Tips for freelance front-end web developers

I just reflected on my year of freelancing and I thought I would look back and share some of things that helped make my year a successful one.

Get your finances in order

Not having a guaranteed monthly income required a mind shift when it came to dealing with monthly expenses. I found that by ensuring I had at least two months of “play” when it came to cash flow, I was able to not only be more selective in the work I took on, but also eased the stress of wondering when the next payment from one of your clients is going to appear in your bank account.

The biggest change I made to how I looked at my finances was to see what I needed to earn for the entire 12 month period as a bare minimum and then worked towards that with each project. Suddenly months become irrelevant from a financial perspective, other than to remind you there are bills to pay every 4 weeks!

In terms of keeping track of invoices, estimates and payments, I found The Invoice Machine to be a great online service to do just that.

Tools and applications

Equip yourself with the best possible tools to produce great work. I’m a massive fan of PhpStorm by JetBrains and took the plunge to buy a personal license for this IDE at the end of last year. Having used IntelliJ IDEA earlier in my career, I was always a huge fan of code analysis that the JetBrains IDEs perform. The HTML/CSS and JavaScript editor from a front-end web development perspective is brilliant and I shudder to think how I developed without it when I first started my career.

As cool as GitHub is, sometimes you need private repositories (for free) and BitBucket provides just that. It’s scary to think that I’ve worked with companies this year that didn’t have any form of version control prior to me working with them. It’s a complete no-brainer.

Postbox – First Class Email. Just like it says on the box! Again, having used the 30-day free trial, I soon realised that this was another application I needed to buy. My favourite features are:

  • Unified Inboxes + Account Groups
  • File and Image Search
  • Conversation Views

If you’re already using Thunderbird, here are even more reasons why you should switch to Postbox.

And finally from a productivity and task management perspective, I’ve found Asana to be great for that. Whilst there are numerous alternatives, many of which I’ve used, Asana is ideal to manage personal projects and to-do lists.


Assuming your finances are in order, you’ve completed a few successful projects and have more lined up, consider going somewhere you haven’t been before. I was really fortunate to be able to take a month off after I quit my full-time job before I started freelancing.

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.

Augustine of Hippo

I travelled to Thailand and Cambodia for a few weeks with my girlfriend and two of our friends. It was an incredible experience and definitely gave me a sense of renewed energy when I returned home to start working again. Being exposed to different cultures, interesting food and amazing sights is a privilege and the opportunity to experience it should taken whenever it presents itself.