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I'm 15, I live in the USA, and I've been programming in web languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, and PHP for about 6 years. I'm looking for advice on how I can get freelance jobs at such a young age. I am home schooled which will allow me to work more hours than your average school kid. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

  • This topic has been closed on several other parts of Stack Exchange, I was told to come here.
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closed as off topic by Josh K Jan 3 '12 at 20:50

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Web development since 9 years old? Impressive. Keep up the good work and make sure you go to school and get a formal education. Another word of advice is to do projects you think are fun and engaging instead of jumping into freelancing too early. Nothing destroys your joy in a trade faster than doing it professionally. –  maple_shaft Jan 3 '12 at 20:38
Advice? Hit forums and mailing lists. Keep on top of new developments and features. Ask good questions after you've already looked for answers. Keep active and never stop thinking for yourself. –  Josh K Jan 3 '12 at 20:51
I would suggest you hit up the Startups Q/A site. Lots of great help there for starting freelancing from a business perspective: answers.onstartups.com –  Ryan Hayes Jan 3 '12 at 20:53

4 Answers 4

This will be very hard for you to accomplish due to child labor laws that vary by state. The first thing you are going to have to check out is your state's laws, and then try to find out which state laws have precedence or if you are under the jurisdiction different national laws if you are working for a company in a different state.

You are also going to need to find sites that allow people that are 15 to have a profile without providing false information. It is more paperwork for a company to hire a minor and many may not be willing to bother with that work.

Your best bet is to just do lots of projects for yourself and get a nice portfolio built up for when you turn 18, though you could try to find a co-op/internship position which would be more likely be a possibility for someone your age than true freelance work.

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youthrules.dol.gov/states.htm is a good resource on what is required where (in the US). –  Matthew Flynn Jan 3 '12 at 20:54

You should start with building your portfolio. Create a website which can prove your skills.

Start or participate in some opensource project on GitHub or Launchpad or other social programming sites.

Get some reputation on StackOverflow and webmasters.

Check out the Google Summer of Code. You can build your portfolio and earn some money at the same time.

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Try your luck on some of the freelancing sites available online. vWorker.com is my suggestion, but you can also try the others mentioned in this question.

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Look around your neighborhood and town. Look at the web sites for local businesses. Even in 2012, the vast majority of them are crap. Offer to make them for free or at very low cost. Or make one for local churches and/or local charities/organizations, or even bands. That will get you some experience and example sites you can show to prospective customers. And of course, make your own business site (with your own domain, and not on a free hosting service). From there, start advertising. Use craigslist, facebook, flyers around town, etc. There seems to be a serious lack of competent web site designer/developer talent that is accessable to small businesses and groups, particularly in small towns. If you are good, I think you will do well.

You have a huge advantage right now. You're young. You dont have a mortgage or family to support (I hope). You can get away with not charging high hourly rates. That might encourage companies that might not otherwise spend the money on professional designers to give you a shot.

I would make sure you understand, though, that its not likely that you'll be contracted to create high-end line of business apps for fortune 500 companies. You will be starting small. I'd expect you'd be primarily installing and tweaking WordPress and other CMS's. But by the time you are 21-22, you very well may be working on those kinds of applications.

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Never, ever work for free. The 'customer' will never be happy and will never agree the job is complete. They will ask you for 'just one more thing' or have unrealistic expectations, it doesn't cost them anything to dream and expect you to do it. You do it, they want more. You don't do it, they complain and won't recommend you. –  james Jan 3 '12 at 23:54
Oh, please. I'm not talking about him building an airline reservation system. There are plenty of small mom & pop's, churches, charities, and other organizations who would actually appreciate his work if he set up a simple site for them, and it'd give him some stuff to show off to potential paying customers. Also, there's nothing wrong with charging fees to maintain a site after its built, if the customer is happy. –  GrandmasterB Jan 4 '12 at 5:12

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