How to start anything is to commit to it. So let’s just get that out of the way now and assume you’ve committed to this.
I don’t think it’s a surprise to you if you’ve heard more than a couple of episodes that finding your niche would be the number one thing to start freelancing as a developer.
1. Find your niche
There’s a very tactful reason for this and that is because the sooner you can focus your efforts on solving a particular problem, the easier it will be to find your ideal client, industry, location, technology, to market yourself to.
This will differentiate you from all the commoditized web development services out there in the market today.
You will start to become a trusted advisor because you understand the business, not just the lines of code.
2. Show up
The second step is to just do the work. Let’s assume you already have done some development whether it’s in school, at a job, or for yourself, think about what you’ve done and enjoyed doing and the problem your code solved and do more of that.
It doesn’t need to be elegant or fancy, just seek out someone or some business that you can help. Either by email, through Facebook, or through a friend. However, it may be, don’t worry about being all perfect with it, just reach out.
- Show them that you understand the problem they have
- How important it is to them (usually by explaining that their problem is wasting their time or costing them money)
- Then that you can solve it for them by sharing your past work
This doesn’t need to be overly complex either. What I did when I first started out even though I had built complex Java applications for startups and corporations in the late 90s and early 00s, I found websites online that their contact form was broken.
Reached out to the businesses either through email or some other means and told them. Told them that I could fix it for them for a couple of hundred dollars and it was costing them business. Because back then, most websites out there, the contact form for small businesses was a means to get customers.
Today it could be reaching out to businesses that have a crappy website on mobile or that their SSL certificate is invalid. In both those cases Google has said that these are ranking factors in their algorithm which results in less traffic to their website.
3. Get yourself testimonials
This is key because you want to show a track record of solving the problem.
There’s 2 ways to go about this.
First is just be mindful of compliments via email, phone, Skype, etc. One liners like “This saves us an hour a day.” is a testimonials.
Second is asking for one. Through email just simply ask for one, but help them to provide you one by asking specific questions, like “what was one benefit in working together”, “what was the challenge in finding a solution before we started and how did I address that”.
This helps you get more focused responses about yourself and gives your client a specific question to answer rather than leaving it open ended and them wondering if you are looking for just one sentence or 16 paragraphs.
It’s really that simple and your client will be happy to provide you with one.
If you want a surefire way to get testimonials, check out the Freelancer’s Sales Kit where I provide you with the email templates and a video walking you through how to use them and nudge your client to respond to your request.
There are other steps, like getting paid of course. Which when starting out, then just keep it simple by using PayPal or Venmo or some other means of payment like that.
But you can follow these 3 steps and get started today. Land your first client, and then worry about all the other things once you get this ball rolling.
Start a Freelance Business
More episodes in this topic:
What are the costs involved in becoming a freelancer?
Is the income from freelancing reliable?
What payment structure should I do?
How do you build a good freelancing profile in the field of web development considering the competition?
What are skills you can learn fast and have high freelancer value?
How to start freelancing?
Should you do free work to build a portfolio?
What is freelance?
How can I start freelancing without experience?
What does it take to be a freelancer?
Why did you start freelancing?
What is the very first step to work as a freelancer?
How do you set the boundary of work you do and work you don't do?
What are your client red flags?
What should you be able to create as a web developer before starting in your freelance career?
When starting out freelance, should I just be a generalist to get my feet wet, or should I go for that niche?
As a developer, should I throw my projects on Github or build a site from scratch to grab attention?
What can I use for social proof when starting as a freelancer?
How can I start freelancing as a web developer?
Should I use my name or create a business name when starting?
Should I call myself a “freelancer” (definitive answer)?
Why should you not be a freelancer?
How do you collect online payments as a freelancer
How much money do I need to make?
Why is hourly billing bad?
Why is hourly billing good?
What are the biggest mistakes a freelancer can make?
How to adapt and change to the WordPress climate?
How to budget as a freelancer?
What is your marketing plan?
What is your sales process?
What do you do to position yourself as an expert to leads?
How do you balance your time for sales and marketing?
How do you get high-quality clients?
Should I offer my services as a web designer/developer or specialize first?
What do you do again?
What is the best freelancing website?
What do you do for a follow-up sequence for leads?
How to attract clients with big budgets?
How not to be annoying in sales?
How do you convince someone to sign a contract?
What to say when a client is late on a payment?
Best of Season 3 - Get out of the comfort zone
Best of Season 3 - Building Relationships
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty
S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach