Following on from my article the other day where I went through the tactics I used for winning and keeping clients from my five years as a freelancer, I had a lot of questions about why I made the choice to go back to a full-time career.
I wanted to take this opportunity to dive into that subject a bit deeper and leave my thoughts and opinions on the topic.
Please note - this article isn't me telling you that one career path is better than the other, this is what is right for me.
My first experience of building something and selling it was actually when I was pretty young. I sold my first website aged just 14, a simple WordPress build back in the day when it was a new technology and it wasn't so simple to get up and running.
I sold probably 10 / 15 websites over the space of a year, which was pretty awesome when I think back to it, so I always had the mindset that the internet was there and you could make money on it.
I didn't do particularly well in school and left at 16 to work for minimum wage as a software developer for a construction manufacturing company, building and maintaining their stock tracking application in house and working on some PCB production.
Over the years I changed jobs but always stayed in the construction industry. I was a labourer and a van driver to name a few things!
So at the age of 25, I decided to jack in the job I was doing at the time, a Project Manager (again, for a construction company) to start building websites for people and really diving deep into modern web development.
If you want to know more about my success' and the methods then check out my post here - https://dev.to/countrysidecoder/an-ex-freelancers-guide-to-getting-your-first-clients-18ao
But needless to say, it was hard work. Very hard work.
There was never a dull moment, I could be working on an e-commerce website one day and then an in-house CMS system the next. I got to know lots of people, lots of companies and I liked that.
I could set my own rules, boundaries and time frames.
I could (eventually) pick and choose jobs I wanted to work on.
...and no matter how hard I think about it, that is really it. Those three points.
The time I could spend learning new tech was drastically decreased - I did not want to experiment with new tech in case it went wrong and cost me money, and any downtime I had was usually spent trying to locate more work or chase up existing clients.
You have no set income so it is much more stressful than having a salary. People don't always pay on time and when you have bills to pay and food to put on the table that is hard.
You need to be primarily a people person and work on your sales skills and not just your development skills.
Handover from clients can be an absolute pain.
It can at times be extremely lonely when you are working by yourself. You have no team to learn from.
I don't like the negative connotations revolving around working for someone.
I think it stems from the Gary-Vee-esque mindset of success manifests itself as "being your own boss", and I certainly thought that at one point.
However, I don't agree with that, and I came to learn it over time.
I looked up at who I consider being the influential developers and engineers, and they all work for companies. They excel at their career and move up to Lead Developers, CTO's, Engineering Managers. They are not losing because they are not working for themselves... They are winning because they are doing what they do best FOR someone else.
To put it bluntly, when I was freelancing I felt as though my skillset decreased. I was becoming outdated, falling behind the times and not being able to excel at my strengths but having to spend my time working on my weaknesses.
I missed being part of a team and having comrades all working together. Sure I like my alone time most of the time, but having someone who has your back if the shit hits the fan is a nice feeling.
Also, and possibly the main reason, security. I now get paid a handsome salary each month whilst getting all the other benefits I was missing. Sure, freedom is a brilliant perk of working for yourself, so I was able to find a company where I could set my working hours, as long as the job is done. If I want to take two hours for lunch to go into town and grab something I CAN. If I want to finish early I CAN.
I am infinitely happier and a stronger individual now for it.
Like I said at the start of this article, I am not trying to sway you one way or the other, but these are my personal thoughts and experiences.
If you have any questions regarding freelancing or careers then please feel free to leave a comment or hit me up and I will do my best to answer.
Also, go check out Chris Achards awesome post on how to start freelancing! - https://dev.to/chrisachard/how-to-quit-your-job-and-start-freelancing-as-a-software-developer-2ffh