Get With the Program: The Basics for Freelancing as a Coder

By Lance Goyke

Written by Ed Carter

If the pandemic has confirmed one thing it’s that the tech sector isn’t slowing down and its willful stewards, the computer programmers (or ‘coders’), continue to enjoy high demand. If you’re an aspiring coder, it’s now more viable than ever to go it alone and enjoy freedom and profit as a ‘codepreneur’ - here’s how you can get started.

The Coding Landscape

Before embarking on a solo career of any kind, it’s always important to first understand the scope and pitfalls of the business landscape. In the case of coding, that means finding the right target market and business types in requirement of your services. Some industries, such as finance, work in close coalition with tech and are already well saturated with programmers - finding a niche in these sectors (although lucrative) can be difficult. Finding the right market (or just a good client) means finding somewhere you’re valued and where you can be aptly compensated.

Fortunately, regardless of where you choose to work, research shows that computer and mathematical jobs continue to see increasing growth and at high salaries. Especially with a burgeoning ‘startup’ economy (with heavy reliance on tech), part-time or contract coders are an increasingly necessary expense, as companies seek to build websites, apps, and proprietary algorithms. It’s important to remember this when you first begin to set rates and working hours - unlike many freelance professionals, you may have more freedom to call the shots.

Finding Your First Client

Unless you are already well connected, the first step for a codepreneur is always to develop a marketing strategy. You’ll need to think carefully about your brand - what is your business ethos, what do you do well and where would you like to work? Answering these three questions will allow you to more easily set pricing, identify potential clients, and engage in a productive dialogue with businesses. If you haven’t already, it may be necessary to develop a portfolio of your work. If you’re starting from scratch, this inevitably will mean having to build websites or write code in exchange for a testimonial or creating speculative work either for yourself or for ghost clients.

Once you have the assets to market yourself, the next step is to develop leads. You can begin by reaching out directly to individuals via social media or you could take a more passive, paid approach and build PPC campaigns/marketing campaigns. Either Way, it’s important that you have completed work that you can reference and preferably some credentials/qualifications, which allude to your ability.

Conducting Business

Sometimes all you need is that first client. Once you’ve got your foot through the door and a job well done, your business can multiply itself via recommendation. It’s of the utmost importance, therefore, to keep your clients happy. This means clear, regular communication but, more crucially, good quality work at reasonable rates. If you can prove yourself easy to work with, convenient at short notice, and not overly expensive, you might also become irreplaceable.

Remember, before entering into any contract, ensure you’ve got your head around the basic freelance admin. That means understanding how to file your own taxes, how to manage invoices, and maintain spreadsheets. If you don’t know your way around these essential processes, not only will it appear unprofessional but it can slow down negotiations.

Life is good in the tech sector and, if you can find the right clients, for a talented codepreneur. If you can do the simple things well and keep yourself on task, there’s no reason you can’t have a successful, lucrative career in the years to come.

Start Coding Now is a blog and information resource for Coders and programming professionals. Learn from or spread the wealth of knowledge, at:

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