This blog discusses the competencies required to become the most successful independent WordPress developer. Let’s quickly explore WordPress CMS and freelancing before talking about the talents required for a freelance WordPress developer.
WordPress CMS and Freelancing
WordPress’s easy-to-use interface and faultless development environment make it one of the greatest and most well-liked content management systems available. Given that it has developed into one of the most popular and extensively used content management systems available today, it appears that no other CMS will be able to replace it anytime soon. You can start creating WordPress websites rapidly even if you don’t know much about HTML/CSS, PHP, JS, or databases. However, since you have to handle a lot of other things, being a freelance WordPress developer just basic editing skills are not enough.
As a freelance WordPress developer, you have the freedom to select just jobs that pique your interest, set your own hours, work from home, and make your own decisions. However, as compared to employment in a traditional office setting, freelancing is typically far more difficult. A freelancer might be thought of as a one-man army that must handle numerous tasks at once in order to provide quality work.
There’s no doubt that anyone interested in working as a freelance WordPress developer needs to be problem-solving and willing to take on new challenges every day. Let’s examine the essential competencies for a self-employed WordPress developer. Although they may not be technically or WordPress-related, the following abilities are crucial for independent contractors working as WordPress developers.
Website Development Skills
To be honest, if you don’t know anything about PHP, you can still create a basic WordPress website. All you have to do is install and configure the theme and plugins, as well as download and set up WordPress. However, some basic PHP expertise will be required in order to customize themes or plugins.
PHP proficiency is essential for working as a freelance WordPress developer. Even if you’re not a PHP specialist, you should be able to debug PHP code. A fundamental understanding of PHP is required in order to interact with actions, filters, hooks, and a variety of pre-built WordPress functions.
MySQL and SQL queries
MySQL is a software used for creating and storing databases, and it’s a very common option for databases on websites. WordPress is an open-source program that runs on the MySQL database management system.
Working on a tiny website might not require you to create or run custom database queries because WordPress’s default database configuration should suffice. However, as a self-employed WordPress developer, there’s a good likelihood you’ll be asked to handle complex SQL queries in one of your requirements. As a result, you should become familiar with using SQL queries in WordPress.
Freelancers frequently have to collaborate with the team on a same project, and version control is crucial in group projects. All code modifications are tracked by the version control system in a unique kind of database. If any team member makes a mistake, they can go back in time and correct it by contrasting the current version with previous iterations.
The most well-known and extensively used version control systems are CVS, SVN, and GIT. You can simply pick up the use of additional tools if you have sufficient experience with any one of them.
XML and JSON
You might come across JSON in any WordPress project you work on at some time. AJAX calls for data requests, plugins that use APIs to communicate via JSON data, and even WordPress databases, where a wealth of data is kept in JSON format, can all be used. In general, JSON understanding is essential for each developer.
Extensible Markup Language, or XML, is a widely used format for data interchange and is used to describe data, much like JSON. Because XML is written in human language, it can be read and understood. You can be asked to create an XML sitemap or import data using an XML feed while working on any WordPress project. Indeed, you may discover useful plugins to create an XML sitemap or import data using XML, but it’s still necessary to understand the fundamentals of XML structure.
Regardless of the sophistication of a website or the technology employed, HTML is the foundation of every online page. Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, specify how a website’s HTML elements should look on the front end of the page. The most fundamental abilities for a freelance WordPress developer are HTML and CSS.
If you are a WordPress developer and you are not familiar with well-known frameworks like Angular or React, you may still create websites. But jQuery should be at least familiar to you. WordPress includes jQuery and a few necessary jQuery libraries by default, and using WordPress to create websites will frequently require you to work with jQuery.
An application program interface (API) that supports POST, PUT, GET, and DELETE data via HTTP queries is known as a RESTful API. Put differently, a REST API outlines a collection of operations that allow programmers to send requests and get answers over the HTTP protocol.
Making a request to the Instagram API to retrieve a particular user’s details is a basic illustration of a RESTful API. The status of that person, including their name, followers, posts, and more, will be returned by this API query. Any WordPress developer must be able to work with RESTful APIs since they are frequently encountered in WordPress development.
A growing number of users are now visiting the website via mobile devices as opposed to desktop computers. It follows that having strong responsive design abilities is crucial for any WordPress developer. Any developer should be able to integrate responsive design concepts on the coding side, starting with a basic understanding of them.
As a freelance WordPress developer, you will frequently have to alter the appearance of any plugins that are utilized with a website or make adjustments to the basic theme. You need to understand responsive frontend coding in order to keep the responsiveness.
The fact that responsive design is a component of the CSS framework and will therefore enhance your CSS abilities is one of the key advantages of understanding it. Responsive HTML preparation is often the responsibility of frontend developers, but if you work as a freelancer, you must be able to do it yourself.
Organizing work is undoubtedly one of the most frequent problems faced by independent contractors. Even more challenging will be the realization that each client has a preference for project management software. You must therefore be familiar with the most widely used project management systems. Being knowledgeable of a couple of the most well-liked and often used project management systems can work to your advantage. The most well-liked project management apps are ActiveCollab, Asana, and Basecamp.
Not only is this about project management, but as a freelancer, you’ll also require a system that allows you to enter information on different contracts, projects, papers, client agreements, tasks, the status of each project/contract, etc.
Asana has an easy-to-use UI that doesn’t require any training, which is why I prefer it. You can use the Asana mobile app to sign up for daily emails that serve as a reminder of forthcoming activities that need to be finished.
Web Server Administration
As a freelancer, creating a website is only one aspect of your job; you also need to handle getting it live. You need to be familiar with web server administration.
Since a customer with a basic, small website cannot afford to hire a server administrator, it will fall to you as a website developer to host, configure, and set up their website. You ought to be able to set up a database, host a website on a production server, transfer files over FTP, and other tasks.
It is not necessary to be an expert server administrator, but you do need to be able to transfer the live website from the development server. Seldom are WordPress updates straightforward enough to be implemented automatically. Therefore, once the website goes live, you should be proficient at making updates by hand.
Website Hosting and Domain Registration
The domain name serves as your website’s distinct online identity, or alternatively, its unique address. To view or visit your website, people type the domain name into the browser’s URL bar. Website hosting is the process of keeping all of a website’s coding files on a data server and making them accessible to computers with Internet connections.
It is essential for freelancers to possess fundamental understanding of domain name registration, server hosting, and directing domains to hosting servers. It’s very likely that the client will want you to handle the hosting and domain registration process the majority of the time. The procedure of registering a domain name is now somewhat simpler, and anyone may do it without any prior technical knowledge. However, hosting files on the hosting server is the responsibility of the website creator.
There’s a good probability that clients will hire you to handle all of the job if you can assist them with email configuration, domain navigation, SSL setup, activating backup and security features, troubleshooting, etc.
Furthermore, it is quite helpful in obtaining references, since most clients prefer to work with independent contractors that handle all aspects of website development and hosting. Asking a client to find another freelancer or resource to handle domain registration and website hosting is just a bad idea if you are a freelancer. The ability to host websites and register domains is just as crucial as designing or developing websites.
Email And Social media Marketing
To put it simply, email marketing is the practice of promoting your products or services to current or potential clients via email. Email marketing can be useful for raising exposure, boosting revenue, getting feedback, and fortifying ties with current customers. Writing emails is a far more efficient technique to identify chances as a freelance WordPress developer because it can lead to a steady stream of business.
One of your primary goals as a freelancer is to get your name and work in front of the appropriate people. There is a huge population on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter with whom one can connect. These days, there is a growing trend on social media platforms of recruiting both contractors and employees. This implies that you can attempt using social networking platforms to obtain quality clients if you’re a freelancer.
Once more, with thousands of free tutorials available online, learning the fundamentals of social media marketing is not that tough. Acquiring fundamental knowledge of email and social media marketing strategies is not too tough. It is recommended that independent contractors dedicate some time to promoting their offerings via social media and email.
As a freelance WordPress developer, it’s possible that you can’t offer full-service SEO. But at the very least, you ought to be able to give a client sound, fundamental advise regarding on-site optimization.
Depending on the needs of the website, creating a WordPress website can be either a very quick and easy procedure or a highly complex and time-consuming one. Anyone with little to no coding skills may create a website using WordPress themes. For any freelance WordPress developer, this is the fundamental knowledge of WordPress. You can quickly create basic websites for your clients using pre-made WordPress themes.
Theme development and customization
To become an expert WordPress theme developer, you’ll need to learn a variety of WordPress-specific skills in addition to basic coding. You may pick up WordPress theme development skills extremely quickly and simply if you don’t already have them. There are many of useful online tools available to get you started on creating a custom theme. The WordPress Codex Theme Development Guide is a good place to start.
In addition to developing your own themes, you should also understand how to modify pre-made or current themes. I frequently get requests from clients who want to use a ready-made theme of their choosing to develop their website, but they usually want to make minor adjustments to the theme.
For instance, personalizing the landing page’s header or hero area, adjusting different sections, deleting pages or other components that aren’t needed, etc. To make such modifications, you need to know how to improve pre-made WordPress themes in accordance with the needs of the client.
Plugin development and customization
Making a WordPress plugin may solve a lot of issues and is actually not that hard to do. When working on WordPress websites, we frequently copy and paste extra features and code into the functions file. However, when updating the theme, these modifications might be lost. Thus, using a plugin is a risk-free method of experimenting. Most of the time, you can construct a website without having to write your own plugin. However, rather than duplicating code from one website to another, you may create a plugin for a feature that is shared by all of your websites and use it on all of them.
Since you already know the plugin’s structure, creating your own plugin can also assist you customize other plugins.
You should be familiar with hooks, custom table management, shortcodes, content filtering, AJAX, nonces, adding menus and links, user group administration, etc. in order to design and customize plugins. You can create a WordPress plugin for yourself and host it on the WordPress plugin repository if you haven’t produced one yet or if you claim you didn’t receive any requirements that call for plugin development. I’m a freelancer and I genuinely enjoy creating plugins.
On the WordPress official site, you can have a look at a few plugins that I developed and host. It really helped me hone my WordPress skills and gave my clients confidence in my ability to design and customize plugins.
A WordPress website is made up of numerous third-party plugins and a theme, and things can go wrong rather frequently. It’s not a given that a WordPress website will function flawlessly for many years. Regular theme and plugin changes require some debugging knowledge because upgrades can ruin things.
Debugging is a crucial part of maintaining a WordPress website for a client. You may find out how to debug a WordPress website by reading this page on WordPress Codex. It could seem hard to figure out why something isn’t operating as it should if you’re new to WordPress or don’t have much expertise. You need to have this ability.
Website optimization skills
The practice of methodically enhancing a website’s overall performance to ensure that it satisfies corporate objectives is known as website optimization. Every WordPress developer must to be capable of performing performance optimization on websites. Any website that performs poorly and is not effectively optimized risks losing leads, sales, or online company.
Google PageSpeed is one of the various internet tools that are available. GTmetrix or Google PageSpeed offers suggestions on how to enhance the performance together with a performance report for a specific website. You have to be aware of these tools if you work as a freelance WordPress developer. Knowing how to optimize WordPress database in addition to optimizing the website for performance will really help you maintain your client’s website up and running for longer.
One of the most important components of WordPress development is swiftly becoming as the WP CLI. WP CLI and command line tools can expedite the management of WordPress websites. The WordPress command line tool, WP-CLI, assists with things like updating plugins and setting up multisite installs. Without utilizing a web browser, you may accomplish everything using a command line. Visit the project’s homepage at https://wp-cli.org/ to view the full synopsis and other details about WP CLI.
Over the years, WordPress hasn’t exactly been endowed with an abundance of powerful tools for developers, but things are quickly beginning to change in that regard. One of the most important parts of any serious WordPress developer’s toolkit these days is WP-CLI.
Other skills for a Freelance WordPress Developer
These are some prerequisites for a freelance WordPress developer, in addition to knowledge of WordPress and development. The most of these will eventually need to be dealt with by anyone who enjoys developing a freelancing job.
You must arrange your money differently as a freelancer than as an employee with a salary. In contrast to salaried employees, you will not receive any benefits, thus it is entirely up to you to safeguard your future by carefully balancing your income and expenses. It’s necessary to prepare your taxes, maintain a separate bank account for company and personal use, establish an emergency fund, and save money for the future. While professional financial management abilities are not required, it is still advisable to have a basic understanding of the subject and to seek professional assistance when needed.
It will be your duty as a freelancer to ensure that the website is error-free and to thoroughly check the website to ensure that there are no mistakes. If you give a current client a website free of bugs, you have a good possibility of receiving referrals from additional clients. It is not required for developers to be experts in automated testing; however, they should be able to independently test the website for functionality, security, and responsiveness.
Customer service abilities are essential if you want to make a good first impression on clients as a freelancer. Maintaining composure and integrity, communicating effectively, and, above all, honoring the commitments you made at the beginning of the project are essential. A freelance WordPress developer’s customer service is around staying in contact with the client, ensuring that their website or product is current, and making the required adjustments on an ongoing basis in response to their input. Better customer service can frequently result in a large number of referrals and increase your project wins.
It’s not always easy to work as a freelancer, and not all WordPress developers are successful at it. However, if you are a dedicated worker with a strong drive to succeed, you may initially run into difficulties and lose money, but your chances of landing a better client the next day are much higher. Remind yourself often that freelancers desire greater autonomy in selecting their assignments and managing their timetable. As a freelancer, you should network, look for inspiration, maintain focus, keep up with industry trends, take breaks, and most of all, love what you do.
Planning and Management
Being well-organized is crucial if you work for yourself, but not everyone is naturally organized. Fear not if you’re among the people who are less organized or efficient in the world – picking up a few basic techniques won’t be too difficult.
Listening to Client Needs/Wants
As a freelance WordPress developer, you possess professional expertise in your field, just as your clients are the authorities in their respective fields. It should be quite clear that the project you are working on is for the client, and that it is your duty to translate their concepts into a functional website or product. Thus, the best course of action is to remain silent and considerate of their requirements. You should do the listening while letting your clients speak. You’ll learn from listening to them that determining a client’s true desires makes up a significant portion of your work.
Few consumers frequently propose altering something that has already been developed and authorized. The reason is that they enjoy making improvements to their product for their patrons, but they are unaware of how much time it will require. Additionally, in this situation, you should remain composed, pay close attention to what they need, and try explaining to them why it is challenging for you to make such changes. If you’ll listen to clients in a good manner they’ll do it too.
Being able to work remotely as a freelancer is like having the best job ever—you get to work on side projects, have a flexible schedule, and have time to learn new things. The advantages are numerous and endless. While working remotely, you should have access to a quicker, more reliable internet connection, a decent headset for communication, a quiet workspace, and—most importantly—the ability to be reached whenever you need to. You should always be prepared to operate remotely as a freelancer, either by yourself or in a team.
Balancing Work and Life
As a freelancer, you have to stick to your work schedule in order to enjoy personal time after or before work hours and keep focused on your responsibilities during designated working hours. You must treat yourself like a worker and keep in mind that life is about more than just your job. Remember to take part in social events, engaging activities, parties, and travel; they will assist in striking a balance between work and life.
A Learning Mindset
There are countless chances to pick up new skills in website creation. You may provide your clients a prompt and reliable solution if you arrange your work such that you have time to dedicate a few minutes or an hour to learning new topics. It is never a good idea to believe that you have learned everything. There will always be improved and quicker methods for creating websites.
For instance, WordPress updates its version frequently, and you need to know what new features and enhancements are available in the latest version. There are many other WordPress developers out there vying for the chance to collaborate with reputable companies.
If you are not aware of the most recent and cutting-edge developments in website building, you could fall far behind and lose the race. To learn new stuff, it’s best to read the most recent WordPress tutorials and subscribe to WordPress blogs and news.
Better estimation skills
Once more, one of the most crucial abilities for every freelancer is this. Accurate estimating can help you attract better clients, but it can also cost you contracts if you underestimate or overestimate requirements. You should be prepared to respond to inquiries like “How long will a project take?” as a freelancer. What is the bare minimum financial amount required to meet the stated needs? These kinds of inquiries help you plan your time wisely and turn a profit.
To be productive, a freelance WordPress developer needs to possess all of the aforementioned talents, but there may be a few more that are necessary. As a freelancer, you will actually learn something new with each assignment you take on, and as your experience increases, certain talents will come naturally to you because demands will force you to pick them up.
Companies employ a team of experts who can divide up the work according to skill sets, but as a freelancer, you are responsible for finishing the job alone. What do you think of the aforementioned list? Any updates or recommendations? Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or to share your ideas through comments.