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Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson

Posted on • Originally published at on

When Are You Ready to Freelance as a Front-End Developer?

When can I take a full front-end web project and start working as a freelancer, and how much knowledge do I need?

A newbie developer asked this in the JavaScript Facebook group – and it's a good question. After all, when you've been grinding out several months of online courses, a big question is when do I start getting paid for this?

Many of the responses from other beginners were suggesting new technologies to learn or concepts you need to know, but the answer is much more straightforward:

You're ready to freelance when you can find people to pay you for your work.

Your development skills, while helpful for landing contracts, are secondary to your ability to sell yourself to clients, close deals, and build a successful sales funnel. As long as you can repeatedly find clients, you're able to freelance.

Should you freelance?

The thing is, as a freelancer, you're a small business. It comes with a lot of extra non-development work, like marketing yourself, negotiating contracts, creating invoices, and doing your taxes.

Take a moment to think about your reasons for wanting to freelance. Almost any reason will do, so long as you acknowledge that:

  1. Freelancing is a significant time investment
  2. Becoming a freelancer isn't easier than finding a job

You'll also want to check that your current situation can survive the instability that freelancing brings. It's not uncommon to hit patches where you aren't getting paid for several months at a time, which may be a killer if you're pay-check to pay-check.

Once you've decided that freelancing is for you, I highly recommend checking out Brennan Dunn's Double Your Freelancing - it has excellent articles for freelancers of all levels. It will get you started on the right foot.

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Top comments (4)

souksyp profile image
Souk Syp.

I'm stuck with the testing phase in web development. I feel like I can't go out there proposing without this skill. Writing tests is hard and not fun at all. From your experience at Spotify, how much is it important to you ? Do you write tests everyday ?

canderson93 profile image
Carl Anderson

The importance of testing is a tricky one -- It's a very valuable skill to have as a programmer, but I wouldn't consider it a blocker in terms of applying for jobs, or making proposals.

You should be able to verify that a piece of software works as intended, but the value of automated testing only manifests long term. As a freelancer, you won't have those long-term timeframes, and it's up to the client about whether they care enough to pay you to write them. Some will, but many won't.

Most developers are terrible at writing tests when they start out (and some still are well into their career). Keep practicing in your projects, but you'll probably be better off focussing on other areas.

ogaston profile image
Omar Gaston Chalas

Freelancing brings a lot of new no-tech things to learn. Extremely true.

yougotwill profile image
Will G

Nice post! Thanks for writing.