How and where to start freelancing as a full stack web developer?

I remember this feeling. Early on in my freelancing career (way back in 20–… well, I won’t say how long ago that was :D) with no idea how to do any of this. The anxious feeling in my gut. The thoughts of failure and embarrassment swirling in my head.

And, I ended up just guessing.

And, I paid for it.

So, let me save you from that.

You start with research…

When freelancing…

And, I want to highlight that, because it’s different than when applying for a job at a company. So, when freelancing, you start by doing research. It’s like if you sit down to code a new application.

Most likely, you don’t just write every line of code off the top of your head.

You plan.

You research.

And, then you code.

Same with freelancing.

So, what do you research?

You figure out what you’re going to specialize in… or your niche. If you’re not familiar with that term, it is:

“denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.”

Fitness is a good example.

Fitness is a market. It’s huge. And, within the concept of “fitness”, you have all kinds of smaller, more distinct concepts: running, bodybuilding, diet, Keto, vegan, HIIT, etc.

And, even with these concepts, you have even more specific ideas. For example, within running, you might have marathon-running, sprinting, interval training, and so on. And, you could keep going as deep as you wanted.

So, fitness is the market.

All these smaller, specialized segments are niches.

And, when someone says “niche” down, they mean to get more specific. So, you start by figuring out what yours is… instead of just offering general “web development” services, you might offer things like:

  • Landing page
  • Membership site
  • Social network
  • Website maintenance and support
  • WordPress plugins

It really depends on what YOU want to do. And, this is the very first thing to figure out as a freelance web developer. If you just throw yourself out there as a “web developer” and don’t specialize like this…

You’re swimming upstream.

It will always be more difficult than it has to be.

Final thing, then.

What’s a good niche?

When I look at a niche, I answer three questions to ensure I really understand my niche, who I’m dealing with and what services I should be offering them:

  • Who
  • What
  • Why


Who, specifically, am I targeting with my services. To continue our fitness example, instead of “running”, you’d say something like, “running for single moms” or “running for high school athletes”.

You want to target and know a specific “who”.

That, then, helps you better understand the…


What do those people specifically need as it relates to this topic? A running program would be vastly different for single moms vs high school athletes. Their needs and scenarios are vastly different.

Then, you finish up with the…


Why are they interested in this topic? What is it they’re hoping to achieve? What are their goals and aspirations? What are the things holding them back? You need to know all this in order to be persuasive when selling your services.

If you answer those three questions when you first start freelancing, you’ll know exactly where to find these people online, exactly what services they’re desperate for and exactly how to talk to them in a way that makes them want to hire you.

I know this is probably not the answer you expected.

And, most freelancers won’t do this.

But, I’m telling you… if you do, your freelance career will be a lot more successful and stress-free.

What next?

Two things. First, if you want to dig even more into nailing your niche AND figuring out if it’s profitable, take this free niche tutorial. Once you have that figured out, now it’s time to build out your product line. This free tutorial will show you how to do that based on real-world data.

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John Morris


I’m a 15-year veteran of freelance web development. I’ve worked with bestselling authors and average Joe’s next door. These days, I focus on helping other freelancers build their freelance business and their lifestyles.

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Bob Patterson

Not only is John a very talented programmer and developer, he is also an excellent communicator. He has a talent for taking complex subjects and communicating them in terms that anyone can understand. This is a rare combination. This ability has enabled me to take my skills and knowledge to the next level. Thank you John for for all that you do.

Thabo Motsoahae

John is one of the best instructors I have come across, I learned a lot from his online tutorials.

Jason Rumley

Jason Rumley

John has a habit of over-delivering on the expectations he sets up. That’s why he’s the best.

Lewis Howes

John is amazing at building membership sites. He converted one of my sites over from it’s existing (hardly working) platform over to the clean and simple to use WishList membership platform. I highly recommend using John and WishList for any of your membership site needs.

Lori Grant

John did an outstanding job on my project. I highly recommend him and look forward to working with him on future projects.

Xan Barksdale

Xan Barksdale

Very professional worker who is extremely knowledgable in WordPress and Wishlist Member. I would definitely hire again.

Daniel Mohlendick

On the Freelancing on Upwork course: “This is by far the best course i have watched on Skillshare!! Thank you so much.”

Bradley Smith

John and I have worked together on numerous projects. John is very quick and efficient and was a pleasure to work with.

Aaron Gott

Aaron Gott

John has a particular knack for the development and training of others.

Chris Aitken

He significantly improved my site through his expert knowledge of PHP, CSS and Javascript. Would definitely recommend John to others.

Jim DeJonge

Jim DeJonge

John has a relaxed and engaging manner. His advice is solid and the explanations are well thought out.

Oliver Wainwright

Oliver Wainwright

I’m a fan. I have completed several of John’s courses. I find him very knowledgeable and he has a great delivery.