Freelancing without connections

How do you become a freelance web developer/programmer when you don’t have connections?

Every person I’ve gone to for advice has basically said “just do some work for free for your family or friends or your network connections”. I don’t have any family or friends who want or need a website (yes, I’ve asked), and I don’t just have “network connections” to badger about it. So what now? Is it impossible to begin as a freelancer unless you have a convenient way to get client testimonials?


Get on some freelancer sites. You will prolly want to build a couple sites first as most people will want to see your work (if you don’t have anyone to build them for just build 2 or 3 test sites focusing on a couple skills for each). Secondly and it’s hard to say over the internet what your “attitude is” but the whole “i don’t have this or that or this” will get you nowhere in the freelance world. It’s not always easy and you will be busting your ass at the start to get going so be prepared and if you can’t be that kind of person I would stay away from freelancing.

Depending on the area you live in meetups are solid was to meet other business people and while they may not need a site now they have friends who might in the future and that’s a great way to get networking as well.

So actionable steps to take
1.) build 2 or 3 sites showcasing your skills
2.) get on freelance sites and setup accounts
3.) Start going to meetups to build those networking connections
4.) Enjoy being a freelancer

Good luck!!

Check out the websites of small town, Mom & Pop type businesses in your area. I guarantee that you’ll find someone who has a terrible website from the 1990s with animated gif flaming torches on it and a visitor counter. Offer to build them a new website for free.


Yep, I am imagining something like this:


This is an interesting idea I had never considered before. There actually are not a lot of small businesses around where I live (most are franchise/chain things that already have company websites, restaurants are tied to things like GrubHub or nowadays) but I’ll look around anyway. If I get desperate enough I might create a burner e-mail specifically for this and put up flyers or something. I live in a very low-income neighborhood with low population density so that’s what’s mainly limiting my clientele.

I already tried those freelancer boards and got no clients despite my best efforts because 1) there are thousands of other people in the same field, and 2) with no client testimonials (I already have test websites) no one you would want to work for will hire you. So I figured I could start out with some free/cheap work and get customer testimonials and try again. I think this strategy will help.

Thanks for the helpful advice!

(Is there a way to multi-reply, to anyone’s knowledge?)

I’m still working on the certification because I want the non-profit sites. I’m just a bit stuck right now but I’m sure I’ll get to it.

Thanks for the advice. I’m signed up to CodeTriage now and I’m sure it’s at least going to help me become a better programmer.

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Haha! I have seen a site recently with neon yellow text on black background with a visitor counter


I started using a few weeks ago. So far I have made … $32 !!! Thank goodness I have another job. But do you know what? It’s great fun bidding for jobs etc!!!


Sorry to revive this thread. But is there anyone here who are working as a freelancer that I can join? Thanks in advance! :slight_smile:

I’ve just started for a week now, and there’s no luck.
I have passed most skills with more than 80% and put on a good portfolio, but the competition is just too high.