is by showcasing your previous projects. In doing so, you are able to demonstrate your abilities as well as prove you are competent and skilled enough for the role.
So before marketing your services to leads and clients, it is important to have a portfolio first. Portfolios are a great way to introduce yourself to clients. It supports your claims and helps potential clients develop confidence in your abilities.
Having this in mind, you should create a clean and professional-looking portfolio that will surely wow your potential clients. As a programmer, you can do this by creating your own website, building a portfolio on Github, or even making your own game that showcases your capability in a specific coding language. There are several ways to create a portfolio. You just need to find the right one that would perfectly illustrate your skills and capabilities.
Once you finally landed a gig, your project proposal must also be on par with your portfolio. Your initial pitch to the client needs to align with the skills and capabilities you showcased. This way, you can demonstrate your expertise and build a better relationship with the client.
You can create a proposal from scratch using common applications from Microsoft and Adobe.
But as a programmer, you are expected to deliver a technical and high-quality proposal. And thanks to programmers like you, there are sites like Prospero that make proposals a lot easier. It saves you the effort of making proposals from scratch.
Apart from that, you do not have to physically meet the client or send the documents through mail. Clients can just easily sign the proposal using an easy signature method.
Since being a freelance programmer is already hard enough, you should not be burdened by the task of creating one from scratch. You just need to find the right resources to help you create an effective, awesome looking portfolio and proposal.
3. Build a good rapport and expand your market
Now that you are landing more and more clients, you need to ensure that every client receives a consistent and high-quality service. This way, clients could easily develop a sense of trust as well as confidence in the work you do. As a result, you become an extension of their team and you would always be their go-to contact.
It is a win-win situation. Clients can benefit from your work, and you get to have a lasting relationship with them, and maybe they can even recommend your service to other businesses in the same industry as well.
Once you build a good rapport for a niche, then you should consider expanding your market. One way to kick things off is to start small and build a portfolio.
For instance, you have done several projects for big tech companies and now you want to share the knowledge and experience you learned. Despite having the technical skills and background, you cannot just easily teach programming. So instead, you start small.
You can help college students with their projects, teach coding for kids, or even create an educational video on YouTube. Whatever it is that would help jump-start your journey in teaching, you should do it.
This way, you would be able to gain experience, learn the ropes of teaching programming, and make others listen to what you have to say.
4. Set your own work standards
As you progress and get more clients, the assignments might get overwhelming, and sometimes, you just want to get the job done as quickly as you can. When you do this, however, the quality of work is often sacrificed. The chances of you building a lasting relationship with the client are now out of the picture.
So to avoid this, you should set your own work standard. It helps increase the quality of your work as well as your productivity. For every work that you do, you should always meet the standards of excellence you set. This way, you can prevent unsatisfactory outcomes and avoid disappointed clients.
Likewise, it would also help you in the long-run. Setting your own standards enables you to pick and choose the assignments you want to work on.
To put it simply, let us take your expertise in Java for 2D games as an example. You cannot necessarily accept projects that would let you write in Java but would push you to create 3D games. The amount of skills, time, and effort you need is extremely different.
However, this does not mean that you have to turn it down. If you think you have what it takes to create the 3D game, then you can accept the work.
But, you should always look at the standard and rate that you have set for yourself. Is it worth it? Is this something you want to work on? Do you have the right skill set? You need to assess the work carefully and determine whether you would be able to deliver a satisfactory result or not.
5. Be open to learning new skills and new programming languages
Since programming is a constantly changing field, it would be best to keep abreast of the latest news and development. Obtaining new skills or learning new coding languages, especially the ones that are transferable and can be used in different industries, would help you land more clients in the long-run.
There are several resources that are free and publicly available on the internet. You can subscribe to newsletters, join online courses, get a masterclass from leaders in the industry, and so on.
All of this can help you obtain relevant skills that would ultimately jump-start your successful freelancing journey as a programmer.
Becoming a successful freelance programmer
Freelancing can be a very lucrative career. Once you establish a strong network of clients and build a reputable track record, you can earn as much or even more than your usual 9-to-5 job.
However, working as a freelance programmer is not for everyone. It requires commitment, dedication, and patience. Even though you have the experience and skillset, you still need to have impeccable communication and networking skills to gain more clients.
You do not just land on a gig that easily just because you are exceptionally skilled. Potential clients would not know that you are an expert if you do not market it or communicate it with them. Since you are essentially working on your own, you need to take note of these marketing strategies in order to land more clients.
Your skill set as a programmer may be one of your valuable assets, but it would not matter if you do not market it and communicate it effectively to your potential clients.