How to Start Freelancing as an IT Developer + Tips to Landing Your First Client

Freelancing has been a popular way to earn money for many decades. This is especially true in the IT industry. Technology companies are now the most profitable businesses in the world, and there are so many desperately looking for people with the skills to help them grow.

Follow the steps laid out here, and you could start landing highly lucrative contracts as a freelance IT developer.

Find Your Niche

The most important thing to do is to pick a niche and become an expert in it. This is not an obvious step to take at first.

Imagine this scenario. You own a company and need a mobile game developed for your customers. You post a job, and two freelancers apply. One is a general developer boasting many different types of projects and skills in their portfolio. The other is a mobile game developer who has multiple examples of completed projects similar to yours. Which freelancer will you choose? Of course, the latter one, and you will probably be willing to pay them more money. This is the value of finding a niche rather than going broad.

One great example of a profitable niche is blockchain development. This is a technology behind digital currencies such as Ethereum or bitcoin. There is enormous demand for those who can program smart contracts and decentralized applications. But, there are few people who can do this work. You could become a specialist in a certain type of smart contract or decentralized application. As one of the world’s top experts in this niche, you would be able to charge high rates.

Here are some examples of programming languages you could specialize in and the niches you could dominate with these skills.

Solidity

Solidity is a programming language designed for writing smart contracts. It’s most well-known as it underpins many of the applications on Ethereum. If you want to become an expert in the Ethereum smart contract development niche, this is a great place to start.

If you’re familiar with C++, Python, or JavaScript, then you will easily master Solidity, as it is influenced by these programming languages.

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Python

Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world because it is one of the easiest to learn and most intuitive to use. It’s designed to let you develop applications quickly and integrate systems effectively. Python is also a complete language, so you can build pretty much anything with it.

If you’re a developer already, the chances are you probably know some Python. The good news is that those skills can transfer over to the lucrative blockchain market. Popular blockchains that use Python include Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric. There’s even a smart contract language inspired by Python called Serpent if you’re interested.

C++

C++ is one of the most versatile programming languages in the world and is used on all kinds of new blockchain startups. In fact, most of Bitcoin Core was written in C++ by Satoshi Nakamoto.

Java

Java is another versatile object-oriented programming language that powers many of the applications on the internet. Its strength is the ability to develop complete applications that can be distributed across a network and run on different operating systems.

Build Your Personal Brand and Unique Portfolio

Next, you’ll need to create a compelling portfolio. Show your best work that’s directly relevant to the kinds of clients you want. If you’re a DApp developer, put a DApp you’ve developed in there. If you’re a web developer, make sure you present a great web application.

Aside from just your portfolio, you’ll want to create a personal brand to allow people to connect with you personally, not just your work. You can do this by including videos or linking to blog posts and community projects you’ve worked on.

Set up Profiles on Freelance Portals

Freelance portals will likely be your main source of clients and revenue in the first few years you grow your freelance business. There are many great freelance platforms to choose from, including:

  • Toptal
  • BountyOne
  • X-Team
  • Stack Overflow
  • CodementorX

You might be tempted to join all of them to increase your chances of finding work. But, you should focus on only one or two at first to build your reputation. Freelance platforms rely on reviews and work history to rate freelancers. By sticking to one, you can more quickly become trusted and respected.

Get Feedback from Customers

Your customer reviews will determine how lucrative your freelance career will be. With an abundance of great comments, you’ll always have plenty of high-paying work. Make sure you always over-deliver for customers (even the bad ones). Ensure they get what they want and be careful about who you take on as clients. Avoid people with a bad history, even if they are willing to pay.

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Getting your first review is the most difficult on any platform. You may have to work for a very cheap rate to get it. But, it’s worth the effort for future work. Always ask for feedback after a successful contract.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a freelance developer can be extremely lucrative. Especially if you pick a profitable niche, such as blockchain development. What’s even better is that you can do it from anywhere in the world.

To be successful, pick a programming language, like the ones discussed here, and decide on what types of projects you’ll master. If you do this, getting high-paying work on freelance platforms will be a breeze, especially once you gain some momentum.

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Millo Articles by Millo Team

Millo has been serving founders & freelancers since 2009. Our team of expert contributors consists of designers, agency-builders, writers, entrepreneurs, consultants and more. Dive into our best content on our start here page.
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