The dark side of freelancing – Why some developers regret going solo?

Freelancing in the tech industry, particularly for developers, has often been romanticized as a dream career path. The allure of flexible hours, the freedom to choose projects, and the promise of higher pay are just a few reasons many developers leap into freelancing. But as many developers discover, the reality can be far less rosy.

While some developers thrive in the flexible freelancing environment, others find themselves grappling with unexpected challenges. In this blog post, we'll help you manage your expectations by delving into five key reasons why some developers regret their decision to go solo in the freelancing world.

1. Lack of Business Savviness

Transitioning from employment to freelancing isn't just a career move; it's stepping into the shoes of a business owner and while you are proficient in coding, you might lack business skills and mindset. This means creating a CV that sells, pitching yourself to clients, marketing yourself effectively, negotiating your price… Freelancing is a constant hustle and it can be exhausting to find work for yourself. Without these essential business skills, sustaining a profitable freelance career becomes a significant challenge.

2. Lack of security

One of the most daunting aspects of freelancing is the variability of income. The comfort of a steady paycheck and benefits like health insurance, and retirement & social security payments often get taken for granted in traditional employment. Freelancers however, face a more unpredictable income stream and are responsible for their own benefits. Sure thing, your income stream is solid €€€ when you work but when the project ends, that stream stops.

The lack of financial security can be stressful, particularly during slow periods or when unexpected expenses arise. This unpredictability makes financial planning and management significantly more challenging, requiring freelancers to save for lean periods and manage their finances with greater caution.

3. Missing your community

Working in an office comes with built-in social interactions, branded hoodies and a sense of community. In contrast, freelancing can be an isolating experience. Developers who go solo often miss out on the collaboration that comes with being part of a team. While online communities and forums can provide some assistance, this isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnect, impacting both their professional growth and mental well-being. Here’s our tips on how to tackle this.

Networking is a critical part of career development and thankfully in this digital era it’s relatively supported to create a network of like minded individuals. However this can be a daunting task, especially for those who are not naturally inclined towards networking.

4. Not taking care of your learning development

A critical yet often overlooked aspect of freelancing is the lack of formal structures for learning and development. In traditional employment settings, companies often provide resources for continuous learning, including training programs, workshops, certificates and opportunities to work on diverse projects. However, freelancers must navigate their professional development independently, which can present several challenges. It’s recommended that you don’t start fully freelancing before you have not just solid developer skills to support you today, but also enthusiasm and skills to take care of your own learning development. Check for example what to look for in 2024.

5. Lack of Self-Discipline

Lastly, freelancing demands a high level of self-discipline. Unlike traditional office settings where structures and schedules are imposed, freelancing requires you to be your own boss in the truest sense and the freedom to set your own hours can quickly turn into a pitfall if not managed properly.

Procrastination, poor time management, and the distractions of home life can all affect your productivity. Without self-discipline, meeting deadlines and maintaining a steady workflow becomes a constant battle. If you need help, OKRs can give entrepreneurs some of the structure they would normally have in an office and can help you become a better boss for yourself.

For freelancers, reputation is everything, and this is built on reliability and meeting deadlines. So this not only affects current projects but can also harm future opportunities due to a damaged reputation.

Guiding You Through the Rough Waters

In conclusion freelancing offers undoubtedly many benefits and after trying it out, many developers vow never to go back to traditional employment. However it's still work and not without its challenges, but with expectation management and good planning, you can avoid most of these problems.

For those considering the path of freelancing, it's crucial to weigh these factors carefully and understanding and preparing for these challenges can make the difference between a fulfilling, forever-in-bahamas freelance career and a regretful venture into going solo.

Thankfully you are not alone. Thriv is happy to help you with any questions about freelancing and has many resources to help you navigate through the rough waters. But don’t take just our word for it - check what Juhani, a fullstack developer with over three years of experience in cooperating with Thriv has to say!

Ready to discover if it's your time to become a freelancer? Reach out to us and let's talk!

Linnea Saari - Client Relationship Manager

Linnea Saari

Client Relationship Manager