Digital Nomad Jobs – Web Developer

(Not a clue what that means. A web developer told me to put it.)

How?

Are you are the kind of person who thinks that there just aren’t enough websites, web applications and plugins live right now? Do you have ambitions to spend your working life creating exciting and complex internal intranets for middle of the road companies and high schools? Perhaps you long for a viable alternative to a well-known internet shopping platform but don’t trust anyone but yourself to create it? If you fall into one these, fairly niche, categories or any of the other less niche categories that drive developers, why not do it. Live your dream. become a web developer.

The most important thing to say now is that you are going to need to be interested in all things computing. The job is kind of focused that way. As a developer you will, among other things, be responsible for building and maintaining websites, fixing bugs and mistakes in websites, troubleshooting and code writing. In all honesty, to me they don’t sound like the most exciting of jobs. It is going to help you a lot if you are passionate about the work, not just turning up, tuning in and turgidly typing out the code. I can’t stress enough that this really should be something you are interested in before starting!

As well as having the necessary computer prowess you will also need some analogue skills. A developers job isn’t just locking themselves away in a darkened room coding, drinking coffee and listening to Harry Potter audio books*. You will have to interact with clients on a regular basis. It will be your job to take their, weird and possibly wonderful ideas and make them into something real that actually works as a website. You’ll need good communication skills as you’ll be going back and forth a fair bit, patience, amazing attention to detail and probably the ability to bite your tounge as you explain for the 87th time why they can’t have that amazing graphic layered onto a python HTML C# mash-up page**. You will need to be hard-working, dedicated and be a bit of a problem solver. As a freelance web developer you will need to optimise your time as often you will be working to strict deadlines and potentially have several rounds of revision to complete before your customer is satisfied. Web development isn’t for the old-fashioned, every day things are changing and ‘improving’, you’ll need to stay up to date with the latest trends and programs. No-one wants and OAP (outdated aged programmer) turning their swish new website into something that looks like it came out 2009. Come on chief, get with the now.

*I know one who thinks it is mind.
**I obviously have no idea what that means. Just an example.

If you’ve decided that you 100% love the idea of becoming a web developer, cosmic. You can now start the (potentially) long and arduous journey on the road to code. Hopefully if you have reached the decision to crack on with becoming a developer you will have some idea of what computer skills you are going to need to learn and know. If not, you can read all about them in the following section and maybe realise how big a mistake you might have just made… Only joking of course, I’m just jealous of your superior computer skills.

Once you have polished up on your computer programs, worked on your social interaction game and still found yourself with the burning desire to become a web developer it’s time to start. But where to start? A portfolio site of course. What better way to show off your new skills and (hopefully) attract new business at the same time. Make it unique and make sure it works! As always it’s good to have a look around at other similar sites for research and inspirational reasons but don’t steal ideas. Make sure you include all of the relevant information like skills, qualifications, who you are and the like. Once you have your main page coded and loaded you can add other projects to it. They don’t have to be real jobs that you’ve done, you can make them up. Or you can offer to make web pages for friends and family free or at ‘mates rates’. Basically you just want to show that you can do the job and do it well.

GitHub and freecodecamp be thy friends. Github is the industry standard and a pretty cool way to show off all of your newly learnt/polished developing skills. Once you have an account set up you can use places like GitHub to prove to potential employers that you know what you’re doing, make a name for yourself in the community and hopefully open up some employment opportunities.

Networking is always a good way to promote yourself, not so easy in person if you are currently living the life of a digital nomad but it is do able. You can utilise events run by companies like Couchsurfing and Internations to find your nearest local gathering. Print yourself off a few hundred natty business cards with all of your details on and away you go. Combine that with the usual social media activities and you will soon be the best known developer in (several) town/s.

What do I need skill wise?

Formal qualifications? Nope, well not if you freelance at least. Some companies will expect you to have some level of education in computer science or similar but if you’re flying solo you can demonstrate more skills and nous with a brilliantly developed portfolio than with a poxy certificate.

You need all of the computer ones.

Although mainly you will need to know the programming languages. All of them. Thoroughly. Well, maybe not all of them, and probably not all of them thoroughly. As a rule of thumb have a look at and a learn of at least HTML, Javascript and CSS. Others that you can consider if you have the time or energy include Java, C#, PHP, C++ and Python. All great, all different in various ways I’m sure. This might seem like quite the effort but I’m assured that they are all learn-able by most. If you read that list and are now just blankly staring at the screen, fear not. As with almost everything in life you can learn it online. Reputable companies like Udemy offer more courses than you can imagine* in the program languages and basically any part of being a web developer or anything else to be fair.

As well as programming languages you will probably need some slightly more than advanced skill in design. You don’t have to be a candidate for the Tate Modern but you will need to know a bit about what you are doing. The amount of design you do will vary from project to project but the software is easy enough to learn. Well worth getting a handle on to add to your CV. If this is something you’re not too sure about you can click here and particularly here for more information.

The analogue skills have been listed above but you should be aware that this job might require you to work in a team, so, yeah, you’ll need good team working skills.

What do I need hardware wise?

I bet you can guess? If not* then I’ll tell you. It’s the standard digital nomad kit. A decent laptop, possibly a comfy external keyboard, you’ll be typing furiously, maybe a graphics tablet if you are design heavy and an internet connection. Nothing more, possibly slightly less.

*If you can’t guess. This really isn’t the path for you.

Where do I find work?

You can trawl the usual freelance websites which can be found along with many others on the digital nomad jobs list.

Or you can try Authentic, Indeed, Jobbatical, tuts+, Mashable and the muse.

What can I earn?

Of course this will vary a fair bit depending on your experience, skill level and the type of job you are applying for. If you aim to solely work from Upwork and similar sites you will be in fierce competition with many others for jobs that don’t always pay what you are worth. Maybe that’s OK to start with, you’ll need a portfolio after all but after that I would personally look at some of the higher end job sites out there. You deserve to be paid what you’re worth!

My research leads me to believe that new freelancers, working full-time with limited experience can earn between $22,000 and $45,000 a year. Obviously this isn’t an exact science but it should be more than enough to keep you in hammocks and coconut cocktails whilst you build your name up. After that, time is the only limiting factor you’ll have.

How well does it suit the Digital Nomad Lifestyle?

If you are good at it and can strike a good balance between work and pleasure it’s an amazing option for any digital nomad. You’ll have to put some effort in of course but if you are looking for a job that pays well, is portable and will still be needed in the next 25 years you are on to a winner.

Author: Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers a.k.a twig boy.

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