Questions About Freelancing

I have some questions for freelance web developers. I am going to start college in January and would like to use the skills that I have developed over the past year to earn money online while going to school.

Right now, I have a lot of theoretical knowledge but little practical knowledge - meaning that I have gone through a lot of courses but haven’t really built anything of my own - at least not anything that I want to show off.

I’d like to earn an income as a web developer and have the flexibility that working online affords, but I’m not very knowledgeable of what it’s like to be a freelance web developer.

  1. What is the most common task that you are hired for? Small things, big things?
  2. How much do you charge for those task, and how long do they take to complete?
  3. How many hours a day do you typically work?
  4. How do you find clients? Do they contact you mostly or do you reach out to them on sites like Upwork?
  5. What does a typical contract look like?
  6. I do not consider myself to be very good at web design, how often do you need to design a site from scratch?
  7. What type of task do you usually prefer?

I’m stressed about this. I need to save up some money for a down on a car, and then I need to work to pay off all of the debt that I’m going to incur in the near future - the move, buying everything for my first apartment, ect.

I have knowledge of fullstack javascript.



Node/NPM/Gulp/Express/MongoDB/Mongoose/Redis and more.

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Most of my new clients say “We need a web site.” They usually just want a brochure site. I normally do the design and build for about $2000USD (in the Midwest), then set them up for recurring billing of $25/month for hosting which includes backups and security (my cost is $6/month each). I also optimize with Google/Bing, and help with some other online identity setup.
The hard part is getting the content from them. I usually end up writing/photographing most of it and it takes about 2 weekends on average once they actually get me the copy.
My earliest clients were people that i knew already and it’s when i mentioned what I do, that they said “Oh, we need that”.
I think a good contract is easy to read and sets expectations for all services, including support and sets time frames. I’m sure a lawyer might disagree.
MOST of the sites I’ve built are WordPress. There are so many free and paid themes out there and so much functionality ready to go out of the box, that it seems wasteful to do it manually. For example, a photographer needed a site that has capability to let clients select their proofs from a list. I found a Wordpress theme that already did this and had a look she liked. I bought it for $60 and it probably saved a few days of work.
My day job is now a software developer for a financial firm. Personally, I like writing code from scratch but it isn’t always profitable. I also like setting up servers and editing the css to customize the themes and fix minor style issues.
Side note: if you set up your own servers, say on Digital Ocean, it will save you a bundle on hosting and SSL. Plus it will run a bit faster than a hosting account with a company like GoDaddy. It’s a bit of work to learn to install and configure from a shell, though.
I’m told that i don’t charge enough but I bill hourly, including support and training.
Good luck making the cash you need!


I’d start by building your own portfolio website, using the skills you have. This way, there is no time pressure, and the brief is your own. It should also give you some practical experience and self-confidence. Try googling ‘developer portfolio websites’ for ideas.

Then, to find clients, register on Upwork and Freelancer. I’d suggest following Laurence Bradford; she’s fairly prolific in terms of content giving inspiration on how to get ‘side-gigs’. Here are some other suggestions from Laurence: . It wouldn’t hurt to carry out SEO on your own portfolio site, or create a separate site for consumers to find you via google/fb etc(a professional shop front, in addition to your personal developer portfolio).

In terms of charging, this is really a case of trial and error. You could be upfront about your experience levels (but show competency via your portfolio website) and ask prospects what they’d be prepared to pay, and potentially offer less than usual market rates in your area. You could try setting your rates above market rates for other clients and seeing if people are willing to pay it. Some clients will be turned off by low cost (they think low price = poor quality) and others will reject high prices. I’d recommend you contact some local freelance web devs in your region and ask them what they charge for a one-pager, multi-site page, mobile app etc.

For a contact, search for your local business support group - in the UK, I’d contact the Chambers of Commerce in my city, and ask them for contract guidance -there’ll possibly be a friendly solicitor who can hold your hand in the early days if you explain you are in fulltime education and no income yet. If they have the foresight to help you out now, they will probably get business from you in the future when work and income blossoms.

I hope this helps, and good luck - do not hesitate to promote yourself, nor worry about your skillset/practical experience - the best way to learn (and earn!) is to just dive in. If you think clients expect something of you which you cannot deliver, you can respectfully turn away the job, or you could link up with another developer (sub-contract the work if your client/contract allows this) who does have that skillset, and you will both profit.


Hi man,

Actually I’m on the same boat but how can I get some remote job, how to I get payed and son on? I ask those question because I leave outside UK/US.

But if I live outside the US so how can I get those jobs how to get in touch with customers and charge them? Because I do have the same question as AaronD.

@AaronD Hi!

I’m in exactly the same situation. I live in NYC and am just starting out as a web developer. I am also starting college soon. My plan is to network a lot in the city and find people who can guide me.

What is your experience so far?

@emerson1 Which country are you in?