Now it’s almost 2 years after I’ve started freelancing and I can say that it seized me completely.
So embarrassing. I’ve started writing a post about my freelance experience several times and ended up with many drafts that have no chance to co-exist in one single posting.
How is it?
It’s like being and an entrepreneur and developer at the same time and it seems to make a perfect fit for me personally.
When you are a freelancing developer your are not just writing code for money. Your are providing a kind of DaaS - development as a service. The way you are choosing, planning and managing projects, looking for clients and communicating with them. All these things are equally important to how you are doing overall.
What about breaks between projects, when previous one is finished and next one is not found yet?
These “business-related” breaks, when you are writing proposals, communicate with potential clients, looking for suitable project. That’s real hunting and even gambling. That’s exciting and nervous on the one hand, and on the other hand it allows you to switch to a completely different everyday route activity, have a rest from coding and not to get totally burned out.
If freelancer were a superhero, freedom would be his superpower. He would probably use it against “9 to 5 office job” order of things.
No matter How, What, Where and When you are doing, you can apply your superpower freedom to it.
To be honest, that’s probably the first time in my life, when I have a feeling that I control my own time, my own life. And nobody owns me.
Ask to leave earlier because it’s your bro’s birthday today. Ask to come later because you need to drive your car to service. Ask for excuse because you’ve met your grandma on the way to office and decided to have a walk with her. Ask for excuse for living your own life. Fuck it.
I hope I’ll never find myself again in such circumstances.
So true. Actually your freedom is limited to a single dimension. More than this. Your freedom is limited to the only one direction: “get things done”.
That sometimes leads to very hard and stressful situations when you have to apply all your energy and problem solving skills to overcome the difficulties. Failures may lead to serious consequences, harming your reputation.
Actually, you are always playing, having your skin in the game. With all its pros and cons.
That’s surprising how effectively freelancing forces to learn. Probably that’s because you really feel how competitive the global market of developers is.
I apply one learning trick here. I always try to pick challenging projects. Completely new kind of tasks or just something complex. Such kind of personal growth hacking that really works.
Very nice thing about freelance is positive network effect which means that the more and the better you do today, the better things will be going tomorrow.The skill is getting higher, the reputation is increasing, the number of contacts is growing.
I remember times when I was developing trading algorithms for financial markets. That kind of activity had a truly negative network effect. Every next developed algorithm was going to die soon because of market becoming more efficient. The more algorithms you maintain, the more time you spend on attempts to extend their lifetime and the less time you have for new researches. Obtained skills can be applied only partly because you should always invent new approaches. In fact, every next move makes it harder to move further. That’s like canoeing against the stream. Not recommended.
We’ve got very warm community of freelancers, hanging in a cozy co-working space in my home city together. There are small teams as well as independent freelancers. Mostly developers, designers and architects.
I’ve noticed that I’ve become much more open to new things that are work-related, but not exactly related to my job. Seems like my area of interests has just grown larger.
During the first half of this year I’ve tried many things just for fun. Had some practice in mobile apps design and illustration. Started learning more about backend development, had some fun, writing pet backend on swift using Vapor. Smoked underhood stuff of open source mobile cryptocurrency wallets.
It seems that I’ve never had enough time or energy for that before. Probably it’s just more free time.
I’ve never felt the world to be so huge and so close at the same time. I’ve managed to work with guys from the United States, Denmark, Germany, Andorra and South Korea. Not just watching somebody’s instagram from another hemisphere of the Earth, but working and creating new things together. That’s truly amazing. The world is global and borders do not matter any more.
The other side of Freelance
Will I strongly recommend it to my friends?
I’ve come to a conclusion that such kind of recommendations work only if somebody has already made a decision and needs some tiny advice.
After my first freelancing months I’ve started to advice all my dev-friends to come aboard of a gunboat and start a voyage adventure of freedom.
Did it work? No it didn’t. Almost none of them managed to move from a regular job to freelance.
Having a regularly paid salary is so comfortable, that makes it hardly possible just to drop out and seek for a new job. Freelance ordinary routine is a nightmare for a person who got used to a safe and predictable short-term future.
Finishing and starting new projects is like dropping the current job over and over again and looking for a new one. Freelance doesn’t fit everybody.
So If you are not freelancing already, you probably shouldn’t.
Freelance is just another form of not having freedom. Rather pleasant form I should say, but still…
If freedom is a freelancer’s superpower, chains of responsibility are freelancer’s Kryptonite.
(These chains do not have much in common with design pattern)
They just don’t let you drop the project unexpectedly, or go on vacation when you want to, not caring about anything. They also don’t let you leave your work in the office when going home.
Rather similar to a non-freelancing job with the difference that it’s responsibility , reputation and money instead of fear, responsibility and money that keep you from acting reckless.
Freelancers do burn
It’s very attractive to work at night, all day long and on the weekend. It’s very attractive to work a lot because when you are freelancer, the more you work, the more you earn.
Do I need to say how often I get burned out?
Freelancing is wooden emotional rollercoaster that’s constantly catching on fire. I’m sure that after being on top and writing inspirational posting as this one, I’ll get down again and won’t be able to write a single sentence.
What is freelance? One of my friends answers:
Everyday we deal with huge piles of shit consisting of a lot of small pieces of shit. Just imagine that everyone around us is wearing crystal white suits. Our goal is to throw this pile of shit in the air in such a way that it will fly to the moon and won’t bedraggle everyone around you.
Will we invent some special super-glue that will keep all these small pieces of shit together? Of course not! We will put all this shit in a huge “KULEK” (trans. “package”, Russian) and throw it up!