Advice for Going Freelance with Your Web Development Diploma
Dec 07, 2016
Freelancers must find the work environment that suits them best – whether that’s home, a co-working space, or a local coffee shop
According to the Government of Canada Job Outlook Report, demand for web developers is expected to remain steady in Ontario—and strong in Ottawa specifically—throughout 2017.
The same research reveals that a significant number of web developers are choosing self-employment rather than signing on with a company, business, or government agency—and that options for freelancers look good:
“More than one in four of these workers are self-employed. Web designers and developers may find success in establishing their own firm or undertaking freelance work…”
If you love the idea of being your own boss, working from nearly anywhere, and choosing projects that interest you most—you’re probably considering going freelance with your web development diploma.
Here are four strategies to help you launch and grow your freelancing business.
Create a Web Dev Freelancing Website to Gain Credibility
A website is crucial for legitimizing yourself as a skilled and trustworthy professional. Your web developer website will highlight you particular areas of expertise, and showcase the excellent work you’ve already done (these might be portfolio pieces you created in your web development courses, or side projects you pursued on your own time).
And remember, your website should function as a portfolio piece or calling card. Utilize best practices combined with your own personal flair to create a thoughtfully designed, interactive, memorable experience for your visitors. Pages or sections to include are:
- an “About” page that describes your experience, passion for web development, particular areas of interests (don’t forget to include a high quality photo of yourself)
- a list of companies or individuals you’ve worked with
- client testimonials (short quotes will do fine)
- a list of services and capabilities
- a simple form visitors can fill out to request a quote, or get in touch for more information
- eventually, you might consider adding a blog section to boost your online visibility and drive organic traffic toward your website
Identify & Pursue Your Web Dev Target Market
Freelancers must give some serious thought to who their target customers are. Will you specialize in web dev projects for colleges and universities, real estate companies, music bands and local artists, etc.? Do you have a niche, or will you call yourself a generalist?
Knowing what kinds of clients you’re aiming for will help guide and target your marketing efforts. It will also dictate the kinds of industry events and networking opportunities you sign up for. Yes, you will definitely need to prioritize networking to succeed as a web dev freelancer.
You will attend tech start-up events and join local associations for entrepreneurs, get active with web development groups and forums, and seek out contacts among your target market.
As a freelancer, you’ll need to focus on more than developing your technical skillset and honing your portfolio. You’ll need to work at cultivating relationships. Before prospects will hire you or refer you to a friend, they’ll need to get to know you on more than a surface level. Networking is an essential part of your marketing mix.
Commit to Ongoing Professional Development
For example, you may want to expand your experience with website security, cloud computing, and data visualization—or learn a new coding language. Here’s a snapshot of the most in-demand coding languages of 2016, courtesy of codingdojo.com:
Find a Dedicated Workspace that Isn’t Your Couch
While some people do well working from the kitchen table or living room sofa, most freelancers find they need a clearer division between work and home life.
When you’re just starting out as a web dev freelancer, you might not be able to afford office space. But you could probably carve out a part of your apartment or house, and designate it an official “work” area.
The designated area will definitely help add structure to your work day and help eliminate distractions (like the fridge and the TV).
Web development freelancers must create boundaries between work and play to ensure they stay on task and maximize their time
Concerned about feeling isolated at home? Consider a co-working space. Ottawa has some good options, such as The Code Factory on Gloucester Street, or Impact Hub on Bank Street. Co-working spaces also offer interesting opportunities to network with other web developers and designers, start-ups, and prospective clients.
Love the idea of becoming a freelance web developer, but still haven’t found your ideal web development training program?
Take a look at Herzing College’s Web Development Program in Ottawa. This comprehensive training takes just 9 months to complete, and includes a 4-week internship for on-the-job experience.
Check out the program page for a complete list of web dev courses and career paths, or to chat live with an academic advisor. We’re here to help!
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