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A black crow sitting on top of a sign with a man holding a stop sign on the left and the words "prepare to" below the crow – what to know before starting a contract
August 18, 2022 · 5 min read

Freelance web developer tips

Starting a new contract is always exciting. It’s not just the promise of more money; it’s the chance to learn and get involved with a new project.

So, how do you ensure you can be productive right out of the gate?

Here are some freelance web developer tips to help you do just that.


This first freelance web developer tip may seem obvious, but contract employees use their own equipment in almost all circumstances.

There are obviously exceptions to this, and they usually apply to highly regulated industries like security and finance. Otherwise, you should be prepared to use your own computer.

Make sure that you either download the requisite programs before your start date or clear up the space on your computer to do so once you start the project.

Set expectations at the outset

When starting a new contract, many things can get lost in the fray, so try to get as much information upfront as possible. We recently had one of our platform developers, Danial Mizra, share what he asks at the outset, and he shared lots of great freelance web developer tips/questions:

  • What are your expectations for this project?
  • How often do you want to communicate? 
  • What is your preferred method of communication (phone/email/slack)?
  • What if I complete my working hours between Monday and Thursday and am assigned a task on Friday?
  • What will a “win” look like during this initial contract?
  • What’s the most expected aspect of my individual contributions?
  • If I run into some sort of a problem, who is the first person I should contact? Someone at your company, or at
  • Does this position have any type of paid leave? I know this is a contract, but are there provisions for sick leave?

While this list of tips for freelance web developers isn’t applicable to every contract, you can see how he’s thoughtfully chosen questions that impact both sides of the working relationship. Feel free to modify it as you see fit and cover all your bases from day one.

Get things in writing

It doesn’t matter who you are or what kind of job you are working; the number one tip for freelance web developers is to get things in writing. Just because you have talked at length about completing a project or discussed the payment details doesn’t mean a client can’t still pull out at the last minute. 

What happens if you put off other clients or turn down another job for this, only to have the rug pulled out from under you? It’s a humbling lesson, and all the better if you don’t have to learn it the hard way.

Getting stuff in writing doesn’t just go for the initial contract, either. Get scope changes in writing. Get contract extensions in writing. Get it all in writing. 

When you work through, this is easier to keep track of, but there may be times when you’re asked to do work outside the bounds of that contract we helped to set up. Those tasks also need to be in writing. 

If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen, and you shouldn’t work on it. 

Got it?

Establishing communication

You’ll obviously have a main point of contact with any contract work, but make sure they aren’t the only point of contact you have. If they happen to be out of the office or have an emergency, do you know who the next person in the chain of command is? 

Having contact with multiple people means you’re less likely to have days sitting around waiting for information to come in. This allows you to remain efficient and keeps the client happy.

You also want to make sure you know what level of communication is expected from you. What meetings are you required to attend? Which Slack channels are the ones you should keep an eye on? 

Establishing this at the outset can save a lot of time and trouble down the road. 

Don’t oversell your skills or time

There’s a tendency in contract work to become a “Yes Man” because happy clients feed you more work and recommend you to their colleagues. Be careful, however, not to oversell your skills or time when trying to keep them happy. 

It’s pretty simple: if you don’t have the skills to perform a task that’s been requested of you, don’t pretend like you do. It’s one of the tips for freelance web developers that’s worth repeating.

And if you’re asked to do something that will take more time than you have allotted to the project, be realistic with the client about it. Let them know that if they want that particular task completed, they must either extend the contract or shift the current priorities to accommodate the task.

Agree on payment terms

At, we operate on Net 30 terms. That means your first payment will come 30 days after the start date of any contract we are working with you on. 

Other companies pay on completion, while some follow the traditional 2-week payment schedule. 

Whatever the agreement, make sure it’s clear to you and the client when payment is expected. This doesn’t just help with financial planning. It can also help you decide when to start looking for your next contract.

Don’t slack in the onboarding process

The first few days of any new job always feel like a whirlwind. You’re meeting new people, learning about the business ethos, connecting to the repositories, getting the code pulled down, and a million other little things. 

This isn’t the time to kick back and take it easy. 

Stay alert and stay interested. Repeatedly asking questions covered in your onboarding will not impress anyone. Listening is the easiest way to prepare for the work coming down the pipeline, and you can learn a lot. 

We can help you

The more contracts you work, the more dialed in your process will become, but hopefully this can serve as a good jumping off point to ensure your next contract goes smoothly

If you’ve digested these freelance web developer tips and you’re looking to land your next contract, we can help. Here at Gun, we specialize in matching web developers with clients that will make both parties happy.
So talk to us today and learn how we can help you land your next gig!