A freelance web developer coding on computer screens.

Freelance Web Developer Salary: How Much Does a Freelance Web Designer Make?

Web developers create impressive web applications that allow brands and individuals to establish a robust online presence. Web development is an exciting career path because it offers unique opportunities for high pay and flexibility. ZipRecruiter reports that a freelance web developer’s salary averages around $65,000 a year, close to the national average for full-time employees in the US

The same site reports that the average hourly rate for freelance web developers is $31, making it a lucrative option for those who prefer to work on a per-task or per-project basis. This article takes a closer look at freelance web designer salaries, factors that affect a freelancer’s compensation, and ways to earn more as a freelance web developer.

How Much Does a Freelance Web Developer Make?

A freelance web developer’s salary ranges between $25,000 to $88,000 a year, according to ZipRecruiter. Meanwhile, the hourly rate for freelance web developers can be anywhere between $12 to $42 per hour. Unlike full-time salaried employees, the salary for freelance web designers may depend on a number of factors like the size, length, and complexity of a project. 

Freelance Web Developer vs Employee: Salary Difference

When it comes to freelance web developers vs employees, the difference in salary is not that large. Job site ZipRecruiter reports that salaried web developers make an average of $75,836 a year while freelancers earn around $10,000 less per year. While actual figures may vary, these reports can offer some insight into potential earnings as web development professionals. 

Factors That Determine a Freelance Web Designer Salary

Some of the most common factors that determine a freelance web designer’s salary are experience, location, skills, demand, and contracts. These are common metrics used by employers to determine employee compensation. However, some companies may set other requirements that could influence a freelancer’s pay. 


Web developers with more experience tend to earn more because their experience can indicate expertise and proficiency. Experienced developers also are more likely capable to take on complex projects with little to no supervision. Data from Payscale shows that the salary for junior developers starts at $42,000 and the figure continues to grow up to $91,000 for more senior roles. A similar progression can be expected for freelance web developer salaries. 


Geographic location plays a big role in determining your salary. Companies typically offer a competitive wage based on where employees are located after taking into account the cost of living in that particular area. To give you a better idea, ZipRecruiter reports that freelance web developers in Washington make an average of $62,098 while those in North Carolina earn $38,559 on average.


Most companies seek web developers to help them build efficient and secure web apps. However, web development is a vast domain in itself and as such may require proficiency in different programming languages to achieve different objectives. A company looking for a front end developer on a freelance basis may offer higher pay to candidates with JavaScript skills instead of Python, for example, because it meets their needs best. 


The higher the demand for web developers in a particular area, the higher the salary may be for those in search of freelancing opportunities. Take California, for example. Tech companies are concentrated around Silicon Valley which means there is a constant demand for tech professionals. Companies in this area are motivated to offer competitive wages in exchange for quality services from skilled individuals.  


Freelance web designers have the freedom to choose their own projects and contracts. Depending on the complexity of the project or the terms of their contract, freelancers may be able to earn more than the average salary for full-time web developers. Similarly, they may also find shorter-term projects that require less commitment and therefore, offer less compensation. 

Freelance Web Designer Salaries by Experience

Freelance web designer salaries differ according to their level of experience. Fresh college or coding bootcamp graduates can expect to earn the least on the salary spectrum, simply because they still lack industry experience. According to Glassdoor, freelance web developers with no experience can start earning around $43,000.

Meanwhile, those with more experience in the field can earn an average of $68,434 a year. The same report also shows that it is possible for freelance web developers with seven to nine years of experience to earn upwards of $76,876. 

Top Earning Freelance Web Developer Languages

Some of the best programming languages for freelance web developers are versatile languages that can be used to build dynamic web and mobile applications. Using data from PayScale, below is a list of top-earning languages that can help freelance web developers find lucrative opportunities in 2023. 


Rust is a multi-paradigm programming language that is designed for performance and safety. Expert developers say Rust is a top pick because it has features that are reminiscent of C-languages while offering effective memory management. Rust is used in the tech stacks of top companies like Facebook, Discord, and Microsoft. With Rust skills, you can potentially earn $125,000 per year.


Java is a popular programming language used for building complex and secure applications. Many people love Java because it is easy to learn yet powerful enough to create applications for various platforms like the web, mobile, and cloud. In addition, learning Java can help you earn a higher freelance web developer salary as java skills can help you earn close to $100,000 a year.


Python is another versatile language that is a favorite among developers. It can be used to build applications, perform automation, and facilitate data analysis. According to the latest TIOBE index, Python has the highest number of skilled engineers and resources available across all top search engines. Those with Python skills can earn an average of $95,000 a year.


C++ is a general-purpose language that is used for designing high-performance websites and operating systems. It is also commonly used in game development and software engineering. C++ is known as one of the most difficult languages to learn due to its advanced syntax but it is worth learning if you want to increase your earning potential. The average salary for C++ skills is $94,000 a year.


JavaScript is one of the primary building blocks of front end web development. Together with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is key to making interactive elements that you see on a web page. It is said to be one of the easiest languages to learn for programming beginners, and some of the best JavaScript bootcamps can be completed within weeks. The potential salary for JavaScript skills is $89,000.

Top Cities to Earn as a Freelance Web Developer

Location plays an instrumental role in determining your pay as a freelance web developer. Below is a list of some of the best cities in the US that offer high-paying freelance web developer jobs, as listed on ZipRecruiter.

City Average Salary for Freelance Web Developer
Barnstable, MA $76,727
Sunnyvale, CA $76,611
Santa Cruz, CA $74,732
Livermore, CA $74,642
Manhattan, NY $74,577
Santa Rosa, CA $74,339
Cambridge, MA $72,093
Green River, WY $71,886
New York City, NY $71,055
Williston, ND $70,995

How to Earn More as a Freelance Web Developer

A freelance web developer’s salary is influenced by a number of factors like location, demand, projects, and experience level. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting high pay in a freelancing capacity. Here are some tips that can help both newer and experienced freelance web developers.

Choose a profitable niche

On top of basic skills, it is crucial that you find your niche as it will help set you apart from other freelancers. Once you have found your strengths, make them part of your brand. This will let clients know that you are the best in your chosen area of specialization, which warrants a higher hourly rate. It is also important to stay current with ongoing trends and technologies in web development.

Boost skills through certificates and side projects

Build your brand around your strengths and talents. At this stage, it may help to study the job market and reassess if there is a need to learn new languages or enroll in certificate programs. Expanding your education and credentials is always a raise your salary as a freelance web developer.

At the same time, take on independent projects and prepare samples of your work to show to potential employers. Use your portfolio to present yourself as a potential job candidate in order to showcase why you deserve a higher salary as a freelance web designer.

Expand your professional network

Once you’ve established yourself as a freelancer, it is important to develop your brand. Use the internet and social media platforms to help get your brand out there. Showcase your work and build a network of potential future clients. 

People skills are very important at this stage. Never skip an opportunity to meet new people in your field. With more options available, you can then choose to only select those that can afford a higher hourly rate for a freelance web developer.

Should You Become a Freelance Web Developer?

You should become a freelance web developer if you are looking for a tech career that offers high pay and flexible working arrangement. Freelancers get to decide their own working hours, allowing for a work-life balance. On the plus side, a freelance web developer’s salary can reach up to $88,000 which makes it a potentially lucrative path. 

One of the most important skills needed for freelance web developers is an excellent command of popular programming languages like Java, Python, JavaScript, C++, and Rust. Ultimately, the language you choose to learn should align with the career that you wish to pursue. Successful freelancing also depends on how you brand yourself and how you leverage your professional connections. 

Freelance Web Developer Salary FAQ

How can I find clients as a freelance web developer?

To get clients as a freelance web developer, you should start by building a robust portfolio that showcases your best work. You should also develop a network of potential future clients. When you are ready to start, take advantage of job sites like Upwork and Freelancer to advertise your freelancing services.

How do I list work as a freelance web designer on my resume?

Here is how to list work as a freelance web designer: First, arrange the companies and projects you have worked on in reverse-chronological order. Be concise and clear about the role you played in the project. Next, make sure these go under your work history section along with crucial details like start and end dates, a summary of responsibilities, and positive outcomes.

How can I become a freelance web designer?

To become a freelance web designer, you first need to acquire basic technical skills. Some people find that web design bootcamps are effective in helping them build a solid technical foundation. Once you have the fundamental skills, you need to develop a strong resume and portfolio, expand your network, and advertise your services effectively.

How hard is it to find freelance web development jobs?

It is not hard to find freelance web development jobs if you use your resources efficiently. You can leverage your professional network or advertise your freelancing services on job sites and social media. You can also reach out to potential employers to inquire about freelancing opportunities. Front end development bootcamps can also connect you with companies looking to hire freelance developers.

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