Contract or Freelance – PROS/CONS

Here are my small nuggets of wisdom regarding contract/freelance (as I see them)

Contracting – PROS

  • It should be relatively easy to find a contract if you have a good skill set, look at or – the rates do vary quite a bit
  • Once you have a contract its guaranteed income for the length of the contract – so long as you stick to the terms of the contract
  • No problems with getting paid – so long as you get your timesheet signed

Contracting – CONS

  • you have to deal with agents, they are pretty underhanded and will try and squeeze as much information out of you about your current workplace to see if they have an opportunity to sell in a new person (so be careful)
  • They take quite a big cut, the rates advertised are what you would receive but they charge another 15-20% on top to the end client
  • Most of the jobs are in London
  • Most contracts expect you to work onsite

Freelancing – PROS

  • You can work on projects you want to work on (once you have the luxury of enough work)
  • Working from home – I hate travelling into London
  • For me its a more personal approach to development, it feels like “my” work rather than going to an office and working for someone
  • Projects can be quite varied
  • Dealing with clients directly

Freelancing – CONS

  • Finding work – this is really hard
  • Dealing with clients directly
  • Getting paid – once had to wait 6 months for a payment

As you can see the Freelancing PROS/CONS are a lot more personal and I know that for a lot of people maybe not that important. I’ve contracted for about 18 years of my IT career and only freelanced for about 3 years. But I much prefer the freelance approach

You’ll also need to set up a limited company, get VAT registered and sort out PAYE. I use Nixon Williams as my accountant, who are brilliant and can set all of these up for you from the start. I also wrote an app for them that lets you work out what your take home pay would be, give it a try (if you want) iOS  or Android

If you are going to use Nixon Williams, please let me know so that I can refer you :)

Any PROS/CONS you think I should add then add to the comments

6 Responses to “Contract or Freelance – PROS/CONS”

  1. Actually, getting paid when doing a contract is not guraranteed. My last contract turned into a payment fiasco when the Agent ran into financial trouble. Took me 6 months to get all the money even though the client had paid them promptly

    Go with a large agency. Check out their financials!

  2. @Gary its worse than that, most of the agencies I have worked with recently do not guarantee payment like in the old days.
    They used to be a financial bridge between you and the client, whereby you would be paid on time every month, and chasing the client was something they did (a service to earn their fee).
    You must ask.. I bet they don’t

  3. Oh I remember those days of guaranteed payments! If they don’t exist anymore then what use are the agents anyway? Might as well go direct if you’re good at selling your skills, if not then the agents still have a role for some, albeit smaller.

  4. @Paul, how did you manage to build up your direct business? Did it take a while to make it pay? Be interested in your insights and “how-to” strategies. Gary

  5. Nice post, cheers Ledger!

  6. @Gary – interestingly enough I did some work on this just before Christmas to see what sort of repeat business I get and what technologies. I’ll do another post on that