Friday, June 9, 2017

3 reasons freelance coders choose to leave big corporate

freelance_coder

According to research firm Edelman Berland, in 2015 there were 53 million freelancers in America alone. That represents a little over a third of the American workforce. But, the freelancer trend is not just an American phenomenon. The UK boasts 1.88 million freelancers, and that number continues to grow. European freelancers are joining the party, with an estimated 8.9 million freelancers now and likely more on the way.

Technology plays a major role in this increase in the number of freelancers worldwide. Now, in an increasingly connected global marketplace, freelancers are no longer encumbered by geographical location. Their office is, quite literally, the world.

One profession that benefits from this widened global reach is freelance coders. There is little doubt that coders are in major demand. From tech giants like Google and Facebook to small mobile app developers, companies of all sizes and shapes need coders.

So why would a coder choose to freelance rather than accept a traditional position with a tech giant or a startup looking to make major waves in the industry? What would make a coder leave a company like Google and all its perks to pursue a freelance career?

As it turns out, there are plenty of reasons for becoming a freelance coder. Here are just a few to consider:

Number One: It’s the Money, Honey

A recent Bloomberg article chronicles the tale of James Knight, a 27-year-old coder who quit a job with Google’s Manhattan office to become a freelancer. The article notes that Knight was willing to give up some of Google’s enviable employee perks “because as an independent he’s pulling down about twice as much as he did at Google.”

Yes, you read that right. While every coder in the world may not have the spectacular financial success Knight is enjoying, the article notes that top tech talent is in such high demand that big companies and startups are willing to pay as much as $1,000 per hour for talented coders with the right skill set.

Why are companies willing to pay so much? Bloomberg continues: “While companies still recruit many of the best minds, they’re turning to independent software developers to get a stalled project moving or to gain a competitive edge. In some cases, the right person can be the difference between a failed and successful product.”

Number Two: The Freedom’s the Thing

However, the potential for greater financial gain is not the only motivating factor for freelance coders. Freedom is also a quite seductive perk. For instance, Knight and his wife are planning a trip to Spain and throughout Europe in March, made possible by the flexibility a freelance schedule affords.

On the subject of freedom, Anibal Ambertin, freelance coder and founder of SynergicSource, notes: “I like moving around and traveling a lot. I like sporting and enjoying daytime every day, and for me, “only weekends” is not an acceptable option anymore. I do put my good 50-60 hours of work a week… I just choose how, when and where, and that has improved my quality of life 1000 percent.”

Number Three: The Pursuit of Professional Passion

Another significant factor that moves many coders to freelance is the ability to choose the projects about which they are passionate. The article “The Rise of the Freelancer” states: “The overall consensus among freelance workers and independent contractors is that they find their work very rewarding. According to a survey taken by Field Nation, a work platform for independent contractors, 90 percent of those surveyed “view themselves as deeply committed to the work they do for their clients.” They’re also three times more engaged in their work than the 30 percent of traditional workers who feel the same. That’s likely because they get to choose when and for whom they work. In turn, freelance workers feel much more aligned with the work they choose to do.”

Ambertin echoes that sentiment, observing: “I have worked for big consultancies attending projects for big customers in many different roles: development, technology architecture, management and process improvement. As fun as it was, the trail of bureaucracy-led inefficiencies was something that always frustrated me. I like better working with startups, with high-performance teams and a 100 percent value-delivery mindset. Get things done. Be truly agile and build great products over filling up reports, countless useless meetings and other perks of the corporate life.”

The ability to simply enjoy the work being done and avoid the extraneous matters that come with being in a corporate climate holds much appeal. Knight lists another bonus in the form of increased motivation. He states: “There’s definitely a level of stress that comes with being independent that’s absent at Google, but I like that. I have motivation issues if I don’t think my paycheck is on the line.”

Is There a Downside?

Knight brings up an interesting point. What he views as motivation, another coder may view as a high-stress situation. Freelance income is completely dependent on productivity and level of skill.

When asked if freelancing is right for every coder, Ambertin answers: “Definitely not. If you are not a top-performer, I wouldn’t even try. When you are “out there” nothing matters other than creating and delivering quality products. In this world there are no excuses, no “over-estimations” and no cover-ups. You don’t deliver, you don’t get clients.”

Then there is the matter of additional skills beyond coding that freelancers must possess. Ambertin adds: “You can miss the social aspect of the “big office” sometimes. Another thing is that you need a lot of self-control. If you cannot set yourself a routine, boundaries, working-hours (as unusual as you want them, but you need them) and clear goals, you’re done. And last, but not least: can you really market yourself? Do you have the network, the guts, and the will to go through hunting for cool clients, teams and projects to work with?”

Freelance coders must also think about the financial side of going independent. Issues such as how to handle taxes, how to get paid and how to pay others you might bring into a project with you, and how to set up reasonable retirement strategies are all serious considerations for freelance coders.

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