What programming language is best for freelancing?

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So, you decided you want to freelance as a web developer. Maybe as your main thing or even just a side gig. And, what you might be finding is the languages and frameworks you were told to learn to get hired at a company (Node.js, Python, etc)…

Don’t seem to have near as many freelance projects as you might’ve thought.

So, what is the best language to learn for freelancing? It’s a toss-up between Javascript and PHP. And, if you’re willing to look beyond languages… it’s WordPress. That’s the short answer. Now, let me give you the longer, data-backed answer.

We’re using two of the largest (volume-wise) freelancing platforms, Upwork and Freelancer.com, to figure this out. All these numbers are as of this writing. Feel free to check them on your own to verify and see if it’s changed.

PHP vs JavaScript Freelance Jobs on Upwork

On Upwork, the search term “javascript” returns 7,249 projects:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 1

This is an unfiltered search. Compare that to PHP which returns 6,039 projects:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 2

So, they’re pretty close. If we filter for jobs with a budget over $1K, Upwork returns 4,933 jobs for Javascript:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 3

For PHP, it’s 3,719 jobs:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 4

Compare that to a language like Python, which is “all the rage” in the tech company and start-up space… it returns about half as many unfiltered projects, 3,052:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 5

And, 1,915 projects if we filter for Python jobs with a budget over $1k:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 6

On Freelancer.com, Python moves up and Javascript falls… and PHP is the dominant langauge. Here’s the breakdown (these are all unfiltered searches):

  • Javascript Jobs: 190
  • PHP Jobs: 461
  • Python: 290
  • Node.js: 54

Of course, the granddaddy of them all is not a language, it’s WordPress

10,330 Freelance WordPress Jobs on Upwork

What programming language is best for freelancing? 7

That’s right. A piece of software will get you more steady freelance work than the languages used to write it. That’s why I always tell freelance developers… love it, hate it, it doesn’t really matter. If you want to get work, learn WordPress.

And no. It’s not a bunch of “cheapskate” jobs. There’s 6,194 WordPress jobs on Upwork with a budget over $1k:

What programming language is best for freelancing? 8

What About Other Languages?

Here’s the numbers on Upwork for some other languages and frameworks:

  • React.js: 2,776
  • jQuery: 1,795
  • Golang: 124
  • C++: 770
  • Ruby: 649
  • Java: 2,640
  • C#: 1,317
  • Swift: 1,203
  • Kotlin: 415

As you can see, these are all significantly less than Javascript and PHP. So, there’s your longer answer. Let me know if there’s another language you’d like me to look up and post here. Just drop a comment below.

Also, if you’re interested in actually getting these jobs on Upwork, check out my Freelancing on Upwork course. It’s the #1 ranked freelancing course on all of Skillshare and you can get free access to it here.

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John Morris

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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