How to Become a Freelance Programmer

Choose a Freelance Consulting Career
Choose a Freelance Career

This question was posted by Mallory who needs advice on “how to begin a freelance software developer career!”

If you need help with a Question or Challenge, be sure to ask it as a comment on this page and I will answer it fully just as I am answering Mallory’s questions below!

Mallory’s Questions Are:

I have started an account on scriptlance which is for programmers. However I am not a professional programmer.

I joined because I was looking for genuine data entry jobs i could do as a freelancer.

Do I need to be a professional in order to get jobs on that site or will they use newbies.

My second question is how can I go about learning my first language.

I am familiar with excel and microsoft word which are software.

Mallory, Here’s How To Start A Freelance Computer Programmer Career

You can start a freelance computer programmer career if you have at least one of these qualifications:

  1. Computer Programming Skills:

    If you’re a skilled computer programmer or you know how to develop software programs using one of the frequently asked for programming skills like PHP, ASP.NET, C# SQL SERVER, MYSQL, HTML, XHTML, CSS, JAVASCRIPT then you may consider starting a freelance computer programming career or business.

    If you choose the path of learning computer programming before starting your freelance software developer business, learn a popular, modern object oriented programming language like ASP.NET, C#, VISUAL BASIC.NET, SQL SERVER. You may also consider learning PHP, MYSQL, HTML, XHTML, CSS.

  2. Marketing or Project Management Skills:

    Consider starting a freelance computer programmer business if you have project management, marketing, advertising or pubic relations skills.

    You don’t have to learn computer programming or become a computer programmer if you’re starting a freelance computer programming business.

    Learning a programming language is not a requirement for a freelance computer programmer career because you can compensate for lack of computer programming skills by working on business tasks like accounting, marketing, public relations, advertising, project management, customer service or by hiring others to write he code for you!

You may learn computer programming languages and then start a freelance software developer business or you may utilize business management and marketing strengths to start your freelance programming business without learning a computer programming language!

Comparing Full-Time to Freelance Developer Careers

Starting a freelance computer programming business is not the same thing as starting a full-time or contract software developer career and here are some of the reasons why:

  1. In a full-time or contract programming job, you focus on the programming skills because your employer takes care of the business, management, marketing or money issues.

    In a Freelance Computer Programming career, you focus on the business, how to market your business or how to earn an income because you’re the employer!

  2. In a full-time or contract computer programming job, the employer expects you to write code all day along and not to outsource or delegate programming tasks!

    In a freelance computer programmer business, your clients expects you to get the software program written according to specifications!

    Unlike full-time or contract programmers, freelance computer programmers retain the right to delegate programming tasks and may choose not to do it by themselves!

  3. Full-time or contract computer programmers grow their careers through promotion to more senior development work.

    Freelance computer programmers grow their careers by adding on more clients, projects or computer programmers!

You succeed as a freelance computer programmer by working on your business and not by treating it like a regular 9AM to 5PM job!

The Benefits of Starting a Freelance Computer Programmer Career

  1. High-Demand: There is a high-demand for computer programming services. Elance, a top freelancers website reports that software development services like database programming, web design, web development are the most sought-after in the freelance job market!

  2. Flexible Lifestyle: You work from the comfort of your own home, on your own time and at a pace you’re comfortable with.

    You may run a freelance programming career at the time of day or night that suits your family, person or lifestyle

  3. Resume Building: Freelance Computer Programmers who write computer code by themselves can build-up their resume for full-time or contract software developer jobs quickly.

    Freelance computer programmers may transition into full-time or contract programming jobs because as they become skilled at solving problems.

    The benefit of solving problems for an industry is explained in this article: “become a leader and get the job you want!”

  4. Stops Unemployment: Starting a freelance career is a good way to deal with unemployment issues or handle the downtime between jobs!

    It starts you earning an income, gets you building skills that you can trade-in for a full-time job and keeps you doing productive work!

How to Succeed at a Freelance Computer Programmer Career

Starting a freelance programming career is not “a bed of roses”.

You have to deal with client’s demands, pressures or concerns, unpleasant computer programming bugs, the quirks of fellow computer programmers and competition from everyone else who wants a piece of the golden pie!

Here are some challenges that you would have to face or master to succeed at freelance computer programming:

  1. Positioning: You have to develop a position early in your business because of competition for freelance dollars!

  2. Marketing: How well you can market may be more important than how well you can code!

  3. Accounting: Sending invoices, tracking payments, managing accounts receivables, estimating and paying taxes and your cash flow will make or break your career!

  4. Project Management: You have to learn “how to delegate work” because you can’t learn every programming language or work on every project!

  5. Business Analysis: You may not be able to hire business analysts, so you have to elicit, analyze, validate or document requirements correctly and by yourself!

  6. Software Development Methodology: You need to establish processes for checking in code, collaborating with your clients or working on the same project with other team members!

  7. Specialization: Whether you write the code yourself or delegate all programming tasks, consider specializing in web design, web development or in a suite of software development tools.

Choosing a programming language is not your only consideration or even the major one!

There are tools, processes, methodologies and systems that you also have to put in place for your freelance computer programming business.

If you’re interested in starting a freelance career Click here to read or download a FREE Report on the TOP 100 most in-demand skills In The Freelance Industryor contact us for more information.

This post answers the question ofhow to become a freelance computer programmer”.

If you have a question, concern or challenge click here to post it and I will answer it for you!

13 Responses to "How to Become a Freelance Programmer"

  1. Richard (San Diego, California)   April 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    The Best Career For Working From Home?

    Which of the jobs of Software Developer, Business Analyst, Data Analyst, Report Writer, Database Developer would be more ideal for someone who wants to work at home as a freelancer or independent contractor?

  2. Archana (London, UK)   December 6, 2011 at 6:30 am


    I have been a .NEt developer for nearly 5 yrs.

    I had to take a break when my kids were born. Now I would like to enter the IT field. But I prefer to do work from home.

    I am ready to study before my career entry. Can you please advise me .

    I have been a technical person and ready to learn new technologies.

    • ITCareerCoach   December 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

      Raising kids as a stay at home parent and working as a freelance Microsoft .NET Programmer is possible especially in the current economy where there is a shortage of skills.

      Running a freelance business requires a strong blend of marketing and technical skills.

      Since you were or have been a Microsoft .NET Programmer, I won’t worry you about the technical skills.

      In terms of the marketing skills

      1. Start with a professional looking website. Since your primary means of communication is going to be the phone, email and your website, make sure that you have a professional website

      2. Invest in a hands-free set: bluetooth enabled earphones, handsfree cell phones, etc. That way, you can multi-task while talking to the customer or making calls. Also make sure that you have a professional sounding voicemail and a fax number

      3. Create a portfolio for yourself. Your most important / convincing asset will be the portfolio of websites you have worked on. You may jumpstart that by building websites for influential organizations in your neighborhood

      4. Market like crazy. Your marketing or lack of it, will make or break your business. So, create a daily schedule for cold calls and a schedule for contacting employers through jobs sites

      5. Keep an eye on new or emerging technologies. These are areas where there are fewer skilled people and employers are more willing to pay.

      Your success as a freelance .net programmer depends on how positive and determined you are … and on how consistent and effective you are at marketing your skills

  3. urfingers   November 7, 2011 at 1:33 am

    I have earlier worked as programmer in a company.

    After a gap of about 10yrs I have aquired knowledge of html xml and php.

    Now my circumstances do not allow me to work 9-5.

    What sort of work can I persue in the IT industry from home?

    How can I get jobs?

    Do I need to learn anything more?

    Please guide me.

    • ITCareerCoach   December 4, 2011 at 6:37 pm

      The best option available to you is to “become a freelance computer programmer”.

      You will need to be highly skilled in PHP, MySQL, WordPress, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, JQuery as a freelancer

      You will also need to spend a lot of your time sourcing for jobs on Job Boards like, and CraigsList

      Becoming a freelance computer programmer requires a lot of work, perhaps more work than being a full-time computer programmer.

      In some instances, you will even earn less though you work harder

  4. Tobi   July 19, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I’m interested in joining your online tutorial program for .net programming and SQL datebase training but to my greatest surprise I found there’s no opportunity for Nigerians to register.

    I know Nigeria has credit card scam history, but we are not all bad guys here. I would appreciate if there is another alternative for me to register for this online training.

    Thank you.

    • IT Career Coach   July 19, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Tobi: We will love to have you register with us for NET Programming and SQL/Database Programming.

      We have participants from some African Countries and from several other countries outside the Western Hemisphere.

      However, we do not control the “Payment Process” since we use the two (2) Major Credit Card Processors. If you have a valid Credit Card, one of those Payment Processors should work for you on your checkout. You just have ti be careful with filling in the right credit card information just like you will do with any online purchase.

      Basically, if your credit card works on a website like it should also work on our Shopping Cart.

      In the most extreme situation, you may arrange with a trusted co-worker or colleague or friend who has a valid credit card that can be used or has been used in online, international payments.

      Just ask that person to make the payment for you and then reimburse the person using whatever means is appropriate for the two of you.

      I am sure that there is someone local to your area who can make the payment for you and then give you the registration information.

      Some of our International participants have also used that method because it was easier to work with someone local with a valid international credit card.

      Just follow the steps in this e-mail and work with someone you can absolutely trust, OK?

      Thanks … I will be looking forward to seeing you at the “Software Developers Boot Camp”

      Have a great life

  5. Rasna   April 29, 2011 at 2:48 am


    I want to become a freelancer. I am a beginner. I had a work experience of about 3yrs in IT field (dotnet platform).

    But now i want to pursue my higher education so i want to quit my current IT job and work as a freelancer (part-time) so that i can earn my own bucks without depending on others.

    Please guide me on how to proceed or how to take up the projects.


    • IT Career Coach   July 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

      I would be glad to help you with your goals of becoming a Freelancer and supporting paying for your higher education.

      • First identify the skills that are most in-demand for freelance jobs. These skills include ASP.NET, C#, PHP, MYSQL, SQL SERVER, JQUERY, WORDPRESS, CSS.

        Download a list of the 100 most in-demand freelance skills here …

      • Become an Expert at those skills that you choose.

        You cannot be a successful freelancer without taking the time to master or excel at the skills that you use on a daily basis.

      • Bid for freelance jobs on popular freelance websites like ODesk and ELance.

        Stick to doing a high quality job and then build your clientele over time by establishing a reputation as a premier provider of service.

      Start your freelancing career from the most basic skills and then move on to the more complex skills.

      The easiest skills for you to start freelancing with is … guess what?

      CSS, HTML/XHTML. YOu can actually start freelancing with those skills and then from there move into MySQL/SQL Server, PHP/ASP.NET

      Follow the steps above to become a successful freelancer programmer while earning enough income to pay for your higher education!

      Best of Luck!

  6. Roy   June 12, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I haven’t been employed as a full-time programmer for over three years and I’ve started doing some free-lance work as a PHP/MySql/Javascript/CSS/Ajax web-developer, trying to build up a portfolio of decent work.

    My background is mostly in Visual Basic, SQL-Server, ASP(traditional), VBA, MS-Access and some ASP.Net/VB.Net and I find .Net to be very cumbersome.

    I really like web development with the open source technologies and I’m good at AJAX and Javascript, etc.

    I’m learning JQuery and I guess that I should learn some other frameworks and object oriented PHP and Javascript.

    My question is; in my position – also I’m 57 yrs old – do you have any advice regarding job search strategies, including, perhaps, what type of jobs should I be seeking?

    I’m a very creative problem solver and I’m good at interfacing with clients and gathering requirements in addition to my front and back end programming skills.

    The best job, for me would be with a web/e-commerce development company, because I like to work on a variety of different projects and I’m always learning new skills.

    Am I wasting my time looking for a job in the corporate area?

    Should I concentrate on free-lance, or maybe try some smaller web-design companies?

    Any advice will be appreciated.

    Thank you,

    • IT Career Coach   June 12, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      #php #mysql #javascript #css #jquery Learning PHP/ MySQL is easier than learning .NET Framework. PHP is popular with freelance programmers and .NET Framework is popular with the corporate software developers / business world.

      Your skills and interests are leaning to the PHP vs. the .NET franmework world .. am I right?

      1. Don’t worry about your age because there is nothing that you can do about it. Worry about what is within your control which is to be the most competent developer you can be!

      2. Yes, some shops are biased against older developers. If you come across these shops, focus on proving how competent or smart you are. If they are open-minded, then they will engage further with you.

      3. To be successful at Freelance Software Development, you need to be good at Getting Requirements, Managing Customer Expectations, Managing your Time / Sub-Contractors / Partners, Managing Cashflow, Marketing your Business, Accounting & Book-keeping and Solving Technical problems.

      4. To be successful at Full-Time Software Development, you need to be good at a smaller set of skills … mainly being good at your coding.

      What you do depends on what you are caapble of doing because … if you can’t market or sell very well as well as accomplsih all the other freelance duties then you may be better off earning a consistent full-time paycheck and building up towards your retirement.

      If on the other hand, you are a competent business savvy individual, then the payoff of running your own freelance computer programing firm is huge!

  7. Yashik Vimal   January 19, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Hi there,

    I am new to freelancing and i am seriously thinking about starting my own freelance IT services. I do hold 6 to 7 yrs work experience in IT but have failed to build a specialist portfolio which makes me less attractive to the IT market.

    I am aiming to position myself as data / Reporting analyst which is my better skill’s portfolio. So where do i start as far as the freelancing business is considerd ?


    • IT Career Coach   January 31, 2010 at 10:03 pm

      Becoming a Freelance Data Reporting Analyst is a good idea.

      With any freelance idea, you have to work hard to market it.

      So the first part of your planning should cover learning data analysis and reporting tools like SQL Server Reporting Services or Crystal Reports.

      The second part of your planning should include a building and executing a marketing plan that gets your name out there … in front of potential clients.

      This is important because you may be a good reporting analyst … but unless you market your freelance portfolio, no one would notice that you are in business.


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