Computer programmers make their living writing the step-by-step instructions computers use to perform their tasks.
Relatively few freelances write machine code (the deepest level of instructions used by computers for their internal operations). Most home-based freelancers are applications programmers. They help their clients customize standard ‘off-the-shelf’ programs so that they meet the specific needs of the business concerned.
Most freelances have a particular area in which they specialize, e.g. accounts packages or databases. Some freelances possess specialist knowledge of one or more computer languages, e.g. C++ or Visual Basic.
The computer industry is booming at present as businesses become aware of the many benefits computers can provide (not to mention the need to avoid falling behind their competitors).
If you have skills in this field – and especially if you live in a well-populated urban area – you should have little difficulty in finding potential clients.
In recent years computers have begun appearing everywhere: in homes, in schools, in business and in government.
The pace of change has been so fast that many people have found they need help getting up to speed with the new technology.
An opportunity has therefore opened up for freelance computer trainers who can run courses and provide instruction on a range of subjects, including:
o Introduction to computers
o Word processing
o Desktop publishing
o The internet
Website designers design, produce and maintain websites (internet pages on the World Wide Web). Their work involves combining technical, writing and design skills to produce attractive-looking web pages which show their clients to good effect and help them sell more of their products and services.
Website designers advise clients on the best way to promote themselves via the net, and show them examples of what can be done.
In consultation with their clients, they decide on the general approach to be taken. Clients provide at least a rough draft of the text they want on their site and any artwork or photographs. Website designers then create the sites on their computer, using programs specially designed for this purpose. Once clients are satisfied with their sites, the designer makes the necessary arrangements to publish them on the World Wide Web.
As well as creating and publishing sites, website designers also often assist clients in promoting them, e.g. by ensuring that they are listed on all the leading Internet ‘search engines’. Finally, they may retain responsibility for revising and updating sites (for which they receive an additional fee).