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Ask HN: Is it possible to transition from corporate job to self contractor?
89 points by jxm262 on Nov 4, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 59 comments
Hi all,

I'm a Full-Stack web developer with 5+ years experience and am trying to transition into contract/consulting work. I've read alot of posts on this topic (and _all_ of patio11's blog) but am still struggling to come up with ways to find clients. My dilemma is that I don't want to price myself too low (I can find lots of projects for 20/hr or less), but I'm not sure how to get the larger jobs without doing this full-time.

Has anyone ever transitioned from the enterprise world into contracting successfully? Is it possible to do it over a period of time? (keep current job and moonlight freelance gigs). What did you do to get your initial clients?

I price quite high as a freelance react specialist. I worked at a javashop building enterprise pharma apps. I made frontend technology decisions and bet on /early adopted React when it first came out in 2013, open sourced some stuff to fill in holes in the ecosystem since it was still immature, spoke at a couple conferences, gave a few workshops. With this portfolio it is really easy to land clients at high rates from the HN whoishiring threads. I have had zero successful leads from linkedin and recruiters, it always falls apart when we talk about rates. I've learned that your common recruiter and linkedin manager cant differentiate between okay talent and high end talent. CTOs read HN whoshiring threads and those are the people who can tell the difference. https://www.linkedin.com/in/dustingetz

TLDR: make predictions about the future, specialize, be right.

Edit: I post in the HN whoshiring freelancer threads and potential clients reach out to me, for example https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9998249

Edit: I have a friend who does wordpress freelance for local small businesses, her business is extremely different than mine as is her story, there are many approaches that can work, the key is to understand your market

Great to hear! I'd like to fill a similar role in my country, which is always delayed a few years in relation to US: Rails is strong here now!

Related: do you lose sleep worrying if you're going to have to transition to mobile development or something? I suffer from that all the time - the cure is probably Real Clients Paying Money...

No, I have time/money to re-skill if/when I mis-predict the future, I worry more about getting older

Will definitely find you and connect :) I've been using React full time for over a year now. Obviously there's still a ton I can learn, but yeah I was thinking I would try to specialize specifically in this tech stack as my "competitive edge" (Node+React)

I went to your talk at Strangeloop 2014. It was a good talk, I'm glad you're finding work.

> With this portfolio it is really easy to land clients at high rates from the HN whoishiring threads

How do you do that? Do you just look for people hiring for javascript devs and then reach out and offer consulting instead?

Not OP, but there are two monthly recurring threads by 'whoishiring', one for employees[1] and one for freelancers[2].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10492088

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10492087

Edit: formatting.

How does your friend make her business work? I'm sure a lot of people would be interested in that too.

It all depends on how unique and in-demand your skillset is. I did it over a year ago, but had the benefit of working at a company which was basically a consulting firm itself. When I had already decided I was leaving, one of the clients I had worked for expressed an interest in retaining my services. With the blessing of my former employer, they became my first client. After that, my former employer realized how difficult it was to replace my skillset and I essentially became a subcontractor for them. This may not sound great, but I set my own hours, worked from home when I wanted, and was payed about 1.75x what I made as a FT'er. I've able to spend more time with my wife and infant son, work less, and make more money than I did as a 9-5 'er.

However (and I say this not to brag, but as an important piece of information), I only believe this was possible because I was in the top X % (where X is maybe 5? 10?) with respect to my peers. I've seen other people attempt this and fail and it is because they were more replaceable than I was. So a lot of it comes down to where you are located (e.g. supply) and how many prospects there are around (demand).

Over a 1.5 years now I've had about 5 clients (not many), but they all knew me personally beforehand. Your personal/professional network is your biggest asset. Use it.

Yeah, everyone is telling me to rely on personal/professional network. The problem is that most of them are fellow "enterprise" type programmers without any actual work to give (ie. not hiring managers). Also.. the big issue I have now is finding evening and weekend/part-time jobs. It seems pretty easy to find a decent contract at a company if I transition, to say, full-time for 6 months or whatever they offer.

When you say you were top X% , was that in a specific tech stack or niche industry? I'm really good at certain tech stacks (JavaScript world - Node+React+AWS, or Java/Scala world - Spring, Play, etc..). How do you actually find work that will help you "level" up, per se. And more importantly, show others that you're an expert in the field? I can do _awesome_ work for some people but it might not be broadcasted to the rest of the world if it's just known internally.

Starting on evening and weekends is tough. I know one of my clients is alright with that, because our relationship is more casual, but I don't think the rest would be comfortable with me operating so casually for their business (they want me to be available for calls, e-mails, etc. during the business day). The thing is, the kind of service I provide is not just "let me go away and program something for you", it walks them through the process from conception all the way to deployment. I'm in a niche field (medical), but the people I'm dealing with are generally non-software folk. To them, I am a product guy, project manager, developer, architect, etc. all in one.

When I say top X%, I don't mean in a pure technical sense. I mean in the sense of, from management's perspective, if they had a project that they valued highly and knew they wanted to deliver on, who would they pick as the technical lead for that project. Which technical person would they put in front of the customer? Who would they want to be alongside them during the hiring process to find more technical folk? Those are the ways in which I've found I've been valued. I feel like I am a good programmer (who doesn't?), but I'm not the best programmer in the room. It's a more rounded skill-set and a willingness to do valuable non-programming things. A perfect example is a guy I used to work with - excellent programmer and very well-versed in computer science (whereas my background is engineering). In terms of speaking about best practices, patterns, development philosophies, etc. - he was very good, better than me (truthfully some of that stuff bores me). However, in terms of getting a project done in a high quality way, with predictability (estimation, scheduling, etc.), those are the things he didn't really care for, but I paid attention to. He's a great programmer and a good asset to any organization with a team, but I don't think he's do well on his own. Make sure you are confident in your estimation skills before going it alone.

I don't think I've worked with an organisation, or a PM that could actually estimate well in software without using padding.

I think the prevalence of story points, and probability based estimates(markov), proves that hard deadline estimates just don't work. I don't trust anyone who says they can actually do it on large projects, because they're either padding or lying.

I agree that "padding" is necessary. It is called estimation because there is some level of uncertainty. Part of your job as a consultant is ensuring that the client is aware of and comfortable with this level of risk. I bill by the hour, so my risk is mitigated, while my clients know from experience that I tend to deliver on time and rarely have them go over budget (that is where your estimation ability comes in). If you are doing project-based pricing (as others advocate), then I assume a more significant amount of "padding" is called for, to limit your risk.

Padding is not a bad thing if done right. The group I worked most recently with had an estimation target of +/- 20% and we were usually much better than that.

It takes a lot of discipline and detailed time recording to get to the point of being able to accurately estimate a task. Padding becomes useful when you know that you always estimate 15% low. Then after you finish your "real" estimate, add 15% and you will be close to the actual value.

I like to think of the estimation process as being analogous to Feedback Control theory. It requires good input data and negative feedback to stay on track.

How you can predict the future estimates based on recording now?

What makes software estimation so difficult is that it's like maze. How long will take you to complete a maze?

You don't know what's coming up in a maze, and you cant give an exact estimate. And trying to work out details to work out what is coming up, takes almost as long actually programming it.

This is why I promote the idea that variation should be inbuilt into methodology. Remove the assumption software can be accurately estimated, build methodology around the fact it's hard to predict.

I use guestimates of 'effort', but I don't hold people to it.

Prediction only works for what you know. Seems obvious, but people have a way of "forgetting" that. So you estimate within the parameters of what you know about. If what you know changes, then your predictions have to change.

There are various points on the predictability curve. I used to work in an environment that was extremely predictable: projects with well-defined scope that took years to complete and changes were tightly managed. If scope changed, the stakeholders understood the cost to the schedule. An environment like that is perfect for using past time estimates vs. actual time taken to estimate future similar or dissimilar-but-related tasks.

In other environments I worked in, it's more chaotic. Things change frequently, so estimates change frequently. Often you your long term vision is compromised by firefighting, so that vision has to be adjusted constantly. If you have a deadline, then tasks need to shift to meet the deadline.

exact estimate

I think you've imposed an unachievable standard here.

This is why I promote the idea that variation should be inbuilt into methodology

This may well work within an agile team deep in an organization, because the business of turning "effort" into costs is abstracted from you. At the end of the day, if you're a consultant with a client, they are going to ask you up front for a rough cost estimate. If you can't estimate the time you'll need with any level of confidence, how do you propose to land their business?

Curious about that. What kind of "medical" work do you do? I spent a long time developing for Medical Devices and while I shudder at the thought getting back into that specific field, I am thinking of consulting on the periphery where the knowledge of CFR21 & FDA expectations is useful but without getting into full DMR/DHR paperwork.

Software for medical devices. A lot of my clients are very early stage (e.g. prototype development) so the regulatory burden is not as high as during commercialization. That said, one of my current projects is writing an updated SAD (software arch. doc) for a decent size application.

You sound extraordinarily like me. I work in the same field, am writing a SAD for a client right now, and have been thinking of breaking off from my employer to promote myself as that guy you get in for concept development phase and establishing an overall software architecture and development process. That's the bit I enjoy, but the final polishing and commercialisation phase around transfer to manufacture just saps my motivation!

I know through how my former contracting employers have hired me out at vastly different rates that almost everything is up to three things in the end: 1. Your target customers' pocketbook 2. Their belief that you can solve their problems 3. The business value those problems have

It does you no good to try to find mom and pop shops that need a small brochure website for their little restaurant with a budget of about $100 for the website... unless you find several of them at a time and can build up a lot of work that way. Customers will pay more if their budget simply allows for it. I've priced myself out of even enterprise contracts / FTE jobs at rates that most people in the Bay Area would balk at, and those are generally pretty bad contracts to be on. For example, I know of a enterprise companies budgeted such that they can't even afford to pay $75 / hr for someone with a highly sought after skillset in a critical leadership role but are willing to shell out $500k+ / yr to vendors for random software? Waste of time almost always if you want to grow with those kinds of penny pinchers.

Most recruiters on LinkedIn I've seen in my subgraph are talking about really poor contracting rates for gigs that I know typically go to consulting companies at about $130+ / hr but these spammed contracts are for $40 / hr people that know VMware (with VCP!), OpenStack, Chef / Puppet, 2+ scripting languages, have actual experience in production environments, be the helpdesk for everything, and are willing to do on-call with this stuff. What kind of companies are these that think they can find someone like that?

I did hear a recruiter near my desk once that he had a position for a TS/SCI cleared sysadmin job with RH certs and CISSP in the DC metro area for... $45k / yr in 2013. What the hell, I think janitors with TS/SCI get paid more than that and it's starting to skirt close to what background investigators get and they're among the lowest paid high-clearance individuals ever.

Yes. That's how I got started.

Find an acquaintance who already runs a consultancy, and arrange to subcontract for them for odd-jobs, or take a 2-week vacation and spend it on one of their projects.

That's actually what I had in mind. Read this on one of the blogs and it seemed like probably the best option. The main obstacle (for me anyway) is getting "acquainted" with others who run a consultancy :) I guess i'll try to go to more meetups and be more social, reach out to friends to see if they know people, etc...

Do you think it's frowned upon to cold-email people that you're only vaguely acquainted with? Say for instance, I make a very politely and concisely worded email, asking them if they have any extra work that they could off-load.

It's not frowned on, but a higher-yield strategy is to meet as many people as you can for coffee and advice getting started consulting.

I actually hadn't thought of that :) Thanks for the tip!

Don't forget local industry groups/communities.

Consulting is all about networking... odds are very good you'll get far more work via referrals than through bidding or similar processes.

The quicker you can build up that network, the quicker you can start building up that queue of projects, and in the meantime, it's a good way to find someone to sub for while you get yourself started.

Precisely what I've done in the past. Excellent advice. Let's you put a toe in the contracting water while having someone more experienced to help guide and mentor you as you sort out basic issues like requirements gathering and communication, issue tracking, invoicing/billing, etc.

I was strictly a full-time corporate guy until about 2 years ago. I got an email out of the blue from a tech recruiter guy, asking if I was interested in freelance. I hadn't given it much thought at the time, but figured I'd at least ask what the rate was.


My eyes bulged out my skull. My highest fulltime salary to that point had been $120k/year (about $58/hour). My wife has benefits so it seemed like a fairly small risk to jump out of the fulltime pool and try my hand at contracting.

I've since been freelance-only, getting as much as $180/hour for a 6-month commitment. I haven't been unemployed at all during that time. It's just been word-of-mouth. In one instance an ex-fulltime employer needed someone to come in and work on some code. In another a previous co-worker at a fulltime gig recommended me to just consult on the codebase and that led to my current gig.

All positions have been work-from-home except for the first one, that was about a 30-min drive 2 days a week.

I'm a full-stack dev, Ruby on the backend (almost 10 years experience with Rails). I'm not too shabby a designer, either, so I'm lucky that I can kind of fit in with any dev team or become a company's sole development resource if needed (which is my role at my current gig).

My advice would be to hit up several recruiters and get them looking for jobs for you. At one point I had 3 separate ones hitting me up for positions on a daily basis. They only get paid if they get people hired so they're very motivated to find you a job ASAP. I always figured that becoming freelance meant you had to spend your days marketing yourself, schmoozing people on LinkedIn, etc (all stuff I hate). It's turned out to be nothing like that. When you're a month or so from the end of a contract let the recruiters know you're available and the offers come rolling in. In my experience, at least.

>>$100/hour...My eyes bulged out my skull...My highest >>fulltime salary to that point had been $120k ($58/hour).

Not sure if that $100/hour was a 1099 type rate or a W2 type rate.

Either way, it does still likely beat your $120k/year salary, but perhaps not by as much as you think.

Either way (1099 or W2), you aren't getting the benefit of any company paid medical, 401k, paid vacation, sick days, etc.

If it happens to be 1099, you also have to account for the self employment taxes you'll have to pay.

Using a spreadsheet I keep around for this purpose, assuming $120k salary with $600/month worth of company offset health insurance, a 100%-up to 6% salary 401k, 3 weeks vacation, and 10 paid holidays...the 1099 equivalent to $120k/year would be $80.90 per hour.

Or in short, for anyone considering making the move, don't forget to calculate the benefits that come with full time employment before you set your rate.

1099 here. My wife has great health insurance through her employer so I was okay. If I had to purchase our insurance I'm not sure I would have been as quick to make the leap.

Do you mind if I message you sometime? My email is in my profile if you're not comfortable sharing here.

Would be really cool to bounce a couple questions off of you :)

No problem: cannikinn@gmail.com

I would also be interested in talking with you more.

See above. :)

Read this book: http://doubleyourfreelancing.com/rate/

Brennan's book is mind-expanding, especially for someone who doesn't have any clients at all.

For the record, I just finished my first 12 months of independent work and it's been amazing. It's definitely possible.

it's been amazing

Could you please share more? What kind of work, how many hours a week do you work and the like?

Sure! I generally take on Ruby on Rails work, sometimes with a Stripe-specific or email-specific bent. I have two major clients. One is a large Rails app where I do general maintenance and feature development two days a week. The other is as a part-time CTO for another consultant and his businesses, probably 2-3 days a month on average. They both pay me on a regular monthly retainer.

Over the year I've also taken on Django and PHP projects as they come up, but going forward I'll probably stick with Rails.

I actually wrote a book about how to handle the business side of freelancing, but that's not super relevant to what the OP is asking. Here's the link if you're interested anyway: https://www.petekeen.net/handle-your-business

Thank you for answering. How did you find the first two clients?

Networking :) I was invited to join a tiny community of product bootstrappers a few years ago, which led to me helping them out with various things, and them in turn helping me out quite a bit with my own stuff. This led to some paid engagements, which then led to the retainers.

I've been in and out of consulting work for a couple of decades now, and at times have worked for consultancies/contracting shops. What has been by far the most successful strategy for me:

* work for free, or work for a lot, but DO NOT WORK FOR CHEAP. What is meant by this is that your rates should reflect not only your value but should force your client to respect what you do. They very easily dismiss what they don't have to pay much for as a commodity. (I've seen this idea from many people in different forums, but I don't remember who/where I read the phrasing above.) If you work for free, ensure your "client" understands you're doing them a favor. In my work, what I mostly do "for free" is take a meeting or provide some advice. I almost never do actual work for free.

* your network does all the heavy lifting for bizdev. Go to your meetups. Write a lot. Become an expert at something, even if its a kind of niche area (even better if it is, actually) because the people in that niche will become your most reliable source of referrals. The meetings you take and advice you give for free will lead to work over time.

* Have a cushion in your bank account. Calibrate your working week to about half what you think is reasonable (e.g. plan on working 15-20 hours a week and set your rates accordingly.) all that extra time is great if you can bill it, but things come up.

* Don't take bad work. The first thing I do when I meet a (potential) client for the first time is hear the 10k-foot view of their idea. Then I tell them what it is I do, and that primarily is talk clients out of hiring me (or anyone else) because their project is A) just plain bad. or B) not ready for development. (I usually look for a tactful way to say those things!) Sometimes I'll work with them to shift the idea into something I think could work, but those are almost always conversations that end with "call me when you're ready." They usually appreciate the honesty and me not taking their money. I appreciate not wasting my time with a client who isn't going to end up having money to pay me with.

* Do your best to help potential clients get their needs met, even if that means referring the work somewhere else. If the job is too big for you, don't try to bite it off. If its too small to waste your time with, don't take it. But do try to find someone who can help them if its not you.

This is what worked for meā€”lots of other people have had a lot of success with other paths.

> Is it possible to do it over a period of time? (keep current job and moonlight freelance gigs)

Yes, but you may need to pick a different job as an intermediate step: find a job that will let you interact meaningfully with wider open source communities.

The recipe is deceptively simple: (1) build things, (2) tell people about it, (3) repeat. You need a job that lets you do step 2.

I will also add that projects around "20/hr or less" are not just quantitatively too low-paying, they are qualitatively the wrong kind of projects. A $300/hr consultant is not just a more expensive version of a $20/hr web developer -- it's an entirely different job.

The actual technology layer involved in either case might be the same, but the "interface" between you and your clients is different. The high-priced consultant exposes a much higher-level interface that is closer to the business problem domain.

How is a $300/hr consultant a different job? I'd love to learn more about what people do to get those kinds of rates / contracts. Do you know of any links / good blogs?

patio11's stuff is pretty much spot on.

You need to solve business problems that people don't necessarily know how to solve by themselves. Generally you do this by applying your technology expertise, but that is not what matters to the client.

Don't model your business on the freelancers at oDesk. Model it on McKinsey, Accenture, Bain, etc. Look at how those companies describe themselves. You will necessarily be operating at a smaller scale than them. But that still leaves an awful lot of room.

One key point is that the client does not hand you a spec to implement. The client only has a problem, they don't know how to solve it, or are unsure of how to decide. You come in and teach them what's possible and then help them do it.

I find my clients through networking. Mostly it starts through people who know my open source work and appreciate that I've been helpful to them already, but also some random meetings with entrepreneurs who were looking for technology advice. From there, one project leads to another as people talk to each other or change jobs.

>Don't model your business on the freelancers at oDesk. Model it on McKinsey, Accenture, Bain, etc. Look at how those companies describe themselves. You will necessarily be operating at a smaller scale than them. But that still leaves an awful lot of room.

Thanks for mentioning this comment. I didn't think to do this, but I'll start reading a bit on these companies and try to model myself a bit more like them.

When you say full stack, what exactly is your stack?

I know a lot of full stack engineers that are IIS > ASP > HTML and cant find anything, while other friends that are Linux > PHP > > JS >HTML/CSS are drowning in proposals right now.

Finding a steady stream of consulting work is never easy. Some consultants rely strictly on referrals, while others take the paid route and drive leads via PPC or email marketing. There are obviously other routes such as forums and job boards.

One router I see a lot of consultants taking right now is blogging. Blog about the projects you are working on and turn them into a live portfolio. Market your github profile.

With 5 years of experience if you truly are a full stack programmer (with decent communication skills) you should have no problem at all finding work. Good luck!

I have about 3 years Java world (Tomcat/Webstorm + JEE + Oracle/PLSQL, and Spring, Hibernate all that jazz). And about 2 years in Node + Angular/React + AWS. My question was more how to get good rates and still do it as a part-time side gig since I work full time. I've already had offers for full time work :) Yeah, after talking with a bunch of people from this thread I _will_ be blogging/marketing my github profile/give lightning talks. For the moment, I'm trying to network as much as possible without sounding needy and putting in as much time as I can into open source to get experience, have something to show the world. My goal now is to become the expert of 1 or 2 domains in my local area so people are basically forced to notice me.

In this topic: A lot of people humblebragging about their success and not a lot of "simple actionable steps to take". (Not all of the answers, but the top comments were like that.)

I don't think OP cares about your success. Focus on the answer please. Signal, noise, etc.

Patrick started to answer this on his Twitter feed if OP is interested:


I for one will not be disclosing my personal success story.

The work you do as a contractor/consultant will be different from what most FTE developers do in that you're likely to have more autonomy and responsibility for setting the direction of your work. Your clients will hire you because they believe you can solve some kind of problem for them. In a roundabout way this provides an answer to how to find clients: Meet as many people as you can and see if you can find ways to give them useful advice from your experience. Don't worry about selling, instead focus on understanding how your skills relate to problems that other people have and what kinds of people you might want to work with. In my experience once you get that figured out the paying work will present itself and you'll be able to figure out what to charge. On moonlighting: My advice is don't do it even if your employment contract permits it, it's hard to do your best work on a side job and your best work will be more satisfying for you and pay dividends in the future. Finally, remember that being a FTE saves you from a fair amount of the time overhead that comes with managing a business. Feel free to e-mail me if you have more questions.

If you can't find clients, you can always try and have clients find you. Recruiters are all over LinkedIn looking for candidates. Update your profile to say you are seeking contract assignments, and give some detail on what you are qualified for / interested in/ locations, etc.

This might be a bit more difficult as a moonlighter if you don't want your current employer to know you are moonlighting, but recruiters and agencies will find you.

Once you get a few projects under your belt, you should start making connections to get work referred to you - other contractors who aren't available will refer people to you if they know you do good work.

I know lots of contractors who pass off work to others and rarely (if ever) have to approach people to find work. They turn down more work than they can handle.

Former contractor here.

At some point you have to commit to what you want to do and do it. There's some good suggestions in this thread for finding your first full-time gig.

One thing that I want to point out is that before you make the leap, you should save at least 3 months of living expenses. Most contracting gigs I had were billed at the end of the month with net 30 terms. That means from the day you start, it will be 60 days before you get paid (and net 45 terms are not unheard of, which is even worse). The key to successfully transitioning to contracting is to be able to make up that 2+ month gap in income.

Having savings is also important because you will rarely find yourself 100% utilized, so you need to be able to survive the lean times between contracts.

Why would you take those terms (unless you had no choice, but you probably do if you have 3 months living expenses)? Seems like a crazy risk where you could end up working for 2 months and not getting paid. What about installments?

Sometimes you can get better terms but where and when I was contracting they were pretty standard.

This something I did and so far has been working pretty well for me.

Look for companies that have contracts with others for short amount of times. The more they send you on jobs, the more website you work on, and the richer your portfolio becomes.

Once you have a good chunk, it is much easier to get consulting work. Sometimes companies I have worked for a month or two contact me directly for more work and a higher rate.

The more items you have on your portfolio, the more people will accept your rates.

I went from agency/dotcom work to independent contractor. I worked mostly on-site contracts anywhere from 3 to 18 months. Some jobs were through recruiters, some friends/network. All gigs paid significantly better than full time positions. I did this with an outdated stack, ColdFusion, from ~2005-2010.

My dilemma is that I don't want to price myself too low (I can find lots of projects for 20/hr or less), but I'm not sure how to get the larger jobs without doing this full-time.

Consider doing some of the "low paying" but readily available work to get started. This looks to me like a problem you are inventing -- the work is available, you just don't want to take a "paycut" to get your foot in the door, even though it would actually be extra money since you are still working full time.

I expect the "low paying" offers are a signal of a bad project. It's likely that your customer will never be satisfied with what you deliver. Even if they are, it likely won't achieve their expectations.

That may well be true. But from what I have read and seen in life, people with secure, well paid jobs who don't actually need the money very frequently put up all kinds of self imposed barriers between themselves and making something entrepreneurial happen successfully. They turn their noses up at work they could be doing or avenues for making money that are, in fact, currently open to them, while waiting for something better that fits their narrow parameters of what is acceptable. Sometimes nothing better ever does show up. They are sometimes turning their noses up at the only avenue that will ever start them down the path they state they wish to take. When nothing shows up that meets their picky standards, they often then complain about how baffled and frustrated they are that they just can't seem to make it work.

There is nothing wrong with saying "I only want to make this transition if it meets thus and such conditions because I am basically happy where I am at, so it needs to flat out be an improvement of my current situation or I am not interested at all." But that isn't usually the position these people take. They usually express extreme bafflement and frustration at how impossible it is while actively throttling any hope of success because their expectations are simply too high.

All I am saying is "Well, you actually can start doing side work right now and are choosing not to. First, recognize that it is a choice."

The OP can make that choice if they so desire, but people are usually happier with their lives and also more effective when they recognize that, no, really, they are making a choice. Doors aren't actually barred and locked to them. They just don't happen to want to go through the ones that are currently open and do not feel compelled to because they are pretty comfortable.

Not everyone is that comfortable. Sometimes, people who are comfortable fail to recognize that is the actual problem. They have no perspective. I am just offering perspective.

"Duke Nukem Forever" comes to mind. The company was fat and happy. They didn't really need the money. So they dicked around and dicked around and dicked around forever, until it became a running joke in some circles.

Its quite common advice on HN not to underprice yourself, and certainly not to work for free.


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