Community Call

Sun, sea, sand and software: What’s stopping you from freelancing?

Chris Mayer
Panorama of tropical beach

An interesting blogpost from one developer reveals why he jacked in his daily routine to travel the world. Question is, would you do the same?

Sick of the same old humdrum life? Not enjoying your
working environment? Or lost that spark of genius you once had when
coding in the early hours? Some developers just can’t cope with the
rigours of the modern development career and are looking for a way
out, buut crucially without losing their skills.

The solution might sound outlandish and a pipe dream at
first, but going freelance so you can sip mojitos on an exotic
beach might just be closer than you think. That’s what Ashray did,
writing about his travels around the world, in his post

‘Programmers!
It’s Time To Pack Your Bags’
whilst being a
programmer for hire along the way.

Although Ashray doesn’t say that doing small contract work is
the ideal solution for all, he does make a compelling argument for
it, and also advises us on the pitfalls of going
freelance.

With the IT world everchanging, outsourcing work to small
remote teams has become a normality, with a lot of enterprises
seeing it as a cheaper way to get what they want. Although there
are clearly risks with this approach for both company and
developer, it’s not necessarily a bad choice going solo if you can
show how good your experience is.

Obviously, money is the main factor when going freelance and
Ashray argues that unlike other professions, you can work on
compelling and financially rewarding projects if you plan well. He
does advise taking some freelance work beforehand to build up a
handsome resume on LinkedIn. It’s quite simple really – the better
that is, the more employable you are.

Another oft cited reason for putting off freelance work is
that it simply isn’t challenging as a normal 35+hour developer job
might be. Whilst this might hold some water in some circumstances,
with the thrill and stress of firefighting at 5am being like no
other, there’s a way around that with open source
contribution.

He argues: “I used to think that open source projects were
only for very experienced and highly qualified developers. No! The
beauty of open source is that you can take the initiative to start
something and more often than not, other people with
ideas/experience/mad-skillz will be more than happy to help you out
and contribute to your initiatives.”

Without being holier than thou and forcing open source
project down your throat, the benefits to contributing to a project
clearly outweigh the negatives. Any good developer should be
actively seeking to flex their coding muscles, and learning new
technologies so it seems a wise decision.

If you’re a developer, certainly on the conference circuit
either through speaking or attending, coding on the go isn’t a new
phenomenon at all. In fact it probably constitutes a large
percentage of your time.

Other factors such as poor internet access, availability and
gear don’t stand up much either in today’s standards –
globalisation and all that.

For Ashray, the decision appeared to be a no-brainer. He
offers the following conclusion for why he made the leap of
faith:

But shouldn’t I be traveling ? Well, you are traveling! If you
could work 40 hours a week while spending 2 hours a day commuting
or work 20 hours a week while surfing in the morning and dancing
salsa at night – what would you choose ?

Indeed. We think that if you plan effectively by creating a
savings buffer, do enough research on the cost of living in your
country/countries of choice and most importantly have enough about
you that says you’re employable, then why not? At least in the
short term. Perhaps it’s more suitable for developers not from Java
too.

Clearly, a
tropical coding life
isn’t for all (although that tropical
coding hackathon would suggest otherwise), but for more and more,
backpacking and coding seem to go hand in hand. Would you take the
plunge or not? Tell us why or why not below:

Image courtesy of victoriawhite2010
on Flickr

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