Web development freelancing vs. real job
Freelancing is not for everyone but a "real job" is not for everyone either. To many people, a real job means working in an office for a company with a stable salary, while everything else is either temporary, unstable, or some other bad thing about it. Hey, as long as it pays the bills and keeps the bank account above zero, it's a real job, right?! This page compares and contrasts real jobs and freelancing and talks about doing both at once.
This tutorial focuses on:
- Real job advantages & disadvantages
- Freelancing advantages & disadvantages
- Which one is better?
- Doing both at once
Real job advantages & disadvantages
At a real job, you have a set salary you earn every year. You know that you are going to earn a salary no matter how the company is doing as long as you are employed at the company.
..such as health insurance and corporate discounts. Imagine going to a store who's program your company participates in, pulling out your corporate credit card, smiling at the kid behind the counter and saying "I'm a member" as he puts in a 10% discount on your purchase.
Someone else handles the other stuff
When working for a company, you just have to do the technical stuff. There are other people in the company who handle the business, organizational, and interpersonal aspects of building websites for people.
Lack of creative control
You think that the e-commerce website you're building should have a light color scheme? You think that this will make the websites clients more likely to buy? Are you so sure of it that you're excited to build it already and confirm your belief about this matter? Well too bad! We're going to do it another way because management says so! When working for a company, sometimes your managers will be just..managers. They may know nothing technical about your industry and are only involved in managing others. There may be times where you are sure that things should be done one way, in fact you know it. But your management thinks another way and their opinion of course, counts more than yours.
No overtime (sometimes)
Some company's do not give over time and with a field like web development/design overtime is sometimes necessary. Imagine having worked 10 more hours a week then your set weekly hours but not getting paid for those overtime hours
Lots of stress
When working for a company you will experience certain stress you wouldn't experience as a freelancer
Stress from travel
Traveling to work is serious business. Some people take an hour to get work one bus or train, others require two hours taking two buses and a train, and some even worse. Making your way through the crowd of people, getting worried when the bus is late, standing in a crowded space with all the other people going to work. This is all very stressful.
Stress from your co-workers
Office politics (polite conversation, dress code), not getting along with some of your co-workers, disagreement with managers, barely tolerating the music that the guy in the next cubicle is listening to. This too, is very stressful.
- Stress from travel
Freelancing advantages & disadvantages
Being your own boss
One of the major advantages of being a freelancer and a source of great pride for freelancers is being your own boss. This is a great accomplishment. Not only are you able to say that you took on the challenge of job self- determiniation but you are also able to say that there is no one standing over you putting pressure on you to do this and to do that. You are your own boss. You make the rules. You decide what happens with your business.
When working as an employee for a company most of the time you are bound to a location where you work and a time during which you work (there are some exceptions to this like if you're in a managerial position and you get to travel as part of your job). As a freelancer you decide when and where you want to work. Feeling sluggish in the morning and want to get a few extra hours of sleep? Go for it! Feeling adventurous and want to work in the park today instead of your home office? Go for it! Who is going to stop you? You are a freelancer..on your own terms!
NOTE: With great power comes great responsibility
Wear what you want/look how you want
No longer will you have to wear that formal shirt and pants ( and maybe even a tie :/ ). Sit in front of your computer in a t-shirt and sweat pants, some shorts maybe, whatever you want. Don't shave for three weeks, it's ok, you won't have co-workers judging you or Human Resources managers telling you that you don't look presentable and you're going to have to "clean up" your act if you want to stay with the company.
Doing it all
As a freelancer you need to have not only technical skills but business skills, organizational skills, and interpersonal skills as well. Do you have all these skills already? If not, can you obtain them? Can you focus on constantly improving them and making sure you're on top of your game? It's alot different when you're working as an employee for a company. As an employee, there are other people in the company you work for who handle the business, organizational, and interpersonal aspects of building websites for people, you just do the technical stuff.
Lack of benefits
As an employee of a company you can get health benefits, corporate discounts, a 401K plan, and more. As a freelancer you get..stuff? For some people, working for yourself outweighs having these benefits. For others though, this is a big enough disadvantage of freelancing to stick to working as an employee in a company.
At a real job, you have a set salary you earn every year. You know that you are going to earn a salary no matter how the company is doing as long as you are employed at the company. As a freelancer, one week you will be doing really great and the next week you'll be wondering how you're going to pay the bills. Business cycles go up and down and this kind of thing is actually normal when you're self employed (as a freelancer or running an actual company).
Which one is better?
Depends who you ask. Some would say working for a company is better while others would say freelancing is better. Some people would even combine freelancing and working for a company and say that starting a company and being the boss is the best way to go. Evaluate the advantages & disadvantages of freelancing and working for a company and even consider the third option we just presented. Do some research, look into different options, figure out what works best for you.
Doing both at once
It's possible to do freelance work and work for a company at the same time. We wouldn't recommend it though, working two jobs can get really stressful. If you do decide to work for a company and be a freelancer at the same time, here are some suggestions:
Don't do both full time
No way. It will be very difficult to manage doing two jobs full time. It's nearly impossible. The stress level would be super high. Do freelance part time and working for a company full time.
Know the legal issues involved
Some companies have an agreement stating that you cannot do external work that competes with the company while you're working for that company. Freelancing would qualify as such work. Look into this matter if you're working for a company to find out for sure.
Know your limits
Working two jobs is real tough. Don't overwork yourself. If you feel like you're invincible and can work 80 hours a week..stop! Be realistic about how much you can really get done working two jobs and don't burn yourself out. If you come to a realization that you can't do both at once, then don't. Figure out which one you really want to do and stick to it.