The Ultimate Guide to Freelancing in Web Development (2024)

Want to freelance in web development? Learn everything from how to find clients and set your rates, to what tools you need to succeed.

Are you interested in freelancing in web development? If so, you're in luck! This is the ultimate guide to getting started as a freelance web developer.

We'll discuss everything from how to find work and set your rates, to what tools and resources you need to succeed. Plus, we'll hear from a real-life freelance web developer about their journey into self-employment.

So whether you're just starting out or you're looking for ways to take your business to the next level, read on for all the information you need to get started as a freelance web developer!

What is a freelance web developer?

A freelance web developer is someone who creates and maintains websites or applications for clients.

Freelance web developers can work for multiple companies at once. You might be asked to build a website from scratch, or to customize an existing template. You'll typically work with code such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.

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Being a freelance web developer can be immensely rewarding. It allows you to set your own hours, work with clients you enjoy, and make a living doing something you love.

What is freelance work?

Freelance work is any type of contract-based, short-term job. Freelancers are self-employed and typically offer their services to multiple clients at once. They have the freedom to set their own rates and choose which projects they want to work on.

The key benefit of freelancing is that you can make your own schedule. You don't need to commit to a full-time job or travel to an office each day. Plus, you can work on projects that interest you and create your own future in web development!

What's the difference between freelance and full-time work? What working as a freelance web developer means

The main difference between freelance and full-time work is the amount of time you dedicate to each job. With freelancing, you'll typically be working on multiple projects for a variety of clients over shorter periods of time. With full-time work, you'll usually commit to longer terms with one company.

Freelancing also offers more flexibility and freedom than full-time employment. You'll have complete control over your own schedule and you can pick and choose projects based on your interests.

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Why should I start freelancing?

Freelancing can be incredibly rewarding. You have the freedom to work on projects that interest you, and you can set your own rates and hours. Plus, being a freelancer gives you complete control over your career trajectory.

Stable paycheck vs. variable income

One of the key differences between freelance and full-time work is the type of income you'll receive. With full-time employment, you'll have a more consistent monthly paycheck.

Freelancing offers a variable income, as your pay fluctuates depending on the projects you take on and how much time they require. This can be intimidating at first, but it also gives you the freedom to take on more projects and increase your rate as you gain experience.

Knowing how to manage a variable income will be key if you plan to freelance in web development, so make sure to read up on budgeting and money management strategies before taking the leap!

Working as a team versus a team of one

Another key difference between freelance and full-time work is the type of team you'll be working with. With freelancing, you're usually a one-person show. You'll need to manage all aspects of your business, from client relations to project management to billing.

Meanwhile, with full-time employment, you may have the support of a larger team to help you out. This allows you to focus more on creation and leave the administrative details to someone else.

The 9 to 5 vs. anytime

Finally, the hours you'll need to commit differ significantly between freelance and full-time work. As a freelancer in web development, you usually have the flexibility to set your own schedule. You can work at night or on weekends if needed, giving you more freedom and less pressure than traditional employment.

With full-time employment, you'll need to commit to a daily 9-5 schedule. This can be great if you thrive on routine, but it also means less freedom in terms of when and where you work.

Company code best practices vs. choosing your own

As a freelancer, you'll need to choose your own coding standards and best practices. This means you'll have the freedom to use whatever languages and frameworks you prefer, as well as deciding which coding conventions to follow.

Meanwhile, full-time employment might require you to adhere to an in-house code of conduct or work with a specific set of technologies. This can be beneficial if you're looking to develop expertise in a certain area, but it may limit your creative freedom.

Goals of someone else vs. defining your own success

One of the most significant differences between freelance and full-time work is that you define your own success when freelancing. You're in control of setting your rates, choosing clients, and developing projects.

If you want to take charge of your career and define success on your own terms, freelancing is a great option! With the right preparation and skills, you can start making money doing something you enjoy.

Assigned work vs. choosing your own projects

When freelancing, you get to choose which projects and clients you work with. You can specialize in a certain niche or language, or take on a variety of tasks. This gives you more freedom than traditional employment, where your duties are assigned by someone else.

Office-bound employee vs. digital nomad

As a freelancer, you can work remotely from anywhere in the world - allowing you to become a digital nomad if that's your goal.

Full-time employment usually requires being physically present in an office, which can be great if you prefer the structure and camaraderie of an in-house team.

What skills are required to become a freelance web developer?

Whether you're just starting out in web development or looking to transition from full-time employment, there are a few key skills that will help you succeed as a freelancer.

First and foremost, you'll need expertise in writing code for web projects - such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

You should also have experience with certain web frameworks, such as React and Angular, as well as knowledge of web hosting services and content management systems.

You'll also need to be able to communicate with clients effectively, manage your time efficiently, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in web development. Additionally, it can help if you have a basic understanding of business principles and marketing, too.

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As a freelancer, it's important to be prepared for periods of slow business. This could mean adjusting your rates, taking on fewer projects, or networking more aggressively to find new clients.

Finding new clients and contracts is essential for any freelancer, and it can be especially challenging when business is slow.

Marketing is a nontrivial aspect of any business. It's especially important when it comes to freelancing, where getting the right message in front of the right people determines whether you can sustain a living or not.

You'll need to craft a compelling message for the services you offer, create content that will draw attention to your business, and build relationships with potential clients.

If you want to get started in freelancing, there are lots of resources available online to help. From online courses to experienced mentors, there are plenty of options for learning the necessary skills.

You can also check out our web development course - it's an in-depth guide on how to become a successful web developer.

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How to become a freelance web developer in 2024

With the continued growth of technology, opportunities for freelance web developers continue to increase. As more and more businesses move online, they need people who can create websites and applications that are both functional and visually appealing.

If you’re looking to become a freelance web developer in 2024, there are some key skills you'll need to acquire, and some planning and preparation you'll need to do.

Here are the steps to get started as a freelance web developer.

Learn the skills you need to make money freelancing

The first step to becoming a freelance web developer in 2024 is to acquire the necessary technical skills. You’ll need to be able to write code, manage databases, and understand web hosting services. Additionally, you should have an understanding of popular web frameworks like React.

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You'll also need some business acumen - especially when it comes to marketing. It's important to be able to craft a compelling message for your services and create content that will draw attention to your business.

Complementary skills to have as a web developer

Although the technical skills are essential, it's also important to develop complementary skills to help you succeed in freelancing. Having an understanding of project management and customer service will be beneficial for any freelancer, as will knowledge of basic business principles.

Good communication is key too - if you want clients to keep coming back, you need to be able to communicate effectively with them. Understanding how to manage your time efficiently is also important - it'll help you stay organized and ensure that projects are completed on schedule.

Finally, it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in web development. This will make sure that you are in demand and that your skills remain relevant.

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Develop your programming skills

You’ll need to have a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and related technologies if you want to create websites from scratch or customize existing ones. Familiarize yourself with web hosting services and content management systems. You should also develop your knowledge of web frameworks and libraries like React, Angular or Vue.

There are plenty of online resources to help you learn web development - many of which are free or low-cost.

Beyond the basic technologies, there is a high demand for freelancers with these skills:

  • UX/UI design
  • WordPress
  • eCommerce development
  • Full stack development technologies
  • Web analytics
  • Mobile development

Frontend developers

To cover all the bases and to increase earning potential on freelance marketplaces, front-end developers should focus on a thorough understanding of the core languages and tools. Prioritize these front-end development skills:

  • HTML & CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Frameworks: React, Vue, Svelte
  • CSS preprocessors (SASS, LESS)
  • Build tools like Webpack and Gulp
  • Git and version control
  • Responsive design
  • Design principles: UX/UI
  • Testing & debugging

Backend developer

A backend developer should focus on these skills:

  • Database technologies: MySQL, MongoDB, etc.
  • Server-side programming languages: PHP, Python, NodeJS, Ruby on Rails
  • CMS like Drupal or WordPress
  • API integration & web services (REST and GraphQL)
  • Cloud hosting & deployment services
  • Serverless & DevOps
  • Testing & debugging

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UX/UI design

Developers should focus on acquiring these UX/UI and web design skills:

  • Web design principles: color theory, typography, visual hierarchy
  • Wireframing & prototyping tools such as Sketch or Figma
  • User interface design: layout, navigation, buttons and forms
  • Usability testing methods
  • Understanding of accessibility & web standards
  • Optimizing user experience


Developers should focus on acquiring these WordPress skills:

  • Working with WordPress themes & plugins
  • Database, file management & customization
  • PHP programming for customizing theme templates
  • SEO optimization & content marketing strategies
  • Custom fields and meta data creation

eCommerce development

Developers should focus on acquiring these eCommerce development skills:

  • An understanding of eCommerce platforms & marketplaces
  • Ecommerce technologies such as Magento and Shopify
  • Analytics & tracking tools like Google Analytics and Adobe Omniture
  • Payment gateway integration with PayPal, Stripe, etc.
  • Ecommerce features like product comparison, coupons, one-click checkout, etc.
  • Security protocols & data encryption

Full-stack development technologies

A lucrative choice for an experienced freelance web developer or someone who has been a senior web developer. Full-stack developers should focus on these programming language skills and tools:

  • A server-side scripted programming language like PHP and Python
  • Client-side skills for front-end developers like HTML, CSS and JavaScript
  • Frameworks such as Angular, NodeJS and React
  • Database technologies such as MySQL and MongoDB
  • Web services & API integrations
  • Cloud hosting & deployment services
  • Security protocols & data encryption

Web analytics

Developers should focus on acquiring these web analytics skills:

  • Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics and Hotjar
  • Data analysis & visualization techniques
  • A/B testing principles & implementation
  • Understanding of user behavior tracking & segmentation

Mobile development

Developers should focus on acquiring these mobile development skills:

  • Mobile app development technologies like iOS, Android & Windows
  • Cross platform mobile development tools such as PhoneGap and Xamarin
  • Experience with web services & API integrations for mobile apps
  • Testing strategies for mobile applications

Consider taking courses or attending workshops

A great way to get started is by taking courses or attending workshops related to freelancing. There are a variety of online platforms and resources that can help you acquire the skills necessary to become an expert in this field.

Freelancer University, for example, offers comprehensive online courses designed specifically for aspiring web development freelancers.

Additionally, there are plenty of forums and communities that offer tips, tricks, and guidance for those just starting out.

Define your goals and know your “why”

Before you start your journey as a freelancer, it is important to know why you are doing this. Set clear goals and objectives that will help guide you to success in this field. With a strong understanding of what drives you, the path to becoming a successful web developer freelancer becomes much clearer.

Be prepared to invest in yourself

The web development industry is ever-evolving, so you need to stay ahead of the curve. Investing in yourself is one of the best investments you can make as a web developer.

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Take online courses or attend conferences and workshops to build your skillset and networks. Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools you need to stay competitive in this field.

Break down your goals

To keep your focus and motivation, you need to break down your mission into smaller milestones. This will give you the drive to stay disciplined and motivated in achieving your goals.

Having a timeline to follow with smaller tasks and deadlines will keep you on track and allow you to measure your progress along the way.

Set up business systems and documents

The industry is competitive, so it’s important to have business systems and documents in place. Have a contract agreement, payment terms, invoicing system and client communication system ready before taking on projects.

These documents should clearly define the project scope and timeline as well as the service fees for completion of each task.

Start marketing yourself to find your first client

Now that you’re ready, it’s time to start marketing yourself. Reach out to potential clients and let them know about your services. Consider joining freelancing platforms such as Upwork or and create a portfolio showcasing your best work.

Creating content related to web development can also help position you as an authority in the industry.

Get organized - planning and preparation are key

Becoming a freelance developer involves an element of risk, so it’s important to plan ahead. Create a budget - determine how much you need to earn each month to cover your expenses and set aside money for taxes - and make sure you have enough savings to keep you going during slow periods. It’s also important to research the market, so you know how much you should charge for your services.

By getting organized and planning ahead, you’ll be in a better position to take on more projects and stay profitable.

Register a domain and sign up for web hosting

As you grow your freelance business, it’s important to create an online presence by registering a domain and signing up for web hosting. Having control over your website will give you more flexibility and control when marketing yourself. Once you have your own website, use SEO techniques to help clients find you and make sure your content is optimized for search engine rankings.

Where can I get my domain and hosting?

There are many web hosting companies to choose from, such as:

When you’re just starting out, look for web hosting packages with all the features you need at an affordable price. Once your business grows, consider upgrading to a more suitable package.

Some offer free domain registration when you purchase their web hosting services, so it’s good to do your research beforehand.

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Set up an online portfolio website

Building an online portfolio website will help you showcase your work and make it easier for clients to find you.

You can create a simple website with tools such as WordPress or Ghost, or use platforms like Webflow.

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No matter what tool you use, make sure it’s easy to navigate and showcases your best work.

Practice by building meaningful projects

Even if you don’t have any clients to work on yet, you can still practice by creating meaningful projects. This will help you develop your skills while building a portfolio of work that potential clients will be impressed by.

You can create something as simple as a website or blog, or build more ambitious projects such as mobile apps or e-commerce stores.

By the time you land your first client, you should have a good idea of how to approach projects and be ready to hit the ground running.

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Focus on your experience, knowledge and strengths

As a freelancer, it’s important to focus on your experience and strengths. Do you have expertise in HTML5? Are you great at troubleshooting problems?

Knowing what you’re good at will help you narrow down the services you offer and target clients who need those specific skills.

By focusing on your knowledge and experience, you’ll be able to charge higher rates and stand out from the competition.

Finally, freelancing can be a great way to make money while working on projects that interest you. Make sure you prepare well in advance, develop your skills and showcase your work online so potential clients can find you.

Create your personal brand

Creating a personal brand is essential for freelance web developers. This involves building your presence on social media, writing blog posts, creating content or speaking at events and conferences. You want to create a strong image of yourself as an expert in your field so that potential clients know they can trust you with their projects.

By establishing yourself as an authority in the web development industry, you’ll find it easier to land more clients and charge higher rates.

Sign up for a freelancing platform like Upwork

Once you’re ready to get started, consider signing up for a freelancing platform like Upwork. This marketplace allows you to apply for various web development projects and compete with other freelancers. It’s also a great way to find clients who need help with their projects and build your portfolio.

You can use these opportunities to get feedback from clients and refine your processes, so you can eventually move on to more lucrative projects.

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Invest in online courses

If you want to become a successful freelance web developer, it’s important to invest in yourself and stay up-to-date with the latest trends in web development. Consider taking an online development courses specifically designed for freelancers.

These courses will help you learn new skills and better understand the business of web development freelancing so you can make smarter decisions and increase your chances of success. With the right knowledge, practice, and dedication, you should be ready to start your freelance career in web development in no time.

Apply for your first freelance job

Now that you’ve done the necessary research and practice, it’s time to apply for your first freelance job. Try to find a job that matches your skills and experience so you can showcase your best work.

Make sure you read through the project requirements carefully and ask any questions you may have before submitting a proposal. Once you land your first project, you can start to build a strong portfolio and start working on more projects.

Update your LinkedIn profile

Finally, don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile with the new skills you have acquired and any freelance web development projects you’ve completed. This is a great way to market yourself and network with potential clients.

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Deliver stellar results for your first testimonial

By delivering stellar results for your first freelance project, you’ll be sure to get a glowing testimonial that you can use to promote yourself. It’s also important to stay in touch with past clients and keep them updated on your progress so they can give you referrals.

Build your experience project by project

As you gain more experience, you can continue to build your portfolio by tackling more challenging projects and expanding the services you offer. You should also focus on marketing yourself and building relationships with potential clients so they know they can trust you with their next project.

Analyze your data to make improvements

Finally, it’s important to analyze the data from each project you work on and use it to make improvements. This will help you become more efficient and increase your chances of success in the web development freelancing industry.

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Analyzing your workflow will also help you figure out which processes are the most time-consuming and how to optimize them so you can increase your profits.

By taking the time to analyze your data, you’ll be able to make improvements and increase productivity. This will help you build a successful freelance development business that is both profitable and rewarding.

Find your web development niche

As your freelance development career progresses, consider finding a niche that you’re especially passionate about and specialize in it. This will help you stand out from the crowd and set yourself apart as an expert in your field.

By becoming an expert on something, you’ll be able to charge more for your services and earn more from each project. Take the time to find your niche and build a strong portfolio of projects within it to stand out as an expert.

Python: Consider taking online courses on the language and its various frameworks, such as Django or Flask.

Front-end JavaScript: JavaScript is an essential skill to have. Take the time to learn the basics of HTML and CSS, as well as a library or framework like React or Vue.

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Node.js: Take online courses to get a strong grasp of the fundamentals and then start looking for freelance gigs related to the language. You should also consider joining an active network of Node.js web developers to stay up-to-date on trends and find potential clients.

Ruby on Rails: Take online courses to get a strong grasp of the fundamentals and then start looking for freelance gigs related to the language.

Tips for getting freelance web developer jobs

When you’re ready to start applying for freelance web developer jobs, the best place to start is job boards like Upwork, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour. You can also search for freelance web development jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed or Glassdoor.

Create a portfolio website that showcases your work and list the services you offer. Also, consider joining web development forums and groups on social media to network with potential clients. You should also reach out to people directly via email or messaging and let them know what you can do for them.

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Additionally, make sure to join some online freelancing communities like Upwork or and take advantage of any opportunities available there.

Don't forget to network with your peers and stay active on social media so potential clients can find you.

Finally, always make sure you’re delivering excellent work on time so that your clients are satisfied with the results. This will result in more clients via word-of-mouth.

There are some important tips to keep in mind.

  • Network: Networking is essential for finding freelance web developer jobs. Join online communities and attend events related to web development to make connections with potential clients.
  • Market Yourself: You should also focus on marketing yourself and building relationships with potential clients so they know they can trust you with their next project.
  • Know Your Stuff: Make sure you’re well-versed in the latest web development trends and technologies, as this will help you stand out from the competition.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Make sure to set clear expectations with each client so there are no misunderstandings before beginning a project.
  • Be Professional: Lastly, it’s important to always remain professional and reliable when working with clients. This will help build trust with them and ensure successful freelance web development projects.

7 top marketplaces to hire freelance web developers

When you’re ready to start applying for freelance jobs, there are a number of popular marketplaces that you can use. Some of the most popular ones include Upwork, Toptal, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour. These platforms make it easy for freelancers to find clients quickly and start making money fast.

Before applying for jobs, make sure to read the terms and conditions of each platform so you know exactly what’s expected from you. It’s also a good idea to create profiles on multiple marketplaces in order to maximize your chances of finding clients.

Toptal: Toptal is one of the most popular freelance marketplaces for web developers. It offers an exclusive network of highly qualified professionals and specialized recruiting services, making it easy to find the perfect match.

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Gigster: Gigster is a platform that connects web developers with clients who are looking for freelance work. Clients can post projects and freelancers can apply to work on these projects. The platform makes it easy for freelancers to find jobs quickly and get paid fast.

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Dice: Dice is a job search platform that specializes in technology and engineering. It includes a wide range of jobs, including freelance opportunities. Job seekers can use the platform’s advanced search tools to find the perfect job for their skillset.

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RemoteOK: RemoteOK is another great platform for a freelance web developer. The site features a range of freelance and remote jobs, making it easy to find the perfect opportunity.

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Upwork: Upwork is a great option for freelancers who are just starting out. The platform makes it easy to create profiles and apply for jobs, and offers a range of tools to help freelancers get the job done.

Freelancer: Freelancer is a popular choice for web developers who are looking to make money quickly. The platform boasts a wide variety of jobs in different categories, making it easy for freelancers to find work that suits their skillset.

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PeoplePerHour: PeoplePerHour is an excellent platform for freelancers who are looking to build a long-term career. The platform offers unique services and tools that make it easy to manage projects and find clients, allowing freelancers to develop relationships with their customers. - Hire Freelancers Online & Find Freelance Work
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With the right resources and training, anyone can become a successful web development freelancer. By taking the time to research your options, create a portfolio of work, and join an online network of web developers, you’ll be well on your way to making money as a freelance web developer.