8+ Stereotypes about Freelance Web Developers–Busted

Every industry has its share of stereotypes and web developers aren’t an exception. While poking fun of these stereotypes amongst ourselves is a fun pastime, it can quickly get out of hand when it’s a client or someone outside the development industry who becomes biased thanks to them.

Just like everything else, freelance web developers aren’t the same by any means. We’re so completely different from each other, even our code would come out completely different if we were all to sit down and code the same thing.

So what are some of these stereotypes? Are they helpful or harmful to web developers in general?

Stereotypes about Us

Here is a list of the most common stereotypes that I’ve faced:

  1. We are messy. When people think of web developers, they tend to think of us as messy, disorganized people, while they think designers are the clean and organized ones. In truth, both designers and developers can both be either really messy or really organized. I know several fellow developers who are the messiest people I know–but I myself am overly organized. I also know of several designers who like to keep a messy desk as well.
  2. We are all men. I can’t tell you how many (annoying) times I get messaged something like this: Oh, you’re a web developer? But you’re such a pretty girl! As if pretty girls can’t be web developers! In truth, there are a ton of pretty girls who chose to be web developers. I would bet there’s almost as many of us as there are of men, we are just less outspoken and we tend to stay focused on working.
  3. We have no social life in the real world. People tend to think freelance web developers are the absolute geeks–We’re always on the computer and we never leave our offices. However, the web development community has been one of the most social communities I’ve ever been a part of. We have a ton of in-person meetups and events like Barcamps, and all of the fellow developers I know have plenty of real life friends.
  4. We are greasy and unwashed. While it’s true we like to work in our pajamas (cough cough, me!), it’s very untrue that we like to be unwashed and unhygienic. I know personally, I can’t stand to have a greasy face and for most of us, daily showers are a must. Sure, we don’t have to look good for anyone, but we all know it’s time to take a shower when even the dog can’t stand to be in the same room with us!
  5. We work on weekends and until 4 am. This stereotype is tough, because it is true in some cases. I’ve never worked until 4 am myself, but I have worked on weekends and late at night when I was behind on a project or happened to have overscheduled myself that week. But as a rule, most of us try to keep normal office hours as we all have friends and families we like to spend time with. Plus, who wants to be on the computer for 16 hours straight?
  6. We know everything that’s in web development. The most dangerous stereotype of all is the one where clients assume that we know everything there is to know about web development. We’re aware of every single CMS, platform and language there is to know. This is simply both impossible and untrue. There’s just too much to know in this industry for one person, which is why it’s always good to specialize in a few things.
  7. We’re overweight. One of the biggest problems facing freelance web developers health-wise is the threat of being overweight. But every desk job faces that issue and that doesn’t mean we’re more likely to be overweight than any other. As a matter of fact, a lot of us take our health into our own hands and work out at the gym, or use an awesome home workout app like Fitfu. I like to think we developers are some of the healthiest desk workers out there.
  8. We sleep all day and are unreliable. How I sometimes wish this were true. In reality, in order to be successful we have to make reliability one of the key services we offer. We also have to keep a regular schedule of hours in order to satisfy our clients. Plus, most of us have significant others or children, and they sure don’t let us sleep all day!

Twitter Freelance Web Developer Stereotypes

I took a quick Twitter poll to find out what other stereotypes exist. Here is the result:

  • CraigReville. We’re all super rich…I’ve also been told on several occasions that freelancers always take shortcuts and don’t design & code properly.
  • welcomebrand. They live in damp caves and are often hungry…
  • jaytem. That we are all incredibly brilliant and good looking?
  • ThisIsDannyZ. Stubborn, narrow-minded about their coding language (it’s the best), nerdy, fat, passive-aggressive… to name a few.
  • jbokkers. Euhm, they’re geekie, and typically confuse their work and their hobby because they love what they do?
  • adavis3105. That we all like Star Wars, Star Trek and comic books.
  • imthegirl. I’m immediately struck with a mental image of mom’s basement & a pile of empty mountain dew bottles.
  • dvbii. They wear esoteric t-shirts, drink coffee like it’s going to disappear and are afraid of women?
  • boundbystars. Lazy. Hygienically challenged. Focused on $ instead of project.
  • iDamianH. The one that’s mentioned a lot is developers not being able to design.

Your Turn

What are some of the stereotypes you’ve heard about freelance web developers? Are they true?

Image by howieluvzus