Cloudways interviews the bike-touring, jolly and very much likable Rachel Lawson. Learn about freelancing in Drupal through her freelance Drupal career along with the advantages and some drawbacks associated with it.
Cloudways: Hello and thank you for your time. I will kick off this interview with a traditional question: Give the readers a brief overview of your career so far?
Rachel: A quick overview? Not sure that’s even possible! It’s certainly not a straightforward one. For a start, I dropped out of college- I have no degree. I went off and taught IT (and climbing and fencing) to schoolchildren for a couple of years before moving to London and working at the Ministry of Defence (no, I can’t tell you what! 😉). Eventually, I ended up spending many years working for a pharmaceutical company in Cambridge. This is where I picked up Drupal; even though we were very much of a Microsoft place. Four years ago, I decided that I wanted to do Drupal full time and went on to be a freelancer.
Cloudways: When did you start working with Drupal? How has the experience been so far?
Rachel: According to my drupal.org account, ten years ago. Though the reality is it was very much part-time for five years or so.
Cloudways: What made you go down the Drupal freelance route?
Rachel: The freedom to do what I wanted and work on projects that interest me.
Cloudways: Do you think Drupal would ever become the next WordPress in terms of market share and number of users?
Rachel: No. Neither do we need it to be.
Cloudways: Our readers would love to know about your first Drupal gig!
Rachel: My very first “live” website was for one of the pharmaceutical products that I supported. Looking back, it was awful!
As a freelancer, way back in 2013, I made www.paincommunitycentre.org – amazingly it is still going and is regarded as a major source of good information for medical professionals with an interest in pain management. It worked well as a project because of the team and how we all worked with a common purpose. I was the only technical role but everybody “owned” the site.
Cloudways: What are your views on Drupal freelancing? Is it a viable career?
Rachel: I would hope so! There are some things I like about it and others less so. I still worry where the work will come from (not that I’ve ever had a problem finding work). I love the fact that I get to make decisions.
Cloudways: How important are events like Drupalcamp and Drupalcon?
Rachel: For me, hugely important. Pretty much the most fundamental thing any Drupal person can do, if they can, is to come to events. There is so much to learn and so many contacts to make.
Of course, not everyone is as privileged like me to be able to disappear at weekends quite so often, so remote accessing to that same learning is a big deal – video your talks peeps!
Cloudways: One thing we always love to show our readers is the workplaces of Drupal professionals. Would you like to share a snap of yours?
Rachel: Heh – anybody who follows my Twitter will know I like to work “on the road” when I can so I sometimes have some amazing office views. When I’m at home in summer, I often work in the summer House next to the river, which means that “traffic” is the occasional fishing boat, a foot ferry and a seal who pops up.
Cloudways: Okay, that’s enough talk about work now. Tell us about your hobbies. What do you like to do in your free time?
Rachel: My main obsession right now seems to be getting out on my motorbike. I love it!
I’ve kind of caught the running bug too recently. Half marathons are fun – once you pass the finish line!
Cloudways: Have you ever had an experience with cloud hosting? If you’ve ever tried Cloudways, what would your thoughts be about it?
Rachel: I like the idea – I’m very much a fan of the type of service that can manage a whole development process, creating test sites for branches etc., but still, allow portability of the project.
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