Software development is a lucrative career option, and when small companies can't afford to keep a staff member in-house, they turn to freelance developers. Freelance software developers are able to work from home and set their own hours, but the field is competitive and landing developing gigs isn't exactly easy. So how do you get freelance software development jobs? Here are a few strategies to help you land new clients.
Build a Reputation
Arguably, the best way to get a steady steam of well-paying software development jobs is also the one that probably requires the most legwork: establishing yourself as an expert in the field. There's a few ways to do this, and the best option is consistent with wherever your talents are. If you have a knack for writing, start a blog or write an ebook on software development. This takes quite a bit of time, but once established, the jobs will come to you. Let those you've worked with before know you are looking for freelance work and they may back you up as an expert in the field.
Contact Companies Directly
Networking is a good way to further your career. If you haven't already, join LinkedIn and connect with those you've worked with before. You never know when someone you went to high school with years ago is now working for a company that just happens to be looking for a developer. Send them a personalized message letting them know about your freelance endeavors. You can also contact companies you don't have direct connections with by introducing yourself through a letter or meeting in person through seminars and job fairs.
Monitor Freelance Job Websites
There are many good job sites out there that list software development jobs—make it a routine to check them and apply to projects within your niche. Use job boards like Indeed (www.indeed.com) and Flex Jobs (www.flexjobs.com) as well as visiting sites that cater specifically to developers like Softdevjobs.com. Freelance boards like the one at WAHM.com are also good places to look, as well as Freelance BBS (www.freelancebbs.com) and Microlancer.com.
Join the Bidding War
Websites like iFreelance, Elance and Odesk allow freelancers to submit bids to various projects. Since you are competing with a lot of other freelancers to win the bid, these jobs tend to have a lower pay—but not all the time. There are a handful of clients on these sites that realize you get what you pay for, so don't write them off completely, especially when you are just starting out. However, expect to put in a lot of time submitting bids with this method.
Software development can be a very rewarding career—even when freelancing from home. The key is to find the right jobs—and enough jobs. The best way to find jobs will depend on your own strengths, but your reputation, networking, job sites and bidding groups are all viable ways to find software development jobs.