1.) What is Your Initiative?
Before we get started, I want to tell you something that is so important yet not often talked about. When you get involved in anything in life, make sure you’ve really thought it through and know your "why?". This isn’t just something that applies to pursuing a new career opportunity or starting an online business. It applies to everything - from deciding on who you want to associate yourself with, to creating a morning routine or starting a family. To know your WHY is what will keep you going when times get tough. When you start to feel discouraged, take a step back and ask yourself why it's important for you to achieve this goal and what you're set out to accomplish.
At Prajix, we had to ask ourselves the same exact questions before getting started with building our software. What was our why? What was going to get us out of bed in the morning and make us work endlessly until the job is done. What is something that we're so passionate about that we just can't stop thinking about at night. What is our end goal. Well to put it into perspective we followed our gut feelings, passions, and visions to shape something we would work to create no matter what the circumstances. You see, our why seems to be unattainable, not realistic, and a shoot for the stars, but that's exactly what we wanted our why to resemble. It only matters to you and only you (as well as your team if you have one), but you have to know this and believe it with every ounce of energy in your heart. As long as you keep believing in your why, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.
Your why should be the driving force behind your goals. It will give you the inspiration and motivation to reach those goals and push through those boundaries you never thought you could reach. Your why might change over time, which is OK, as long as it evolves into something stronger than before. It will help keep you focused on what is really important in achieving those long term goals. If you really want to start your new and exciting freelance career or construct your own online business then it is crucial for you to know your why.
If you need help to better understand your why, here is a great resource to help you get the gears turning: https://www.trackinghappiness.com/what-is-your-why/
2.) How To Expand Your Value
The world of freelance is crowded with tools and software that makes it seem like freelance web developers are a thing of the past. No-code, easy drag and drop platforms such as Wix, Wordpress, Squarespace and much more tend to squeeze web developers into a tight position that forces them to fight an uphill battle for potential clients. Also, freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Designhill can appear to make the freelancing market very saturated. Well we have good news for you, this is not necessarily true. We say this because we are going to talk about this from the view of expanding your value. Just like knowing your why, it is essential to know what value you're bringing to the table. Can you code? Cool, so can the other 40 million other coders in the world. Look, we're not trying to shoot you down and make you quit, we're just trying to force you to think outside the box a little and give you a higher chance for success. Think about all the ways you can stand out and provide x10 more value than the highest rated freelancer on the market. Lets spitball some things you can focus on that will drastically help you reach the goals you set for yourself. 2.1.) The Power of Web Applications
Web applications are what will be dominating the internet over the next few years, maybe even decades. Don’t believe me? It’s already started to happen. Think about how many different web apps you use in your day-to-day life. Probably a lot. From email and banking, to social media and news, there are thousands of web apps that we rely on every single day. If you haven’t realized it yet, lots of money can be made from selling your skills as a developer to build these web applications for other companies. Not only that, but it is very fulfilling and rewarding as you will have a bigger impact on society as a whole compared to traditional website development.
We’re not here to bash on web development, it has the potential to change business models and expose their brands through awesome designs. However, with todays current environment we feel there is a wide ranged opportunity to learn and build web applications. It would be smart to try and master new technologies that deal with web applications instead of just websites. It’s also pretty obvious that if you’re a freelancer, to improve your value you need to learn new technologies. My tip for doing this is to not get over-whelmed or stressed out about learning the latest and newest technologies. This way you won’t burn out, and will be more efficient in your studies. If you take the approach of finding out what new technology is important to you, and what makes sense in your workflow, then when you work on building a project it will be easier to use the tools around you instead of getting lost in the “what should I study next” spiral trap.
2.2.) Branding Is Key
As a freelance developer your job is not to only build web applications or websites and write code. Your job is to sell yourself as a brand. And in order to do that, you’re going to have to learn how to market yourself. If you can’t sell yourself, there will always be someone else out there who wants to offer the same services as you for cheaper. It’s your job to position yourself in such a way so that when other businesses need your services, they want to hire you to get the work done.
Find a way to get your name in peoples mouths. Either thats spending the time to gain relationships with local businesses, scrolling through social media and creating support groups with other freelancers, or simply just word of mouth. Everyone seems to make the same mistake that clients will "somehow" find them when starting off, but we both know this is a lie. It's actually the opposite, you have to find your clients! Pick the niche you want to work in, understand their pain points and come up with the proper solutions to their problems.
Get involved on all of the social media accounts that go hand in hand with your strengths. Instagram should be essential for everyone to start off with when developing ones brand. Take pictures of your work space, maybe a shot of something you're working on, or just write down some tips or tricks you've learned recently. Talking about your development work is also great, this can help those who are beginning to get their feet wet in development. Here's a quick guide on how to utilize instagram for getting new clients. If you're more of an extroverted person, TikTok can be a prime example of how you can show off your inner personality. Make funny videos or how-to clips that express you as a person and the insights others might not have. Remember, your biggest differentiator when it comes to developing a personal brand is being yourself. There is only one you.
First impressions matter. A powerful portfolio is one of the most important branding tools a freelancer has available in their arsenal. It demonstrates your expertise as a developer and gives clients insight into the quality of work you do. You will be offering your potential clients to come aboard on an interactive journey as you showcase every little detail about yourself, your work, what you have achieved, and why they should hire you to build their next gem on the cloud.
2.3.) Learning How To Market The topic of marketing is so large that it deserves its own book. There are many different things you could call marketing. Some of them include product, branding, sales, and customer service. You could even say that creating a blog is a form of marketing if you want to look at it in a certain way. All of these things help you advertise your brand or business in one way or another, thats marketing. My personal feeling on this topic is that people don’t want websites, they want more sales and customers.
So, while web design/development can be the core of what you do, make sure you know enough about lead generation (whether PPC, SEO, social media), conversions, email marketing and sales funnels and so on to sound convincing and to showcase more value. If you're unfamiliar with these terms, now might be the time to invest in some courses or do your own research. Udemy has a boatload of courses that can help you get in the mix of lead generation here. That way, when a potential client comes to you they won’t even think of saying “but there’s someone on Upwork who can do the same thing for $75” because you’ve already educated them as to why you actually solve their problem.
3.) Pricing & Contacts
Let's get into the fun stuff, you making that green dolla' cash. First things first, let's look at how you even want to be getting paid. Check out hourly pricing and value based pricing - if you're able to figure how how much business value you're delivering, it becomes easier to charge what you're worth. If you’re selling services, then ideally you should focus on value-based pricing strategies. Value-based pricing is the practice of assigning monetary value to intangible products and services. In contrast, hourly pricing (aka time-based billing) assigns a monetary value to intangible products and services based on the amount of time required to deliver that product or service. Value-based pricing requires the seller to assess the real value an intangible delivers to the buyer in order to determine a selling price. This also can help you avoid taking on clients who aren't going to get any business value out of what you're delivering, or don't know how to calculate the business value of the work they want you to do.
Billing is the next step that people overlook until they actually get there. We recommend that you set up online billing options. Software like Freshbooks is a great resource for freelance developers. It helps you keep track of your revenue and expenses, and will allow you to issue invoices that your clients can pay online. Don't want to get to fancy? Then try something as simple as Paypal for your online payment option. Whatever it is, just always have something available for a client to click a button and enter their credit card information.
When it comes to contracts for freelance developers, there are two very important ones that you need to get situated. One is a Master Services Agreement (MSA), and the other is a Statement of Work (SOW). The last thing you want to happen when working with a freelance developer is that what you say will be done, won’t be done. The best way to prevent this from happening is by signing these agreements which clearly lay out the job scope, timeline, deliverables, and payment terms. The Master Services Agreement is a more broad form of agreement that defines how your company and client work with one another on an ongoing basis. The Statement of Work (SOW) is a more specific document that defines the nature of the project in question. These agreements will protect both you and the vendor to ensure that there is very little room for misunderstanding, miscommunication, and ambiguity. Freelance development is hard enough as it is without having legal issues getting in the way.
Getting into freelance is a great way to get your foot in the door into the software development world. However, there is a lot more involved than just knowing how to code. You have to create value for your customers. Not only in terms of features that are requested, but creating features that solve a pain point or are simply helpful.
This is why I wanted to write this article, as a quick reference that can be used to learn about what is required to get started with being a freelance developer. Now somebody who reads this article will not become a successful freelancer overnight but rather have a list of things they need to learn or do on their journey to becoming a successful online freelancer.
Theres one last thing we would like to mention. We're doing a fun little gift card giveaway for people who sign up for our beta launch right now! You can find where to sign up on our homepage, all you have to do is click one of the "join our waitlist" buttons and you'll be good to go!
We hope this was of some value to you, and we wish you the best on your exciting new journey!
What other key ways can I brand myself? How can I market my career or business using twitter?
Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.