The Learn to Code With Me Advice Column

What Should I Learn If I Want to Be a Freelance Developer?


Where and how, can someone get a job as a freelance web developer? And what skills are needed for the job?



As you may already know, there are many different kinds of web developers.

However, if you’re relatively new and looking to freelance, I think your best bet is to learn a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or an ecommerce platform like Magento or Shopify.

Here’s why you should learn a CMS:

  • There are a lot of freelance opportunities for people who know the above CMS’s—like WordPress and Magento.
  • Mastering one of these content management systems like WordPress or Magento is much easier, and faster, than learning how to build custom web app with a framework like Ruby on Rails, for instance.

Building custom web applications with frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Python and Django, MEAN stack, etc. takes time and typically more than one person. In the “real world”, usually a team of people build these kinds of applications. Even an entire department. (Depending how large the software is that they are building.)

Yes—without a doubt there are solo freelance developers who use frameworks like the ones mentioned above.

But most of these people are experienced, with five years or more in the industry. (And probably don’t even refer to themselves as a “freelancer”—more like a consultant.)

Here’s what you should learn

If you are relatively new to coding and want to build websites/web apps as a freelancer (for yourself, and not for a company), I encourage you to learn:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. And then move onto mastering one of those content management systems I mentioned earlier (WordPress, Magento, Shopify, etc.)
  4. If you choose WordPress or Magento, this will require you to learn PHP as well
  5. Lastly — it’s always good to know some JavaScript/jQuery (at least a bit)

Of course when it comes to learning these things, it will require you to learn corresponding technologies like the command line, text editors, an FTP, etc.

Where you can find freelance developer gigs

Here are a few places where you can find these kind of freelancer jobs:

  • Craigslist – my favorite place – the only job site I’ve ever used to find freelance work
  • Authentic Jobs – They have a collection of job listings that offer positions on the web, including web development.
  • Upwork – coming from an Elance-oDesk merge, this is a newly named global freelancing platform where employers and freelancers collaborate by using the site’s unique messaging and time-tracking application.
  • WordPress Jobs – is the official WordPress job site hosted by itself. Jobs range from full-time to project based with openings like development, design, plugin development, and more.

You can also check out this article I wrote recently for Skillcrush featuring 25 websites for finding a junior developer job. (However, not all of these are ideal to find freelance positions.)

I hope this helps!


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DISCLAIMER: Thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. Any recommendatons and/or how-to information is intended to be helpful. Also, please note that some of the links are affiliate links. Continue here to learn more about affiliate marketing on

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