6 steps to becoming a successful freelance back-end developer


The back-end of a website is where the behind-the-scenes processes take place to support important functions and features.

As the features and functionality of websites become more robust and complex over time, so do the back-ends of sites. This partly explains why back-end developers continue to do so well in terms of job opportunities in today’s market.

If you’re considering a career as a back-end web developer, this article will put you on the road to success in six simple steps.

1. Learn basic back-end concepts

The best way to start your back-end programming journey is to learn the basics. These include basics such as:

Functional programming

Functional or procedural programming is the conventional approach and relies on functions (instructions, also called procedures) as the basic building blocks of computer programs.

object-oriented programming

Object-oriented programming is an approach that uses objects, rather than functions, as the basic building blocks of a program. These objects contain both functions and various data types. It was introduced as an alternative to functional programming.

Object-oriented programming and functional programming are key concepts that every backend developer should understand, but don’t worry if you don’t understand these ideas yet. This will become much clearer once you start learning and building your own projects.



Algorithms are a set of instructions, usually expressed in mathematical terms, that allow computer programs to behave dynamically in response to certain inputs, data, or actions. Much of back-end programming revolves around the use of algorithms in both object-oriented and functional programming.

Data structures

Data structures are ways of storing data that make it easy to use with algorithms. There are several types of data structures, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

These concepts are commonly applied in many of the coding languages ​​you’ll use in back-end development. Their mastery will make it easier for you to learn certain programming languages.

2. Learn a programming language:

Computer code on a screen

Your job as a back-end developer will primarily consist of writing code in a variety of programming languages. There are many programming languages ​​to learn, so it can be confusing to know where to start.

For starters, here’s a quick overview of some major languages ​​you’ll encounter as a back-end developer:


Sun Microsystems created Java in 1995. Java is a general-purpose, object-oriented programming language. Among other things, it uses a Java Virtual Machine to make Java bytecode machine-readable and is used to power a host of applications and features on dynamic websites.


Yukihiro Matsumoto created Ruby in the mid-1990s. It’s an object-oriented programming language that has a reputation for being easy to learn and use. One of the best things about Ruby is that it’s platform independent, working on Windows, Mac, and Unix.


Guido van Rossum named Python in 1991 after the TV show “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”. Python is a high-level, cross-platform language with a simple syntax that makes it easy to understand even for beginners. Although Python is best known for its use in data analysis, it has a versatile range of applications, including back-end programming.


PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP), is an open source server-side scripting language. The first versions of PHP were created by a Danish-Canadian programmer called Rasmus Lerdorf. Today, PHP is most commonly used in web development. For example, WordPress is largely powered by PHP, making it an essential language for any back-end developer to master.


Bjarne Stroustrup designed C++ as an extension of the C programming language, as it is called “C with classes”. C++ has evolved to include object-oriented, generic, functional, etc. features. While C++ (and C) has a reputation for being difficult to learn, if you have a solid foundation as we recommend in the first point of this article, C++ will come easily to you.

3. Learn SQL

Data Center Image

Although SQL is technically not a programming language, you will need to learn it in order to manage the databases of your dynamic websites.

Every dynamic website requires a database to function. The database is where all the information from user profiles to blog posts is stored. As you can imagine, this makes knowledge of working with databases crucial for every back-end developer.

SQL being the database administration language, it is another important skill set to master in order to become a successful back-end developer.

4. Learn some back-end frameworks

Steel frame image

Web development frameworks make it easy to create reusable frameworks and packages to automate and simplify web development. While it’s a good idea to learn how to build everything from scratch, in practice you’ll rely heavily on web development frameworks.

As there are several, which framework to focus on will depend on the back-end language you are using. For example, Laravel is a popular framework for PHP, Django is used with Python, Ruby is used with Ruby on Rails, etc. Pick one and get started!

5. Practice

A man typing on a computer

Web development is a very hands-on field, and you learn best by trying things out. And while practice is essential for your learning, it will also help you develop a portfolio. This is crucial to your success as a freelancer, as potential clients will want to see proof of your skills.

6. Do some marketing

A phone with online marketing written on the screen, next to a pair of glasses and a hot drink

Back-end developers don’t have a reputation for being the most outgoing personalities. However, if you want to get hired, you will need to do professional networking and self-promotion. like any other freelancer. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start your marketing.

Here are some helpful ideas:

Online marketplaces and job boards

A good place to start is online marketplaces like Upwork or Designhill which connect skilled workers with people who need their skills. These tips have a reputation for being pretty competitive, but if you’re a true professional with verifiable projects, you should find it easy to stand out from the crowd.

A similar alternative would be to try job sites such as Indeed or LinkedIn, where opportunities are frequently posted by potential employers.

Inbound marketing

If you’d rather avoid the competition and don’t mind taking the time to grow organically, inbound marketing is a great way to attract potential customers, prove your authority, and set your own terms.

You will need a website and a content marketing strategy. This will require producing high-quality articles, blog posts, videos, and other forms of content that educate, entertain, and inform your prospects.

With good search engine optimization (SEO), your web pages will appear in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), attracting traffic and leads.

Start your career as a back-end web developer

To get started in back-end development, you will need to learn fundamental concepts such as object-oriented and functional approaches to programming, data structures and algorithms, some back-end programming languages ​​and their associated frameworks, and database management.

To succeed as a freelancer, you will also need to do some marketing and lead generation, either using online marketplaces and job boards or inbound marketing.

Perhaps most importantly, be sure to put what you learn into practice! And if you find you’d like to get involved in other areas of web development as well, you might consider taking on the challenge of becoming a full-stack developer.

A man writes code on three screens
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