Since I posted about my decision to close down my Web Development business to pursue other opportunities, several people have asked why.
Two Main Reasons.
1. Running a Business Isn’t My Thing.
On one hand, freelancing is great. You get to be your own boss, work on your own schedule and choose your own clients. The down side is that you have to run a business. That means doing all the business stuff: marketing, networking, financials, client relations, business planning, personnel. The list goes on.
I got into the business because I love doing the code. And frankly, I suck at marketing, and over time I’m not getting any better at it. It’s just not something I’m wired for. It’s become increasingly apparent that all the business was getting in the way of the reason I love the work: getting elbow-deep in the code.
The other thing about running a very small freelancing business is that as great as my clients are, they are few, and mostly small nonprofits. Some months are busy, but there are many gaps. When you’re working for yourself, no client work means no paycheck. No paycheck is hard on the family budget. Combined with the marketing thing, keeping the business up as an actual means of making a living wasn’t working.
2. I’d Reached a Plateau.
I love my clients. They’re all great people, and they’re doing great, important work. That said, my clients have been small operations. Their website needs were small and fairly simple. And, while I’ve been happy to do the work, I know there is a lot more out there to explore in website development. Even as Lead Developer for Digital Canvas, I’m pretty much the solo person in the web department working on small sites.
Over the past year and a half I’ve been to and spoken at WordCamps, participated in classes through WPSessions and more recently the WordPress Developers Club. I’ve read tons of blogs and articles, I’ve come a long way. I’ve implemented version control on my own and Digital Canvas’s projects and taken that small agency from using canned themes to building custom themes and separating out theme/presentation from plugin/functionality for many projects. All that has been great stuff, and I’ll always be thankful to Kelly and her design team for giving me the space to grow.
But at the end of the day, I’ve been largely on my own. Figuring things out as I go. Browsing the WordPress Stack Exchange and occasionally participating in a code review session is good. I know I’m good at what I do and I have a solid development knowledge base. But I also know that for me to continue to grow, I need the challenge and support of other developers working on more advanced solutions.
That’s why I’m quitting the freelancing, solo developer life. No regrets and looking forward to what’s next.