Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Freelancing: Your Thoughts Please..

Recently, I have been giving my current employment model some serious thought..

The Problem

Put simply, I feel like I need more out of my working life. I love what I do – but I am not satisfied with several aspects of my career. This is including (but obviously not limited to):

Experience Growth Rate

It’s all 9-5, same old technologies, same development practice etc. I have been learning massive amounts in my own time – but I need to be in an environment where I can truly apply what I have learned.

Client Contact

I love writing software for people. I enjoy talking to them about the problems they have and thinking of how we can work together to solve it in the most efficient way possible. In my current employer, I rarely get the opportunity to really sit down with the people that truly matter.

Management Style

As you may have noticed from my recent blog posts – I am always looking at ways to improve the way I work. My working process is very evolutionary. I think this is important to make sure I get the most out of my time. If I am more in charge of my time, I have more control about how I apply it.

Project Management Experience

I know I need more experience in managing projects at a higher level. I think in order for me to become a better developer I should have more of an understanding and appreciation for project-level constraints and issues (such as budgets, resourcing, third-party management).

The Solution?

Ultimately, I want to develop a company and build my own line of core products. However, this is going to take a fair amount of time since I am obviously going to be bootstrapping it myself. So, I began thinking about other options. Freelancing was obviously the next big thing that came up in my mind. I feel it will directly attack all of the above.

In short, I am not going to be quitting my current job yet – my current project is pretty critical and I would be landing them “in it” if I were to leave now. Not my style. I am formulating plans to start getting the ball rolling of Q1 2010 (following a successful project launch!).

Before that, I am keen to get some input from people out there actually “doing it” – so I have prepared some questions.. If you have 5 mins to spare and are/have been a freelancer, I would really appreciate your input.

The Questions

  1. Why did you go freelance?
  2. Did going freelance meet your aims?
  3. What would you say is the hardest thing about going freelance?
  4. What is the best thing?
  5. What do you think is/are the most common misconception(s) about freelancing?
  6. What tips/tools would you recommend for someone getting started?
  7. Do you think I am mad?

Hopefully if all goes to plan, I can collate some useful tips and advice for others!

Thanks a lot – I appreciate you taking the time out!

Work hard. Play harder.

4 comments:

  1. I have a part-time gig that is can be described as a freelance job. It's nothing big.

    I am with you in this regard. Your description of your situation closely resembles mine. I would want some control of my time/work. But going solo totally? Maybe not until I have exhausted all means. I would negotiate with my company first and see if they are willing to compromise.

    But I am not yet on the level in which I can make those demands. I will get there. The only way for me to get there is have more substantial experience and quality training, plus lots of networking machinery.

    I am looking at getting back to school for a tech degree. I hope it will work out. If not, then back to square one.

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  2. I don't think you are mad.
    How about a side project? I did it, and it was a fantastic learning experience.

    I d say perhaps you should consider it as it gives you a good idea on how things work (for you) and a good feel of would you like it or not ( there is some administration overhead, Are you sure you want that side of things?)
    My two cents

    :)

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  3. It is probably more important to find yourself a job where you can exercise the skillset you want and that matches the ways in which you work (process model etc).

    You should not worry about "droping them in it". I am sure you are really good, however no one is irreplaceable. You need to do whats best for you, and I am sure your employer understands that; after all, they would do whats best for them.

    As for freelancing... it depends on the types of projects. Usually if there for an individual or small organisation, you will find them continually pestering you for small tweaks and changes... be sur e to write down some detailed acceptance criteria.

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  4. Well, let me put my 5 cents - I was working on a freelance basis for about 2 years while studying in uni. At that point it was perfect for me - combining work with studies was not a problem at all. Well, apart from constant lack of sleep =]
    The hardest thing imho is finding actual work - it may seem simple, but in reallity it often turns out to be quite a difficult task. Another problem is stability - one month can be very profitable, and on another one you may have no work whatsoever. I would not even think about getting some sort of loan while working as a freelancer.
    That brings me to misconceptions - imho the most common is profitability. I've met people that think going freelance will make them millionaires - well, it's not that easy. Big money is in big projects, and one man bands are simply not capable of getting them.
    Having all that in mind - I still think freelancing is worth concideration and you're definetly not mad.

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