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The Hybrid Freelancer

Like many web developers today I started freelancing as a web developer in college.  The difference for me is that it was 1995, and the World Wide Web was quite new, and I never quit doing it.  As I got older and took real jobs I kept freelancing on the side.

In 2010, after 15 years of being a cubicle dweller, I quit a perfectly good job to go 100%  freelance.  Freedom was my number one reason.  I wanted to be free to work wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Not necessarily less work, simply on my own schedule.

My kids were under 10 and I wanted the flexibility to go to the park in the middle of a gorgeous day. I wanted the freedom to go to the family farm for a month or four and work from there whenever I wanted to.

It worked exactly like it was supposed to.

In the process though, I learned to deal with all the pain points that freelancers deal with; dealing with clients, invoicing, sporadic paychecks, etc. I also found that I was working alone the vast majority of the time. I’d always been fairly alone at my jobs, but freelancing was moreso.

In mid-2013 I wrapped up a stint at a startup company that had severely limited my freedom, and I looked hard at going back to freelancing. That’s when I looked around and realized that a whole new breed of web development company had formed. One that embraced remote work, and freedom to take part when the time is right for me.

Now I get the joys of freelancing without the pain points, and it’s pretty special.

The idea of working remote has been quite visible lately, with Yahoo restricting it, and 37signals releasing a book on it, but something I particularly love about X-Team is that it applies to time as well as space.  X-Team is incredibly global.  There’s always someone working and there’s always someone sleeping.  When I choose to work or sleep or play baseball with my daughter is mostly up to me.

Rather than arranging my life around work, I get to arrange my work around my life.  Does this mean I work less, or don’t need to get it done?  No, not at all.  In fact, I tend to want to work more, because it’s fun and exciting.

Another quirk I didn’t realize at first is how far I can travel.  If my company were exclusively in one time zone, or even in one country, it could be awkward to try to work with them if I lived 12 hours off.  Since X-Team is so spread out around the world, I can comfortably work in any time zone.

My wife’s considered teaching in Columbia.  No problem!  I’ve always wanted to live in Ireland for a bit.  No issues at all.  We’ve considered selling almost everything and living on the road in an RV, seeing the country.  Piece of cake.

This job isn’t about the money.  Neither is freelancing.  It’s about Freedom.  People who are Free are happier, more engaged, and tend to want to give back more.

Now I have the best of both worlds, and I couldn’t be happier.

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