Becoming a Freelance Web Developer from Scratch…

For me, it’s 14 years, and still running (speaking of my web development career). In this journey, I have answered this question ‘n’ number of times – how to become a freelance web developer? This had been a burning question in our times and it is still so now. That’s the virtue of technology – the world is grasping automation so fast and so hard that the tech-jobs curve tends to remain on the ascending edge always.

Front-end or Backend development: which would you choose?

Without much ado on what are the different web development courses and which are the ones that you can choose from, I’ll get straight into the “type” of development that you would want to see yourself in. In simpler words, which would you opt for – frontend development or backend development?

To arrive at this decision, you need to know what is what. Frontend encompasses the visual parts of a website, that is, things with which the user interacts while the site is loaded in his or her browser. The style, fonts, layout, etc. of a web page consists of its frontend. The backend consists of all the hidden work, say, writing codes to fetch data from the databases.

Being a freelance frontend developer

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Learning HTML, CSS, and other languages

Are you up for playing with the look and feel of the website? Then, be certain that you need to grasp the ‘frontend techniques.

Now, what do frontend techniques consist of? You’ll primarily require to be adept with these 3 languages – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. HTML and CSS are markup languages to work on the above-mentioned elements – style, font, and layout. Whereas, JavaScript is a scripting language that is used to deal with the dynamic content of a web page, for instance, a scrolling banner, on-page videos, some animated graphics, etc.

HTML – HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It forms the basic skeleton of a website with the help of a collection of tags. An HTML tag is a code that contains and determines the appearance of the document in the frontend. For instance, the HTML title tag (<title>…</title>) is used to display the topic of the web page. Search engines too, scan the title tag to index web pages in response to a particular search that has been conducted.

CSS – The full form of CSS is Cascading Style Sheets. It dictates the styling of the particular web page. To put it simply, without HTML and CSS, a web page would look boring enough to generate zero interest from the consumers or your target audience.

JavaScript – Your web page needs to be interactive and engaging to your target audience. To achieve this goal, a developer might incorporate, videos, animated images, 2D/3D graphics, scrolling images and/or lists, etc. JavaScript is that text-based programming language that allows the developer to add such ‘behavior’ to the web page.

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Animate your webpage with JavaScript

Things you can add to your web page with the aid of JavaScript:

  • Add a button to redirect customers to another page or provide more information
  • Multiple banners on the homepage that keeps sliding
  • Zooming in and zooming out of an image on the webpage
  • Inserting a dropdown menu, especially on the homepage of a website
  • Setting a timer on the page
  • Playing audio, video, animations, etc.

When you’ve contemplated being a freelance backend developer

So basically, the backend is the ‘server-side’ development of a website. Had it been front-end, we could refer to it as the ‘client-side’ development. I have come across individuals who are fascinated with the backend job which necessarily entails –

  • 80% of the total effort in building up a site
  • Your work is not visible to the users and/or the client

Are you still up for learning the backend skills? If yes, scroll down to get the list of languages that a backend developer should be well-equipped with.

PHP

Why did I choose to place PHP at the top of the list? Well, I feel that this could be your easiest gateway to building your career in web development. About 80% of websites are built on PHP as far as the server-end development is concerned. Although there’s a lot on the internet against PHP tagging it as an insecure coding practice, however, it still ranks the highest among other languages. Take the names of internet giants like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, etc. and you can’t mention them without mentioning PHP!

The biggest advantage of PHP is that it is an open-source language that would save up on your project overheads. Being open-source, it can be used by developers without having to pay any license fee. Flexibility is another feature that PHP scores well in; PHP allows the programmer to make necessary changes in the code at different stages of development.

SQL

Your knowledge accumulation on PHP and SQL must run hand-in-hand to deliver you the best results. Here’s how it goes:

Data or processed information is the foundation stone of the internet that almost acts like oxygen in our lives today. People head on to build their entire careers in database management! MySQL is a relational database system which, stores the essential data, and PHP is that tool that pulls information from the database to add dynamics to the website.

In a nutshell, your knowledge of PHP and SQL together contributes to helping you to wholly master the WordPress site development task.

Frameworks

Using a framework is a common practice among backend developers. What are frameworks? Frameworks are a group of pre-written codes, which a developer uses for repetitive tasks. Working on the framework is therefore a bonus, but by the time you are a framework pro, you are “industry-ready”! You should venture out on your professional career now and with more and more work experience you will evolve as a freelance developer.

Popular frameworks that are used today are – NodeJS and Ruby on Rails.

Other things to be included in your skillset

When you are headed for adding skills to your knowledge bucket, in the case of web development, the sky is the limit! There are a lot of many languages to be learned and skills to be adopted before you look as confident as a freelance web developer! To name a few more languages that you can harp upon are Java (popular websites like ‘Netflix’ runs on it), C++ (websites of Sony and JP Morgan Chase uses it), and Python (the most popular YouTube is based on this).

Developers need to be part designers too. Those who might still consider themselves as beginners can use their HTML coding to place simple images and graphics on the webpage. Inkscape and GIMP may be used to edit images too.

Keep SEO in your checklist!

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SEO – a must-have skill for freelance developers

If you have planned your path (to becoming a freelance developer) well, this is a must-add to your checklist of skills. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and there’s a lot of buzz around it in the website market.

As a developer, you might be prone to think that SEO is not your cup of tea and that it should be handled by the content creators and digital marketing experts! But well, you are a self-made professional – a freelancer.

At the end of the story, you need to take care of your site’s ranking too. Not much though, you are only required to be familiar with the basics of SEO – the HTML tags that collaborate with the search engines and contribute to the rankings! The rest should be taken care of by your content developer of course!

Here are a few SEO things that you need to take care of:

  • Optimize your meta tags – they explain to the browsers what your site contains
  • Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, and so on) should be in their specific order
  • The title tag is important – keywords to describe the page well.

Advertising yourself

Once you have the required skills, well, learning never ends and you can never put a full stop to the skill-acquiring process, head on to make yourself known. And you know what is needed in this order – social media participation!

Having your websites

Upload your work, that is, provide links to your (demo) site on all your social media accounts. So, having your website is crucial – it will display all images, videos, a bit of content – all that you’ll actually be required to do as a freelance developer!

If you take my advice, create another site to place your blogs, hobbies, and interest. Clients could be allured by either of the 2 sites. Now, you can increase the number if you wish to! The blog site should be interactive – users should get a chance to put in their content too.

Use collaborative sites like GitHub

A side project that you may have worked on, put on GitHub. The latter contains many open-sourced projects to which you may contribute too. It’s always an added credential for a freelancer if employers find out that you have collaborated in high-end projects too!

If you have ever written a custom code that can help other developers, don’t forget to share it on your website! That was only a bit of advice. You can hunt for more innovative ways to make yourself known to clients!

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