Freelance Work a.k.a virtual company

Working in a freelance company is fun, teaches you a lot, helps you gain a lot of confidence. However at the end of the day, you get paid peanut and will be put under a lot of stress. So why work as a freelancer? How is it like? Is it worth it? TL;DR: Totally!!

What is it like?

When you work as a freelancer there is actually no company. It may be a large company, however, you are not entitled to any company benefits or there isn’t the protection of any Labour laws. In most cases it would be some individual or a small startup, that would be your employer. The other part which will turn your heart down is that the pay will be meager compared to the industry.

Why then?

Be it may, with all the downsides (or so-called), freelance work is one of the best types of work for learning. You do not have any horizontal or vertical departments as in a traditional organization, there are no software management systems for defect and change tracking, version control, file storage, or pretty much anything. You will have to manage end to end – from taking requirements, tracking them to delivering them to production after testing.

I still remember the time where I had to migrate 6000 live domains from a proprietary DNS server to a FOSS DNS Server (Power DNS), after writing a migration tool, a JAVA batch processor for syncing from the hosting servers to the PDNS servers, and shell scripts to wire in cron. All this without any kind of tracking systems or version control systems, not even a staging environment to test what you have written. For anyone working in an established company, this is utter nonsense and a nightmare. However this is how it happens in the freelance world, it is shivering, but it works and you get paid peanuts.


However, the learning you get from such experiences is priceless. The confidence that you gain for managing things end to end is unimaginable. And that is the prime advantage of working as a freelancer. The feeling of freedom is amazing as well, more often than not, the person giving you the work will often be a non-techie meaning you get to decide what to and how-to, but then when to will be almost always very tight. Also, that means, you will have to explore, learn, use, develop, implement, test, deploy, write documentation, and support – uff – a lot of learning – a lot of experience!!!

Personally, I have gained a lot working as a freelancer. All the confidence that I have today, the ability to jump into stuff with strong confidence of turning it around, the knowledge that has given me a push start in each stage of my career, the appreciation of the tools, technologies, and benefits given by established companies that ease everyday life, is all because of my learnings working as a freelancer. However, I do not claim that everyone who works as a freelancer will have a great experience, however, if you choose the right job and have the passion to work and eagerness to learn, for sure you will reap the fruit.

Being a freelancer you can learn a lot and gain confidence for a lifetime – though you’ll get paid peanuts and experience a lot of stress!

Posted by Arun Thundyill Saseendran

Arun is a software engineering leader. He loves architecting enterprise software and guiding its development. He is an active researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence and specializes in Computation Linguistics as a visiting researcher at Trinity College Dublin. Arun is also fond of reading and exploring the vastness of technology and periodically inking them. He is fond of machine learning, cloud computing and science of web. On a personal side, he enjoys spending time with family, he loves photography, travel and reading among others.

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