You don’t need us to tell you that it takes time to build a decent web development career. It takes even more time to start making a reasonable income, especially in the early stages. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula; you just have to work ward, be persistent, always strive to improve and make the right connections. A little bit of luck goes a long way, too. Having said that, there are plenty of ways in which you can make some disposable income while you work your way onto the career ladder. Here are a few tips…
Start with Who you Know
In tech industry it’s not just what you know; who you know is equally important. You’re going to need a solid network to find your way to your first web development job, and it’s never too early to start. But where should you start? With your own personal network of family and friends! In such a large and ever-growing industry, there will always be someone who knows someone who could be a useful contact. Reach out to them and you never know what you may learn. You could even get a referral for some valuable experience, or better yet; your first paying job, freelance or otherwise.
Try some Free Releases
If you have a digital presence (and you definitely should, by the way), try releasing some free scripts, templates, or anything else you think people would find valuable. It may sound like the exact opposite of making money, but hear us out. If you give something to someone for free, they will want to give you something back. Have a clear call to action for a suggested donation and you WILL get some if you work is good enough. Promise. Showcasing your work also shows people what you’re capable of, which means they’re more likely to approach you for future work.
…But Don’t Work for Free
Your time and skills, even if they’re not at a professional level yet, are valuable. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but the best way to make money while you learn is to refuse to work for nothing! People will ask, trust us. Don’t be afraid to say no. If you state your case, many of those cheap skates will be willing to offer at least some compensation. Know what you’re worth and don’t settle for less – but at the same, don’t expect to successfully charge the same fees that seasoned professionals do. It’s all about finding the right balance.
We probably don’t need to say this, but all aspiring web developers should have an online portfolio of their work. Once it receives some traffic (the aforementioned giving away something for free is a great way to drive up visitor numbers, as is a good quality blog and strategic SEO), you should consider finding affiliate programs or pay per click ads to place on your site. You’ll need to know what you’re doing when it comes to digital marketing, but that stuff is easily learned and there’s tons of information freely available. The more traffic you site gets, the more money you’ll earn.
Once you get past the stage of having to give away stuff for free, you can move on to selling it instead. This is a foolproof money maker; it costs nothing but time to create a product to sell, and you get 100% of the proceeds if you sell directly (i.e. through your own site and not through an affiliate). You’ll also learn a thing or two about advertising, marketing, and how to manage your finances – all of which will come in very handy for your future web development career, because believe it or not it’s all relative.
Work in a Related Field
If you think you can manage working and studying at the same time (it’s not for everyone), by all means get yourself a part-time or full-time job in an area as close to web development as you can manage. It could be content management for a local business website, SEO, or even teaching coding classes. Not only will you pick up valuable skills, you’ll make great connections and your resume will look a little more filled out when the time comes to apply for jobs.
Network and Partner Up
Did we mention how important it is to make connections in the industry? Well, it’s always worth mentioning once again. Befriend some web development freelancers and, we guarantee, at some point in time they’ll ask you to take on a project they just can’t fit into their own schedule. Knowing people who work with web developers is also great, because they’ll happily refer you to potential clients. As a rule, always ask people to remember your name, take your card, and tell a friend who may be interested about you. With all of the amazing modern technology in the world, you’ll be surprised how far a business card and a smile can still get you.