This short article is based on the ultimate guide to freelance developing on the Finxter blog.
You’ll first learn about the definition of freelancing. Then, I’ll show you how you can evaluate whether the freelance developing niche is attractive for you and whether you can expect it to grow over time. So, let’s get started, shall we?
Freelancing is the act of delivering a service to another business or another customer in exchange for a defined rate.
If you travel back in time—say, ten years—freelancing would be the act of delivering your services to another business: a B2B (business-to-business) transaction.
But, since the appearance of freelancing platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr, it more and more became a B2C (business-to-customer) transaction. There are plenty of people, often employees, who need your services to become more and more productive.
In essence, you’re solving problems for other people. These people can be businesses, private persons, or employees. These people hire you to solve a problem for them. This makes perfect sense: in our world, everyone is a business owner.
As a person, employee, or freelancer, you are a one-person business that gets hired by organizations and other businesses.
As an employee, you are already a freelancer—have a look at the definition again. You sell your services to another party. You get paid by the hour. If you have experience as an employee, you have experience as a freelancer, too, because being an employee is nothing but a special case of being a freelancer.
But there are many more forms of freelancing. As an employee, you’re in a contract between your employer and yourself that ranges for many months. As a freelancer, you can also have these types of contracts: You can agree to contracts that range many years—in fact, businesses hire freelancers often on a long-term basis. If it makes economic sense to hire you once, why shouldn’t it make sense to hire you on a regular basis? But you can also have much smaller contracts that range only for a few hours.
Freelancing comes with all kinds of advantages and disadvantages. But as the term freelancing is so broadly defined, you cannot really generalize those: no advantage and no disadvantage will apply to any type of freelancing gig. Well, as a freelancer, you can aim for the best of both worlds: income security and higher income—if you design your freelancing business in an intelligent way.
Let’s have a deeper look into the freelance developer niche—is it attractive?
About the Freelance Developing Niche
Make no mistake: niche selection is critical.
Many people will tell you that you can select any niche. But this is only partially true.
Sure, if you join the top 10% of people in any niche, you’ll earn a lot of money and you’ll succeed in your profession.
But if you select the right niche, you can earn 10x or even 100x as a person in the top 10%. An example would be the niche “journalism” vs “machine learning engineer“.
- As a top journalist, you can expect to earn $50,000-$100,000 per year. (source)
- As a top machine learning engineer, you can expect to earn $200,000-$1,000,000 per year. (source)
That’s 4x to 10x difference in earnings of the top guys and gals! Niche selection is crucial.
Python Employee vs Freelancer
So, you may ask: should you go into the freelance developing niche—for instance, Python freelancing—or should you go into the pure Python development niche and become an employee?
I’ve recently read a book from the great Richard Koch: The Star Principle. He’s the author of The 80/20 Principle as well and he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. How has he done it?
He invests all his money in so-called “star companies”. And he has worked all his life in the same “star companies”. These companies generate lots of cash and everyone who’s involved benefits from their cash-generating ability.
A star business is an industry leader in a high-growth industry. This concept was developed by the Boston Consulting Group many decades ago—but it still applies to today’s businesses. Have a look at the matrix taken from BCG:
You want to invest your time and money only into businesses that are in high-growth markets and that have a high market share. An example is Google as the leader in the search engine market when the search engine market was still growing by more than 10% per year. Today, Google would be a “Cash Cow” according to the model—still attractive but not necessarily a star anymore.
The combination of being an industry leader and being in a high-growth market is very powerful.
- As an industry leader, you have higher profit margins and more cash to reinvest than any other player in the market. This allows you to keep your growth rate over each other player in the market. Plus, you enjoy strong network effects (“the rich get richer”)—everyone knows you’re the leader so customers will come to you which reinforces your position as the leader.
- As a company in a high-growth market, you will grow significantly even if you only maintain your market share.
If you can participate in a company that is the leader in a high-growth niche, you can expect significant benefits (if you don’t overpay as an investor).
So, how does it apply to the freelance developer niche?
The freelancing niche is growing double digits every year. Both companies Upwork and Fiverr (the industry leaders) grow more than 10% per year for many years.
These companies are out to disrupt the organization of the world’s talents. And if they keep growing, they’ll accomplish it!
As a developer, as a coder, you’re in an industry that grows 5% per year based on my estimation. It’s an attractive industry but it’s not a “star industry” anymore. Coding is still important and it will grow in importance over time. But it is not a high-growth niche anymore.
As a freelance developer though, you’re both in the freelancing and in the developer niche. Both grow significantly and their growth compounds. So, being a freelance developer is an extremely attractive niche.
If you combine it with Python which is the fastest-growing major programming language, you obtain a combination that has a high potential to transform your life.
If you want to participate in this disruptive trend, you should consider becoming a Python freelancer. Check out my Python freelancer course to get this going FAST!
Leaving the Rat Race
Do you want to develop the skills of a well-rounded Python professional—while getting paid in the process? Become a Python freelancer and order your book Leaving the Rat Race with Python on Amazon (Kindle/Print)!
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com that has taught exponential skills to millions of coders worldwide. He’s the author of the best-selling programming books Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), The Art of Clean Code (NoStarch 2022), and The Book of Dash (NoStarch 2022). Chris also coauthored the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books. He’s a computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.