The Road to Freelance: 5 Keys to Becoming a Freelance Programmer

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jan 1, 2019

Jan 1, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Experts estimate that 50 percent of the workforce will be freelancing by 2027. 

If you're ready to ditch the old-fashioned work style already and become a freelance programmer, that might come as no surprise. There are plenty of advantages to the freelancer lifestyle. 

But becoming a freelancer isn't as easy as quitting your job and getting money. In fact, it takes a lot of hard work to become a successful freelancer.

And in this article, we're going to tell you 5 keys to becoming just that. After reading, you should have a better idea of how you can start your freelance career right.

Read on to learn more!

1. Be Time Defensive

People who first start out freelancing often see it as an opportunity to break away from the 9 to 5 grind and really see the world. You can work from your bed or a coffee shop, sure, but you shouldn't think you're not going to work.

In fact, freelancers often find themselves working more hours than someone with a regular job. Why?

They don't just have to do the job. They also have to contact clients, haggle them into working with them, do the actual work, get the work approved, and then make sure the client pays up.

That's a lot more work than someone with a regular job. That's why you have to be time defensive.

Don't wake up at noon and think you can work until 3 p.m. and be done for the day. Freelancers should schedule times to work each day and keep those times set.

Of course, feel free to take advantage of making your own schedule on occasion, but don't do it so much that you aren't really working. 

Ding, Ding

During your work hours, you might be tempted to check your phone every time it dings. Don't fall for this trap.

Instead, make sure to turn your phone off or on Do Not Disturb. Treat your phone in a similar way to how your old boss did.

The only exception to this is when there's a possibility a client is calling you. If that's the case, make sure to leave your phone on; just be disciplined enough not to use it. 

2. Edumacation

When you're a freelancer, work comes your way rarely, so you have to be ready to take advantage of it when you can. And sometimes you might find a new client that ask for too much.

That's why it's so important to learn all you can as a freelancer. While people with a normal desk job might be able to relax and lose touch, freelancers have to educate themselves on a consistent basis.

Consider taking online courses or reading up on the latest industry news. If you stay more up to date than the competition, you might just find yourself reeling in more clients too. 

Educating yourself doesn't mean figuring out the biggest projects alone. It also means that you have an idea of all the small functions a programmer should have.

For example, it might be helpful to know how to convert HTML to PDF files. This skill won't necessarily land you your next gig, but it could be helpful when the time comes. 

Of course, that was just an example, but you can view here if you don't know how to do that.

3. Create an Office Space

Making sure that you have a specific location to get to work each day can be helpful for many people who work from home. This helps them get into the mindset of work, and if you have other people at home, it lets them know not to bother you.

Don't feel like your office space needs to be like a work spot. For some, it's a specific place on a couch, and for others, it's a desk with a comfy chair.

Of course, as a programmer, it helps to be creative, so try to make sure you find other locations to work. Consider visiting a coffee shop or library for a change of scenery.

Another advantage to creating an office space is that you may be able to get a tax break for that spot. If you dedicate an area that you pay for to work, you can consider it office space. 

4. Network

If you're not on LinkedIn, you should be. And if you're not going to networking events, you should be.

Networking is one of the most important parts of freelancing, and choosing not to do it can keep you from earning more money.

Who knows who might give you your next big gig? Make connections to get what you want out of freelancing. 

5. Relax

The biggest mistake freelancers can do during their career is never taking a chance to relax. Some freelancers work 50 or 60 hour work weeks without even thinking about it.

That lifestyle is sustainable for some, but for others, it can wear you down. It will stifle your creative juices, hurt your important relationships, and make you feel stuck.

This happens because, as a freelancer, you work as much as you tell yourself. If you're someone who is naturally hard on yourself, you might push yourself too far.

For example, if you were to wake up at 9 and work until 3 on one project, you could reasonably stop for the day or get some small tasks done until you felt like you've done enough.

For some people, stopping at three or five is too easy, and they find more work to do. And if they don't have work, they sit on their bed until 1 a.m. writing emails to potential clients to send in the morning. 

Time can be money, but don't treat your downtime as lost money.

Ready to Become a Freelance Programmer?

Freelance programming is a rewarding and fun career choice. As a freelance programmer, you'll have plenty of flexibility, and you will be able to do the work you want.

Keep these tips in mind, and you might be the next greatest freelancer.

Did you like this article? Learn how to find more freelance clients too.