How to Become a Freelance Computer Programmer

Aspiring freelance computer programmers these days have an advantage that their predecessors never had – the internet. Only a decade back it would have been exceptionally difficult for a computer programmer to simply decide to go freelance and build their own company working on their own, without first joining a large company and building up their programming resumé. Computer programming gigs for novice freelancers would have been exceptionally rare and extremely difficult to find. These days however, it is feasible that young programmers can both earn money while they are still learning their trade and also start working freelance as soon as they finish their studies. With multiple job websites all over the internet devoted to advertising computer programming jobs it is now easy to find freelance programming work and get going right at the start of your career.

Things are never quite that simple of course. Obviously no new freelance computer programmer is going to walk into massive contracts for extensive programming work with Microsoft or IBM, or win high value jobs with fortune 500 companies. The simple fact is that you’ll still be starting from the bottom. And you’ll still need the required skills, most likely a Bachelor of Science (or equivalent) in programming and experience of multiple computer languages. In all likelihood you’ll have already decided which area of programming to specialize in, from gaming to financial, operating systems to machine controllers and which languages, from Assembler, Java, C or C++. The best jobs out there will still require these qualifications and probably a certain amount of programming experience. However, the internet has revolutionized how you get that experience and it is now possible for new programmers to get out there and find their own freelance contracts early in their careers and to build a programming resumé in order to be able to apply for those bigger jobs.

The reason that gaining such experience has got easier is because of online work boards such as Elance, Sologig, Odesk and Virtual Assistants which now offer contractors in general and computer programmer contractors the chance to bid on thousands of jobs. Unlike the old days where getting a foot in the door might depend on contacts in the industry, the level playing field of these sites means anyone who has the skills can get a foot in the door. Most job sites will have programming jobs. Elance, as an example has a category for ‘Web and Programming’ which offers jobs to all kinds of programmers across all kinds of specialist fields.

Thousands of computer programming projects will be advertised on the job boards and these will vary from the most basic programming tasks for someone’s website or database all the way up to designing software, apps or putting together highly technical projects. The way the process works is that the job will be listed on the job board and then hundreds of programmers get to bid for the work by submitting the most suitable proposal and offering a very good price. However, because there are so many people watching the job boards there will inevitably be a great deal of competition. Many of your competitors will have been working on the site for for a lot longer than you (especially when you’re starting out) and for you to match their experience you might well need to not only have a tip top profile and some examples of your work, but also, because you have no feedback you might need to bid extremely low and offer value for money. Buyers who can see you have no feedback may well be willing to take a punt on you if the price is much lower than everyone else. If they do, you need to do the very best job you can on the programming in order to get your first positive feedback. Once you’ve got that feedback, you can get yourself more programming jobs. And once you’ve got more programming jobs, you’re a freelance computer programmer!


Author: Greg Dixon