When you’re just starting out as a freelancer, finding work can feel like its own full-time job — but there are some tricks that make it a little easier.
Turning to your personal network to get the word out is one of the best ways to start building a clientbase, according to Nicole Young, a freelance Full-Stack Engineer who hosts a YouTube channel about breaking into the tech industry as a woman of color. Nicole said that simply sharing her work on social media and explaining that she was looking for freelancing opportunities helped her find many of her first clients.
But eventually, you'll have to look outside of your circle — especially if you're new to tech and don't know many people in the field. Browsing endless classifieds and cold-pitching yourself to random people typically isn’t the most efficient way to get work. (Though if you have a dream client, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try!)
Fortunately, there are multiple online job boards that freelancers can use to shop for new opportunities and get discovered by clients and companies. Plus, many are free to use, though they usually charge a service fee — typically a percentage of your earnings per project.
So, to help you start finding freelance tech jobs, here's a list of go-to sites freelance developers use to find work, connect with other people in the business, and start making money.
10 job boards for freelance developers
- Fiverr is a popular freelancing platform. As its name suggests, you can provide your services for as little as five dollars, so it's also great if you're just starting out and want to dip your toes in the water with smaller projects. While it’s free to use, Fiverr charges a 5.5% service fee for every transaction — along with a $2 fee for projects under $50.
- Upwork is another popular free platform, and with web, mobile, and game development all ranking highly in their list of in-demand skills, it’s particularly great for people with programming skills. To find work, you can either apply for jobs with your rate and an explanation of how you’d tackle the project (kind of like a cover letter), or create offerings outlining your deliverables, turnaround time, and rates, so clients can find you. Plus, as you complete assignments, you'll earn badges to help build and showcase your credibility. Upwork’s service fees start at 20%, but decrease the more you earn with the same client.
- Freelancer is one of the largest freelancing sites, and its wide range of tech categories makes it ideal for specialization, whether you want to focus on a specific platform (like WordPress) or language (like PHP). It also offers background checks for employers, so you can take a look through their past projects, payments, and reviews from other freelancers before you decide whether or not to work with them. Freelancer takes a 10% cut once you take on a project, then another 10% of whatever the client pays you above the agreed-upon price (like if they give you a bonus for your great work).
- FlexJobs aims to safeguard freelancers from the spam that plagues many job boards — its research team reviews every job posting and company to make sure they’re legit. In addition to the job board, users also have access to professional development resources, like one-on-one career coaching and employer research. Subscription to FlexJobs ranges from $10 for a week to $70 for a year.
- Guru provides freelance job recommendations based on your skill set — for example, API development or machine learning. It also has a handy feature called SafePay, which ensures you’ll get paid on time and even helps you secure a deposit from clients before you take on a job. Guru takes a 9% cut for every invoice for free users, but also offers paid versions ranging from $12 to $50 a month that reduce service fees by up to 4% and give you greater visibility in search results.
- Behance is a job board and social networking site created by Adobe for creative professionals — so if you're looking to show off your front-end or UI/UX design skills, this is the platform for you. You can find work by searching for freelance listings or sharing projects to draw clients to your other platforms. Plus, it’s free to use.
- Remote Tech Jobs is specifically for tech professionals looking for remote work opportunities. It aggregates postings from 11 job boards and sorts them by the core technologies required for the roles. Remote Tech Jobs is free to use, and while it offers part- and full-time work, you can also search for freelance or contracted positions.
- Communo is a great choice if you're looking to build a steady clientele, as it prioritizes clients looking for long-term relationships. It doesn’t charge any service fees, and it also provides networking opportunities with online events and webinars.
- Envato Studio was created by developers and designers for developers and designers. On this platform, you build a professional profile that clients browse when they’re looking to hire someone for jobs. Then, once you take on a job, its job management tools allow clients to stay current with your progress and provide feedback in real-time. Envato Studio’s service fee is slightly higher than the others’ on this list at 30%.
- Toptal is better suited for experienced developers — they screen applicants with skill assessments, interviews, and test projects, and accept only the top 3%. Still, less competition means more clients, which is likely why jobs posted on the site are filled within 48 hours. Toptal collects its service fees from the clients, so as a freelancer, you don’t have to pay a thing.
Want to stand out in a sea of freelancers? It helps to have a technical portfolio that shows clients you have the skills to do the job. If you don't have one already, check out our project library for ideas on what to include. Or, if you're still building your skills, our career paths will teach you the tools of the trade for the roles you’re interested in and show you how to use them to build unique projects that you can share with potential clients and employers.