What move to make next on my freelance career?

Freelancing, Laravel, Magento

In 2015 i started my company, Control Alt Delete. As a developer, i was always building websites for friends and family. As this started to get out of hand, i decided to make it official and start a company. I did this next to my fulltime job, but eventually started doing this for 2 days a week, and in 2018, i decided to go fulltime.

At this point i'm working for my own company for little over a year, and i'm at a crossroad what to do next. Last year was a mix of different kinds of work. The first 3 months i did only work for clients directly, from my own home office. From april to the end of october i took a freelance job for a big publisher. This was hard to combine with client work, and resulted with 80+ hours work weeks, which was crazy. But i'm at a crossroad what to do next. My 3 options for now:

  • Continue with client work from home.

  • Take another freelance job.

  • Create products myself to sell.

  • Do a combination of the three.

Continue with client work from home

Pros +:

  • Work whenever you want, easily take the day off (kinda).

  • Work wherever you want.

  • Do the work in the way you want to.

  • Choose your own rates.

Cons -:

  • You have to find new clients/work yourself.

  • When the shit hits the fan, you're responsible.

  • When a quote is underestimated, you're pouring in hours for free.

  • Don't have direct co-workers, which feels lonely sometimes.

  • You have to find out everything yourself, you can't ask other people easily.

Although a freelance job makes way more money, this kind of work is way more fulfilling for me. You get to work directly with the client. A lot of developers hate this, but most of the times i like this as i can deliver value to their business. The downside is that i have to communicatie with the client when there is a disagreement on something, for example the invoice or when the shit hit the fan. Which can be hard by times.

The other thing i like about this is that clients give me a lot of freedom in how i fix the problem. This allows me to work with techniques i like, which makes me improve my skills pretty fast.

In theory you can always take the day off when you want to, or sleep in for example. While this is true and i sometimes take an extended lunch break to go out for lunch or play some Battlefield, most of the times i feel the pressure to work enough hours to have enough revenue each month.

The biggest downside on this can be to find new clients. There are sites for freelancers to find jobs, but you have to compete with other freelancers and company's which offshore their work so they can work for a low fee for example. Another option is to work on your network, but that's one of my weak points. Also my personal situation is a little bit in the way at this moment.

Biggest question in here: How to promote yourself as a developer?

Take another freelance job

Pros +:

  • You make easy money.

  • When the day is over, you can get home. You only have to work overtime on rare occasions.

  • Working with other people with knowledge on different domains.

  • No hassle with contracts or other stuff, as this is fixed by an intermediate company.

Cons -:

  • No flexible working hours and/or locations.

  • Working in a corporate environment, not with a client directly.

So i took a freelance job at a publishing company for about 7 months. Although this is an easy pay, this feels basically as if you are working for a boss, one of the reasons i decided to quit my last job. The job i took seemed great on paper and the interview also sounded pretty cool, but while working there i realized that it not was my cup of tea. This is maybe due to the company i worked for, but i'm not sure how to find this out before starting there.

Another big reason why i quit this job was the reason that i was working for other clients at the same time, which made me make crazy work weeks with 80+ hours.

Create my own products

Pros +:

  • Create exactly what you want, how you want it.

  • Work on you own product.

  • Create a product which scales so you can make millions $$$.

  • Get a passive income.

Cons -:

  • Spend a load of hours before the product makes money.

  • You only know if your product makes money when you make it public.

  • When it fails you don't get any money.

  • You have to do everything yourself, or hire someone to do.

This is one of the reasons i quit my job, but after a year i didn't launch anything serious. This is mainly due to having too much work when working on the freelance gig, and not wanting to work on it in the evenings when i finally had time for them. But now i have more time and i'm planning on launching this within in a few weeks.

One of the nice things about this is that i'm doing it with a friend of mine. He isn't a programmer, but is good at marketing a building relations. So i'm building the thing, he is marketing it. If this thing succeeds, we plan on working way more together and building more products. We'll see.

So how to move on from here?

2018 was a great year financially, but not always personally. The extensive working hours where killing sometimes, and i sort of quit sporting altogether. It also placed me on this crossroad about what to do next.

It is one of the reasons of why i decided to take it slow the first months of 2019. I have a continue stream of client work incoming, but not enough to live from. But i'm not actively hunting for new clients or work. It was my intention to do this in november and december, when the freelance job stopped, but it turned out i had enough work those months. Most of that work is now over so i have enough time to think this through, and even work on my own product. But with the future in mind i have to make a decision:

  • Focus on client work only? Which is fun but can be lonely and hard by yourself.

  • Take a freelance job? And maybe quit client work?

  • Work on my own product? Which is great, but also very uncertain.

  • Do a combination of the three? Take a freelance job for 2/3 days a week, client work on the side an my own product in the spare time or evenings/weekends?

I'm glad that 2018 was a good year so i don't have the rush the decision, but i'm thinking about this for a few weeks and it turned out to be a hard one. If anyone has any tips or want a chat about this, you're most welcome. Just drop me an e-mail at [email protected]

Want to respond?