How To Get Started As A Freelance Developer


One of the best, and most unique things about our industry in development and I.T is that we all have the knowledge and ability to go out and do something on the side.

This may not sound like it's too unique, but think about it... a doctor cannot go freelancing, neither can a lawyer with no legal firm, neither can someone working at your local grocery shop.


I spend a lot of time on Twitter and LinkedIn and some of the most common questions on #techtwitter are:

  • What do I need to learn?
  • How do I freelance?
  • How can I get started and how do I find someone to do freelance for?

I've been freelancing for 5 years, and running a digital agency for a few months so I feel like these are questions I can answer!

So let's dive in hey?

What do I need to learn?

Absolutely whatever you want. The truth is, this is such a silly question in programming. So many junior devs get hung up on "what language is the best?" when it does not matter at all in most cases.

Making websites and need some server-side logic? Cool here are just a few of your options: Node, Perl, PHP, Python.

Want to do some front-end? Well you need HTML and CSS and sprinkle in just a bit of: Javascript, Python, Ruby, PHP.

Some languages are better than others generally for freelancing, depending on what you want to do...

One pagers & marketing websites

Don't learn any language. There is no need in 2022.


No-code is the future. You don't need to code anything. All of these platforms have the ability to create elements, and style them through the UI. Press buttons until it looks good basically.

CSS and JavaScript will both be beneficial to know to help you do more complicated functionality + design.

Bespoke web apps

This is a personal favourite of mine. I don't really tend to do one pagers and marketing websites because they can be so mind numbing (but easy, if that's your thing).

For custom web applications - you can use a variety of languages and methods to get it done.

I personally use the TALL Stack approach, which is Laravel, Livewire, AlpineJS and TailwindCSS. This stack is everything I've ever dreamed of, so shout out to the developers behind them!

Another good choice is Ruby on Rails - both have great community support, and an insane number of available packages.

How do I freelance?

This is a question I specifically wanted to answer, as truthfully, the first and last questions answer almost about every question about freelancing.

One thing I see many developers new to freelance do is treat themselves like a commodity and not charge what they're worth.

I know this is a common issue, as the dev industry is becoming a battle of who can go lower, but we need to break that. I know everyone is itching for work, but it's severely hurting our repuation as smart individuals who are really talented.

So charge your value, whether that be $50 an hour, or $80 an hour. A smart person knows they are paying more, for quality, speed, and responsibility.

You'll be surprised, I guarantee it, at how many people are comfortable paying higher rates because of the value they get out of it.

Make sure you track all of your time, and do not do anything for free. It's simply not worth it. It's again, undervaluing your experience and knowledge.

How can I get started and how do I find someone to do freelance for?

Well, there are many ways to get started.

Everyone would recommend you to make a post on fiverr, or something similar but honestly please don't. These communities just make development a commodity and it's not good for the industry.

I'd recommend registering on UpWork as you can dictate your hourly rate and bid on projects.

It can be quite hard to initially get any work through UpWork as you'll have no reviews, but you just need to persist and sell yourself in your project proposal and personal profile.

If you have an UpWork profile and find it hard to get work, ping me on Twitter and I'll review it.

Another great way to get started freelancing is two things:

Open source

Contribute to open source as much as possible. This does wonders for your career.

You may be thinking "But why? How? How will anyone see it?"

Well, someone using the project you regularly contribute to, may actually own a business, and like your work. They may actually send you an offer to freelance for them - happens all the time.

You also #buildinpublic. Post to Twitter or LinkedIn all of your progress, your code as you write it, your ideas, and your logic. Everyone can see it anyway, so why not own it?

Market yourself

This one is a bit harder, and more time consuming but just as worth it.

Build yourself an audience, and again, #buildinpublic. Tell everyone what you're doing and what you're working on.

Many more business owners use Twitter, than something like an open source project (as there's a good chance they don't write code anymore), so you have a real opportunity to market your development abilities, and tell everyone why you're the developer if you need one.


Well that's all for this one team. Hopefully that all makes sense and gives you some direction with freelancing.

I'll leave you with this:

Follow this guy asap, and if you can, join myself and other devs at the best comunity for freelancers.

Psst.. how can we work together?

I am the Managing Director of Pixel, a digital agency helping eCommerce brands convert and scale.

Reach out to me via the website for a chat and let's see if we can work together to make something great.