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Making a living as a contributor

· 3 min read
Jimmy Chu
Site Author

I want to blog again. This has been in my mind for a while: I wonder instead of being hired full time by a company, can I be a freelancer getting paid based on my contribution. This idea come from the realization that if I can get fully committed to my employer endeavor, it is great. But it has been the case that after working for my previous employers for a while, I become lukewarm at work, and it is too drastic to make a change in my position. So I play safe and continue to stay in my role for too long until I no longer could tolerate it.

But instead of this, I wonder is it possible to have a living mode as a contributor, where I am free to work for different projects that I am passionate about. I get paid based on the work I made during that period. If I start getting lukewarm on one project, I can leave the project and search for another project team to work for.

For this to be possible, it will require:

  • I be an expertise in certain domain and that domain is needed across different project teams. Fortunately coding and software development is such a domain.

  • There are enough projects that are publicly accessible that I can search for and join. Fortunately with the web3 movement going on recently. There are a lot of open source projects and blockchain-related project where if I'm interested, I can dig into the code and dive deep inside, to the point of even making a pull request and contributing to that project.

  • There are different grants in the web3 ecosystem to motivate developers to build in their ecosystem. For example there are Polkadot / Web3 Grant, Ethereum Foundation. There are also platform like Gitcoins, and different hackathon projects.

All these conditions seems to be mature. I also need to have a reality check with myself:

  1. Because it is usually project-based, there is a clear responsibility of what you (AND ONLY YOU) need to deliver by a certain time. You / your team are going to own that part of work. This clarity on responsibility should increase the motivation to get the job complete.

  2. You have to keep honing your skills in that domain, otherwise no one is willing to pay for your skill. Also, because you are not a full-time, you are more "disposible" to your client than their staff, and the only reason to continue engage with you in the price you demand is because you really worth the value you ask for.

  3. If you feel lukewarm about the project, it is time to reflect about your work make the necessary switch between the project / ecosystem.

  4. By default, you don't get paid if you are not involved in any project or if you are not delivering. This is also a motivation for you to engage in projects and deliver.

All in all, this is something I want to explore in the coming six months if I can make a sustainable living as a contributor, and also find if there are like-minded people. These people don't want to bound by a company / employer, instead they want to choose to engage in projects and works they feel passionated, or else taking time off to enjoy their lives or taking care of other aspects in life, all in their own terms.

Ultimately, I will be one to manage my own time and output.