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I'm just about to move from being salaried at the company I work for to a freelancing arrangement which will hopefully allow me to branch out and choose what I work on. My intention is to be extremely organised, not only by being very strict with my time, but with the work itself, having set processes, building up resources, useful/ reusable code snippets etc. Even then I'm foreseeing it being difficult, I have a 3 month year old daughter which won't help!

One way I can see of lessening the chances of a burnout is to gradually involve other people, either freelancers or people like yourself that may have some time away from the day job to write a module or add some functionality to a page...for a cut of course...thanks to apps like Slack and GitHub/Lab I can't see why this shouldn't be successful but I'm yet to find out...

 

First of all I wish you the best for the future and I hope this will work out for you!

I think you are indeed right about being really strict, that's something anyone should be for work related things and that's especially true for freelancing I guess.

As for involving other people, I think it can be as beneficial but also quite dangerous. I'd say the main risk is to start depending on other people who won't always be there. Also you want reliable people for this kind of things, that's not always easy to find (but maybe that's my trust issues speaking haha). On the other hand, if that works it can be a really good thing and a very strong advantage for you and your reputation.

 

You're 110% right. Finding people you can trust to do work is difficult whether you're a freelancer, a team leader or a business owner...but if you spend time really chunking the tasks into small subtasks then you can differentiate between "high risk" / "complex" tasks that you'll take responsibility for and more straightforward tasks that you may want to delegate to someone else. I guess what I'm saying is, like with programming itself, you can come up with solutions for the problems presented by freelancing by putting processes/ safeguards in place...all the best to you too!

 

So you have a job and you want to freelance? I'd not take the risks. You'll probably burnout and loose money. If you want to earn more, you can either ask your boss for a promotion or find a better job. You can, of course, go completely freelance.

I'd not mix a regular job with the freelance workflow.

 

Thanks for the reply!

I'm aware of that risk of course, that's why I try to gather opinions about it.

The goal is indeed to earn more and asking for a promotion isn't an option. Finding a better job isn't that easy either.

 

I've done a bit of stuff like this, and yeah, pushing too hard is a huge risk.

Could you scale back your full-time job? Ask to be part-time?

Thanks for the reply, Ben!

Scaling back my full-time job is not an option, unfortunately.

In fact I'm mostly looking for a way to make money on my free time, that's why I thought about freelancing. The alternative would be to try to make money with my own side projects (eventually) but I believe they're not the right kind of projects for that.

 

You really have to ask yourself, why do I want to freelance? If money is the only reason to freelance, you'd be better off asking for a raise or looking for another job. Freelancing is not just a "side gig", it take times and effort to get out there. You will spend the majority of your time prospecting vs developing.

I agree with Defman burnout is a risk, but you could start with part time freelancing to test the waters. Or like Ben suggested, scale back your full time job. Like I mentioned earlier start with asking yourself why.

That being said, there are a lot of resources out there to get you started on your freelancing journey. Good luck fellow Dev!

 

I won't lie: money is one of the first reasons... today. But there are more reasons, especially in the "long" run. Making a reputation/name and improving my skills are some of these reasons.

Of course the idea is to test the waters first, I don't plan on going head first into that, that's why I'm trying to gather opinions (and feedback) on this. As of today I still have no concrete immediate plan.

Thanks!

I hope my comment didn't come across like I was talking down to you.

Absolutely not, don't worry, I wrote my reply quickly before going to bed, that's why it was a bit raw, nothing wrong with what you said 😉

 

I was considering it, but reading through the reactions make me wary. I would really like to use some things I now only use for pet projects, for real. But once you get paid there also the pressure to deliver. And I'm already working 40 or more hours a week.

 

I've done it in the past and it was both lucrative and exhausting. It is difficult to put in 80+ hours of programming work for weeks and weeks. This is especially true if you have a family. But, even if you are unattached, the quality of your work is likely to suffer eventually.

If you can keep your freelance engagements to short and well defined projects/tasks this will minimize problems. Avoid taking on large and poorly defined jobs.

One potential upside is that freelance jobs can lead to a better fulltime job. For example, one short term project I did for a client resulted in a job offer for a 20% pay increase.

 

Thanks for the reply, Frank!

If you can keep your freelance engagements to short and well defined projects/tasks this will minimize problems. Avoid taking on large and poorly defined jobs.

That's my intention, if possible. I've never liked working on poorly defined projects anyway (that's literally why I left my previous job), so if I am to do some freelancing work on my spare time, I don't plan on making it a self-inflected hell of shitty projects, ahah!

One potential upside is that freelance jobs can lead to a better fulltime job.

That's one of my long term motivations to do that, along with acquiring more experience (not so much in terms of quantity but rather in terms of variety).

 

I did 40 hrs/week day job and ~10-20 hrs/week consulting for about a year. The income increase was substantial but so was the impact on my free time. All things considered I'd probably still be doing it if I didn't become a dad.

My advice would be to make sure you have the time, be wary of long term commitments in case you hate it, and give it a shot if possible. Make that hay while the sun shines!

 

One other caveat: I was lucky enough to get a single stable contracting gig covering all of those hours. Had I needed to spend more time finding clients I may not have had such a positive experience.

 

I work 35 hrs/week (7 a day) so 10-20 hrs/week of freelancing should be feasible.

I'm well aware that it means sacrificing a lot (if not all) of my free time but as I said in another reply, I do have a lot of free time since I don't have any hard obligations besides my day job. Also I'm aware that one day I might have less free time, that's why I'd like to try this out while I still can.

 

Learn, be a better dev, change your jobs and you will earn double each few years, is simpler and more efficient.

Make projects but for you, or go biking, leave yourself the power to choose.

 

That's plan A, I'm just trying to see if freelancing is a realistic plan B 😉

Also while I totally agree with what you say, changing of job is not always an option and it can be quite risky too if not done properly. I guess there's never an easy solution when it comes to work.

 

It sounds like you might have some specific concerns. What makes you say that it's most likely naive and utopic?

 

I've done the side gig plus real work and boy it doesn't leave a lot of time for much else. It's a lot of work. It can of course be done but odds of burning out go up considerably.

 

Free time is something I have. I have very little obligations besides my job so I actually have quite a lot of free time, which I'd like to use more... usefully. This also gives a sense of "now or never", I guess I wont have that much free time forever so...

 

I’ve done this before for a few months. After that I felt so drained and tired I didn’t want to be around people OR computers at all for a few weeks.

Would not do it again

 

While I do like my work/life balance I have quite a lot of free time these days and I'd like to make use of that while I can. I'm well aware of the commitment freelancing represents.

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Quentin Sonrel profile image
Web dev, cinema lover, music enthusiast and video game fan. Working as a full-stack Ruby on Rails web developer and hacking with Node/Express, Vue.js and Flutter on my spare time.