Is freelancing a fast track to a full time job?

Freelancing: Low commitment from the employer. Less experience needed. Much easier to get at least a couple (low paid) gigs.

Full time job: Much harder to get foot in the door with no experience. But with experience…

I know the best experience is job experience. But it sure seems logical to chase freelance gigs that first year (or even 3-6 months) instead of a full time position. What do you guys think of approaching it this way?

I think it depends on your goal…for some, they want to freelance, run their own company, be their own boss… I had already freelanced for many years and was sick of it. I dont like the paperwork, dealing with clients, on top of that I developed a certain skill that everyone hired me to do, so I never really learned new skills… Getting projects done and hitting my deadlines so I could get paid kind of put skill building on the back burner.

For some people that sounds great…for me, working at a company sounds great. If your ultimate goal is to work for a company, then no, its not logical to work freelance for some time, and then look for a full time job… Do both. Pick up gigs while still looking for work instead. Cause I hate to break it to you…but its not much easier to land freelance gigs. To pull in any kind of decent income, it takes time to build up the clientele…just as much time, if not more as it would to land a full time job.

If you land a gig, of course take it…but keep your goals in mind, because freelancing…it is running your own business, that take a lot of work, and a lot of time…and if that not where your heart is, then its better to focus that energy on getting where you want to be. One path isnt any easier than the other…

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It depends on you. Freelance work comes with its own stresses and challenges. Some people thrive in that environment while others flounder.

If experience is the “full time job” bottleneck then do you think freelancing could help speed up the path to full time employment?

That’s what I’m asking about, using it as a vehicle to full time.

I can’t agree with this more. I have freelanced for some years using skills I had and ones learned from here, when things slowed down a bit I realized that I haven’t learned anything new in the past years, haven’t done any personal projects … with time it turns into a loop: get hired for something you know how to do, do it, get paid, repeat.

Obviously no one would hire you to do something you have to look up on the internet to learn it on the spot, but if you’re working in company you would probably do that every day since “you already got the job.”

My two cents: both have ups and downs, both have dead-ends, both need hard work, both need some kind of experience. I mean, clients would screw you over if you don’t have experience and companies would pay you less if they hire you as an inexperienced employee.

You can look for both, get freelancing gigs while looking for a serious job, build experience and move back to freelancing when you hit that dead-end at your job and look for another one.


Do you think freelancing is an easier path to the experience that employers covet? Thereby making getting a good job easier?

I’m trying to pull the topic in that direction. I don’t see freelancing as a long term thing (I say that as a freelance writer) but a potential stepping stone with a little booster on it.

Yes and No. Freelancing gives you a chance to sell then use your skills, lets you negotiate … etc. But you won’t get experience working with a team, taking directions from a superior/leader, learning to lead the team some day, collaborating, working on several million of things at the same time (freelancing kind of let’s you do that), you won’t be able to learn how to focus with constant interruptions…

In other words, both prepare you for two different lifestyles/experiences/paths/whatever while overlapping at the same time here and there.

And while I freelanced way more than I have worked full time, it wasn’t a choice I had some other things preventing me from working full time, but if I go back to that time I would go find me a full time job and forget about whatever was holding me.


Freelance experience isn’t the same as “job experience, working on a team”. But it’s also better than building tutorials.

I had actually just started to take some freelance jobs. I took a freelance React Native job (a terrifying prospect). Immediately I seemed to be taken more seriously in interviews and got an RN job offer withing a few weeks. I know my freelance gigs were a factor. I had something to show, so real experience, and a I learned some things. Ymmv.

So yeah, I would do some freelance gigs, if you can find them. But keep learning and building your own things.


Thanks, I was hoping to hear what level of weight freelance exp. gets. Looks like if job experience is a 10, to-do list apps or calculators a 3, freelance is a 7 or 8. Pretty good

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Yeah, perhaps. I don’t know the numbers, but the idea is there.

My short but doing freelance really helped me. Even working on my own projects, I got to make all the coices. For the freelance gig, I had to build to someone else’s spcs, using the libraries and design paradigms they wanted, and work with other people’s code. It really taught me a lot.

Depends on what sort of freelancing jobs you get… Personal experience, I had freelanced for about 6 years… but the jobs I had in the beginning were for web design, later I started making custom wordpress themes since I could charge more and people could maintain their own sites, but the majority of people basically wanted a website.

Especially when I first started, and many times throughout, I worked on projects that I knew would never get on my portfolio, because what the client wanted and was happy with, was no way, no how, anything I wanted to put my name on…Even now, with my skills advanced to web apps and full stack dev, people ask me to do web design…just last week a friend asked if they could hire me to build an informational site for their condos hoa.

Now, if you can get more gigs along the lines of what kevin got, then yes, at least skill wise you will be on a much better track. You’ll still need time to build up the clients you want to be able to have a decent amount of work to put in your portfolio. But like many others pointed out…the skills companies really value, like agile and working on a team, those you wont get at all…you can make up for it though by becoming a contributor to other projects.

So yeah, its still not a fast track or an easier way, because you will need to not only find clients, hit your deadlines, get enough client projects that are worth putting in your profile, as well as find a team to work on another project on the side, while also looking for a job, studying for and doing interviews. Can it be done? Of course…but…its not an easier path…the more I think about it, its an even harder path because, since it is a different path, you’ll need to also keep up with the stuff companies are looking for that you wont get from freelancing alone.

Unless you really, really want to freelance (you seem kind of focused on that as a fast track, and fear of what if might have been may kick in if you dont at least try) from my perspective, a better idea would be to get any job you can…even if its just designing a website, building/maintaining a wp page, because your foot will be in the door and you’ll have full time work experience on your resume…even better, look for apprenticeship opportunities (I did one, and there are a lot of companies who offer them).


Good to know. Are remote apprenticeships a thing? That’s my main concern, I need remote work and gunning for remote salaried when new is a very tough bet. So that’s another reason I am considering freelancing first, then moving to salaried

Side note: since I freelance as a writer I’m not too concerned about the business aspects. IMO those are fairly easy skills to get familiar with compared to the technical/programming

I would be wary of apprenticeships in general, but definitely about remote ones. There is just too much of a possibility of “free work”. Before doing an apprenticeship, I would want to find out exactly what I would be doing, what I could expect to learn, and what the chances of getting a job out of it are.

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Part of the business aspect is in building your client base…The paperwork part (to me anyway lol) is annoying, but the grind is in finding clients. Though since you already have a client base in writing, you may be in a good position to convert them or let them know you are now doing web dev and send you some referrals…

Ah remote work, now that adds a level of complexity for sure. When it comes to hiring someone you will not see, companies are even more selective about hiring remotely. BUT startups and such might be a lot easier to get into…Ive talked with some who the job wasnt right for me,but for sure, the opportunities are out there…but harder to find esp as a first job.

Apprenticeships are paid, I did one at Microsoft, Amazon and LinkedIn have them too…many companies offer them though. Some of them offer training, but for the most part you’re working directly with a team so they are excellent for getting industry experience…I dont know of any apprenticeships that are remote though.

@kevinSmith Are you thinking of internships? Those generally are not paid…or paid very little / some kind of stipend…but those are for college students… Really excellent if one has that opportunity since they can graduate with both the degree and work experience.

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Sorry, I meant internships. Yes, there are good internships. And there are a lot of companies using it for free work.

Ah okay yeah, I dont know too much about internships…I only know they are for college students so I dont know much about those. Apprenticeships though, are great opportunities, in the tech industry at least. They’re not really for someone who can only work remotely though.

If you worked for a company, they would likely charge the customer $50 or more per hour for your work, so don’t do cheap work. If you’re not worth $50 per hour yet, then keep working on your skills while you’re working. Don’t wimp out and do one or the other. Learning new skills helps your current work get better, and keeps you up to date on the fast paced world of the changing web.

I freelanced right out of the gate myself, and it ultimately turned into a full time job with the state government (great pay and benefits) at $40 per hour. Including the benefits and not having to cover both halves of Social Security, that was worth at least $60 per hour. The only reason I left was because of health issues.

Make sure that you continually add to your portfolio – including doing SEO on your pages. When you can show that your sites are well developed, load fast, and are properly optimized, you’ll be able to get work easily. Again, don’t wait for a J-O-B. Create sites for yourself, and learn how to monetize them. If you can’t afford hosting, host them for free on Google or Wordpress. When someone asks if you can do something, always say yes. What you don’t know, you need to be willing to learn. Remember that you can always look at source code by going into the browser’s developer tools. You need to have the confidence that it’s just code, and if they can do it so can you.

Best of luck to you,

Randy Morris

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I god idea . Thank you all for sharing your ideas!!