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What I have learned as a freelance developer


Well, I am almost at one year since I quit corporate America and went freelance.  I am not really sure what the definition of a ‘freelance’ developer is and I don’t care what wikipedia says it is.  All I know is that I do NOT work for a company and I consider that freelancing.

So what have I learned in the almost year of not working for the ‘man’?  I would have to say a lot.  Let’s break it down into pros and cons with the cons up first.

Cons

  • No health insurance
    • Now this might not matter to all of the younger generation of developers, but at my age this is something that I dreadfully miss.  There are options out there for individual health insurance but they are overly expensive and that is a shame.
  • What am I doing next week?
    • It can be said that there is security in working for a company, but I have seen that to be a fallacy in many situations.  I left my ‘corporate’ job when they started to cut out benefits.  I figured that was the writing on the wall that things were going to be tight for some time to come.  To me it seemed that IF they were going to pull employee benefits, then the chances of a raise anytime in the near future were pretty slim.
    • The best way to counter this ‘fear’ is to secure large projects whenever possible.  This may mean making less money but for a guaranteed amount of time which for me was the case and that in itself added a feeling of security.  There is no guarantee of anything in this world but try to give yourself as much of a safety net as possible.
  •  No taxes
    • This might sound like a great thing but I am shitting my pants in fear on next April.  Set the money aside for taxes or you will regret it.  This sounds like a no brainer but I know this and I have not done it.  Epic Fail!

Pros

  • Being your own boss
    • Now this could go in the cons category for a lot of you.  It takes something to be your own boss.  You have to be a bigger asshole than any boss that you have ever worked for.  It is so easy to get lazy when there is nobody looking over your shoulder.  This really is not a good situation for everybody but if you are dedicated, then this really is a pro.
    • Work hard and play hard but don’t burn yourself out.  There are many development companies out there that adhere to a 4 day work week with Fridays being set aside for open-source or fun projects.  Do not work yourself to death which is the extreme opposite of being lazy and occurs more often than not.
  • Unlimited Income
    • Now there really is not anything as unlimited income but as a freelancer you have the opportunity to make as much (and as little) money as physically possible and by that I mean that there are only so many hours in the week and one does need some sleep.
  • Your own time
    • You control your time.  Obviously you have deadlines for your client(s) but how you spend your time is up to you.  Use it well and do not waste it.
    • Work on open-sourced projects.  I have heard that this is a great way to get your name out there.  Make the time to learn something new and to work on your own project.  In my case I found that there was not any Ruby on Rails CRM out there that was based on MongoDB so I decided to make my own Rails-Mongo-CRM in the hopes that people will see not only my work but that I am giving back to the community.
  • Do your own thing
    • I fell that the bottom line is that you can do your own thing.  Do what you want to do and what you enjoy doing.  The moment that you no longer ‘enjoy’ if, go back to corporate America

One comment on “What I have learned as a freelance developer

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