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The No Bullsh*t Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Developer in 2022

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No bullsh*t, let’s make you money

Web Developers build everything you see on the internet.

Freelancing web development can net you $50,000 – $70,000 per year.

Could be less. Could be more. That’s the beauty of freelance, you get what you put in.

But ultimately, it boils down to two things: personal freedom and a skill set that is in demand now and will be for the next 20 years.

(web3 is just heating up so web developers are going to be making bank, but that’s a topic for another post)

Let’s stop all the talking and get straight into it.

(full disclosure: I am a full-stack web developer)

If I wanted to start freelance web development in 2022, here’s how I’d do it. And if you want, you can transition into the full-time, “corporate” world later. (but why would you want to?)

What Does a Web Developer Do?

Web Developers build everything you see on the internet.

There are 3 main categories of Web Developers and they differ in skillset so they differ in earning potential.

Front-End Developer.

This person is only responsible for the look of the website — the layout, colors, and flow from one page to the next.

Back-End Developer.

This person is only responsible for how the website functions as a data processing program. For example, when you go to Amazon’s site and you search for “nvidia graphics cards”, the back-end developer programs code to take that search phrase, send it to a database to get an answer, then feed the results back to Amazon’s website.

Full-Stack Developer.

This person does it all — pieces together the look and feel of the website along with writing the code required to fetch data from servers, save user login credentials, etc.

As a freelancer, it’s up to you which path you choose. The market always rewards the Full-Stack developer the most, but like I said in the intro, the market is going to be demanding them all.

Where to Start

Coming up, I’m going to tell you how to make the most out of your time in web development. You won’t make the most money, but you will have the best balance between time, money, and effort. And that’s what being a freelance web developer is about.

But first, here’s what you need to do.

Skip the bullsh*t free YouTube tutorials. People who want to accelerate their success pay the cost to be the boss.

Head over to Treehouse, they’re an online tech education company (I used them and subsequently built a web dev channel on YouTube that is paying me passive income; I’m not affiliated with them) and go through their Full Stack JavaScript Treehouse Techdegree.

No matter what you do, it pays to understand how things work. You won’t always need all of the knowledge, but knowing how the sausage is made means you can adapt, pivot, and transition into any part of your industry later.

That course takes 3-9 months to complete. I did it in 4. You can do it in 3.

Finish the course. Then it’s time to make money.

Learn Site Builders

Bad news. You’re going to have to go through another course.

Good news. If Treehouse was University, what I’m about to tell you is kindergarten.

How you maximize the money:time ratio in web development is by picking up clients who are building (or have built) their sites using site builders.

You’ve no doubt visited a ton of websites built using this technology. And you’ve probably seen their commercials on YouTube — Wix, SquareSpace, WordPress…

Site builders are meant for soccer moms and business professionals who don’t have the time to learn and build entire websites from scratch.

And even though building websites from scratch will always net more money, as a web developer, let me tell you a secret:

Building from scratch is a pain in the ass and no one, outside of hardcore web devs, wants to do it.

You’re here for freelance work. Not a full-time, “client calls you at 2 a.m. wondering why the website isn’t showing the logo correctly so you need to spin up an instance of the website and scroll through 300 lines of code to find out the query is written correctly so no you have to go login into the server database and figure out why it’s sending back the wrong result” job.

In fact, the site you’re reading this post on right now is built using WordPress. And I’m a Web Developer. A really good one.

Head over to YouTube and search for a WordPress tutorial — any of them will do, site builders are braindead simple.

WordPress is the site builder I would recommend (the others can be learned just as quickly).

Why? Two stats:

  • WordPress has a 60.8% market share in the CMS(customer management system) market
  • WordPress powers 14.7% of the world’s top websites

So get that skillset under your belt. Then we’ll move on to building your portfolio.

Build a Portfolio

Surprise! No work here!

Remember when you went through that Treehouse Full-Stack JavaScript Developer course in 3 months?

That course is amazing because it requires you to build real-world projects to help as teaching aids.

That’s your portfolio. It’s done. And as a person in the industry, the work you do there looks amazing to clients.

All you have to do is create a FREE WordPress site and organize your portfolio to display.

That’s it. Seriously. Done.

How to Find Work as a Freelance Web Developer

Two routes you can take on this one. I would suggest doing both.

The first will get you clients quickly, but they’ll pay less.

The second takes time but pays a lot more.

1. The first route is through contract job sites like UpWork and Fiverr.

Go make an account, fill out a profile, and start applying. You will get work, but it’ll be for peanuts compared to the second route.

2. Slide into DMs.

Get on Twitter, it’s not just for political fights. A lot of commerce happens in the DMs.

This route takes more hustle but you get better quality clients. It’s like pick-up, a game of quantity. Message people in the hospitality, business professional, and influencer spaces with a quick pitch and a link to your portfolio. Remember, it’s a numbers game, send out 10-15 a day and you’re going to close at least 2 a month. More than enough for freelance work.

Conclusion

I know this is a lot to take in, but trust me it’s a lot easier than you think.

Put in the 4 months of work. It will pay off. BIGLY.

If you’re halfway decent in your follow-through with clients, they’ll be crying when you have to drop them because you just got caught a bigger fish.

As always, stay cool, gentlemen.

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