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How to start working remotely as a web developer – based on a true story

This post was inspired by someone on Reddit. Click here to see his profile. I started to work remotely on 2012, and up until now, still working remotely as full-stack Ruby on Rails developer When I started it, I had no idea what is it like to work for someone or company far-away (in fact, most of my employers now were on the other side of the earth). So, let’s see how to start working remotely as a web developer, based on my story below.


This time, I live in the far-away city from my hometown – about 300 miles.

I almost finished my bachelor degree in computer science.

My lecturer suggested me to get a job before I am done with my final assignment and graduated.

He argued that it will be easier to land a job when you’re still connected to your university ( which means you’re still a student ).

I followed his advice and sent some applications to some local software development firms.

Fast forward, I got a job as a junior CakePHP developer at near the end of 2010.

From there, I’m also being asked to learn Ruby on Rails.

I still remembered I used Ruby 1.8.7 with Rails 2.3 at that time.

Though most of the tasks were challenging, I always enjoy working there.

Outside of my office hours, I also tried to challenge myself working on some small side projects I got from and ( now, Odesk is merged with elance and it’s been renamed to )

The time goes by . . .


The mid of 2012 my father passed away ( he’s been fighting his illness since 2010 )

It means, my mother will live alone in my hometown because:

  • My brother was still in the middle to pursue his master degree ( this year, he’s got his Ph.D. – so proud of him )

  • My sister just started to pursue her bachelor degree.

That means, no one will be able to take care of my mother except me.

At this point, I still had no idea if my job as a web developer can be done remotely.

I talked with HR about my condition, and they allowed me to work for them remotely from my hometown( thanks to them ).

However, things did not work out as they should be.

Near the end of 2012, I finally decided to resign from my position as a Rails developer from that firm.

From there, I started to look for more remote projects on oDesk.

In the beginning, it was very challenging since I had no decent reputation yet.

Here are what I do to get a job on oDesk at that time, and eventually sustain my income from there:

  • Look for a small project with the easy requirement – the project that I am confident I can finish it successfully.

  • Look for an hourly project – because such a project turns out to be a long-term one.

  • Once I was approved as a contractor of a project, I am doing my best to follow all requirements, and always be honest to the client.

  • I always ask some questions if I am not confident that I understand the requirement correctly. It’s better to ask a dumb question rather than working on something with the wrong direction which will waste both of my time and client’s

  • I never demanded a raise from any clients I am working with. In fact, over time, they raised the rate because they loved the result of my work.

  • Always treat any remote project I am working on as I am working as an in-house developer which means:

  • coming online at the hours I had agreed with the client.

  • sending a brief update of my works near the end of the day.

  • I always send an earlier notification (usually one or two months earlier)  if I had the plan to go off either for vacation or for other things

  • I always send a notification in case I was sick and unable to work for that day.

2013 until now

Since then, I’ve been working remotely for some employers (either individual or company).

I am not sure how did they find me, but as I remember, I never reached them first or landed an application to reach them.

So, I don’t mean to brag but it’s due to the fact that I’m always focusing on the projects I am working on

Though, I often need to reject the offers too, because I just can’t take any new job anymore (sorry).

So, that’s my story how I am still working remotely.

It’s not because I want to, but it’s because I must to, due to my condition: where I need to accompany my mother after my father passed away.

Now, I am grateful that I can work from home, make a decent living, and at the same time taking care of my mother and my family.

What do you need to start working remotely?

After reading my story above, you may be curious: what you need to start working remotely as a web developer? Is it possible? Will it allow you to make a decent living?

As a web developer, yes it’s possible to work remotely.

It’s also possible to make a decent living but doesn’t expect you’ll have a luxury one.

Working remotely is totally different than working as an in-house developer on a top corporation.

At last, here are what you need to start working remotely, based on my experience:

  • Be honest. Even if a company reached you out and give you an offer with a good amount of money, but you realize you had no more time to allocate, just tell to them and reject the offer politely.

  • If you’re honest, you’ll gain trust over time from your employers.

  • If you’ve gained trust, then more jobs and more raise will come to you.

  • Start with small and easy projects, only “apply” or “bid” to the projects you had the confidence to finish it.

  • Treat your employers as you’re working as an in-house developer for them.

  • Be open mind. Always open to learning something new.

  • Be patient. It won’t work overnight. It took me more than four years before I can make a decent living.

  • No need to buy expensive courses if you don’t have a budget. But if you have, it’s better.

  • Be humble. Even if your employers said wrong things, don’t challenge them. Explain to them politely so it won’t hurt their pride.

Categories: Freelancing  

Tags: freelancer   freelancing   remote worker