Posted on Sunday 22nd September 2013 at 18:13
One of the curious things I've noticed whilst freelancing, is that when you tell someone that you're a freelancer, they automatically assume that it's some sort of lifestyle choice or idealism, rather than a job, like any other.
This has become particularly apparent in recent weeks, as I've stopped freelancing and returned to good old PAYE. For me, this is a sensible career choice, as was freelancing in the first place. I originally started freelancing in 2010 because I lacked the skills and commercial experience to get a job as a web developer, which is what I'd recently come to realise I wanted to be. I worked as a freelancer for a tad over 2 and a half years until I was good enough to get a job, and then I got one. Simples.
Yet when I tell people that I'm no longer freelancing and have got a new job, almost everyone reacts as though I've just announced the death of a grandparent. "I'm sorry to hear that", "Bad luck" and "You probably tried your best" are the usual response. I'm then left trying to explain to them that my business didn't fail or go under. Nor did I become unable to cope with the stress of balancing all those competing demands or keeping the money coming in.
The fact is I quite liked freelancing and could easily have gone on with it for many years to come, but there were some drawbacks. Inconsistent and unreliable income were a constant headache, as was not knowing what sort of person each client would turn out to be. As time went on, I began to crave involvement in a project that would last longer than a few days, and which I could go back and polish time and time again, without having to worry about limited budgets and moving on to the next job, all the time.
Then, in November last year, a client came my way who needed more than the usual amount of my attentions. I quickly became aware of two things: firstly, that the client was lovely and the work interesting, and secondly, that they really needed a developer who was working for them full time.
Jumping forward several months, I am now the lead developer at Ya-Ya Online; tasked with the ongoing development and improvement of our line of online products aimed at the events industry, as well as the creation of many new products that we've been dreaming up, over the coming months and years. I will still be working from home and enjoying all the benefits that freelancing brought me (there's that "lifestyle" again), but with the added bonus of regular pay and a team of fantastic people to work with, both remotely and occasionally face to face, too.
The challenge I've taken on is not a small one. I shall be juggling a huge amount of code, and many competing ideas and priorities. But I'll also be getting the chance to mould and craft these products to fit my ideas of what they should be. I'll be able to build things that make the lives of our clients easier and more satisfying. And I'll still be building a business and seeing it grow into something special, just with a little help this time.