First impressions of freelance web development

For the last 7 months, I’ve been doing the occasional freelance web job as well as my full-time job and it’s been both enjoyable and stressful.

Finding work + How did it start

Number one question friends want to know is: where do you find the work? The truth is, so far, it’s just found me. The first pieces were HTML/CSS builds for a former colleague who subsequently introduced me to a former client and more recently I’ve been working for a friend of a friend.

This website helps too, although no concrete work has come through it, offers and enquiries have and I can fully imagine if I had a website with four hundred people a day visiting as opposed to forty then I’d be getting a lot more offers.

When I have explicitly gone looking for freelance projects of my own volition I’ve nearly always come back empty handed or wasting a lot of my time. So far getting work through recommendations seems to be the safest approach for me and I haven’t been burnt (yet).

The extra money is a blessing and a curse

We’re in the middle of doing up our first home so every penny I earn from freelancing is gobbled up by the house. That’s a positive for freelancing but the negative is that once you start earning approximately half your monthly salary for 3-5 days work it can be very tough to remember to cherish your day job.

Extra money, extra stress

Two weeks ago, there was a big deadline looming at my day job simultaneously, at home there was also a massive freelance deadline looming – that created a mountain of stress in me, working full pelt at work 10am-6pm then coming home having a 20 minute break for food and then working until 11pm. That kind of stress I can do without but, unfortunately incidents like this can occur. This situation also pissed off my girlfriend who had to do all the cooking and cleaning for the week because I was so busy.

Plan/Prepare everything and be as professional as possible

You have to get work done as quickly as possible, not necessarily for your clients, but for yourself. Shaving two days off the length of your project gives you two extra days to enjoy life. My preparation involves invoicing templates (very basic design), a set of template web files, copying and pasting emails templates where I detail what I can/will do and my costs.


After less than a year, I’m not financially secure enough to go freelance full-time, nor do I feel ready to make a success of it. So the freelancing will remain an extra source of income for me for a while and not my only source.

For me, freelancing is here to stay for now at least. I view it as another step in my career – one that a lot of web developers take. If I want to own my own agency or my own company in the future (which I do) the the skills I’m learning freelancing will be invaluable.

4 responses to “First impressions of freelance web development”

  1. Good article.

    I do some freelancing here and there. It’s nice to be in complete control, but it’s difficult fitting it in around my wife and son.

    I also constantly agonize over how much to charge, and wether to register for tax or not(!).

  2. Mei, whether you register for tax – personally, I have and I think it’s correct to do so although, I know many who’d disagree with that sentiment.

  3. I am currently in sixth form, will be going to university in september to study wen design & development. I had a part time job and then starting freelancing online; I found a few jobs and the extra cash was great. After a few months I was working for friends of previouis clients who passed the word on about me, it then got busy enough I could quit my part time job and earn enough to tide a 17 year old student over.

    I now work for a few local businesses when needed and a few online sites where I write articles whenever I have time as the client knows my situation and isn’t in a hurry for the work.

    I love your articles and I know my comment is a bit off topic but I will be bookmarking your site and regularly coming back.

    Thomas Hardy