How to start freelancing as a beginner?

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Hey there!

I started with WebDev roughly 1 year ago and buy now I would say that I'm familiar enough with React, CSS and HTML to build small websites (blogs, landing pages, newsletter subscription etc.) for small clients.

But how do I start?
How does one price his services?
What about the hosting? If I host the stuff by my own Netlify (or similar) account, it will eventually increase my own bill rather than the customers. Do I help them configure their own hosting accounts?

I just want to build stuff the people need and sell it to them for a price that satisfies my relatively low needs and is also not to expensive for the clients.
I'm afraid that building stuff and hosting it on my own pushes me into some maintaining role with consistent and monthly billing of service fees or stuff like that.

So, how do you do that?

I would love to hear your experiences!

twitter logo DISCUSS (26)
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I started it asking everyone i know "Do you need a website?". Eventually, some people around me needed it. I did my best for them and later their social network started to reach me for more job. I'm not sure if that was a right approach but i would probably do the same today. At least, let your network know you are making websites or any other programming "thing".
Also, you can create themes and static pages and sell them from the internet for passive income.

 

That's what I'm doing right know! I can't wrap my head around the fact that people are taking 4$/h jobs from freelancing website when at the same time, the whole world is full of old, ugly, non-responsive and slow websites!

Most companies just need landing pages or maybe blogs - that's not hard to build at all. Using some simple frameworks and libraries you can build stuff like that in less than 10 hrs and the most clients will pay you like 200-300 bucks at least.

 

Did you build the websites from scratch or use some kind of service to host them? Asking because I want to surprise my sister with one but not sure the best way to approach it.

 

Depends heavily on what kind of website it is, I guess. Is it a blog? Is it some kind of web-app or maybe just a simple landing page?

She's trying to start her own business. Ideally I want to make something for her as a landing page, just to quickly show off her product. Maybe have it handle sales as well in the future.

In that case, I would go for a basic HTML/CSS landing page, maybe including some sort of newsletter subscription like MailChimp. It's easy to implement that into a new project later on, in case she wants you to build a webshop or something like that.

 

You ask your customers to buy a hosting plan on your prefered hosting provider and give you the login and password. You are providing a service. If you build some one a house you don't pay for the land its build on.

 

Agree.

But how about the option to host on an own dedicated server and charge the client for hosting? This could be an extra reoccuring income with a few clients. Or isn't that worth the extra work for maintenance?

 

I would assume that there are some obstacles that may occur. What happens if your internet provider fails and your server goes offline - who's in charge for that?
That way, your margin would also be bound to the price of electricity.

I think you have to consider a lot of exceptional conditions in the contract to be sure it'll deliver a positive outcome.

This is, however, my personal estimation. I'm not really an expert.

Yes, you are right, I think.

But how about renting a dedicated server. They have a decent guaranteed uptime by SLA with automatic backups... Having your projects dockerized should make it easy (or at least easier) to run multiple client websites on that.

I was just wondering if that is a way some people handle it?

Managing a server takes up a lot of time, especially if you are not familiar with systems administration tasks. The goal is to automate as much as possible, but it takes a while to learn what to even automate and make sure you are doing things securely. If you get hacked, do you have a centralized event log to aid with the investigation? Do you have an Intrusion Detection System set up to notify you of odd behavior on the server? Do you test that those backups actually work?

For a small operation, I think it would be too much work. Stick to managed hosting providers. While more expensive, they take a lot off your plate.

 

Makes a lot of sense to me because that way you can control the tech stack whilst they pay the bill.
Thanks!

 

I don't recommend this for a beginner, he actually has to design something and then ask for hosting plan.

 

I feel this is a very difficult thing to do. At least for me. Because, building a successful business/getting clients and being a programmer are two different skills. It's also harder for people like me who are introverted and have an uphill battle with the social aspect of marketing.

 

I used to think that way to, but now I rather see it as kind of a challenge. Being capable of selling the stuff you build increases your independence as developer and it also helps you to see your product from a user's or customer's perspective.

Just give it a try - it's not really that hard! 😊

 

Yeah! No doubt. I learned how to code. That was uncomfortable. Now I just need to be uncomfortable again and learn to build a business.

Exactly! See, your mindset is already on point - so get up & do it! (Sorry, I just realized I'm sounding like Tony Robbins, wasn't intended 😂)

 

I wouldn't host any client website yourself, even if you make (a tiny amount of) money with it. Instead, I'd host it on their own hosting solution and provide some kind of maintenance plan after you've delivered the website for them. This way you can get a few hours per month to fix some bugs, improve the hosting a bit if needed. That way you're selling a service and you're not directly responsible for making sure the server doesn't go down.

 

Totally agree. I had so many issues when I hosted sites for the clients...ugh.

 

You went too far, leave the hosting on a side. Find client on freelancer sites, ask for an hourly contract. Find how much others are asking per hour and do the same, or just start with some small amount like 4-5 dollars. It’s important to build your profile with good reviews.

 

I'm not really with you at that point because I think you should have a personal limit as a freelancer. I would go for a moderately priced strategy. Had my first client meeting earlier this day and we agreed upon something around 10-20€/h, based on the task. I'm not only building the web project for them but also providing a strategic framework including marketing measures, SEO and the initial setup of social media business accounts.

I think freelancing websites are way to crowded and therefore full of dumping prices. A simple approach to find valuable projects and fair payments is to simply look up the sites of small businesses in your area. At least that's what worked for me. Shoot them an email or visit their stores and tell them what their site is lacking of and why they need it. Be kind and cheerful - tell them that you're new to this, but very dedicated to deliver top-quality products. It worked for me - mostly the projects are rather easy to build (blogs, landing pages) and agreeing on a price that's okay for both sides shouldn't be that hard if the customer likes what he sees.

 

I don’t get it, you were asking for advice, now you are replying that you know how much to ask...

The pricing question wasn't explicitly meant to aim on hourly rates but more on how to charge for hosting. Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you.

 

For hosting, I'd recommend helping clients get set up, and let them worry about the bill. You can offer to host as a recurring service, but that means you are also responsible for recurring maintenance, updates, and liability. In my experience, it isn't worth it.

As far as getting started, here's what I'd recommend:

  • Spend some time thinking about what you will and will not offer clients. The more specific the better. You can and should tweak this over time.
  • Get basic contracts in place. There are templates available online, but you may need to speak to a lawyer. At a bare minimum, watch "Fuck you, Pay Me" by Mike Monteiro:

  • work your network, ask previous employers, colleagues, and other connections if they know anyone who could use help.
  • Figure out a decent rate, and don't let people talk you down. I don't love hourly billing but its also standard to many businesses and the least risky way to get started.

I wrote a longer, detailed guide for a friend if you want to read it here: Transitioning From Fulltime To Freelance.

 

Things that you have mentioned are Front-End developer tools, React, CSS and HTML, one year is enough to master them all.

Yet people now need "Full" "Stack" "Developer", as soon as you learn how to work with databases, do some server-side stuff, eventually you might be able to run a home server and share your own IP with a customer so that the hosting would not be much of a problem, "Home Hosting" is not recommended.

Pro Tip: You don't have to host during development process, just meet them and show them the progress, if they liked your design then eventually you can tell them that if they want their website live they have to buy a host so you can configure it.

Pro Tip 2: If you can configure the host and upload your front-end design then you have to ask for maintenance fee, so they know if they want to ask you to check the website daily or in case of crashes they have to pay you.

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22-year-old student from Germany who fell in love with coding and the tech industry after pivoting from a traditional career in banking. Currently digging through FrontEnd Development!:)

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