Freelance vs employment for app developers – What are the pros and cons?

Categories: General

It is probably an important choice for many software developers after a number of years of employment: do I stay employed, or do I take a plunge in the deep and start working as a freelancer?

Figures from Dutch Bureau of Statistics show that IT specialists are in the top 10 professions with the most freelancers. More than one in five IT professionals is self-employed. Not a big surprise perhaps, you earn more as a freelancer and you get more space to do your work as you see fit. In addition, you can choose projects or clients that appeal to you.

Reason enough for us to ask what your experiences are with regards to working as a freelance app developer. We received valuable input from you via a short survey on LinkedIn.

Experience matters

Not very surprising: but 75% of our freelance respondents indicated that they are senior developers. It is a very natural process to gain experience when employed in a company, and when you have really comfortably mastered the intricacies of app development, to then take the step towards independence as a freelancer.

Back to employment?

About 45% of you indicate that you have been working as an independent developer for more than 9 (!) years.
When asked whether a step towards employment is ever worth considering again, the split seems to be a bit more 50/50. Some indicate that they would only consider it it for a top salary, or for a company with the right mission and products.

Certainty and job security is an important factor in this consideration; a number of you indicated that they have difficulties finding sufficient assignments, in those cases employment becomes more attractive again. By the way, you turn out to be excellent planners (a very important quality for freelancers); good thought is given to financial buffers and how you can bridge long periods with fewer assignments.
The other half sees no reason to ever switch back to employment and are satisfied with the freelance existence.

The added value of freelancing for app developers

Freedom and independence are of course the main reason to become a freelancer, according to you. Planning your own vacation days between projects is simply very pleasant. In second place is the variety of work: 60% indicate that doing many different assignments, work in different places and use different technologies is a great added value of freelancing.
In the category ‘striking answers’: doing acquisition yourself was also suggested by several respondents. We couldn't have come up with it ourselves, but it is duly noted: acquisition can be fun, apparently.

The Disadvantages of Freelancing

The most frequently mentioned disadvantage of freelancing that you have encountered is income insecurity. You don't know if and when you'll secure the next assignment. So you have to plan ahead financially and be able to deal with a bit of uncertainty regarding your income. Another disadvantage is also important to mention: as a freelancer you do not receive a salary, but you invoice your services to the client. And of course they have to pay on time (and within a reasonable term). 40% of you indicated that you have had a issues with clients either paying late or only paying after a lengthy exchange of reminders and confusion.

Lastly, there is of course another aspect of work, besides money, boss or no boss or technology, and that is people. Freelancers who completed our survey indicated that it is a pity that contact with colleagues is more fleeting. It is difficult to build a bond in the workplace when you do short projects. 

Freelancing and Pension: how does it work

Surprisingly, nobody in our survey identified the lack of a pension plan as adownside of freelancing. Seemingly, all our respondents have made arrangements for their retirement (or are just not that worried about it). 

Everyone who lives and works in the Netherlands is entitled to a basic state pension: the AOW (Algemene Ouderdomswet). Usually, employees at a company build up an additional pension fund through their employers. However, as a self-employed person, you have to arrange something additional yourself so that you also have sufficient income after your working life. You have various options for building up your own pension in the Netherlands. Our tip is therefore to really delve into this.

What do freelancers say about being freelancer - full podcast episode

In addition to this blog, we also recored a podcast about working as a freelance app-developer. In this episode Maike Warner talks with senior developer Becky Russell about the pros and cons of being a freelance app developer. Becky has been a freelance android developer for more than eight years and tells frankly about about her experiences as a freelancer. Listen to the podcast on spotify. 

Need advice on freelancing?

Do you have questions about working as a freelance app developer, or would you like to discuss the pros and cons of freelancing together with one of our experts? Please feel free to contact us without obligation so that we can look at the right scenario for you together.
Mail to or give us a call at 020 - 215 7446


Jacqueline de Gruyter
Publication date
27-01-2022 11:12 AM
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