Recently I looked through my resume and caught myself on the thought that my biography consists of two quite different layers: when I was a freelancer and when I worked at PSD to HTML conversion companies. Which is better? I mean not only for me but for customers too.
The question “freelancers vs. companies” isn’t that new and a lot of lances were broken over it, pardon the pun. But if you need some job to be done and have to make a choice between the two alternatives, the answer is not often obvious.
Of course, there are different freelancers and different IT companies. But both freelancers and IT companies have on the average some typical characteristics, advantages and shortcomings.
Mastering New Technologies
Freelancers are usually considered as more flexible and active in mastering new technologies. I remember that being a freelancer, I devoured books and tutorials one after another and tried to test all the new techniques. In fact, this individual learning process may be a little chaotic and disordered because sometimes it is very hard to force yourself to do something just in time. But a more essential problem is a necessity to earn your money – a freelancer is free in his or her learning plans but he or she isn’t free of the life.
In a PSD to HTML company coders are taught systematically but sometimes they study things that are not so thrilling for them or their training is kept within the limits which are specified by the company’s management. On the other hand, in some companies there are so-called “wild ducks”, i.e. teams which are in a “free flight” and can learn or test any technique and develop any new idea. Members of such teams have no need to worry how to make their living because they are supported by the financial power of a company and use its resources.
Customers’ Point of View
Frankly, many of them don’t even bother about such stuff as our training process. They can understand that all those new features in PSD to HTML5 or CSS3 are very interesting for us as IT professionals but their main goal is a little different: to get their markups done as quickly as possible, for as less as possible money and with as much as possible quality.
From this point of view, a freelancer is usually cheaper and can be perceived as a faster option because a customer contacts him/her directly. But on the side of companies there are such arguments as established quality assurance (QA & testing departments, corporate standards, ISO/CMM procedures and certifications, etc.), money back guarantees, a special customer service department, free after sale support, and so forth and so on. Moreover, companies can provide a wider range of programming skills and services. As a result, companies are perceived as a more reliable and diversified option.
There are two other moments which are objectively problematic for freelancers: large projects (or many simultaneous customers) and legal liability. Really, if a project needs more than 8 man-hour per day, a freelancer can’t provide it physically (or a close situation: he or she is full-time hired right when you need their service). Also, a company as a legal entity is considered as a more safe partner than self-employed workers especially taking into account that they can be situated anywhere on the globe.
On the other hand, a seasoned, responsible and conscientious freelancer can be a very effective option in case of projects which require about 8 man-hours per day and when a close direct contact between a customer and coder is necessary. In my experience, if a customer who can provide a regular and stable workload has found such a freelancer and they achieved harmony and mutual understanding in work with each other, it’s really a good luck for both.
But truth be told, sometimes freelancing is not too easy. You may fall ill or experience a creative block (yes, freelancers are living people too). In a company such problems are not so crucial for a customer because they can substitute one employee for another and in this way eliminate the risks of a project failure or getting behind the schedule.
Working in the Changing World
Changes are our life now, removing barriers between the recent opposites. And both freelance and IT companies have become different in many aspects during last 10-15 years.
Today’s freelance is not only independence in actions but also a whole bunch of time-proved recommendations and tips, software, online tools, as well as virtual assistants and specialized services (design-to-HTML conversion is one of them) which help freelancers to manage the promotion, development, customer service and administrative/accounting activities and build them in line with modern standards and customers’ requirements. It is also important that in the public opinion freelancers are not perceived as freaky or marginal types yet, and more and more people – graphic and web designers, HTML coders and back-end programmers, SEO and marketing consultants, content writers, etc. – choose freelancing as a main and trustworthy way to make a living.
The IT companies are also striving to be agile and quickly respond to the new market challenges. Flexible working hours, remote workplaces and home offices, friendly environment are practiced quite widely now. In addition to ‘multifunctional’ IT giants, there appear a lot of small design and programming firms which provide high tailored services and develop new market niches. For example, there were no markup coding companies about 7 years ago (see more in “PSD-to-HTML conversion services – A new fad or a new market need?“).
So, freelancers are actively assimilating and adopting the best experience and suitable methods of companies. Companies are trying to act with promptitude, personality and flexibility so natural for freelancers and add freedom and democracy in their corporate life.
These changes lead to implications that are to some extent unexpected: there appear more and more points of mutually beneficial interaction. Potential freelancers “use” companies as a good business and professional school (maybe some companies don’t like that but it is true). Meanwhile experienced independent workers establish successful web design, markup coding or back-end development firms. At last, companies offer freelancers to work for them and get active positive response.
So, answering the question from the title of this post, it is quite reasonable to say: “There are enough PSD to HTML jobs for freelancers, companies and… all forms of their cooperation.” This cooperation favors strengthening the both parties and their further development.
But the main person who benefits here is a customer, having the opportunity to choose from increasingly better options.