I’ve taken on a full time, big boy job at Spry Digital as a front-end developer.
I really love it there. One nice thing about freelancing is that I did not feel trapped into taking a job just for money, although the steady paycheck is nice.
This was the right move for me and my family for a couple of reasons. On a personal level, my wife has been doing yeoman’s work with her steady job and a lot of work around the home during my freelancing time and it’s only fair that I help bring stability and comfort to our home life and a steady job helps with that.
And it is exactly that. It is not just a good place to work, but a great place to work. Spry and I have a little history. I met the owners in early 2014, and they even offered me a job all the way back in summer 2014. I didn’t think it was the right opportunity for us at the time, but we kept in touch. Very important to all of this was that it was not a one-way street: whenever I asked to meet up, chat, or anything, they always made time for me, and that level of personal concern absolutely means something. It was clear that the owners do not consider their team members to be cogs in a wheel or resources to be mined, but real people with dignity.
In August, one of their developers moved on to another city. There was an opportunity to help with a project (which you can see here) and a chance to see how we’d work together. There’s always a learning curve when working with a new team, and we were both happy to see that I fit in well with them.
When they made an offer to me, my wife and I prayed for guidance and talked it over. It was a fair offer, and I enjoyed working there, but was it the right thing? I think it was (obviously, I accepted), because of these things:
- Team – one thing that sets this place a part in my opinion is how team oriented it is. No one feels above doing anything. They really take their belief that creative work (and a functioning office) is a team sport seriously. Everyone here is a little bit nerdy, and very kind.
- Depth – when you freelance, you maybe spend half of your time running your business – bookkeeping, marketing, sales, networking, learning – and maybe half of your time on project work. It’s great because you develop broad skills that help you be good at many different tasks, but you can get technically and creatively stale from having to task switch all of the time. Working inside a team like this, I know I’ll be able to spend more time getting better at the craft of front-end development.
- Impact – This goes hand in hand, but typically as a freelancer you’re either working on small projects that you can do by your lonesome or discreet projects that are a part of larger projects and either way it can be difficult to look at and say that your work made a true impact. With this team and their roster of local clients, arts and education clients, non profits, and civic organizations it’s easier for me to see how my work will make an impact.
- Less Stress – When you freelance, everything is on you. Working with a team like this, I don’t have to worry about every minute aspect of every project. I just have to focus on doing my job well. It’s a nice change from feeling isolated on every single roadblock for every single project.
- Fun – Like I mentioned, everyone here is slightly (or not so slightly) nerdy, and very genial. It’s a solid, mature professional environment with a healthy amount of fun in the mix. Laughing is pretty common and it’s small enough to avoid cliques. It’s a good culture to be in.
- Opportunity – on several levels. First, it’s a stable company approaching 6 years in business with year over year growth. The management team have decades of experience and know how to bring in work. With more people slated to come on in the coming year, I know I’ll be able to advance. And I’ll have the opportunity to contribute not just in my specialty, but to design, client relations, business development, and client support.
It was the right thing at the right time and I’m really happy about our decision.
What does that mean for freelancing?
Well, I’m still figuring that out. This company has no problem with me moonlighting on personal projects, and I like the work, so I don’t imagine stopping altogether. I also am able to bring work in to Spry, so if you have questions about that, please email me!
I think the nature of what projects I take on will have to change, but even with that I’m not sure what to think or which direction to head. One clue is that I will be much much more selective about outside work. Projects like Holy Communion’s new site hit a sweet spot in terms of client expectations, attention, and time demands, along with the X factor of an intrinsic attraction to the organization I was helping. Because I can afford to not take on projects just on budget and time, the satisfaction factor of a possible project will play a huge role in determining whether or not I will take it on.