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9 Tips for Being Successful as a Freelance Programmer

Working as an employee and as a freelancer, both have their benefits. That’s why deciding between the two can be difficult. Some programmers may even consider both and end up doing freelance programming and working as part-time employees too.

While most of us like the idea of being our own boss, freelancing isn’t for everyone. Simply put, it isn’t easy to become a successful freelance programmer.

But, if you follow these tips and work consistently, freelance programming can be extremely rewarding. You can be your boss by working on your commitments, vacation whenever you feel like it, and working from anywhere in the world.

Here are our top 9 tips on becoming a freelance programmer.

1. Be Your Boss

Being your own boss sounds interesting, but…

That doesn’t “only” mean working at your own time and pace. Being your boss also means you have to report to yourself. You have to take ownership of your work. You have to focus on the tasks and handle clients too. Everything you expect of a boss needs to be done by freelancers. Think of it as running your own small business and connecting with clients.

But with a little effort, management, and consistency, you can do it! 

How should you boss yourself around?  

Try planning your week and manage things depending on their urgency. If you have easier tasks, you can choose to do them earlier. On the other hand, some projects may need more attention and time. That’s why planning the week you picture your situation as a whole. Prioritize the tasks that you need to do right away and check which tasks can wait until later.

2. Establish an Online Presence

Freelancers are a bit different from remote employees. They’re not conventional employees. They work for a certain period on a task or project, with a company or individual. They often seek out a client on their own, work for them, and move towards other tasks and clients. In some cases, a well-established freelancer can hire people to seek clients for them too. 

One of the best ways of getting clients is to establish an online presence. 

But how do you start getting noticed online?  

Create a profile on a freelance programming site and upload your portfolio. Also, you can try being active on sites like LinkedIn. Also, ask your clients to give testimonials and market yourself through word-of-mouth.

You should also create a website. Sell your skills there and list your previous projects too! You can link Github (a popular site to publish your projects and their code) and LinkedIn there too.

3. Prioritize, Manage, Repeat

After joining the freelance world, you’ll be tempted to do all the work you can. You won’t always calculate your time or capacity. But, trying to do everything at once can burn you out.

Overburdening yourself may lead to missed deadlines and commitments. Since you need to face clients yourself, it’s hard if they give a bad review.

What’s the first rule of prioritization? 

Never take on more than you can chew. as a freelancer. Remember, you are your boss and marketer. That’s why learn to say “No” when it is required of you to do so.

4. Avoid Taking Large Projects

Freelance programming can be hard because you’re a lone warrior. You have to manage the whole project alone. So avoid accepting projects that can take months or years and avoid taking on projects that are too hard to deliver. Even if you’re confident in your skills, projects that are too large can become hectic and tiring.

What happens if a large project is unavoidable? 

But somehow, if you find yourself in such a situation, try talking to your client. Be transparent and tell them your expectations. Then, divide the project into small milestones. That way, both you and your client will know how the project is progressing.

5. Read And Understand the Job Description Carefully

Before saying “yes” to a project, understand the requirements. Often, freelancers are in a hurry to get projects. They don’t take the time to read what the client wants and expects. It’s essential to respond on time, but you should give an honest response.

Even if you get a project, if you don’t meet the client’s expectations you can lose them later. You may even lose some great future clients due to a previous client’s bad review.

6. Stay Connected to Your Clients

Whatever happens, communicate with your clients. More than often, they’ll understand your situation. If you’ll keep them in the loop, they’ll be accommodating too. For example, if a deliverable is going to be late, inform them. Or if there is a better approach to do a certain task, explain it to them.

Don’t forget that programming is a technical domain. It’s a mysterious world to most, and that’s why they’re coming to you. You need to make them understand what’s going on in simple words. 

What are some ways I can stay connected more easily?

 Explain what’s going on with the project. Ensure that there is no issue of visibility between you and the client. Also, if there is a question, respond quickly. Your communication skills can take you far in your career.

7. Good Relationships with Clients

Work honestly and stay available for your clients. Show that you’ve got what it takes to complete the project and that you’re excited about working with them. Your client chose you for a reason, so prove that you’re a great choice! That way even in the future, they’ll love to work with you.

Some clients are wonderful; others are…well, awful. Finding wonderful clients and communicating with them is an important skill. Even the world’s most gifted coders can only develop that skill with practice. So don’t go over the top but show your enthusiasm. 

How do I keep an awesome client?

Clients will love working with programmers they’ve worked with before. They know their skills and knowledge that they’re the right choice. But that will happen only if you’ve maintained a good relationship with them. Once the project ends, reach out from time to time and keep the lines of communication open.

8. Self-Discipline

Nowadays, companies are hiring people from all over the world. They seek out individuals that can work in their way and take ownership of tasks. In short, individuals with “self-discipline”.

It’s vital to focus on self-discipline to be successful in freelance programming. Learn how to manage your work and schedule things accordingly. This invaluable skill will benefit you a lot in your career. 

One great way to achieve self-discipline is by setting up a list of tasks for the day. Once you’re done with them, reward yourself!

9. Build Your Skills

Tech is an ever-evolving world. You’ll be constantly learning new skills and, to stay in the market, you’ll need to update your skill set. Since you’re not in a traditional setting, your clients will expect you to know the best solution. They might come to you with a vague project idea.  t. It’s on you to decide the technology stack and the best way to build the project.

Want to become a freelance programmer but don’t know where to start? 

Although there is no set path to learning things, online courses work for most. Sololearn has some amazing online courses that can help you stay up to date with tech trends. Never stop learning and follow these tips. You’ll be on your way to becoming a successful freelance programmer soon!