Become an independent developer

Some thoughts on the subject of working independently as a software developer

In the past ten years, I have worked on many different teams. I was a freelancer at first, thinking that I would work alone in a small business, such as website and front-end work, but in the end I found a lot of teams that need to be different from me. Every time I join the team, I will find different dynamics and feel different empathy. I used to be part of some good times, and in some not so good times.

But I always work independently, which means I have never been hired. I just work as a contractor, it has allowances and shortcomings.


The best thing about independence is freedom. If you are an employee, then you have a boss. If you are a contractor, you have a client. You can also have multiple clients. I have never had multiple clients because I always wanted to build my own business on one side. As an employee, in some countries/regions, your employer may have the right to use all content created in your spare time under the contract. That's crazy. As an independent contractor, you are free to carry out auxiliary projects. Actually, morethingYou have better: your portfolio grows, your perceived value grows, your personal brand grows, and your next contract will get better returns.


One degree of freedom is flexibility. Flexibility is great. As an employee, the company gives you only 2 to 3 weeks of vacation throughout the year. Imagine this: you take a 3 week vacation in the summer, and then there is no other day out of 344 days to take a vacation. In some countries/regions, such as EU countries/regions, it’s better for employees, but if you need to ask for leave, you still needallow.

Work is a cage for high salaries. There are many personality types, especially because of the implicit social network (your colleagues, boss) at work, and some people hate it. I am in the latter group.

The first flexibility privilege is hours. You can spend a very flexible day based on your customers (hint: choose customers wisely). Do I need to take a day off? I may work next Saturday to make up for the lost time. I will get off work next week and I will cut my salary by 25%.

If you decide to work remotely, free recombination will bring a whole new level of flexibility. Your customer may be in the United States and you are in the European Union, so you can take a full day off, make sure to work 5 dedicated deep hours a day instead of 8 sloppy hours, and you can work from 2PM to 7PM. Still from 5PM to 10PM, if this is more suitable for you.

You provide value, not time

But as a contractor, do you really work every hour? Or is the value you provide has nothing to do with working hours? Maybe you are very good at completing some work that a junior or intermediate developer can complete in 5 hours in 1 hour. And do better based on your experience and skills.

Your value

Another benefit of independence is that you are unlikely to work for a single client for many years. As your career path develops, you are more likely to establish a network of contacts and gain greater opportunities.

Every time an opportunity arises, you will gain all the experience from past projects and you can charge more.

There is a lot to say about your value. To be precise, your perceived value. In a team of employees, there may be blurred lines between the efforts of each team member that leads to the final result. As a skilled contractor, your value may be clearer. But it all depends on you, and it depends on how you build your opinion of yourself. When you are independent, there is almost no place for shy developers. You can think of yourself as a hacker type, and you have to write code until 3AM, even if you keep silent in the Slack chat, everyone knows what you are doing. No, there is a lot to say about communication, especially when working remotely. You need to be highly active in this area, and if you need to do so with the team, you need to interact with the outside world more than ten times.

Personal brand

Building a personal brand is the key to today's world, and it has never been easier. You just need to show up. YouTube, blogs, podcasts, social media, and other sites, and others, just choose the tool that suits your personality characteristics.

Personal branding is a big factor in deciding what your value is, so when a customer asks your price, what is your price. How do you decide? After hard work, this is almost as difficult as estimating the project time, except that it is not so difficult! All you have to do is to maintain self-awareness and self-confidence. And understand your value, and the value you provide to customers. Prices also vary greatly depending on the country where you live and the country where your customers live. Maybe you live in Europe for Easter, and your customers are from San Francisco. Can I get the SF hourly rate? Compared with peanuts living in Silicon Valley, should you get peanuts? There is a good question to ask, but I am afraid I have no answer.

This is difficult (hard

It is difficult, you may not be ready yet. however.

In order to earn a living independently, you must find customers. all the time. Do you have a network of people that can recommend and recommend your own connections?

Do you have skills that people want to pay for? Do people know you have these skills?

If you are not confident and do not have a safety net, do it on the side. For your own thoughts. Or start with charities and other work you can do for local nonprofit organizations.

Another easy way to get started is to contact local development agencies and companies that may be very interested in attracting contractors rather than hiring full-time personnel.

Is it worth it?

Yes it is.

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