2 years ago, almost to the day, I left school and registered as a sole trader. I’d been unsuccessful in finding anywhere that would give me a job due to lack of experience, and the recession had just reared its big ugly head.
In that time I’ve built more websites that I can remember, given training courses, spoken at conferences and, possibly the biggest achievement to me, been able to do that most basic thing of buying food and paying the rent without having to borrow any money. (I honestly thought after a few months of freelancing I’d fail miserably and have to move back home with my tail between my legs.)
From July, I’m taking a break from freelancing because I’ve just accepted a role as front-end web developer at a web agency. I’m also moving (again) into my own flat, still in Brighton.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make because I love being a freelancer. I love the flexibility of working wherever I choose, being my own boss and planning my week. I love the independence it gives me and the variety of working on the visual design of a party website one week, and the IA of a school website the next.
But in the past few months, it’s been too much. Work has been picking up a lot which is great, but as a result I have to spend an increasingly disproportionate amount of time outside of the code editor; writing contracts, sending emails, chasing up payments. There’s the pressure of getting cashflow right so I can pay the rent and have enough money (and time) to go out and enjoy myself. I wanted so much to stay living in Brighton where I feel I’ve finally settled and made lots of friends, but it was difficult to justify as I have to do so much commuting. I felt like I was in over my head. The stress was making me physically ill, and I never want to stop enjoying work, so it was time for a change.
I’m really looking forward to starting my new role next month. They’re a short walk along the seafront from where I live, and after meeting all the people who work there, I know I’ll fit right in. I can’t wait to settle down and work in an office with other people, have more of a routine and be able to come home at the end of the day and actually be at home; not live and work in the same place. I feel like I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve as a freelancer, and now I need a new challenge.