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Sr. Developer Advocate

Appsmith

Getting Started As a Low-Code Freelancer: 5 Tips to Kickstart Your Career in 2024

With tons of new no-code/low-code platforms, a wide range of new AI tools, and massive changes in freelancing sites, 2023 has led to significant changes in the freelancer landscape. Freelancing in 2024 will be completely different game, which will come with new challenges, and even more new tools to learn to help solve them. 

To be successful in this market as a freelancer, you must adapt and learn to take advantage of change instead of be disrupted by it. But despite all the change, there are some tried and true freelancing techniques that still apply. After working full-time as a freelancer in the no-code/low-code space for almost a decade, and mentoring several other freelancers along the way, I've seen what works and what doesn't, what used to work, and what has changed. Below are my top 5 tips for freelancing in this new landscape. 

Tip #1 - Create Your Own Niche

Combine a personal skill, hobby or other area of expertise with a specific platform or language. You might not be the best freelancer available for a certain platform, but when combined with that extra skill or hobby, you could quickly become one of the top choices for clients who want that specialty. 

Examples: Healthcare + Bubble.io, Finance + Airtable, ecommerce APIs + Appsmith, Construction/Manufacturing + AppSheet, etc

This creates a combo of search terms with much fewer results, allowing your profile and content to rise to the top when you specialize in both. It will also help close the deal when the client knows you understand the platform AND the processes and data structure specific to their use case. 

Tip #2 - Learn in Public

Document and share your learning journey. Now that you've learned How to do X in Y Platform, go write a post on their community forums! This is something I have done from the very beginning of my freelancer career. I figured, why not make my notes public and save others the trouble I went through to learn it. 

Also be sure to fill out your profile on these forums, and add links to your blog and freelancer profiles. Get involved in the community, answer questions, comment on other posts, etc. If you want to be successful with a particular tool, it really helps to be tuned in to their community. It also helps you keep up with new feature releases and any technical issues you should be aware of. 

And lastly, this all goes back to adding credibility to your work in this particular platform, and will help you generate leads and close more deals. I've often had leads contact me based on forum posts I wrote. Your previous posts can also be used as example work when applying to jobs. 

Tip #3 - Create a Highly Specific Blog

Now that you have that niche chosen and forum profile setup, it's time to start working on your own blog. There's no need to build your own site from scratch, but if that's your niche, then by all means, go for it! For mine, I just used Hashnode, because I'm not a frontend dev, and not trying to land frontend work. 

Whatever you use, don't worry so much about page views or distributing the posts on social. Try to think of the blog as more of a credential to show to existing leads to help close a deal, as opposed to it being a way to generate new leads. 

For me, once I had a decent library of posts built up, I started using them in proposals as a way to show a specific example of my work that was related to the job. At that point, I barely had to write more than a quick intro and closing, then drop in a link to the most relevant blog post. This worked wonders for me on UpWork proposals.

Tip #4 - Build a Personal, or Company Brand

Ok, you're blog is set up and you're active on related forums to start getting your name out there. Now it's time to start developing your brand. This can be as simple as using your own name and headshot, or it could mean picking a business name, domain, logo, etc. Either way, make your content easy to recognize across various forums, freelancer profiles, blogs, social, etc, by standardizing on the profile pic, name bio, etc. 

Next, cross-link all of those profiles! Make sure every one has a link back to your blog and freelancer profiles. 

Tip #5 - Partner Programs & Vendor Listings

Getting listed as a partner or vendor is another great way to generate leads. And it looks good on your profile, and will instill confidence in your prospective clients. 

Partner/Affiliate Programs: Lots of platforms have partner programs where you can apply to be listed as a service provider from their community. Some are as easy as filling out a form, while others have interviews or exams involved. See what's available for the platforms and services you plan to use, and apply to be a partner or affiliate.

Vendor Listings: Government and educational institutions tend to have systems where contractors can apply to be listed as a vendor. See if you can get listed for your local university, or county or city municipality. Even if you never bid on a job, being listed as a vendor is both free advertising, and a credential you can show off. 

Thoughts on Freelancer Sites for 2024

UpWork and Fiverr have changed a LOT over the last few years, and even more so with the release of ChatGPT. Between the spam and scams on both sides of the job posts, and all the fees involved, these platforms aren't nearly as useful as they once were. However, I still encourage you to create a profile, upload a portfolio, and link to your profiles on your blog and socials. More web presence is better, and it's good to have the profile set up ahead of time in case you find a client who prefers to use it for payment. 

Try, but Don't Buy: Although I wouldn't recommend putting much effort (or money!) into applying to jobs on freelancer sites in 2024, you still need contracts and payment processing. 

Instead of applying to jobs, focus on building your web presence and establish yourself as an expert in your chosen niche. Then, bring your leads to a freelancer site to manage the contract, payment, and to collect a review. There's still value in those services, so don't write these freelancer sites completely off, just yet. 

2024, and Beyond! 

Freelancing has been an amazing journey for me, and I encourage everyone else who is interested to give it a try. Whether you're already freelancing and looking for ways to expand, or just getting ready to take the first step, I wish you all the best of luck in 2024 and beyond! Feel free to reach out with any questions or comment below to share your freelancer story. 

 

Ed Parsadanyan public View ed's profile
Sat, 12/16/2023 - 19:48

Thanks a lot, very useful. I think this phrase summaries the freelancing approach very well:

Instead of applying to jobs, focus on building your web presence and establish yourself as an expert in your chosen niche. Then, bring your leads to a freelancer site to manage the contract, payment, and to collect a review.

Yulia Tatarnikova community Open to work View julia's profile
Sat, 12/16/2023 - 21:17

Such an insightful post, thanks for sharing! I've been making music as a freelancer for a few years now and your tips seem very applicable to the creative field as well. The first tip seems especially valuable for someone with diverse and very distant interests who is looking for a way to combine them. 
For example, I recently performed at an event that was related to my economics studies. Sharing my academic background with a client caught their interest and gave me an advantage in connecting my performance to the topic of the event. It was a unique opportunity and proof of how beneficial a diverse background can be.

Joseph Petty staff View joseph_appsmith's profile
Sun, 12/17/2023 - 06:13

Thanks Ed and Yulia! Glad you enjoyed the post. It's great to see other freelancers in the Appsmith community.