This is the second article in our series about “How to become a freelance developer”
At Microverse, we help students from all around the world become remote software developers. Our students learn by working together on freelance and open source projects.
We recommend that our students use freelance projects as a stepping stone to getting their first full-time remote job. You should do the same, and here is where you should start.
Breaking into freelance development can seem daunting at first:
- Where do you find the projects?
- How do you pick the right ones?
- How do you send a good proposal and how much should you charge?
- How do you manage the relationship with the client?
In this article, we will address the first question: where can entry-level developers find the best freelance projects?
Some people might say the best platform for freelancers is the one where you earn the most. That’s not always true. If you are an entry-level developer, the best platform is the one where you can maximize your learning. Also, you should be trying to grow your portfolio.
There are several online platforms available. Upwork.com, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, GoLance and PeoplePerHour are some of them.
Your goal should be to maximize how much you learn, and also the quality of your learning. Our recommendation is simple: stick to the two biggest platforms, Freelancer and Upwork.
If you are an entry-level developer, the best platform is the one where you can maximize your learning and grow your portfolio the most.
The way those two platforms work is simple: you create a profile and search for projects that are a good fit for your level of experience. Then, you send proposals, and if a client accepts it, you have to work on the project and then you’ll get paid.
There are three key things you should do to be successful at getting projects. We will cover each one of them in an upcoming article:
- You need an outstanding profile.
- Send high-quality and personalized proposals.
- Apply to the right types of projects.
Using these freelance platforms has some clear disadvantages too: lots of competition and hustling, poor support, and high commissions. Also, they will always defend the client first, not you.
So remember, this is just a stepping stone in your career. You will eventually have enough experience to join an agency, start your own firm or get a full-time remote job.
If you are wondering about platforms like Fiverr, our recommendation is that you avoid them. The quality of the projects you will find there is really low and won’t help your career.
On the other side of the spectrum is Toptal, a very exclusive freelance network. To give you an idea of how exclusive it is, they only accept 3% of the applicants. However, if you have very strong algorithm & data structure skills, you should definitely apply.
Go ahead and create a profile on Upwork.com or Freelancer.com right now. Start working on improving your profile and searching for some interesting projects. We will give you tips to nail your profile and your project search in the next article.
Finally, here is another obvious piece of advice: even though Freelancer and Upwork are great places to find freelance projects, start by taking advantage of your personal network. Reach out to people you know, online and offline, and ask if they need help with their website or newsletter. Money is not the important part yet, experience and building your portfolio are. This is obvious, but too many people focus on the money-making side of the story. As a consequence, they lose sight of what’s really important — getting experience.
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