As a freelancer, you never want to stop learning. New tools and rules emerge every single day and it can be challenging to sustain an income if you are falling behind. Being a freelancer means that you need to be your own boss, the HR department, and your own mentor. This is crucial to understand because most of the time you spend working tirelessly to solve the problems of clients who are in different time zones and after that, you still need to improve individually.
The labor market is getting tougher and tougher so you need to find a way to elevate yourself above the others. The only answer is working hard and never stop learning. To remain relevant in the industry it is vital to keep adopting your skillset according to trends, new modifications, and business models.
1) Join GitHub
At this moment of your freelance developer career, you have probably heard about GitHub. If not, then this is your chance to do so. GitHub is an open-source repository hosting service that could be compared as a cloud of coding. It is remarkably useful to any developing enthusiast because of its possibility to host source code projects in numerous programming languages.
Learning how to use GitHub can significantly boost your career because it offers one of the biggest computer science developing communities. It makes it a lot easier to collaborate with colleagues and to review your past projects. The thing about GitHub that differs from the others is that it not only allows you to see your past codes but also to preview the changes that have been made to them.
Sometimes it might be hard to spot your own mistakes so it’s always beneficial to get some help from the others. That’s what the GitHub community is for. Other computer science devotees can download your code and offer change to it. This way, you might get some heads-up on the issues and errors you might receive in the future.
If you are collaborating with someone on single or multiple projects, GitHub suggests the possibility to have a management strategy so you and your colleagues can work without interrupting each other.
Nonetheless, by being an active member of the community you will be more likely to be spotted by the possible employers that might recognize your talent. It’s safe to say that extra job offers will surely show that you’re going on the right path.
2) Follow the Opinion Leaders
The past few years have been the breakout of opinion leaders, or differently, influencers. Opinion leaders are the people who are known for being one the best, if not the best, in their particular work area.
It can be hard to find the best material to learn, or find the best trends to follow on your own. This is why following developer influencers' activity on social profiles can be very useful. They tend to be the first people who get to know all the updates and new releases of tools. There probably is an infinite number is influencers on social media these days, but we recommend taking a look at the people who are the top of their expertise.
Gary Vaynerchuk. One of the most popular names in the IT industry. Gary has been granted fame for his famous e-commerce skills. He was also among the very first investors in Twitter and Uber, so he’s definitely worth your time.
Paul Asadorian. Since 2005, Paul has been hosting his “Paul Security weekly” show and has been known as one of the most IT influencers out there. He is the CEO of Security Weekly and is among the best experts on cybersecurity.
Guy Kawasaki. If you have ever heard about the job title “evangelist” then you can thank this person. Guy is a Chief Evangelist at Canva and has chief marketing specialist of Macintosh back in 1994.
Larry Kim. The founder of WordStream, director of 200 people and an expert on Facebook Ads, Facebook Messenger chatbot marketing and 4-time winner of the Search Marketer of the year.
Tim O’Reilly. It could be considered crucial for people of computer science to follow this person. The words “open source” and “Web 2.0” have been crafted by him. Tim is the founder of O’Reilly media and a very active figure on social networks.
The list could go on and on because of the numerous counts of influential people in the IT world, but we recommend starting from these to build up your social awareness of opinion leaders.
3) Learn How to Build Your Brand
Being a freelancer it is important to understand that in order to grow you need to start building your brand. Assume that your potential customers or clients already know that programmers are able to compile certain applications. You could advertise your services all day long and get a minimum of the result. The solution to this problem is personal branding.
Clients usually look for freelancer portfolios that have been emerged with the personality of the craftsman. One of the most attractive features in today's marketing is storytelling. People want to know the story behind the product or service they buy, this is why it is suggested to have one.
There are more than a few ways to establish your brand. Firstly, you need to understand what kind of portfolio you want to build. If your goal is to be known for being an expert in a certain area, then you should work towards it. Try getting clients that are only interested in the same services that interest you.
Secondly, establish relationships. Relationships are a vital part of every business model and they need to be based on trust and loyalty. Bonds can build many ways throughout your career. It can be your past clients, co-workers, and meet-ups at events. Eventually, healthy relationships lead to partnerships that are most likely to be more successful.
4) Always Educate Yourself
To reach new levels you need to be in a constant learning process. Self-education begins by understanding your weaknesses and constantly working towards fixing them and expanding your strengths and skillsets. This can be done through many things but some stand out among the others:
To fully understand what kind of skills you might be lacking as a freelancer programmer, you might want to try this out. Learning paths for developer careers are extensive roadmaps that will help to find the missing pieces to the puzzle.
It is offered by many pages, but we recommend using BitDegree, which is an online education platform that is focused on computer sciences and technologies. Expert instructors and clear tutorials will help you to improve your career in no-time.
As already mentioned above, online courses and tutorials can kickstart your career immediately. Online courses are revolutionizing the current educational system.
While studying in universities on colleges can take up to 3-4 years to master a language, the educational pages like BitDegree, Udemy or Coursera can help you to expand your knowledge base on programming languages in weeks or even less.
There are over a billion videos on YouTube and up to 300 hours of footage are uploaded every minute. While online courses are mostly paid, YouTube content creators share their experience and knowledge for free. At this point, you can find every single needed topic on the video platform and learn from it.
By reading you access the information that has been written by the people who are or were experts in their areas. This way you can learn from their mistakes and make sure you don’t do them yourself.
Although the world of programming or computer science can be seen as a fast-paced changing process and you might think that the only way to catch up is by reading material online, there are various books and biographies that can still have an impact on your career and knowledge base.
It is safe to say that podcasts have extremely increased in popularity over the last years. Podcasts are mostly the conversations between a host (or hosts) and their guests. Each broadcast has its’ own topic and it does not take much time to find the one that you will be able to learn from.
Experimenting/having personal projects (Project-Based Learning (PBL))
One of the best ways to fully understand a topic is through real-life situations. Theory can be useful but it will mean nothing without practice. Project-based learning can help you to develop knowledge, critical thinking, communication, and creativity.
General Tips and Conclusion
There are many peculiarities in order to be a successful freelancer programmer but it is achievable. To stay in-demand it is suggested to be a full-package to your clients. That means that you should always look for new skills to learn, to be able to work with more than a few programming languages, and to be an exclusive service to the customers.
As a freelancer programmer, it is crucial to understand that everything depends on the work that you put yourself and nobody’s going to do it for you. Don’t sleep on laurels, keep moving forward and success is yours to get.