Should you get a college degree or learn online to quickly get into freelance web design and development?
If you feel like you’ve already read about this in a previous article or saw it in a previous VLOG, yes and no. That previous work was about education in North America, “where student loan debt is an issue, where college is not free…”, and this one is about education in places like Europe, which are a little different because, “in Europe college is free…well it’s paid [for] by the taxes, so in essence you’re paying for it whether or not you go, because it’s built into the taxes.” In all honesty, we brought this up because we were contacted by someone in Europe who’s thinking of going to school to get their degree but was wondering about completing online courses and going into freelancing instead.
Now, we made a lot of assumptions on this person’s part: we assumed they were pretty young because they mentioned that their parents wanted them to go to college, which made us further assume they were probably living at home too, so while the advice we’re about to give may seem oddly specific, we still feel most of it can apply if you’re living in Europe or a place that has a similar educational setup. “If you live in a part of the world where the education is free, you’re living at home so you don’t need to make money immediately, and you’re going to pay for it in taxes anyway, right? The government pays, so it means you pay in some form …it’s only a year and a half/ two years, then you know, might as well do it.”
Now there are way more angles to this and the VLOG, of course, goes into more detail and is worth checking out but we want to let you know about a really cool offer by clicking here. We’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting for a really amazing offer where they essentially pay for you to take my course and learn how to become a web developer. Links to the offer below as well. -Enjoy!
New freelance web designers and developers have a choice between freelance sites where you have to compete globally, versus securing web development contracts from local business. But what are the Pros and Cons?
The Job market can be kind of tough, especially when you’re new and don’t have much experience or reputation to bank on. But thanks to technology and the internet, freelancers can work on jobs all over the world and in many different markets. We’re talking about freelance sites like Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer, etc, etc. where you can bid on contracts against people all over the world and how some freelancers have chosen to work in the global market over local businesses.
Pros & Cons: One big con would be that, “if you’re not in India or Bangladesh or if you’re in a richer country where your cost of living is much higher, so you have to charge more…if you’re in the West and you got to compete against people in India and Africa or wherever else on the contracts, it could be daunting. But even on those sites, if you position yourself properly -you develop a reputation, etc, you learn the pricing models <shameless promo>, I talk about this in my freelance course- you can compete, even in New York city with people in Bangladesh.” Btw, another advantage to the freelancer sites is when you bid on jobs, you can offer to do them for free, just to get your experience and start building that reputation.
Local jobs, on the other hand offer much less competition. “Because it’s a local business: likely a small business, <they> are less likely to deal with people overseas because they don’t trust it, they don’t know, they don’t know how to deal with them, they don’t know how to assess anything…they’d rather deal with local talent because they can actually communicate with them, in their language and there is a cultural alignment as well, but you have to go out there and put yourself out there.
I don’t know if you’ve been keeping score or not but unless you’re leaning really hard to one side, they both seem to have their faults and potential upsides, so we’ve come up with a strategy, “first do your foundations, one or two projects, then do a couple of freebie contracts whether it be local or use one of those online sites <Upwork, Freelancer, etc.>,then I would start cultivating both: online and if you can cultivate local business, do that as well.”
The VLOG goes into heavy detail about this subject and is definitely worth you time to check out. No matter which side you pick or even if you decide to do both, just get out there and get what’s yours. -Enjoy!
Heads up! This is going to be geared to our courses (specifically our web development course), but you can definitely take advantage of the information we’ll be providing…but it works best with our courses 🙂
So, when should you start freelancing after taking our developer course? “This is what I’d do: you finished my full stack course, you do all the foundations training, you do the first few projects that I suggest on the project section, and then the thing which you should do at this point is if you got my freelance course, you should read the first few chapters of the freelance course which gives you the framework to setup your freelance business. Then you have to complete your web design training as a padawan web designer or web developer-junior: what you do is you go out there and you do one or two small…SMALL projects as a freelancer for some independent company/third party.” Consider this your final exam cuz you’re going to be out there doing work AND communicating with clients! “…And if you have our freelance course, you’re going to get all the templates, the contracts, the initial proposal templates, etc…”
So there you have it. The VLOG goes into even more detail and you can even hear about how Stef got started out as a freelancer, having no idea how to build a CRUD based application and what he did. Thanks for listening to our shameless promos and if you’ve had your interest peaked by what it is we offer, check out our courses, it’s definitely worth your time. -Enjoy!
Freelancing has MANY upsides, but there is one potential downside to freelancing: loneliness.
For some freelance developers, working alone all is day is hard. As humans we need a little social interaction or a little diversion or it can get real dark for us, real fast. But not to worry, we have some suggestions that will let you get a change of scenery, some human on human stimulation (eww!) and all without sacrificing productivity.
Generally speaking in the office world a seven hour workday can be a little flighty with your attention going here and there and putting out fires in other places, plus meetings and just generally not wanting to be there (which is probably one of the reasons you became a freelancer…). However, one of the things about that office life is you get to interact with people, and enjoy coffee breaks and be around hustle and bustle (atmospheric noise), and feel like you’re a part of the environment, which as a human being is very important (if you have a chance read up on the brain patterns and behaviors of people that have been in solitary confinement…just wow!). We are big believers in the highly productive workday being about 4 hours of solid (uninterrupted) work. When you start with that as your foundation, a lot of options then start to open up. “I make it a point to go out for coffees, go out for brunch, go out for breakfast: I get out! That is the short answer.”
Another idea, “I’ve had people work for me, in fact, they’ll have like their messenger app; their friends and their family – they are in constant communication with them.” That one’s a bit of a slippery slope because it could limit your productivity, but there’s this little tidbit, “You take breaks…once every hour or two you go out, you get a coffee or something; go for a walk -this is good for your exercise as well.” Building on that point, you could go to the gym which is another great opportunity to socialize as well as get that body moving so you feel invigorated when you get back to your work.
The VLOG goes into a great detail providing solid examples of how to break up your day and what activities can help make you feel like a part of the human world again. The main thing to remember is that loneliness can be a factor in this line of work but it doesn’t have to be. We’re sure one of the reasons you became a freelancer was to have that freedom and flexibility that is sorely lacking from the office life…here’s the chance to take advantage of it. -Enjoy!
How old can you be and still be a successful freelance coder / developer?
Gonna be a short article and VLOG, it’s mostly just a ‘WOW’ piece. For a quick refresher check out this and that previous article but there’s a man out there who is still a freelancing programmer at 83 years old!!
I mean C’mon! That’s insane! This guy either loves what he does, or owes some serious money. But it really does go to show you that age is just a number and where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Check out the VLOG for the whole story and keep on rockin’ in the free[lance] world! -Enjoy!
<Shameless promo> check out the really cool and thoughtfully put together courses that we offer. Whether it’s freelancing, or learning web development, you’ll be taking advantage of almost 3 decades of experience in all these subjects AND if you click here, you can take advantage of a super deal! We’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting for a really amazing offer where they essentially pay for you to take my course and learn how to become a web developer. Links to all these offers are below as well. -Enjoy!
Do you need certifications as a developer? Will a certification help you land that juicy software developer job?
Great question. In the past, certifications were a great way to show that you were knowledgeable in a certain skill/area of expertise and that you took the time/initiative to learn it. However this was also in a time before the internet and (relatively) free flow of information… We have indirectly addressed this in this article but let’s be a little more direct…
Full transparency: We offer certifications to schools that teach our courses and we are even working on certifications upon completion of our courses to the general public, but we’re going to address that tout-suite (right away).
So, “…certifications have a certain limited role, I mean [they] do play a certain limited role but they do play a role. In my own hiring practices…I admit that I do look at what, if any, certifications they may have: whether that is a university degree, college degree, or a boot camp…or just a certification in general. It plays a minimal role, how much does it impact my decision-making? …for me experience building real things is more important, but good certifications do indeed play a role”. Here’s a theoretical: if you’re working or looking to be employed by a ‘top shelf’/prestigious consulting firm and you’re wondering: ‘do I need a certification?’ The answer is, “…if the certification was going to cost you thousands of dollars, I probably wouldn’t… if it’s costing a couple of hundred dollars to get a few certifications to show that you’re up-to-date… it could impact your ability to get a job (not necessarily as a freelancer) …but as a consultant, it does add a bit”.
Another thing we’ve talked about before is that as any kind of person looking for work: freelancer or 9-5’er, you have your reputation, skill sets, and IP (intellectual property). “…certifications are part of your reputation; building structure, if you will.” So long story-short: in most cases (depending on who you’re working for or trying to get hired by) certifications will pale in comparison to real world experience, but much like having a secret bottle of rye whiskey hidden away in the back of your top drawer…on certain occasions it does help…
Check out the VLOG for a full dive into the grey area of certifications and experience. If ever there was a VLOG to check out, let it be this one -your job may depend on it… -Enjoy!
Do you need to have had work experience working for someone to become a freelancer?
American poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay is quoted as saying, “I am glad that I paid so little attention to good advice; had I abided by it I might have been saved from some of my most valuable mistakes“. Even though that classy, gangsta quote sounds like something the Dowager Countess of Grantham would say on Downton Abbey, it is super applicable today when we broach the topic of freelancing and previous experience.
On our ‘code-on-the-go’ segment we answer the oft-asked question: should young devs get experience working for a company prior to getting into freelancing? Can a self-taught freelancer get as skillful as a dev who works within a company?
“Short answer is yes – not a problem. I’ve had many of my mentees come right outta school and they start freelancing; working for me as contractors: I start them with little projects and they would build up that way.” We’ve talked about this in past and even dedicated a whole article to it regarding field experience vs. class/book learning, but essentially “…learn your foundations, one or two quick project courses and then what you do is you start asking around local businesses about whether they need a website (if you’re doing web stack), and start with small simple projects…the key is to build your portfolio…yes, self-taught programmers can become just as skillful…”.
Check out the VLOG. Although it’s short I can guarantee you’re going to be illuminated. Also<Shameless Plug> if you’re interested in freelancing but don’t know where to start or you’ve just started and don’t think you’re doing it right, check out our course: ‘The Complete Freelancer‘. We wouldn’t offer it unless we were confident that you could profit from our over 3 decades of experience in the field. Links down below… -Enjoy!
Marketing yourself as a developer is the best way to get the word out so you can build a reputation and secure work for yourself, especially if you intend on being a freelancer. Great, so what do I need to start getting myself out there? I’m Glad you asked…there are essentially 3 things you need to get started: 1- Skill Sets (both Technical and Social) – Skills you’ve developed through education/experience. 2- Reputation – The better it is, the better the chance you have of getting work. 3- IP (Intellectual Property) – What have you done in the real world. Projects you’ve worked on, jobs you’ve completed: for free or for pay.
Now, I know you’re looking at this and thinking these are all things that you get by doing real world work, how can I get real world if I don’t have these things? Ahhhhh…the catch 22, my friends…
The short answer is by any means necessary. Go out and do some free work/small project(s) for a small local business (not a long time, maybe 3 months or until the small project is done). At the end of that, yeah you may not have any money, but you’ve just got all three things you need to put towards getting a paying job (it might not pay much, but it’s a start), and when that paying job is done, you’ve got even more skill/rep/IP to put towards your next gig. From there you rinse/repeat ad nauseam and BOOM! work/life balance and a happy ending, LOL. Just kidding,, but it’s a good start.
Wriggity-wreck yo’self on the VLOG for some great advice on this subject from an almost 3 decade experienced ‘warrior of the code’ turned ‘diplomat of the code’, I guess… also a great analogy that might make you real hungry…you’ve been warned. -Enjoy
We received an email from someone recently who hasn’t worked in the field for about 10 years now. They have a computer science degree and are wondering about our courses and what they need to get themselves seen in today’s market…
The advice in this VLOG is good for both people returning to the fold and for those just starting out, but I’m going to cherry-pick a few good starters to <hopefully> whet your appetite…
– “In the last ten years the big change in the web development field has been front-side development: HTML5, CSS3, etc. and how people work with front-side frameworks a lot more than they did 10 years ago…”
-Freelance work or not, you should have some sort of website up and running. Designer or code-monkey, get something that “legitimizes your profession”.
– Our courses (links at the bottom) teach the basics, it’s true, but we also teach how to build “simple but real-world projects”, that way you can launch right into it. So in other words, “you won’t be building facebook (yet), but definitely the beginnings of facebook.”
-As a freelancer PHP is a good way to go because a lot of small businesses use PHP, but you’ll also get a well rounded education on the “fundamentals”, so you can use whatever you need to get the work done efficiently and quickly.
There’s sooo much more that is touched on in the VLOG and you would really be doing yourself a favor to check it out. In the meantime, check out the links below to the courses we offer. Whether you’re the new kid on the block, curious about freelancing or a grizzled old veteran who just wants to sharpen their skills, we have something for everyone.
Thinking of kick-starting your freelance web design career?
Alright, it doesn’t matter the reasons that got you here, (but I agree, if you have to listen to one more of Brad-in-accounting’s “tight” 2 minute sets that he’s put together for his always upcoming/never happening open mic night, it was either gonna be him or you!), you’ve decided to strike out on your own and become a freelance web designer, congrats!
Now before we get to work, we just want to make sure that we’re clear on the terminology here when we say freelance. We don’t mean that you shopped your resume around and found work with another small company or start-up…
We’re talking <Peter Parker selling his “pictures of spider-man ;)” to J.Jonah Jameson, for money and if he doesn’t do it again tomorrow, he doesn’t get paid/doesn’t eat > freelance. But we’re not just gonna leave you “hanging” with no help at all; we’ve got 7 great tips that will help propel you into the freelance web designer-verse. Go get’em tiger!
Make Sure It Looks Good: You’ve got your skills and you feel confident. Well, the client may have no idea what they’re looking at, so always make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing (pleasing to the eye) that way even though they have no idea what it is you do, they know it looks great!
Small Jobs/Practice Jobs: Heads up you may work for next to/nothing your first few gigs. It’s fine: think of it as stretching your legs and seeing what you can do. Contact friends, family, or friends of family and local businesses to get these small jobs. You’re really just learning to work with other people/clients and gaining reputation…rep. is huge (we’ll get back to that).
Try Online Markets: If you can’t find local stuff (or you’re tired of it and want to try something a little more challenging and “long distance”, there are websites where you can sell your skills (not for much though, remember you want experience and reputation). Some quick sites that come to mind: “Fiverr”, “upwork”, to start. But google it and you’ll start your journey down the rabbit hole…
Social Presence: This is just becoming a MUST for anyone in almost any field. You know the rules: keep it professional. Let people see what you’ve achieved (ie: certifications) and what you’re capable of (the work you done for others). Again, build that reputation!
Specialize in a Business Sector(OPTIONAL): Not strictly necessary but it does help. Maybe you work designing websites for only coffee shops? There’s lots of them (and more on every street corner, amarite?), but it would be a specialized area to know exactly what every coffee shop needs if they want to seriously compete in the online space. Real estate agent websites are another really good expertise to have, which brings us to our last tip…
Develop Workflows to Cut Down on Time & Maximize Profitability: A mouthful of a final tip but it’s the very zenith of freelancing…to be so damn good/knowledgeable at what you do that you can get it done fast/easily and for muchos bucks!! This is where reputation kicks in. Now that you’re known for doing that thing you do so well, you can finally charge what you’re worth (and then some), and do it in half the time while still making it look tight and outta sight!
You’re money, baby!
Of course, check out the vid for more detailed info for each step, plus a little PSA about keeping your body (almost) as sharp as your mind. Trust us, it’s all fun n’ games until you pull a muscle getting off the couch one day… Enjoy!