How to Become a Freelance Computer Programmer

By James Collister on December 11th, 2008

Computer ProgrammerThere is a thriving market for self-employed computer programmers who provide custom programming services. Unfortunately, too much of this work is being sent offshore where labor costs are supposedly cheaper. In the world of programming, however, communication regarding the product has got to be of the highest quality. There are too many complexities to computer programming for a successful, custom programming project to be accomplished through a language barrier. So for people who want to be their own boss and pursue a programming career one project at a time, the opportunities here remain plentiful.

Custom programming often means adapting an existing software program to function in a specific fashion, in order to meet the unique needs of a business. Many times this will involve adapting a business website to interface with customers, or to sell products online. E-commerce sites can have a complicated “back office” set of functions. For example, a commercial website may need to send an order to one site, an invoice to another, shipping instructions to a third site, and a series of sales confirmations that are folded into corporate accounting programs.

No two online businesses of any size are going to function exactly alike. It’s the freelance programmer that comes in and adapts existing software into custom software in order to meet the business requirements. Some custom programmers will take a basic computer language such as dBase and build an accounting and sales system for a the online functions of a business.

More and more business activity is taking place over the web. This does not mean just straightforward retail sales; there are a remarkable number of functions that take place over computer networks. Custom programming is required for a many of them.

Automated sales programs are used by both domestic and multinational corporations today. One large regional marketing and printing company built a website that allowed its advertising customers to order ad layouts over the web. The artwork is then shipped either to the client or to the newspaper that will be running the ad. Another company, a construction firm, had custom programming installed on its website to keep all of its operational divisions in communication. Questions of job status and the availability of raw materials could be answered without the necessity of a completed telephone call.

There are freelance job listing web sites for custom programmers that are much like classified ads. Below is an example of one site which lists jobs on which the programmer can bid. There is a brief description of the client and the work, as well as the computer programming languages that are involved. Finding work can be a local function, through the area newspaper, or it can be a borderless search through sites like this:

Custom programming is a lifestyle choice. It’s a career for individuals who prefer to avoid the business environment and are willing to accept the uncertainty of freelance work. Familiarity with a number of programming languages is probably important as well. There is a well-established market for the trade, if you’re interested.

Category: Computers and Technology

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