How to start as a Freelance Web Developer right after Le Wagon?
Congratulations, you just finished Le Wagon’s coding bootcamp! Now you’re probably wondering: “What do I do next?” Of course, you can apply for a web developer or a product manager position in a company. But do you know that you can also start a Freelance Web Developer career?
Only 10% of Le Wagon’s alumni choose to do so. Why? From what I understand, there are two main reasons. First, they believe they don’t have enough experience to take on web development projects on their own. Second, they fear the precariousness of the freelance status.
These two points are completely understandable. But I believe they should not stop you from trying.
In this article, I will give you practical advice on how to get your first paid contracts, and how to optimize your working process.
First day as a Freelance Web Developer: how to get your first paid contracts
Your family, your friends, the families of your friends: everybody should know that you’re embarking in a Freelance Web Developer journey.
The objective is that, if they need a website, they will have the reflex to contact you. That’s how I got my first paid contract: a friend of a friend needed an e-commerce website for her vintage clothes’ brand.
Update your LinkedIn profile
Still in this perspective of telling everyone: update your LinkedIn profile. Add Le Wagon to your education and change your job title.
Do not hesitate to specify the coding language or framework you are most comfortable with. For example, my LinkedIn job title is “Fullstack Web Developer (Ruby on Rails)”. This will prevent you from being presented with missions that have nothing to do with your area of expertise.
Create a portfolio
To make your visibility more concrete, do not hesitate to create a portfolio. You’re probably thinking “Okay but I have nothing to show”. That’s not true. During Le Wagon, you created two web applications: an Airbnb clone, and a final project.
Although you did not build them on your own, it still shows your coding abilities. Be transparent: specify that you built them while being in a team of four people. Describe what these web applications are about and share their links. For your final project, you can even add the video of your pitch at the Demo Day. Do not put the link of the whole Demo Day, extract your pitch in a new video and share its link.
Create a freelance profile on Malt
After notifying your whole network, it’s time to go fishing in unknown territories: create a profile on Malt.
Malt is a platform where people who need a website can search for freelancers and send them a mission proposition. Malt takes a 10% commission on each mission.
Using Malt gives you a significant visibility and two interesting guarantees. First, the client pre-pays via Malt before the mission begins, so you don’t have to worry about payment default. Second, every mission contractualized via Malt is automatically covered by a Pro Civil Liability insurance. It can be very useful. For example, if you make a mistake and cause your client’s e-commerce website to become inaccessible for a certain period of time, the insurance will cover the damages.
At the end of a mission on Malt, you are rated by your client. Of course, the higher your rating, the more likely you are to get contacted again on the platform.
Logically, the first mission is the harder to get because you don’t have any ratings yet.
To maximize your profile’s attractiveness, you can ask your friends to recommend the competences that are listed on your Malt profile. I asked 10 friends to recommend my competences and I got my first mission proposition the same day.
Another tip: take advantage of the “Malt Open” program. How does it work? If you get a mission from outside of Malt, you can bring it on the platform by establishing the bill via Malt. In this case, it’s all positive for you: Malt does not take any commission on the bill and the client gets to rate your profile at the end of the mission. I did that with two of my clients: I found them via my network but billed them via Malt. So today I have 3 ratings on my Malt profile, while having won only one mission via the platform.
Set your average daily rate
Regarding your average daily rate, I advise you to start at 250 € per day. You can go beyond, but please don’t go below. Even though you are a junior web developer, your competencies are valuable. And keep in mind that you still have to pay taxes, health insurance, etc.
Starting as a freelance web developer means dealing with administrative procedures. I understand they can seem boring but they are worth studying carefully.
First, you have to choose a legal status. If you are in France, you can start with the “micro-entrepreneur” status, previously known as “auto-entrepreneur” status.
Second, you need to choose a health insurance so that your medical expenses can be partly or entirely covered.
In addition, you can subscribe to an income maintenance insurance. How is it useful? If you have a car accident and get hospitalized, this type of insurance will guarantee you a salary during your hospitalization time. It can be a bit sad and scary to think about the eventuality of such tragic events, but it is important.
I advise you to take some time to choose an insurance that best suits your needs. Being well insured reduces the precariousness of your freelance status.
Perfect, you’re all set. Now, let’s get to work!
Optimize your working process
To be the most productive, you need to work in a place where you feel comfortable. You probably won’t find it right away. You will test several places until you find the one that is best for you. I personally love working at home.
When you find your sweet spot, take some time to organize a comfortable workspace. If you’re working on a laptop, put it on an elevated base so that the screen is at eye level. Plug in a keyboard and a mouse. And, most of all, invest in a second screen! It will allow you to have your mock-up design on one screen, and your text editor and localhost on the other screen. After some research, I bought this HP screen on Amazon for 99 € and I am very satisfied with it.
In addition to alone work sessions at home, I do group work sessions with my friends, in places such as Le Wagon’s co-working space.
Keep in mind that, as a Freelance Web Developer, you have the luxury of flexibility. You can work at home, in a co-working space, or even in another country! I don’t necessarily mean flying to Bali. Let’s start simple: is there a European country you always wanted to visit? As soon as it’s safe to travel again, book a plane ticket and go there for a month. You’re free.