Going Freelance Changed Me

As some of you might know, I quit my day job last September to focus on my own projects and go freelance at the same time.

A lot has happened in the meantime, so I thought it would be nice to share my experiences so far.

Before going freelance

Quitting my day job was a very hard decision. There were a lot of possible problems and challenges I had to take into account. I had just a little bit of extra funds to last me a few months, but I knew that when those funds were going to run out, I would have to have some sort of income to support my life.

I also had a job to leave which I also liked. The team I worked in was nice, the work I did was good. Leaving something like that behind is always a big risk, it’s possible you’ll never find anything like that again. And who is to say I’ll like freelancing better?

When I talked about the idea of quitting my job and going freelance on the side, people were saying: “Oh, you’ll do just fine! Do not worry.”. Which at the time made me even more nervous, what if it all doesn’t work out? What if I am going to be a complete failure at this?

The thing that got me to take the leap of faith was when I was talking with someone about a personal project I was working on. He ended up asking me how much I would need to start doing it full time, he was willing to invest that.

It really got me thinking: if people are willing to invest in an idea, why should I not believe in taking this opportunity to go totally freelance? And if all else fails… I could probably try and find myself a new job.

The period after quitting

The first few weeks after quitting I spent letting people around me and my professional network (whatever that is) know that I went freelance. The number of responses I got was overwhelming, which I never expected when I first made the decision to quit.

In the beginning, I wanted to focus working on my own projects, so I politely declined work. I was also feeling a bit insecure about accepting work from people I’ve never met and do not know personally.

In these two months of not accepting any jobs I discovered the amount of work which is out there for me to do, which made me worry less about my financial future, and in turn allowed me to focus on the work I was doing.

Accepting my first contract job

After a while, I got an email from one of my first employers to have a talk about possibly doing some work for them. They needed my expertise for an in-house project.

This was a perfectly scoped and low risk assignment, perfect to start out with. Familiar faces and people I already knew how to work with.

It felt really good to accept my first official job as a freelance web developer. It was all beginning to look like I made the right choice.

Responsibilities and being more responsible

Because I only worked a couple of days a week, it felt like I had to take a lot of responsibility moving the project forward. A feeling which has never been as strong before.

In my day jobs, I usually found myself struggling to find motivation and inspiration to give my absolute best for the tasks and features at hand. I had to take my own responsibility to make it the best I could, but the motivation just wasn’t quite there.

I always wished I could have given these jobs my best, but always found that my personal projects were the ones that got me at my best.

The intrinsic motivation to give it my best was lacking for projects I got from employers. A lot of times I got the feeling that whatever I wanted to change would have to pass a lot of layers of management and reviews before I was able move on.

At a point, it got tiring to work like this. Especially if you’re not really invested in the project and don’t truly stand behind what you’re doing. I could change the situation myself, but I just wasn’t putting in the effort anymore, which not helped anyone.

Excited about doing work

The added responsibility of making sure projects are a success and delivering the best I can for my clients has given me back the excitement I lost doing day jobs.

Work doesn’t feel like work I don’t really like doing anymore, it helps a lot. At the moment I am able to accept the projects and jobs that I find interesting and help me forward as a person.

Now I can focus on myself, my clients, and becoming better while also delivering much better work at the same time.

It feels great to feel like this again.

Remote work and travelling

One of the things which helped me find my motivation back is to work from home. I am able to fill in my work days as I see fit.

Sometimes I feel like working for just a few hours a day, while the next day I can be on a spree and go on for more than nine hours. My previous jobs were also pretty flexible, but it was always in the time I spent at the office.

Come in at eight in the morning, leave whenever. Right now I can have a lengthy lunch break and continue work later and not feel sorry about it. It really helps that I do not travel to work anymore.

Some clients prefer it if I am at the office, which I can understand, and I’ll visit them. I do feel that eliminating the travel time I used to have has helped me a lot in feeling free. It allows me to work at the times I feel comfortable.

Looking forward to the future!

As I write this post I am looking back on the last couple of months and am amazed by the progress I made in such a small period of time. Loving every second of it right now, and hope it will stay like this for long.

The most important thing for me is to keep validating the projects I am working on and if they work for me as a person. I’d rather spend my client’s money on things I get excited about than things I’d rather not be doing, losing motivation in the process.

Going freelance has been the best move I made in recent years, professionally and personally. I can truly say I live a better life.