Here on Planet Limux, I have two jobs. The first one is boring and although I don’t mind it, I resent it because I need it to pay the bills.
And because I have to answer to someone.
And deal with other people and their inane problems sometimes.
But it does take away from my other job—my real love. I have my own freelance software company. I adapt open source software for individuals and companies to meet their unique needs. Linux makes this easy and fairly lucrative. The reason I can’t do it full-time yet is because, after only doing this for a year and a half, I don’t get steady enough work yet that I can pay my bills.
It is hard because I feel like if I quit my day job, then I can focus more on my own business, but…then there’s the financial problem. My car isn’t that expensive, nor is my rent, and I live as thriftily as I can, but…some weeks there just is no work to be had. Even if I had all day to sit and look around for clients, if there isn’t anyone looking for a programmer, there’s nobody looking for a programmer. I do work on my own stuff sometimes during these lull periods that I can customize or sell off later as-is. Such is the beauty of Linux. But again, if nobody is looking, then nobody is paying me, and that’s when I am eternally grateful for my stable but boring job sitting at a desk listening to people complain about how slow their computer is or that their printer is out of ink. Oh, and the salary.
When stuff comes in one at a time, I love it. I get to come home from work, shake off another day in tech support, and get right into coding. Sometimes, though, I get slammed with freelance work. I have a few regular clients that will come to me because I’ve done a good job with something else, for setting up a new server, or because they need something tweaked. However, it seems that they all have a problem or need me for something at once. I won’t have any work for three weeks or so, and I’ll be biting my nails and watching lots of bad television, when all of a sudden, I have five urgent emails from various clients who want something done immediately. And as much as I’d love to be able to just sit and tackle each problem, knowing each one will only take about five to seven hours to fix, I’ll feel guilty knowing it will also take me two days per client per problem to get it all straight. Between my work and on-call schedule, and the inconvenience of having to eat and sleep, there is only so much time in the day for me to do that kind of work. I know people who can down energy drinks and sit there and code all night long.
I am not one of those people. I need sleep.
I’ve thought about cutting my hours back at work, but they’re not a super large company and are, however, plenty busy, so I would imagine they would have to find the funds to hire someone to pick up the slack my absence would create. I don’t think they’d like that very much.
So what about you? Do you do freelance work? How do you find a balance between that and a day job if you have one?