Developers: Is it Better to Work in an Agency or be a Freelancer?

developers

What are we talking about in this article?

With the rise of digital marketing, agencies and other businesses have made e-commerce and mobile marketing a top priority.

Therefore, web developers are in high demand, job opportunities are just raining down on them. However, the challenge comes when picking an option out of them.

Today web developers decide between two options: working full time in agencies or a freelance developer path.

Both of these have their advantages and their disadvantages, but before making any hasty decision, we will try to uncover what are the benefits of these lucrative choices and it’s up to you to decide which option suits you best.

Hence, let’s get started!

Project Management

Working as a Web Developer

As the name suggests, development teams that work particularly for an agency, work in mobile apps both in the front-end development and the back end of the system; their hourly rate gets a reasonable treat for their hard work.

In the past, people used to think that working full time for an agency was the best option because of the security it gives but nowadays, times have changed.

However, it really depends on how you’re most comfortable working while being a good option for some. It can be the worst for others. So let us dive deep into this quarrel: freelances vs agency developers.

The Pros and Cons of Working for a Web Development Agency

Advantages

  • A software development agency gives structured and stable jobs with a clear workflow. This would mean you won’t have to worry about inconsistencies or uncertainties if you choose to work for any software development company. It’s always the easiest and most comfortable choice, it provides you with a constant stream of work and a steady income.
  • By enjoying this consistency, you’ll learn all the skill sets necessary to build a strong portfolio. Furthermore, your functionality will skyrocket if you truly grasp this opportunity and develop where your area of expertise. These kinds of jobs are excellent for boosting your confidence, it’s always a relief to have a steady income. But if you want this, you’ll have to grind for at least a year, maybe two.
  • If you are a programmer or a designer, you’ll be hired to carry on a software project for a particular skill set. Therefore, if you join the team of professionals of these agencies for your cause, you’ll only be using your dominant skills to get the job done.
  • Being in this kind of work environment allows you to be surrounded by people that do the same thing as you, or have a similar way of understanding and solving problems that may appear. Thus, with them, you will learn to work with your team members and your project manager side by side; collaboration with other alike professionals is always a benefit.

Disadvantages

  • If you have a specialization of any kind, then the agency will only provide you with that particular kind of work. That would mean you won’t have the flexibility of choosing between different types of projects. By working in an agency, you understand you won’t be able to venture deep into new technologies of application development. One could say this would affect your growth as a developer quite harshly.
  • By complying and working for your agency, you’ll acquire a reasonable fee for your workday. However, you must take into consideration that your expense will increase too: going to your office space would mean you’ll have to pay for transportation, lunch, among many other things.
  • Some agencies offer flexible scheduling, and the option to do home office. Generally speaking, however, full-time employees are required to adhere to a certain schedule at a particular location. When you are forced to go into an office, your commute cuts into the time you could otherwise spend being productive and curious. The travel time and scheduled hours can hurt the work-life balance you desire. Moreover, office settings can be sometimes quite distracting environments.
  • Payment fees can also be a disadvantage: Working full time in an agency often doesn´t make as much as they would if they were doing the same amount of work as a freelancer.

Working as a Freelance Web Developer

A freelancer can be defined as an independent worker who will most likely have some experience working for a big agency or business in the past but now will provide those services on their own. They are solely responsible for getting clients, delivering client projects, and getting repeat freelance business.

An increasing number of people are abandoning the traditional office system nine-to-five job structure and preferring to be self-employed. According to a recent survey done by Upwork, the number of freelance developers has increased by nearly four million since 2014.

Self-employment means you are your own boss and you manage your times as you see fit. However, freelancing has its own challenges.

So, here are some of the pros and cons that you should know about freelancing to distinguish between aspects of freelancer vs agency developer.

Time tracking & estimation

The Pros And Cons of being a freelancer

Advantages

  • One of the greatest advantages of being a freelancer is the freedom and flexibility it affords. You get to set your own rates, make your own schedule, and exercise greater control over your workload. Ultimately, this enables you to create a work-life balance structured to your liking. Therefore, you can both earn quite a lot of money and improve your skills while doing it.
  • Work in the time shift that suits you best. Sometimes inspirations take hold at night, while other developers like to work early in the morning, depending on when you see yourself most productive. Freelance grants you this opportunity, to create your own schedule that fits your natural tendencies. Plus, as a freelance worker, you’re able to work from anywhere you want, whether that is on your couch or a beach.
  • Since development skills are in high demand, you can also be selected as a freelancer, and choose the projects that interest you the most. Plus, you’ll typically have more direct involvement with clients and can take more liberties when dealing with your work.
  • Most freelancers are able to set their prices higher than what they’d earn as employees doing the same work. If you have a high level of expertise and are quite experienced in what you do, then you can earn more than double or triple of an organization’s web developer. As independent contractors, freelancers can deduct work-related expenses from their taxes.

Disadvantages

  • As a freelancer, you’ll be starting from zero. Therefore, building up your reputation and improving your skills can be quite difficult and challenging at first.
  • As a web development freelancer, you aren’t working for a business, you are the business. Many people underestimate the difficulty that presents, especially when you are starting up.
  • Without the established structure and overhead of a business, you are forced to wear many hats at the same time. You’re not just a web developer; you are also in charge of marketing, customer support, sales, accounting, etc. It’s not uncommon for freelance web developers to find that they´re spending less time managing administrative responsibilities.
  • As a freelancer, you won’t enjoy that security in the streamlined workflow that working in an agency provides. So, having an unbalanced and irregular income can be quite stressful for a few people.
  • In addition, although you control your schedule as a freelancer, this can sometimes lead to working more odd and long hours. It can take months or sometimes years to make full-time freelancing a lucrative career. Inconsistence in work and having an irregular income can be stressful, both key factors to keep in mind.
  • Make sure your employers take your work seriously and respect you, in the same way, as an agency developer. Sometimes, they take you more lightly because you don’t belong or work for an agency or company and sometimes you will deal will payment delays. Sometimes you’ll have to stand up for your work and demand a structured payment roll, especially in design work environments.

Which one is the best for you?

Ever felt like, as a business owner or manager, you’re juggling 10 things at once while spinning a few plates on your head? There are so many things to take care of, that sometimes it seems there are not enough hours in the day.

One of the most important pieces to building a successful agency or business is making sure that you have an incredibly strong marketing approach. Who you choose to build your marketing strategy will make the difference. You can choose to go with a digital agency or maybe decide as a freelance web developer, what’s that going to be?

This is a particularly difficult question to answer, it really depends on what type of job are you looking for.

The sense of freedom that freelancing gives is saddled with just the same amount of responsibilities. By now it is clear that as a freelancer you have greater control over your schedule, projects, and rate. However, this can quickly become a heavy thing to sustain and become a burden. While working at an agency may lack creativity and control, on the other hand, it makes up for consistency and structure.

As we’ve said before, when starting up as a freelancer, can be really tough at the beginning. When you’re new, however, when you’ve built enough reputation for yourself, you will be able to earn a lot of money.

On the other hand, working as a web developer in an agency would not be as challenging as working as a web developer at first, you have more guidance and a team backing you up.

If you´re an experienced programmer, freelancing is the way to go, a lucrative career is ahead of you. It can also be the best option for creative designers and people in the core business, who want to balance their personal and professional ambitions.

On the other hand, if you want to increase your income, you will want to grow your skillset and sharpen up the portfolio that you can use later to attract clients on your own. This can take quite a bit of time so keep this in mind at the moment of choosing between the freelancer way of life or being a full-time worker in an agency.

Resource Management

Some Helpful tips to take into account before making your decision

  • Experience in the niche

Make sure to check if the freelancer or digital agency has experience in your industry or niche. Check the brands they’ve worked with and their knowledge about the industry. If they’re clueless about the industry, chances are they’ll have difficulty working on a business plan

  • Proven High Performance

Can your freelancer or agency show you performance data? Not everyone can provide this, but some agencies can give specific scores to marketers that track their past campaign performance.

  • Recommendations

It’s important you read actual reviews from real customers, that can offer insight into working with the agency or individual freelancer. Were they nice when dealing with you? Were they quick and careful to respond to client demands? Did they react well during a crisis?

Conclusion

As a developer or designer or whatever activity you decide to make as a living, you always have the opportunity to make a comfortable income with that activity you’re passionate about.

To sum up, these are key assets to know at the moment of deciding where and how to work:

  • When working for an agency, it’s important to keep in mind the security: you’ll have a steady income and workflow, but you don’t have as much flexibility or control over your career path
  • As a freelancer, your schedule is flexible, but you’ll have to invest time in things not related to production such as finding clients.

When talking from a broader point of view, both options can be quite excellent for aspiring developers in both worlds. Make sure to keep your needs satisfied at the moment of taking your decision and take into account all the mentioned pointers while choosing either of them.

It may be a good decision to try both worlds and see how you feel, how you feel the most comfortable.

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