Are you tired of looking under rocks and searching through cupboards for a freelance web developer? Then this article is for you! This article gives you the 12 best places to find a freelance web developer and the differences between where you find them. If you're not yet sure if the freelancer route is best for you, check out our 3 best ways to outsource web development first.
What you need before you search
It is essential to know what you want before finding a web developer—the type of application you want impacts the skills needed to deliver the project. Finding web developers by title is an excellent start when looking for a particular expertise. For example, DevOps engineers have experience in automating development workflow to speed up product releases. But Front-end web developers have experience providing the graphical implementation of your UI (User interface) that your users will see. Both help deliver a web development project, but different aspects. Some can perform other's jobs, such as Fullstack web developers. However, you need to know what you're trying to find before you start looking. Freelance web developers with the right experience will ultimately deliver their speciality faster and to a higher standard.
The most blindingly obvious option is to use a search engine like Google. A quick search can be a great way to find web developers with an excellent web presence. But, note the words "excellent web presence" here. Larger companies dominate the top of the search engines. They have large marketing budgets and many hands to put them to the top. Appearing at the top takes serious effort for freelance web developers, and many will find work without having a website. Bear that in mind on your search and consider what would showcase their skill when searching. For example, a high ranking in searches indicates good SEO (Search engine optimisation) skills. Having a pixel perfect website is a good show of work for Frontend web developers. However, neither of these are crucial for Backend web development.
That's right, most job boards you use for employee staffing needs have a particular option called either "contract" or freelance. Contract web developers, web development agencies and consultancies use these boards to find projects. However, not all job boards are alike. The type of job board has a notable effect on the kind of web developer you'll obtain. Below are the three different categories of job boards by cash flow, each with its own culture:
Job boards that allow "free" communication between web developers and clients are high traffic. People Per Hour, Freelancer and Fiverr are just a few. These sites usually make money elsewhere, such as a percentage of the project value later on. Charging a % of a project is cheap for small projects but expensive for large projects. With the low entry requirements on either side (i.e., "free"), these boards tend to attract hobbyist web developers and less professional projects. That means you're less likely to find more experienced web developers here. Competition is fierce from those who've "built a drag and drop website once" and "fancy a career change". That makes it a race to the bottom for price and quality. But if you're ultimately looking for the lowest cost, this is your crowd.
Some job boards let you post a project for free but require each freelance web developer to pay to get in touch with you. One such example is Bark. Paying for leads will rule out many hobbyists or those that deal in simple websites. The risk or profit margin is less likely to make sense for them. That said, serious web developers won't spend money contacting you if the project budget is too low. With adequate funding, web developers who are confident in delivering the brief will get in touch. With an even greater budget, it will attract web development agencies too. If you want a freelance web developer, you may not like that, so learn to identify the difference. The bottom line, if your project is valuable, it can shine here, and you're less likely to get spammed.
These are the 'typical' job boards, like Reed, Indeed and TotalJobs. If you have the budget and need serious web developers fast, it might be easier to pay to post on a job board. In-demand web developers won't pay for leads if they can get them for free elsewhere. Many that need a freelance web developer fast will opt to pay to advertise it on a job board. It's an easy way to have many freelance web developers get in touch without needing to look around too much. Logically, developers will see these as professional projects because it's come at an expense to advertise them. As projects advertised on job boards perceive being professional and urgent, many experienced web developers will check them. However, you may need to sift through many replies as anyone can get in touch.
Professional networking sites like LinkedIn are another great way to find freelance software engineers. On there, you can track down developers by their skills rather than developers finding you by your project. My profile, as an example, has skills, a title, and past projects of what I've done. Finding freelance web developers by their skill means you're less likely to engage those who do not have the suitable skill set. The catch here is that you'll be the one sifting through countless profiles to find the right web developer, including ones that ultimately might not be interested. And before you get knee-deep in developer profiles, you'll also need to know what skill set to find. There is usually a cost associated with getting in touch when doing this at scale, so maybe a hashtag post is a better place to start here.
Web developers (like all software engineers) love troubleshooting sites. Troubleshooting sites, like church, are where we pray for help when there's a problem. And troubleshooting sites aimed at software engineering, like Stackoverflow, are like Mecca or Vatican city. Everyone wants to pray there. Confident users answer questions and those who are skilled answer correctly. These sites know this, so there are options to connect with the web developers and view how helpful they've been. Again, you'll need to know what skill set to find. Using my profile as an example, you can see what areas I've contributed. Some offer advertising opportunities too, like a job board, which might help the right ones come to you instead.
These are often in a question/answer format but are more free-flowing in conversation than the troubleshooting sites. As an example, Rust has an online forum for general discussions about the Rust programming language. That might be a great place to find backend developers who deal in Rust, but again, it should be relevant to the skill you need.
Tarnishing the introverted stereotype, web developers do attend networking events. The ones that are likely to attract web developers will be on web development or surrounding technologies. Global events like WebSummit are known for web development. Big companies like Google also throw events, like Web.dev, that attract web developers to their technology. If you're looking for a specific skill set, attend events that relate to it. Likewise, if you're looking for a local freelancer, check out local events near you.
Want to risk it for that chocolate biscuit? Message web developers that aren't advertising themselves as freelancers. It can't hurt to ask the question. They might like to tackle a side project in the evenings or have a reason to launch an agency. And, if even you don't, ten more recruiters will try to coerce them before the day is out. So I wouldn't worry about that or hang about. Many web developers that are employed would love the chance to start a self-employment journey.
Packages, frameworks and hosting services are just some of the tools used professionally. Places like GitHub are in our toolkit and is a place to manage projects and have discussions. It's unlikely you'll want to participate in the conversations in these places (unless you have a technical background). However, some provide ways to advertise and can be used to promote what you need. Some also have user profiles. My own GitHub profile contains activity feeds and lists public projects to see what users contributed. If you know enough about the technical skills required, think about the required tooling and find users associated with the tool.
Groups related to web development or software engineering, in general, will be a hotspot for all developers. If they're like me, they'll be there strictly for the memes. On the other hand, Junior developers like posting coding problems hoping for seniors to put them out of their misery. Again you can get an idea of who is experienced by who's answering the questions.
If you're looking for something niche or a relic of technology, there are mailing lists. For those who haven't encountered mailing lists for developers - mailing lists resemble a message forum, except it takes place via email instead of a web page. An example of a mailing list would be FreeBSD's mailing list. Developers using that OS (Operating System) might chat with other developers that either use it or work on it. Older developers or developers dealing in older technology still live on these mailing lists, and you aren't likely to get them off anytime soon. Believe me. Younger developers have tried and since retired.
Another place we like to scavenge for answers is article sites like medium and dev.to. Freelance web developers who write articles on there will be confident in what they're writing. Some of the article's comments also generate good conversation. Take note of users if what they write strikes a cord and check out user profiles to picture their contributions better. Some can be on top of their game here.
If experience isn't essential to you, but the price is, try contacting universities or colleges that run courses covering the aspect of web development you need. Some students will be eager to do freelance web development work alongside their course or after it ends. Just be aware that they are still in training. Unlike freelance web developers that do it for a living, freelance work will be secondary to their course. Don't be angry if they need to drop it to get on with their studies.
That's it - the 12 best places to find a freelance web developer, written by a web developer. I hope this gives you a good start on your journey to finding a freelance web developer. If you'd like to get more help on the topic or are interested in our web development services, please feel free to contact us.
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