Why you should consider becoming a freelance developer
Being a freelance developer feels more fair to me than a permanent position. Here’s why:
You get what you deserve
Working without a proxy between you and the market (i.e. an employer) enables you to charge exactly what the market determines is the worth of your work. Lets say a customer is willing to pay 100€ per hour of your work but you are employed and earn a fixed salary instead. Chances are your fixed salary isn’t even 50% of what your employer is charging the customer.
At least that is how it was for me back when I was working in a permanent position. Granted, it was an apprenticeship so the salary is quite low anyways but even afterwards the pay would have been 2500€ monthly whereas my employer charges 60€ per hour and I had more than 90% billable hours working fulltime.
Of course that is not true for every employer, I’m sure there are alot of employers around who pay fairly and pay bonuses and raises etc. but I don’t think that’s the norm.
Performance pays off
Back when I worked at my first regular job after the apprenticeship I was one of the most hard working employees in the company. Many of the other employees were not interested in becoming outstanding in their job which is totally fine for me. The company has to pay the bills though. So what happens? The hard working employees bring in most of the money / get the projects to move forward. The other ones did hold the company back. The ones trying hard to get better and perform well did not earn what they deserved whereas the other ones earned more than they deserved.
I’m happy that this is no longer the case. I can work as much or as little as I want and I never need to either feel being taken advantage of or taking advantage of someone. Which is great if you have a strong sense of justice.
You get more freedom
Before the Corona pandemic, most companies demanded you to work in their office most of the time. At least that’s how it was here in Munich, Germany. Many even advertise themselves with nice sounding words like “work life balance” or “remote work” and so on but once it actually comes to holding their words, these phrases are no longer relevant.
You get looked at weirdly once you tell them you want to work from home tomorrow. Also they are not organized in a way for you to take part in meetings from home. So they implicitly require you to come to the office and make you feel bad about not doing so.
If you’re a freelancer, no customer can tell you what to do. Actually there are even laws in Germany that are in place to avoid pseudo-freelancing. They require freelance work to be distinguishable from regular work. A few of these criteria are:
- The customer can not tell you when to work
- The customer can not tell you from where you should work
- The freelancer should have entrepreneurial freedom of choice
- The freelancer should take entrepreneurial risk
There are obviously exceptions to these rules but they apply generally. These laws can be a pain in the butt though but that’s a story for another post.
In the end, customers can ask you to do stuff but you make the decisions. If they want to pay for the expertise of a freelancer, they will be fine with you making the rules of the circumstances of your work. If they are unhappy with that, they probably search for an employee in freelancer clothing or want you to convert into a permanent position over time. Be wary of them.
You should be able to find customers less fussy. Also you don’t need to get trapped into a permanent position - at least that’s how it felt like for me back then. There is a lot of demand for developers who are capable to perform good in their job.
Maybe all that sounds a little arrogant and I can see why. But it is all true for me. I earn more than twice as much as I earned back when I worked in a regular job. I have way more freedom - I can work whenever I want and from wherever I want. This freedom and increased pay is invaluable to me. If you’re happy with your permanent position, that’s great and I’m happy for you and encourage you to stay on this path.
But for everyone who feels like being taken advantage of, deserving more than they currently earn and feel like they were lied to back in the job application process - I encourage you to give freelancing a try. It was the best decision I could have made and I haven’t looked back for a single day.