Should you become a Work from Home Freelance Web Developer? Should you work for a Web Design Agency? Or should you work for a larger company like say a member of FAANG, you know Facebook, Amazon, Apple Netflix, or Google?
In this article and video, I share with you some of the pros and cons of each option. Some things you might want to consider and think about when choosing the direction you go in.
My Recommendation as a Full-Stack, Freelance, Web Developer
Hi, I’m Joel, I’m the creator of this website and the YouTube channel named PixemWeb. I’m a full-time, freelance, full-stack web developer. If you want to learn about how I run my business and the different ways I make money, check out my video on freelancing as a full-stack.
Work from Home & Remote Work
First let’s talk about the changing landscape when it comes to working from home, remote work, and when it comes to working for someone else.
We all know that 2020 changed the entire way business is conducted. We all became familiar with Zoom. We all became familiar with making sure we have a good internet connection and what happens if we don’t.
Work From Home Dress Code
We learned that sometimes you only have to worry about what you’re wearing from the waist up and not really from the waist down. It’s all about what the camera can see.
We learned that having the freedom of working from home and remote work, freed up a lot of time and gave us a lot of opportunities to advance ourselves.
Maybe we caught up with rest, spent more time with family, and thought about the next chapters in all of our lives. But we also learned that working from home is not always the easiest thing to do.
Distractions of Working from Home & Remote Work
The reality is, there are distractions everywhere. From your tv, your kids, and your pets. But let me tell you, I like working from home. I enjoy the freedom it gives me. I like being in control of my own time. We have technology to thank for all of this. It made it possible for us to stay connected while at the same time, being distant.
Working from home and remote work is no longer just for freelancers or digital nomads. One thing we learned is that everything has changed. That being said, things will get back to some semblance of normal.
Maybe you’re thinking about what should you do next? Should you just freelance? Should you continue working from home? Or should you work for a web design agency? Or work for another company?
A Freelancers Point of View
Since I’m a freelancer, since I’ve been working from home before working from home was the norm, let me start from my perspective.
Everybody thinks a freelancer is someone who has the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, and that’s true, kind of.
The Pros of Being a Freelance Web Developer – Working From Home
Being a freelancer has a lot of benefits. You are the typically more in control of your life which means you get to design the life you want to live.
Freedom of being a Freelancer
One of the things that attract people to being a freelancer is the fact that you are your own boss. That is a definite pro, kind of. You are the CEO of you. The freedom and flexibility you have are second to none. You get to have complete creative control over the way you direct your life. You can be selective about the projects you work on. You get to figure out new ways to get things done. You constantly get to improve yourself in terms of your workflow, your marketing, your creativity, your logic with your code, etc. Being a freelancer gives you a lot of control.
Freelance Web Developers Can Work From Anywhere
One thing about being a freelancer is that you’re not stuck just working from home. You can work from just about anywhere as long as you have your laptop and an internet connection. One of the biggest pros of being a freelancer is you really can’t be fired. You might lose a client, but it’s your job to keep your pipeline full.
What Are the Cons of Being a Freelancer?
Those were just a few pros of being a freelancer. Being a Freelance Web Developer has a lot of benefits, but there are also some things you have to realize and understand. Not everything is going to be glorious. Freelancers, and freelancing in general, comes with added responsibilities.
Let’s talk about the cons because not everything is going to be perfect. One of the cons is that you have to be your own boss. You have to boss yourself around. You must be able to deal with the distractions that exist, and everything that’s trying to tug on your time. Trust me when you’re working from home and the world around you goes back to normal, people will think that you have all the time in the world to take care of this errand or that errand. That’s something you’re going to have to deal with. That’s something you must figure out.
Can You Control Your Time while Freelancing?
It boils down to your ability to take control of your time. That’s one of the hardest things as a freelancer. That’s one of the hardest things about working from home. Having structure is something you must work on.
As a Freelancer, can you Specialize on one Programming Language?
Another con is the fact that you kind of have to become a full-stack developer. Maybe that’s not a Con, depends on you. I enjoy being a full-stack. Some people will say you don’t have to become a full-stack. They might say you can just focus on one type of code. But when you get a client, and that client wants a website, most clients don’t know the difference between a front-end developer, back-end developer, server administrator, graphic designer, search engine optimization expert, social media marketer, etc. When they say hey, I need a website, you must figure all of that out for them.
Learn more about being a full stack web developer. You can also checkout the video as well.
When Does the Money Start Flowing in when Freelancing?
Another con, especially in the beginning, is that there’s going to be inconsistent income. There are going to be times where you make no money for an extended time. Then there’s the health insurance you have to worry about. The retirement accounts that you have to figure out. Figuring out how to deal with customer service, lead generation, focusing on code, marketing your business, how to handle your finances, and everything else in between.
Being a freelance developer, means you don’t have a career, you have a business. You need to learn how to run your business and how to make it profitable.
Freelancing is one of the most difficult ways to earn a living, but it can be the most rewarding if you do it right. Make sure to focus on creating relationships with your clients. your business depends on it.
Scheduling for Your Freelance Business
When you’re working from home, the line can get very blurry when it comes to when you’re working and when you’re not. Trust me, it can take years for you to get your business off the ground.
While being a freelancer, while working from home, while being a remote worker, digital nomad, all those sound awesome, and it is, but it takes a lot of work.
Working for a Web Design Agency
Now let’s move on to working for an agency. One of the pros of working for an agency is the stable income. Most agencies will provide you with health insurance. You’ll probably have a retirement plan. That means you don’t have to worry about all that.
You’re also going to have a steady flow of work. This is great because you’ll get to focus on your work and none of the other issues freelancers typically face.
One thing about being a freelancer is you have so many different hats you have to wear. But when you’re working for an agency or even a company, you get to just focus on what you like to do, and not worry about the rest of that stuff.
Web Design Agencies Give you Structure
Let’s face it, another pro of working for an agency, or even a company, is the fact that it gives you structure. You have a schedule that you must follow. If you’re not the disciplined type, then having that structure can be very beneficial.
Some Web Design Agencies are Flexible
Some agencies allow you to work from home. Some give you the flexibility to choose how your schedule is managed. That can be a benefit because then you don’t have to worry about the travel time. But with that flexibility, comes responsibility. You will need to be disciplined.
Technology Stipend & Continuing Education
Most agencies will provide you with a technology stipend if you work remotely. You will also find that agencies will offer access to premium continuing education resources to help keep you on top of your game.
Web Development and the role of being a web developer, is constantly in a state of flux. There’s always more to learn, more to do, aspects of your job may change over time. That’s why taking time to learn is vital.
The same typically applies to companies.
Travel Time Considerations
Speaking of travel time, let’s go into the cons. If you must travel to work, depending on where you work and how long it takes to get there, that could be an hour in the morning and an hour coming back at night. That’s two hours out of your day that could probably be better used doing something else. Maybe you could spend an hour learning to do something different. Or maybe you could just use some extra sleep.
If you do get to work from home, you still have some structure you to deal with. You have to be on the company clock. You must be accessible and accountable. You need to make sure that you’re doing your job when the rest of the team is doing their job.
Web Development Project Control & Office Politics
Another thing is you don’t always get to choose the projects you work on. You’re pretty much given a task, and you must get it done.
When you’re working for a company or an agency, inter-office politics and titles matter. You’re often going to want to advance in your job, maybe go from junior developer to senior developer, or to project manager. Advancement can take a lot of time.
How about Job Security?
Another con is that you can be laid off and trying to find another comparable position elsewhere, can take awhile.
One way to ensure you’ll always find employment, is to make sure you keep your skillset sharp. Stay on top of the latest trends in your industry. Make sure to advance your knowledge about the programming languages you specialize in and take time to learn something new in your field.
As a Web Developer, Should you work for a Company or a member of FAANG?
What about working for another company like say, working for FAANG which is Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, or Google, or any other large company out there that deals with programming? This could be like working for an agency, but at the same time, you’re also getting the benefit of working for a large company with name recognition.
Companies Provide Stable Income & Benefits
Just like an agency, you’re going to get a stable income, you’re going to get health benefits, you’re going to get a retirement plan, and sometimes you’ll get stock options and those stock options can be lucrative.
Corporate Perks are AWESOME!
When you speak to any of the developers that work at some of the larger companies, they’ll tell you that the offices are next-level awesome. They’ll have in-house catering; they’ll have chefs that are going to make some of the best foods you’ll probably ever eat. They might have in-house dry cleaning; they might also have parking for your car.
Work Environment Matters
The environment you work in is going to be all about making it easy for you to want to stay there working. They might have game rooms, and if you’re into technology (which you are as a web dev), they’re probably going to have some of the best tech in the industry.
Don’t forget, if you’re working for a big company, or an agency, you’re going to be surrounded by a team of developers, some of these developers might be next-level developers. This will make it easier for you to level up your skills. Proximity to other skilled programmers enables you to bounce your ideas or questions off to someone who might be able to help you.
The Cons of Working for a Company as a Web Developer
Some of the cons for working for a larger company, just like working for an agency, can be the travel time. Even though we know that remote work and work from home are becoming more of a trend, some companies have already stated that they’re going to pay people less if they work from home. That might not be the case across the board, but it’s something you might want to check into.
Unlike a freelancer who will probably have to be a full stack developer and know a lot of different aspects of what it takes to code a website, create content for a website, and market it, if you’re working for a company, or if you’re working for an agency, you’re going to often be part of an assembly line workflow. In that case, it’s probably best that you focus on one or two programming languages, become an expert at it, and realize that instead of you just working on one project, you’re going to be working on a small part of a project.
Web Developers Have Options & Decisions to Make
Being a web developer, do you want to be a specialist? Do you want to be a full-stack? Do you want to have full control of your time? Or do you need somebody there to give you structure?
One thing to note, freelancing is becoming a big deal. In the United States alone, about 36 percent of people freelance, taking part in the gig economy. Let’s face it, we live in a digital world, if the prices are higher in one area, they could be lower elsewhere.
Being a freelancer, you must focus on marketing, self-promotion, and lead generation. Working for a company means you give up control of your time, but you get the benefit of having a stable income, health benefits, retirement plan, and possibly stock options.
A freelance web developer has greater control over their life, but with that control comes greater responsibility.
Working for a web design agency or larger company also has its pro’s and con’s.
There is no perfect position for everyone, no one-size-fits-all. It’s about finding the best position for you. You must decide what type of lifestyle you want to live. Where do you see yourself one year, five years, ten years down the road? Do you want to be your own boss? Do you have the discipline it requires to be your own boss? Or do you want to have the notoriety of working for a major company or one of the top design firms? Those are things you must think about.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article and hopefully you had a chance to watch the video. If you enjoyed it, please share it with others, and stay tuned for the next article and video. Happy coding.