Is freelance web development becoming less lucrative?

I have been doing freelance web development for over 10 years. Before that, I worked as a software developer. My specialty has always been making database driven PHP based websites to meet small business solutions. My best year was in 2007, when I grossed over $120,000. I had clients begging to work with me - I was booked up for months in advance. Ever since then, I've noticed a slow decline in demand for my services. Clients are increasingly unwilling to pay what I am charging. Cheap overseas competition has driven down prices for web development in recent years down to levels that have essentially priced me out of work. I have also found that many web solutions that small businesses need can increasingly be met by a growing number of templates and plugins with content management systems like Joomla, Drupal, and Wordpress. It's gotten to the point where most of my work consists of making a Drupal or Joomla website for someone, and simply customizing the PHP code of certain extensions. The problem is that this doesn't take very long, and so I don't get as much from the project as I would have gotten years ago. It's looking like this year I will have made less than $60,000, which is about half of what I made six years ago. I also find myself working an extra 20 hours a week just doing marketing to attract new clients. I used to have clients coming to me - now I have to actively seek them out. It seems like the world of freelance web development just isn't as lucrative as it used to be. Is anyone else having this experience? I actually ended up just giving up on making my freelance business a full time gig. I just got a full time job with a company doing PHP programming. They are paying me $70k a year which isn't as much money as I used to make freelancing, but I don't have to deal with constantly finding new clients anymore, and I get to actually specialize in PHP coding rather than trying to do everything from marketing to graphics design to SEO to billing. If I drop all my current freelancing work and just focus on my new $70k a year job, I will also be working about 20 hours a week less, and I will never have to deal with phone calls and emails after 5 pm or on weekends. I also feel like I'm getting older (late 30s now) and don't have the energy I used to... and any successful freelancer needs a lot of energy to find success. I feel like I'm selling out and turning in some of my independence. I used to be proud that I was running my own business. But the times are changing and it just doesn't make sense any more for me to be a freelance developer. Pistol, the best place to find PHP jobs is Dice, Monster, and Craigslist, in my experience.

Asked By: - 12/13/2012
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
It's sad, by I absolutely agree with You. It's get cheaper each day.
Answered By: Bes - 12/16/2012
Additional Answers (3)
I have not had this experience because I have not been making a living doing web development. I have been trying to get into it. I've been trying to get a job as a PHP programmer. Where do I go to apply for such jobs? I majored in engineering and not computer science.
Answered By: Pistol - 12/13/2012
You are right With sites like elance, pph and others it is easy for businesses to find cheaper labor and also these skills are becoming more like a commodity So unless you differentiate and give something unique that the overseas people cannot do it is difficult to compete with lower salary and prices
Answered By: Gan - 12/14/2012
You are right about the fact that people with cheaper rates are causing this all happen. One thing you can do is to maintain your reputation even if you are doing the yearly job you will have a stream of clients or at least a repu to go back to if you ever want to. Hal Smith URLDreamer Consultant
Answered By: Hal Smith - 12/17/2012
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