Freelancing as a Junior - Intermediate Developer Filip Rastovic

Freelancing as a Junior – Intermediate Developer

You might wonder how does a junior or intermediate developer find freelance work? Freelance work appears tempting – doing it full-time allows you to never go to a real office, providing you with freedom to make your own schedule, travel more & be more selective about the projects you work on. The downside that everyone fears is of course, insecurity. No stable income, nothing fixed, you have to invest in your own home office, pay your taxes, basically run a whole business. But that’s the whole point of it, running a freelance business. Working as a freelance requires a mindset shift – transitioning from an employee to a business owner. First and foremost that means charging more. What separates freelance developers from employee developers its their ability to communicate, a rare trait among techies. That’s just one of the skills that allows freelancers to charge more, the other of course is being good at what you do and meeting deadlines.


My story

I’ve been writing about freelance development for some time now, to sum it up, after computer science studies I decided to start working from my home full-time, as a freelancer. During my studies I was already working very basic jobs on Upwork and I slowly transitioned to doing freelance development jobs on Upwork. I managed to raise my hourly rate from around $8/h to $30+/h in about two years. On the side note, I’m based in Serbia, south eastern Europe, a place where an average income is around $300/month. And it’s true what they say, the more you charge – the better clients you end up working with.

Web ( and the real world ? ) is full of people who’d like to exploit your talent, do not underestimate yourself. Eventually I ended up registering as a real business, sole proprietor, opening a business bank account, something that will later allow me to send invoices to companies around the world outside of Upwork. I turning 26 this year and I’m thinking about best way to scale my business, eventually I’d like to transition from a freelancer – service based business to a more productized business, so I’ll probably be creating a website template to sell on ThemeForest.


How to find clients ( and what skills to offer )

The main question everyone has is how do I find clients? Freelancers find clients in different ways, it also depends on where you are located. But using the most popular websites has always worked for me. So Upwork would be my first bet. But other websites such as CodePen jobs, Stackoverflow Jobs, wphired,  works just as well. If you’re feeling ambitious you can try TopTal as well. So what skills do you offer to clients? Do you need to learn something new if you wish to work as a freelancer? I offer two kind of services, one is WordPress website development, primarily focused on the front-end side.

So I get design files from a designer and start thinking what would be the best way of implementing these into a WordPress theme. That means writing semantic HTML ( or leveraging a page builder, if the client wants to change the content of the website more easily ), configuring gulp.js workflow so my SCSS and JS is split into partials, writing modular and scaleable SCSS and developing all interactive interfaces using JavaScript, mainly jQuery. Because WordPress is a content management system mainly used by people who “manage content”, so admins, managers etc, I also think about the backend user experience. It has to be flexible and the user should be able to do everything on his own, without any help from a developer. So that’s the first service I offer, and my ideal client in that space are software development agencies. So companies that are already established on the market and that make deals with big companies. I come in, get the designs and build a website.

The other service I offer, mainly through UpWork these days is landing page design, using Unbounce. An advertising agency or a company that does pay per click ads for themselves come to me because they need a webpage to capture leads. I design these pages in Adobe XD, Sketch or Photoshop and after a client approves them I implement them using Unbounce, which is a landing page drag and drop builder tool. After the page is finished they set up pay per click and and direct all traffic to that page. The page has a form where people leave their phone numbers or email addresses and in return they get a discount of some sort. These are the things I do, you might be a Java Engineer or a React developer. You don’t need to learn WordPress or design. Try finding jobs in your niche.



Whatever you do as a developer is enough. You now need new skills if you wish to be a freelancer. These are entrepreneurial skills. Watch videos about entrepreneurship, read books, articles and then go ahead and apply the things you learned. This might mean creating your business website, quitting your job and trying to find a client  via UpWork ( I did that ). It might be building an amazing open source project and getting recognition from the community, lots of freelancers land their first jobs in that way as well. Good luck!

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