For the last 7 months, I’ve been doing the occasional freelance web job as well as my full-time job and it’s been both enjoyable and stressful.
Finding work + How did it start
Number one question friends want to know is: where do you find the work? The truth is, so far, it’s just found me. The first pieces were HTML/CSS builds for a former colleague who subsequently introduced me to a former client and more recently I’ve been working for a friend of a friend.
This website helps too, although no concrete work has come through it, offers and enquiries have and I can fully imagine if I had a website with four hundred people a day visiting as opposed to forty then I’d be getting a lot more offers.
When I have explicitly gone looking for freelance projects of my own volition I’ve nearly always come back empty handed or wasting a lot of my time. So far getting work through recommendations seems to be the safest approach for me and I haven’t been burnt (yet).
The extra money is a blessing and a curse
We’re in the middle of doing up our first home so every penny I earn from freelancing is gobbled up by the house. That’s a positive for freelancing but the negative is that once you start earning approximately half your monthly salary for 3-5 days work it can be very tough to remember to cherish your day job.
Extra money, extra stress
Two weeks ago, there was a big deadline looming at my day job simultaneously, at home there was also a massive freelance deadline looming – that created a mountain of stress in me, working full pelt at work 10am-6pm then coming home having a 20 minute break for food and then working until 11pm. That kind of stress I can do without but, unfortunately incidents like this can occur. This situation also pissed off my girlfriend who had to do all the cooking and cleaning for the week because I was so busy.
Plan/Prepare everything and be as professional as possible
You have to get work done as quickly as possible, not necessarily for your clients, but for yourself. Shaving two days off the length of your project gives you two extra days to enjoy life. My preparation involves invoicing templates (very basic design), a set of template web files, copying and pasting emails templates where I detail what I can/will do and my costs.
After less than a year, I’m not financially secure enough to go freelance full-time, nor do I feel ready to make a success of it. So the freelancing will remain an extra source of income for me for a while and not my only source.
For me, freelancing is here to stay for now at least. I view it as another step in my career – one that a lot of web developers take. If I want to own my own agency or my own company in the future (which I do) the the skills I’m learning freelancing will be invaluable.