Freelancing has been coined the “future of work” for a reason—it breaks the traditional 9-5 mold to provide the flexibility and autonomy that every professional deserves. This begs the question: with thousands of existing independent software professionals in the industry, and thousands more following suit in the post-COVID era—why isn’t everyone doing it?
Our bet: would-be freelancers tend to buy into a few common misconceptions about freelancing in software development, which are actually entirely false. Like, Dwight Schrute false.
If you’re interested in transitioning to freelance software development but find yourself thinking, “is it even worth it?” we’re here to set the record straight.
Misconception #1: A computer science degree is required to freelance
This is false with a capital “F”. In our experience, some of the best software developers we’ve hired on our platform are self-taught. We can count on zero hands the number of times a client has asked where a freelancer has gone to school or their major.
When software professionals transition into development from a different role or industry without the credentials of a formal education, it speaks a lot to the dedication of your craft and the ability to quickly pivot.
Misconception #2: Freelancing is a financial gamble
Cards on the table (pun intended), there’s a lot to unpack here. When it comes to freelancing, you technically do have more financial weight to carry than your average W2 software developer. 1099s, covering your health insurance and other benefits, and most importantly, ensuring you’re getting paid a substantial income (on time)—they are all valid concerns. What typical W2 developers don’t have, though, is the agency to call their own financial shots and the ability to get paid based on skill, not a geographical location.
For those freelancing on their own (thanks to the explosion of remote work in recent years), there are countless financial resources like, Indi, Betterment, Quickbooks– that have taken the bulk of admin work off their plate. Even better, for those freelancing with a dedicated platform, the lift of their financial to-do’s are virtually non-existent.
At Gun.io, we standardize the terms of our engagements to ensure every developer is paid the exact rate they’ve set for themselves, on time, and with zero client-chasing required (we have people for that). And when tax season rolls around, freelancers use platforms that are specialized in contract income like, Bonsai and TurboTax to make tax filing a breeze.
Misconception #3: It’s difficult to find clients
As a freelancer, client acquisition can be difficult if you’re unsure where to look.
68% of our freelancers say they joined our platform because they needed support in finding quality clients after trying to use LinkedIn and other social media outlets.
The most efficient place to land quality clients is on freelancing platforms. The majority of freelancing sites proactively acquire clients, and if they’re like us, they vet them before you’re ever pitched on the project.
It’s not just the platforms themselves that ease the stress of client acquisition: it’s their unique ability to showcase your talent to clients. At Gun.io, 80% of our active talent pool fills their client pipeline solely with Gun.io clients- without sliding into anyone’s DMs or completing a lengthy application. Plus, we proactively and personally present candidates to clients based on your availability and role preferences.
Misconception #4: Freelancing is a professional dead end, or for those in professional limbo
Let’s do some math: say you’re a full-time freelance developer averaging an engagement length of 3 months with a single client. That’s about 4 roles per year. So, if you were to continue freelancing on that path for the next 5 years, that’s 20: 20 clients in your pipeline, 20 opportunities to level up your professional development and network, and 20 roles under your belt.
TLDR; freelancing allows you to significantly maximize your development experience and 10x your portfolio in less time than those in full-time on-site roles. Plus, each new role is an opportunity to re-evaluate your standard rate and decide when it’s time to give yourself a raise.
Misconception #5: You need to have ALL the experience under your belt before you start freelancing
We’ve been hiring software engineers for 10+ years now and we’ve seen and heard it all, especially the concern from potential freelancers that they’re not ready to freelance without:
Silicon Valley experience
Cue the eye-rolls. Contrary to popular belief, the tech industry not only exists, but thrives well beyond that 47 sq. mile parameter (Ironically yes, we Googled that). If you’re reading this, you’re most likely a software professional that has been hired before without Silicon Valley experience—freelancing is no different. The geographical location of where you’ve worked means nothing compared to how you’ve used the skills you’ve mastered to bring value to your clients. In fact, our Valley-based clients use our platform to beat out the hyper-competitive local hiring market.
Full stack agency experience
We’ll make this one short. No. More than 40% of our talent joined the Gun.io platform straight out of a full-time in-house role with zero previous agency experience.
Experience building software from scratch
The main reason freelance developers make up the vast majority of engineering teams is because of their unique ability to solve tough problems and input value at any stage of the product development process. In our experience, our clients come to the Gun.io platform after the foundation of their technology has been built to begin the most pivotal part of their technical hiring process: assembling top freelance talent to provide the expertise required to execute their software development goals.
Misconception #6: Freelancing requires assembling a ton of short-term gigs
We were so tired of debunking the misconceptions about freelancing, like that it’s a low-ball game reserved for those willing to balance a bunch of short-term gigs, so we surveyed 127 freelance developers a while back to get to the truth. Turns out, only 6% of freelance developers maintain their freelancing practice entirely on short-term gigs.
What made the difference for the other 94%? How they acquired clients and where they applied to roles. They used the client acquisition and recruiting channels that tend to yield the most efficient and quality results—through freelancing platforms and referrals. The quality of the clients you acquire and where you apply to roles directly determines the quality of your engagement. The best way to gauge the efficacy of a freelancing platform or referral is by referencing the quality of their own clients or previous roles they’ve posted. If there’s a pattern of quick-fix and short-term gigs, that’s not a coincidence.
Don’t succumb to the woes of these freelancing misconceptions. Sure, the initial transition into freelancing from a full-time in-house role is an adjustment, but with the help of a freelancing platform *cough* like us, you can have your freelancing career and succeed too. When you’re ready to get started, apply to the Gun.io platform.