A Theory About Freelancers in the Internet Industry [en]

[fr] Une petite théorie à moi qui tente d'expliquer pourquoi l'industrie du web attire tant d'indépendants. En deux mots, c'est une industrie qui bouge très vite, donc les grandes entreprises, plus inertes que les individus, manquent de postes adaptés aux nouvelles compétences qui se développent. (Vous connaissez beaucoup de grandes boîtes qui ont des postes dédiés au "social media", ou qui engagent des "experts en blogs et disciplines associées"?)

De plus, ces indépendants sont souvent autodidactes: la formation, elle aussi, a inévitablement un temps de retard sur les nouveaux développements qui ont lieu au sein de la culture numérique. On se met à son compte non pas parce qu'on a des compétences extraordinaires côté business ou management, mais parce qu'on sait faire des choses pour lesquelles il y a un marché, et qu'on est attiré par la liberté qu'offre une telle "formule".

*This is some copy I wrote a while back, and which I wasn’t quite happy about. I’m publishing it here, however, because it contains a little theory of mine about why there are so many soloists in the internet industry. Reactions welcome on [the Going Solo blog](http://going-solo.net/2008/03/30/a-theory-about-freelancers-in-the-internet-industry/), where it was initially posted. Reminder: today is the last day of March, and [Early Bird prices for Going Solo](http://going-solo.net/registration/) end at midnight, GMT+1 — that’s in a few hours.*

The internet industry generates an important number of freelancing professionals. There are two reasons to this, both related to how fast the world of technology is evolving.

First, formal education inevitably tends to lag behind cutting-edge developments. Though this is true for any industry, it is of particular consequence for a very fast-moving one like the web. The most skillful people in such an industry are often passionate amateurs, who at some point decide to turn their passion into a full-time job.

Second, large companies suffer from the same kind of inertia as education. Many highly competent professionals feel frustrated by the fact that the institution for which they work is not yet ready to take full advantage of what they could offer, and as a result, can be tempted by the more stimulating prospect of going solo and freelancing—or setting up their own business.

The fact that education and corporations move more slowly than pioneers is something which is inherent to their nature. To some extent, it is a problem we must try to act upon, but mainly, it is simply the way things are.

Many freelancers find themselves in this business because of a passion for what they get paid to do. Unfortunately, having great skills in an area there is some demand for is not sufficient to sustain a successful freelancing career. One also needs to be good at dealing with the business side of things: setting rates, finding the right clients, defining what has to offer in the current state of the market, dealing with accounting, taxes, and various laws, as well as managing to find a sense of balance in a life which is very different from a 9-5 with a clear distinction between work and non-work, holidays, and a regular paycheck at the end of the month.

Most freelancers go solo because they are good at doing something that people are willing to pay for, and attracted by the freedom of being one’s own boss and the perspective of possible lucrative earnings. Business skills are not usually paid much attention to until they are suddenly needed, although they are what will determine how successful one can be in the long run. At that point, it’s common for the soloist to feel lost and isolated.

[Going Solo is a one-day event](http://going-solo.net) that was designed to address this issue. We will gather 150 soloists and small business owners around a core group of speakers who are experienced freelancers and will share their knowledge on a variety of business topics. We also want to give freelancers an occasion to come in direct contact with others like them and build a European community where they can support each other.

*Cross-posted from [the Going Solo blog](http://going-solo.net/2008/03/30/a-theory-about-freelancers-in-the-internet-industry/).*

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