When I started freelancing over two years ago, I was very excited about my ability to do so. I looked forward to choosing my own work hours, working from wherever I wanted and for whomever I wanted. I envisioned that I’d enjoy the wide variety of tasks required for freelancing: business development, managing client relationships, accounting, etc. Additionally, I thought I’d have the freedom to learn new skills and contribute to side projects.
Freelancing has actually gone fairly well for me. I’ve never been without work (indeed, I seem to find more than I can do). I’ve made a decent living. Being a freelancer allowed me to move from San Francisco to Portland without a disruption in income. I’ve built new skills and have completed some large projects.
But over the last several months I’ve felt a kind of fatigue creep upon me. I never quite feel like I’m off of work. Having my own office space at home and working from coffee shops helps somewhat, but the inconsistency in working environment is also draining. Isolation is also a significant issue. I miss working with people. In particular, I miss working with other developers. Co-working and participating in user groups helps tremendously, but I’ve found that it’s not a substitute for going into the office everyday and working side-by-side with your colleagues.
Perhaps the biggest factor in my decision to return to full-time employment is that I don’t enjoy being a jack-of-all trades as I much as I thought I was going to enjoy it. I don’t particularly care for marketing, business development and accounting. And because I don’t care for those activities all that much, it’s going to be a struggle to become adept at them. I’d rather focus my energies on becoming a better developer and really honing my craft.
All of these thoughts came to mind at the end of August while Sherri and I were in Hawai’i. Apparently there’s nothing like a tropical vacation to put things in perspective. I knew it was time to try something different so I started looking for work as soon as we returned.
The search went well and this week is my last week of full-time freelancing. I’ve accepted a full-time, on-site developer position at FINE Design Group. I start next Monday. I’m pretty thrilled at finding work so quickly and at a company who’s environment I think will suit me well.
Well, congratulations on your decision and on the job!
I can relate to your experience working freelance. I have been coder and a small business owner in Portland for about a year and a half (2 people small). The same sort of fatigue set in recently. It takes a lot of time and energy to manage everything. It is also hard for me to split work time vs non-work time. The worst thing for me is that I’ve put too many hobbies and side projects on the back burner because I think I need to work. I’ve realized that a key to keeping myself happy is to do more of what I’ve been putting aside.
I also think that coding groups are generally a lot of fun. Usually the pay is good, there are various fun distractions at work, and most of the co-workers like their job. It is also nice to have others to geek out with. Hopefully you enjoy the transition back to full time work.
P.S. I think I’ve seen you before at Backspace. I often wonder what others with laptops at coffee shops are doing. I suppose the obvious answer is working.
Congrats! That’s awesome. But I thought people who have a revelation while on a tropical vacation usually decide to LEAVE the 9-5 job. You never have been a conformist, I guess =)
Wow, did the group do shutterfly?! Big time.
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