Fork me on GitHub

Hello my name is Pui, I am a web developer based in London with over 8 years experience.

The Web Contractor’s Life

16 October 2018

Since 2015, I moved into the world of contracting. I set up my own company and began working for myself.

I absolutely love integrating myself into companies and using my expertise to help. It’s like a new problem to solve every time. Along the way, I am able to work with different people and teams and I get to pick up new backend and frontend systems and also meet new people. Things that would either never happen in a permanent job or would happen very slowly. That was my main vice working permanent, the lack of challenge and newness. The best thing about contracting is that next week, next month, next 6 months I could be anywhere else. Although most people would hate working like this, I love it!

The next job? When’s it coming?

Don’t get me wrong I used to panic between contracts. Panic that I’m not good enough and that I wouldn’t have enough money to pay for mortgage and life commitments. But I learned to just relax and trust myself.

Being a contractor, you make a name for yourself in every place that you work. So at first, it was a bit of a panic getting gigs but over time companies trust you, you trust them and you build a working relationship. I’ve had repeat work for most of the companies I’ve worked for, where I’ve gone back to solve a new problem. It’s been 3+ years now and I have to actively search for jobs less and less as I either go back to a previous contract or I get an email for urgent work which I reply to and begin working somewhere new the next day (I LOVE it when this happens). This then turns into another company that requires repeat work. So you build up a bank of ‘clients’ you flit between.

However

Becoming a contractor was the best decision I’ve ever made, however there are some downsides. There’s freedom but then there’s not as much security and not as much friendship.

What I loved about being permanent was the friends I made that I truly called my friends. You know, the type that you go out for dinner with during the weekends, or where you happily go out for drinks any time. Being a contractor there’s less of this which I do miss.

In terms of security, there are also still times where I panic about my situation, even now. Though it happens less frequently (I’d say every 6+ months or so). You learn to save money as your pay cheque each month can and will fluctuate. I’ve learnt to to build up a bank of money for emergencies or slow months, once you have this it’s plain sailing (she says).

Although there are these downsides, I’m extremely happy about being a contractor and wouldn’t go back to permanent any time soon. The freedom to work or not work is just priceless and if you’re reading this for courage or affimation as to whether it’s the right thing to do and to take the plunge, it is absolutely worth it in my eyes.

About the author

Pui-Ling Lau, front end web developer and designer based in Kent and London

Pui is a User Experience developer working as a contractor in and around London.