…and that’s out of this business!”
One of the TV highlights of the week for me in the early 1970s was the TV series ‘Alias Smith and Jones‘, following the adventures of two outlaws on probation, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, as they attempted to stay ahead of the law and out of trouble. At the start of every episode, we’d see the two being pursued on horseback, with Curry shouting the above lines to Heyes.
This week I finally decided that I need to get ‘out of the business’ of freelance web development. I have a nice part time day job, involvement with a startup, and currently enough freelance work to keep things ticking over. But teh freelance web work will never, ever, make me a good income again, and if I’m going to do anything with my freelancing time, I need to find something else.
What triggered this? I quoted for a WordPress related job – install, configure, tweak the theme and apply a few small mods to the installation. Admittedly not one of the world’s great technical tasks, but a nice job. I quoted at my ‘lowest rate’ – £20.00 / hr – this was a UK based customer, and I expected to take about 10 hours to do the job. I replied a mail later in the day telling me that I’d not been successful as another UK based freelancer had come in at a lower rate. Of £5.00 per hour.
A fiver an hour. Less than I’d get sweeping floors in McDonalds. Rates like that are pretty common from suppliers of services based in the Far east, but from a UK based develoeper, it’s scary. Because it means that the market for some types of development work has become commoditised, price driven and almost at the level of ‘will work for food’.
So…time to get out. It’s no longer worth it. Fortunately I have a few ‘specialist’ areas of software development I can fall back on, but am wondering now whether it’s time to take a while different approach. With a flexible permanent job available to me, maybe it’s time to look at other things to do and leave software development work to the sweatshops of the far east and the UK?
I’ve been thinking of things that are not ‘commodity’ – maybe get my old woodworking skills back? Or try something new? Art? Something to do with my interest in vintage radio? Who knows. Perhaps focusisng on the permanent job and doing bits of freelance work or something new for ‘beer money’ is the way forward these days.
Very, very sad. How long before other parts of our technology and ‘creative’ industries become sub-minimum wage sweatshops?