Going freelance while teaching

I have been teaching front-end developement for the last 7 years. Last year I was offically appointed as a part time teacher and have decided to go back to freelancing for the other half of my working life.

Feeding the teacher

The very fast pace at which our industry is evolving is something you have to cope with as a teacher. The last thing I want is to become some old rusty teacher giving the same courses every year. I also don’t want my students to learn outdated technologies.

On that front, being a freelancer and staying active in the field for half of my time offers my students, the school and myself some guarantee that I will at least try to stay current.

To help myself update my courses, I have put them all on Github.

  • This very flexible system reduces the friction as much as possible to update the courses.
  • It allows my students to see when things where edited and why.
  • Markdown files are a lot easier to edit that Word documents. Also, code blocks and syntax highlighting.
  • Students (and anybody else) can submit issues or pull requests.

Make freelancing less crazy

Because all of my income doesn’t come from freelance gigs, I am more comfortable being a bit pickier with the projects and clients I take on. Hopefully, it will also allow me to cope with the endless sucession of feast and famine experienced by many freelancers I have talked to.

Rather than working on a wide variety of small projects at the same time, I intend to try one of those two things:

  • Only take on a few long term clients for whom I’ll work one or two days a week. I am looking for companies who don’t have the money or the needs for full time in-house web team but would like a medium to long term partnership with freelancers.
  • Take on only one project at a time and focus on it until it is over (until the production phase is over at least). Whenever possible I intend to work in my clients’ offices for the duration of the project. Having an income as a teacher should provide me with a cushion for those times in-between two of those projects.

Well, that’s the plan. I am giving myself 6 months to see how it works out. If it doesn’t or if that setup is detrimental to my health or good mood, I’ll go and find another “working for the man” position.