Well, Cliff is considering what the game costs to him, so imo it is perfectly valid, for the sake of getting a ballpark figure to see if he is breaking even or needs to do something else, to take the salary he would be receiving for full time employment into account. That is predicated on the assumption of him being guaranteed to get a job like that, ofc. It maybe overly optimistic in that respect or not.
The salaries you quote are low for the kind of role somebody like Cliff could be a tremendous asset. Yet I need to concede that in taking that salary figure at face value, he is not taking into account:
- That he has complete control of what his work is about.
- He manages his own time and can structure his time as bests suits his family and the rest of his life.
- Doesn’t need to commute.
- Doesn’t have to engage in organization politics.
- Doesn’t to “pitch” for a project to be green lighted by management.
And probably more I can’t think of right now. Those may be balanced out though:
- You need to do a lot of admin work
- You need to do the marketing and promotion
- You need to do the customer support
- You can see your business fucked by somebody thoughtlessly releasing major changes in the way fonts are rendered, or deciding to drop altogether for a key API.
Does the extra multitasking and stress compensate the good bits of going solo? I don’t know, this is something some peeps can deal with, others do not.