Have you ever taken on a challenge purely out of defiance? That’s precisely how my journey into freelancing as a web developer began. Faced with sceptics who doubted a woman’s ability to code. Who even outright laughed at the very idea of it, I dared to prove them wrong. What unfolded was not just a triumphant debunking of those sexist stereotypes, but the discovery of a deep-seated passion for web development that still fuels my work today. I truly love what I do.
My adventure in coding and web design didn’t stop at being self-taught. To solidify my skills, I pursued a B.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. In fact, myself and the other female in the classes, consistently ranked at the top of our year.
The next stage of my journey took me to Australia, where I joined a small agency filled with talented graphic designers. This period was instrumental in shaping my understanding of the visual aspects of web development.
However, as life would have it, the need for a flexible career path arose when my son started school. I took a leap of faith, transitioning into freelancing to balance my professional aspirations with my family’s needs. This shift marked the beginning of a decade-long journey of honing my skills and establishing a successful business.
Why I Choose to Freelance
Choosing to freelance was not a decision I made lightly, but one driven by a mix of personal and professional reasons that aligned with my life’s evolving circumstances. Here’s why I chose this path:
Flexibility for Family:
When my son started primary school, I needed a career that could adapt to my family’s schedule and needs. And so I don’t miss out on those special moments, like “Book Week”.
Freelancing offered the flexibility to work around school runs, parent-teacher meetings, and all the unexpected adventures that come with parenting.
Choice of Projects:
Freelancing allowed me to choose the web development projects that resonated with me. I relished the opportunity to select work that I found meaningful and exciting, creating a sense of fulfilment that was unmatched in traditional employment.
In the rapidly evolving field of web development, being a freelancer meant I could continuously learn and adapt. It allowed me to keep my skills sharp and stay at the forefront of web design trends and technologies.
Empowering Small Businesses:
As a freelancer, I had the privilege of working directly with small business owners. The ability to use my skills to help their businesses flourish and succeed brought a unique satisfaction that fuelled my passion for web development.
Personal Client Connection:
One of the most rewarding aspects of freelancing is the opportunity to build personal relationships with my clients. Unlike my agency days, freelancing allows me to communicate directly with my clients, understanding their vision, and creating solutions tailored to their specific needs. This direct interaction leads to more personalised service and ultimately a more fulfilling work experience for me.
The Challenges of Freelancing
While the benefits of freelancing are plentiful, it’s important to acknowledge that this path also comes with its share of challenges. Here are some of the hurdles I’ve encountered on my freelance journey and how I’ve navigated them:
Initially, it was a daunting task to market myself and secure projects. However, I found that just by building amazing websites for my clients and ensuring they are happy, word of mouth got around. To the point that while initially I may have had to advertise, now I have a steady stream of projects and rarely need to.
Freelancing can sometimes mean an unpredictable income, especially when starting. While this can be more than a little scary at first, I’ve found that diversifying my client base, maintaining a financial buffer, and setting clear payment terms can help mitigate the impact of income fluctuations that happen throughout the year.
As a freelancer, I’m my own boss. This means managing all aspects of the business, from project management to accounting. While wearing many hats can be challenging, it’s also been an opportunity to develop a broad set of skills. Thankfully, there’s a wealth of resources out there to help, and there are a few tools I keep in my belt like Quotient for quoting and Rounded for invoicing, which make things a lot easier.
While freelancing offers flexibility, it can sometimes blur the lines between personal life and work. Setting clear boundaries, like dedicated work hours and a separate workspace, has helped me maintain a more healthy work-life balance.
Taking time off as a freelancer can be more complex than in a traditional job. Without a team to step into my role, I’ve often found that taking a break can lead to a backlog of work awaiting my return. Over time, I’ve learned to manage this by clearly communicating my availability to clients, planning my schedule well in advance. It’s a delicate balance, but essential to prevent burnout and maintain a sustainable freelancing career.
Choosing the freelance path has been a decision of profound impact, intertwining with every facet of my life and shaping my journey in ways I could have never anticipated when I first accepted that dare to learn to code. It has offered me flexibility, control over my work, endless learning opportunities, and the chance to forge meaningful relationships with my clients.
In essence, freelancing has become more than a career choice; it’s a lifestyle that aligns with my values and aspirations. It’s a path that empowers me to balance my family life, fuel my passion for web design, and use my skills to make a positive impact in the lives of small business owners.
Ready to Start Your Web Design Journey?
Having navigated the path of freelancing, I understand the unique needs and challenges that businesses face in establishing their online presence. If you’re looking for a web designer who brings not just technical skills, but also the flexibility, understanding, and personal touch that comes from a freelancing journey, I’d love to help.