What Is a Freelance Web Developer’s Salary?

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by Alison Plaut

Updated September 16, 2022

Edited by Madison Hoehn
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Freelance web developers work to create and maintain websites. As freelancers, these professionals have the freedom to select the clients they want to work with and set their working hours. It's possible to take a coding bootcamp and start working as a freelance web developer in as little as a few months.

For professionals who have an aptitude for coding, becoming a freelance web developer can be a lucrative and interesting career. Freelance web developers can earn more if they are well-known or have effective marketing. However, they usually do not have a guaranteed salary, insurance, or benefits. Keep reading to find out more about a freelance web developer's salary.

What Is Freelance Web Development?

A web developer uses code to create and maintain websites. Common coding languages that they use include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XML, and Python. Web developers monitor website traffic, create website and application mockups, and test applications. Web developers' responsibilities include client management and designing and developing graphics. They also integrate graphics, audio, and video into websites.

A freelance web developer is a self-employed professional coder. These professionals can work with a team or on their own. The responsibilities of a freelance web developer and a web developer employed full time are similar.

The only difference is that a freelance web developer often works on a per-project basis or on a set contract. Because of this, freelance web developers are responsible for self-employment tax and must secure health insurance and other benefits independently.

However, if a freelance web developer is efficient and has earned a good reputation, they may have a higher earning potential. They also have greater flexibility and can work from home.

What Does a Freelance Web Developer Do?

Freelance web developers can work as back-end web developers, front-end web developers, or full-stack web developers. They can also work as webmasters. Each of these roles has set responsibilities in coding and website development.

Some freelance web developers work together with other web developers or graphic designers. They also interface with clients throughout the development process. For this reason, web developers need both interpersonal and technical skills.

Key responsibilities include:

  • Writing and reviewing code for websites
  • Testing web applications
  • Troubleshooting performance or user experience problems
  • Designing user interfaces
  • Creating intuitive navigation menus
  • Collaborating with other developers and designers
  • Optimizing and updating websites

Soft skills include:

  • Analytical skills for fixing problems
  • Interpersonal skills
  • A strong work ethic

Back-end developers create the structure of a website by writing code and verifying that it works. Front-end developers build the user interface of websites. This includes the pages visitors see and interact with. Full-stack developers do both back-end and front-end website development. Webmasters manage a developed website and keep it updated.

How Much Does a Freelance Web Developer Make?

Freelance web developer salaries can vary widely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for web developers in May 2021 was $77,030. Payscale notes that the average salary for web developers is $60,910 as of August 2022.

Salary by City
City Name Average Salary (May 2021)
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA $124,430
California-Lexington Park, MD $111,080
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA $110,880
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL $110,040
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA $108,610

Source: BLS

How to Become a Freelance Web Developer

The first step to becoming a web developer is to decide on a target career. The next step to becoming a freelance web developer is to be proficient in one or more coding languages.

Professionals can gain the technical skills for web development through a coding bootcamp, online courses, or a bachelor's degree. Coding bootcamps and online courses allow students to start a career as freelance web developers in as little as a few months. They often offer lower-cost intensive training to launch a new career.

Necessary technical skills include:

Freelance web developers don't need a college degree, although a BS demonstrates proficiency and expertise to potential clients. Some web developers hold a bachelor's in computer programming or computer science.

To land a job, professionals must set up their businesses, fulfill legal obligations, and build a portfolio. They can collaborate with other web developers or do low-cost projects to build a reputation. A portfolio website can help with marketing to potential clients.

Frequently Asked Questions About Freelance Web Developers

Is freelance web development a lucrative career?

A freelance web developer can earn more than the national average salary of $58,260 for all careers, according to the BLS. Whether a freelance development career is lucrative will depend on the professional's skills and work ethic. The ability to secure jobs, market professional services, and anticipate client needs may all increase success.

The median wage for all web developers was $77,030 or $37 per hour in 2021, as per the BLS. The top 10% of all web developers earned a median salary of $62 per hour. Building long-term client relationships and a strong professional network can also help freelance web developers earn more.

Is web development hard to learn?

For students who have an aptitude for programming, web development is not too difficult to learn. While some professionals can start working in just a few months, most will need to keep learning throughout their careers.

Programming languages, apps, and technology change quickly, so web developers need to keep updating their skills. Web developers will need to stay motivated to keep learning and upgrading technological skills.

Regardless of the ease of learning, web development requires persistence and problem-solving skills. Web developers must pay close attention to detail and be willing to collaborate on projects and work independently.

How much does a five-page website cost to make?

How much a five-page website costs varies based on the specifications. A simple website with a template could cost less than $100 or upwards of $500. A fully customized website could cost $2,500-$10,000 or more.

Individual costs include:

Custom content development, apps, eCommerce functionality, and website maintenance can have the highest costs. For freelance web developers, securing customers who need custom site designs can become a primary source of income.


Feature Image: Maskot / DigitalVision / Getty Images


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