Getting a job is pretty straightforward. Getting a PHP job is about as unconventional as it gets. Here’s what you can do to secure a better job with your existing PHP skills.
The problem with PHP is this: in years gone by it was typically seen as an amateur, hobbyist language. The state of the language at the time didn’t exactly either.
Today, the language is fantastic – powerful, scalable, and really easy to use. Yet there’s a lot of dodgy PHP code from yesteryear still out there, and as you can imagine, people aren’t just going to abandon it.
As a result, many (if not most) of the freelance PHP jobs out there today involve maintaining this code of yesteryear. It’s mostly PHP 4, no OOP, terrible coding standards, no thought for best practices and so on.
So, here’s what you can do to score a great freelance PHP job.
Most of the clients out there with projects you want to work on don’t really understand tech. I’ve had a client run an insanely profitable online game yet fail to understand the basic concepts of hiring a developer. To them, all that matters is how much you charge, but to you, they offer an invaluable opportunity to practise in a live environment and add work to your project.
Instead of charging this client for services rendered, I put in a few hours a week in my spare time and had him cover my expenses. He’s happy, I’m happy, he gets his business benefits, and I get free skills training in a really high performance environment (how does 20,000 hits per hour sound?).
Get a portfolio site up. Show some projects you’ve worked on. Describe what you did yourself in those projects, e.g. “I had to manage the technical infrastructure of the business, including developing database driven websites, securing web servers and reporting to stakeholders.” Include screenshots. Whenever you have potential clients or put up ads, link to the portfolio site. A dedicated domain is essential; $7 per year won’t send you broke, and it puts forward the basics of professionalism.
3. Reach out
A lot of people have websites that they want improved, or would want improved if they knew how. Typically they have static HTML files or the low quality PHP code I mentioned earlier, they are on either a free host or an overpriced host, and they might even be able to derive business benefits from hiring you to improve their site. Reach out to amateur website owners and webmasters, let them know that you offer freelance website development services and check if they’re interested. You might just score your best client yet.
With these strategies, you should be well on the way to scoring your next great gig as a freelance PHP developer.