On Five Years of Freelancing

Facebook Memories is by far my favorite feature of a social network that is more often annoying or distracting to me than particularly valuable. I like seeing what was happening in my life at this time one or two years ago. Unlike the rest of the site, which mainly tells me which candidate my friends support and what they have been eating for dinner, this feature actually adds some interesting perspective on everything that has changed over the years, and all that has not.

Today, that lovely little app reminded me that it has been five years since I left my last full-time job and went it alone as a freelance web developer. On September 30, 2011, I finished the month of purgatory I agreed to spend working for a boss I resented at a company I had grown to despise.

It's an interesting time for the anniversary to pop up. Two weeks ago, I set out a fairly ambitious 6-month plan for where I'd like to take my business, basically with the goal of either getting it the way I want it or give up on it completely. There are certainly times I question the logic of being a one-man company. HR departments, steady paychecks, PAID VACATION. These things are nice. Taxes, that's another thing that's better at a bigger shop.

Most days, today included, the freedom and self-determination of freelance work outweigh those other things by a mile. I've realized, more clearly since I started this most recent work push, and especially clearly today with the sudden realization of the anniversary, that even though I'm often of two minds when it comes to how I run my business, I am really never unhappy with my choice. I love working for myself, and the variety of contract work. I need to do some things better. I'm a much better technician than I am a business owner. But still, I'm not looking back, except in overall satisfaction.

Five years down. How many to go? Will I ever work for one company again? Will I ever want to? I don't know. What I do know is this: I've always said it would take a hell of a deal to bring me back to a 9-to-5 office life. On the good days, it's hard to imagine any offer that would be worth the tradeoffs. And today, thanks in part oddly enough to Facebook, is a very good day.

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