2 min read

How to Level Up in a Freelance Career? My Thouhghts and Plans

I often ask myself: "what could be the next step after freelancing?". Should I step back to a full-time job, or scale up freelance to an agency?

I feel very good about my progress and achievements over the last 3 years. Every next half a year I've been doing better than the previous one and all this looks very promising.

However, I sometimes ask myself "What's next?" and that is a hard question.

Usually, when I cannot choose from several options, I consider that all of them have more or less equal expected results multiplied by success probability. That's the reason why it's hard to choose.

Assuming that point of view, all the options are equally good, and the exact choice doesn't really matter. What really matters is to finally stop putting it off and make a choice.

What Could Be the Next Step After Freelancing

I'm thinking over several possibilities, each with its pros and cons.

Full-Time On-site Job

One of them, which is actually my least favorite is to find a full-time job in a well-developed country with high standards of living.

That's my least favorite because I don't want a full-time on-site job. However, that's the easiest way to move to a better place on earth permanently and get all the profits from it.  "On-site" seems to be a must to provide enough reasons to move.

It may be the most rewarding and the most proper choice in the long term.

Advance Within Freelancer's Path

I believe I still have a lot of room for growth in that direction. More challenging projects, higher quality, more responsibility.

I haven't gotten fed up with software engineering yet and I'm still eager to improve my skills.

I'm getting more T-shaped, trying to boost not only my iOS development skills but also tightly related areas, such as backend development and UI/UX design.

All these steps may open opportunities for increasing my $ rate and higher earnings.

But freelance has also the drawbacks that can all be summarised as "it's hard to be alone". And it often feels like a fixed-gear bicycle that you can't coast.

Scale Up Freelance to an Agency

It just feels the most proper from the capitalist's point of view, but I'm not sure if it will make me at least marginally happier.

On the one hand, it seems like removing fixed gear from a freelancer's bicycle.

On the other hand, it means dropping the engineer role that I love and becoming a manager. And that is exactly what I don't really like: relying on unreliable people and managing them.

Build My Own Projects

Another option is to try to bootstrap my own side projects into profitable startups. Exactly what every second software engineer dreams about, but hardly ever does.

It seems to be the most interesting, risky, and rewarding in case of a successful outcome.

Other People's Experience

I've managed to gather a full house of all possible options among my mates, who has ever been involved in freelance.

At least a couple of them picked the very first option. One of them leaves in Amsterdam, another in Berlin.

A couple of guys have managed to build agencies. One mate became a full-time indie maker. Many guys are still freelancing.

Paradoxically, all of them look happy. However, some of them sometimes seem to think about other options. Just like me.

What Does My Heart Say?

My heart appeals to combine part time freelance with building side projects.

My freelancing will allow to turn into an agency in future in case of getting too old and tired. If I would still be young and strong, my obtained skills will let me pick the job option. Side projects may take-off one day, who knows.

Looks like the most optimal decision is to sit down on all the chairs simultaneously.

Anyway, right now I decided to take a short sabbatical to think everything over and lay down the foundation for further steps.