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So, you already know how to code. Congratulations – now you want to find work as a software developer, web developer, mobile developer or simply some other kind of programming gig. But you want the work to be a remote or freelance job so you:

  • Are not tethered to a single employer
  • Have the ability to work remotely
  • Can make more money
  • Work this job or gig while you possibly hold down another job
If so, you've come to the right place.

Here is a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Establish yourself as someone who knows programming

The key to getting a freelance programming job, or truly any kind of coding job, is being able to let people know that you can deliver code. One word for this is credibility. In the industry, there is constant ongoing conversation about the interview process: people being quizzed with algorithms that don't really pertain to the work they'd be doing day-to-day, whiteboard coding, and all other sorts of issues. If you are able to establish yourself up-front as someone who knows what they are doing, you can bypass a lot of turmoil. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Have code samples ready. Make sure your code is clean and well-documented. Not only should there be comments explaining what your code does, but individual functions or methods should be documented using the appropriate style for your language (jsdoc, rdoc, jdoc, phpdoc, etc.). And go ahead and put your samples on GitHub. And while you're at it, hide any bad code samples that you may have put up from years ago. People love to snoop, and you don't want them thinking that you stole the good code from someone else.
  • Keep a blog that establishes yourself as an authority on your niche. Write a few good articles about whatever kind of software development you're an expert it, be it mobile dev, web dev, server dev, game dev, or whatever it is. Make sure the articles are appealing to both a technical and a non-technical audience: that is key. In other words, if a non-technical product manager would appreciate the article ("this person sure knows his or her stuff!") then it's probably quality content!.
    Be sure to cross-point your content to news aggregators like Hacker News and reddit so that your blog is indexed by Google. You do not need to enable comments on your blog post – comments are more likely to detract from your authority than build it.
  • Have a list of references handy when you are meeting clients. If you don't have any references, go to any entrepreneur forum and volunteer to do some coding in exchange for a good reference. However, establish up-front that you are only willing to put up 5-10 hours of work in exchange for the reference so you don't end up committing yourself to a slave contract in exchange for a few kind words.
In a perfect world, you will also have some kind of portfolio pieces: if you're an iPhone or Android developer, looking for mobile programming jobs, then you would have a polished app in the iOS App Store or in Google Play. If you're a web developer, you would have a live website that is both beautiful, well-functioning and responsive (works on mobile). However, if you don't, that's truly not necessary in order to find lucrative coding jobs.

Step 2: Hang out where freelance jobs are being posted and apply constantly

Have you ever seen the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin? There's a scene where one character, Andy, is flirting with a woman he finds attractive. He asks his buddy Cal, "Should I have asked her out?". Cal tells him no: He says, "You've gotta wait till the seed grows into a plant. Then you've gotta *** the plant"!

In other words, what we're saying here is that you've got to plant a lot of seeds in order to find good programming jobs. Or, you've got to apply to a lot of coding gigs in order to "plant the seed". A few of the applications will blossom into plants, or the lucrative jobs that you're seeking.

Here are some places on the internet where freelance developer jobs are posted:

  • WeWorkRemotely.com
  • http://www.Gun.io
  • Craigslist gigs section – mostly in the major metro markets, such as San Francisco and New York City. However, there is also a lot of activity in the smaller markets such as Austin and Atlanta.
  • Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com): on the first of every month, there's a thread about freelance jobs
  • Hired.com – for freelance and contract work
  • Upwork.com
And here are some places in person where you can meet people who are hiring for freelance jobs

  • Local tech meetups via meetup.com (and their mailing lists!)
  • Local chamber of commerce meetings where business owners need a techie to build an app to promote their business, or are hiring for some other types of coding jobs – constantly
The bottom line here is that the more effort you put in, the greater your yield will be.

I've been a freelance developer for over 10 years now (since 2007, when my Facebook app got acquired). If you are interested in learning about using your coding knowledge to work remotely or from home, visit my website and get a copy of my book – I hooked up a special deal for members of the Digital Nomads Forum. You can check out my site and the book at https://www.breakingintoconsulting.com/ and use the code "DIGITALNOMADSFORUM" to get a discount :)
Last edited by ZacharyBurt on Thu Jan 05, 2017 8:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
These days, I love web development work because I'm most productive in it. Especially Ruby on Rails and JavaScript-based work. Clients are literally amazed when I tell them what I've done in a short amount of time, and that reinforces the high rate per hour I charge.

However, I'm truly happy to pick up anything for a client. In 2014, I learned iPhone development for a client - and I charged them for each hour I spent learning iOS development in addition to charging them for the iOS development tutorial and training materials! They were happy to pay my fee to train me because I built a relationship based on trust and credibility. Based on how I acted with them, they knew that investing in me would ultimately result in greater value received by them.
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