Swaroop C H

blog books about contact subscribe

Freelancing

14 Sep 2011

I’ve been a long-time reader of Ramit Sethi – I love his irreverent approach to money which has influenced me positively. About a year and a half ago, he launched the Earn1K program and I was immediately curious about it. Having failed to run a business once, I thought this was a great way to “hack my brain” to learn about business.

Eventually, I signed up for it. Of course, I have never mentioned this before to anybody other than a handful of friends because most people would balk that I paid so much for an online course and consider me an idiot. I guess I’m just not the latte saving kind of guy – I don’t earn a lot and I don’t spend a lot, but I do want to spend on the things that I really want. I’m mentioning this today because I have results to show from having gone through just half of the course.

A few months ago after I left my last job, most people expected me to jump into a startup again:

https://twitter.com/vijayanands/statuses/93289234424799232

https://twitter.com/satpalparmar/statuses/92252893897433089

Having the spent last 3 years in startup land, I learned a few things which have made me wary and weary of startups. It had gotten me to think of what it is that I was actually seeking.

It turns out to be simple – “I like coding. I like building interesting and meaningful projects. I like working with good people. I like getting paid well.” That’s it ;-). After all these years, I still love coding, so I kept thinking of ways to focus on just that and stay far away from the business and management side of things. “At least, let me indulge in coding till I have the enthusiasm for it” was my refrain. But how to achieve that?

That was when my lessons from Earn1K kicked in.

Today, my full-time freelancing is going better than I had anticipated a couple of months ago.

There was one more reason why freelancing seemed like a great option to me:

To be happy, your work must fulfill three universal psychological needs:

  1. Autonomy – control over how you fill your time.
  2. Competence – mastering unambiguously useful things
  3. Relatedness – feeling of connection to others

This was what I came across in Cal Newport’s blog whom I pay attention to.

As you can imagine, freelancing has given me an opportunity to further each of the above three points – I get to choose the projects I work on, I get to choose projects that improves my skills and I get to choose to work on projects that I want to be a part of. I am not bound by a company’s roadmap at all.

There are other pluses such as not having to commute, not having to take phone screens and face-to-face interviews, no meetings, not having to worry about sales and product roadmap (my clients take care of that), not having to worry about the competition (my clients take care of that), etc.

There are minuses, of course, such as not having a team to interact and learn from, not having the opportunity to meet wonderful colleagues, no paid holidays, and so on. Thankfully, Pomodoro and GTD help me stay focused and productive and the other minuses haven’t bitten me strongly yet.

At some arbitrary point in time in the future, I’ll do a personal review of how things stand, especially if I have a reasonably steady income. If all is well, then I’ll probably continue freelancing, otherwise there is always the option to jump back into a regular job. Until then, my new life experiment is in progress and so far, so good.

P.S. I’ll talk about my current projects in subsequent posts.


“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”

Nassim Taleb

Comments

Shradha Sharma says:

really enjoyed reading this post, refreshing and candid, waiting to hear more.

Ranjan says:

Congrats on joining Ramit's programme and for enjoying your coding. I am a big fan of Ramit too. Btw, I wish I could interest you with my own struggles of starting up! :)

Samudra says:

Loved this post! Comes close to being my favourite post on your blog (there are many competitors!)

And apparently we have learning from Ramit Sethi in common :)

Hope to catch you sometime... If you are ever in Pune... please do drop me a line!

Anita CM says:

You very aptly mirrored my feelings about freelancing coding in particular! I left my full time programming job 6 years back to make a switch over to freelance programming. I guess it was the best career move i ever made...

Anita CM
http://www.vantrix.net

Swaroop says:

@Shradha @Samudra Thanks!

@Ranjan Hehe, sorry about that!

@Anita Fantastic, I'm actually not aware of many dev freelancers in India, so it was great to hear from you.

Vivek Pandey says:

I was always curious as to what you are going to do next, and like many others, had assumed that it would be a startup! Any case, wish you all the best, and it would be interesting to see how things shape out for you in the new journey.

Parag Shah says:

Hi Swaroop,

I have done this for a long enough time and it is a lot of fun. In fact I have always avoided getting employed, and for pretty much the same reasons you have stated.

Good luck :-)

Swaroop says:

@Vivek @Parag Thanks!

Mahesh says:

Hey,
I am also in same boat and going to try that model just because I love coding (although I am not good at coding ;)). There are lots of good parts as far as fun is concerns, but there are few serious drawbacks like

1. You don't get loan from any bank but in US freelancers are well paid as well as they have good reputation to take credit.
2. Even after couple of year you try to go back to job most of the corporate ask where you have worked? If you worked as a freelancing it will be difficult to answer those questions.

I am not demotivating you I am just putting my internal dilemma on the comment ;)

Swaroop says:

@Mahesh Regarding (1), I think if you call yourself self-employed and show the minimum bank balances required, I *think* it should not that much of a problem, but obviously I haven't tried it so I don't know the answer to that. Regarding (2), I think that is a matter of explaining the kind of projects that you have worked on which boils down to you choosing good projects in the first place, so I think that is a solvable problem :)

nalbyuites says:

There sure are freelance devs around. Some are old school folks, like: http://toroid.org/ams/.

What do you think of the niche app route, with a single dev mantaining an app, eg. patio11's bingo card creator? He seems to have a bit more freedom since as a freelancer you are still restricted by clients' technology choices or project durations.

But good luck! I look forward to hearing how it worked out.

Swaroop says:

@nalbyuites The niche app route is nothing but a small business which has all the aspects of a business :) ... Thanks for the wishes!

@pocha says:

@swaroopch nice post. You mind if I share it with @stalkninja community ?

@joe_jacob says:

All the best. RT @swaroopch: New Blog Post : Freelancing http://t.co/Cxl59UL #Freelancing #Startup

@vijay750 says:

@swaroopch congrats! And you sure have some warped notion of how "old" you are!!

@samudraNB says:

@swaroopch Hey dude, just commented on your post. Loved it! Wanted to recommend Disqus to you. Easier to track the comments that way :)

@vijay750 says:

@swaroopch are you out of infibeam, then? Will await your post on nitty gritty of being a freelancer.

@shankargan says:

“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” - Nassim Taleb via @swaroopch #fb

Feedback

There's no comment box, but please do email me or tweet me your thoughts and criticisms, and I will publish the relevant ones here.