From Employee To Contractor - How I did it
Oliver Sarfas • July 1, 2020career
I've been offline (blog wise) for nearly 3 months now - in fact my last post was on April 12th!.
A lot of that has come down to me moving house, COVID-19 messing with my working schedule, and some other things I've been working out in the background. The main thing that's changed here is; I'm now self-employed
How did this happen?
Having taken on some large projects at my main job, I had to cut back on my side-projects and contracting work in the evenings. This was to keep me from burning out as I was working too much.
Fast forward to Coronavirus days, and I found myself missing the contracting work. I loved working from home, and being able to structure the freelance hours around my own schedule. So I decided I was going to take this on full time, and pack in my dayjob.
I left my last PAYE ("normal job") role 3 weeks ago now, and have been working full time on CleverEgg Digital with a close group of clients.
What are the postitives of going solo?
For me, the main positive is controlling my own hours.
If I want to take a day off - I just do it. Yes, I'm not earning money that day, so I need to catch it up; but the option is there if I need it. There's no HR process, no holiday bookings, nothing. I take a day, when I like.
The hours. I'm most efficient after midday. Due to this, most of my contract work is done between the hours of 11am and 7pm. This gives me the freedom to do whatever I like in the mornings, and still have a late night if I like - I don't have to get up for work early ⏰
If you're considering doing this, you need to be your own worst critic and be strict on your time. Time is literally money in the contracting world.
You don't have a boss staring down you 24/7. Or checking up on your progress everyday. If you wanna earn some money, do it off your own back.
Once you get a few clients, the thought of invoices being settled will be a good motivator - so that's always a bonus.
I've found that working for yourself means you do need to know a little more than just "your trade". Here's a few I can mention off the top of my head;
- Basic Accounting,
- Fundamentals of understanding Contracts, Terms, and negotiation thereof,
- Marketing & pricing
I'm a developer by trade, yet I've had to use all of the above 3 in the last 24 hours. Naturally I could pay someone to do all of them; but I'm not in any financial position to do so.
I should have done this sooner! I'm far happier in my work, as well as in a better position with my mental health.
I thought I'd be working longer hours to chase the extra money - given I can do so. However, I actually work less than I did with my "standard job"; and I'm no worse off financially.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
Freelance/Contracting isn't for everyone. Clients are very hard to come by, especially in today's economy and situations. I've been extremely lucky in that I've found a handful of clients who are well backed financially, and are unaffected by the pandemic.
I cannot express how much I owe of this to the LaravelUK community. Both in sourcing/sharing clients, and giving me support and advice for the last 2 years whilst I ponder over this decision.
If you do take the plunge and go into this chaos, here's a few tips;
- Find a community of like-minded people within your industry
- Ensure that you have enough money that you can go without work for a bit
- You won't be getting sick pay, or Annual Leave
- Don't under charge. Cheaper clients are cheap for a reason. Those that want your time, respect your trade, and want to look after you will pay for it.
- Be confident in your work; but not complacent / arrogant
- Enjoy it. Being your own boss is awesome!