I've heard PHP is very popular in the freelance world. I don't know PHP. However, I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to learn since it has many similarities with Java (OOP). It seems to me that Laravel has similarities with Spring Boot (it's MVC and OOP). Also, people say Laravel works well with Vue.js, which is my favorite JS framework.
The projects I would like to work on are custom web applications/websites for small businesses. I have developed custom ERPs before and found that Java was a good fit, except for it taking a long time to develop. I cannot make a choice, and I am constantly switching between trying PHP and Node.js/Express. Any real-world advice would be welcome! I would love to find a stack that I enjoy while doing meaningful freelance coding.
in order to stay employable, I'd work with something you can deliver with. if I'd be your client and you'd have to get comfortable with a new stack, I would 100% not pay you for this startup time. learn new stuff in your free-time. or set aside time for learning.
regarding expressjs and mongodb: yes, it is a goto solution for a lot of tutorials, because its as simple as it gets. especially wben using something like monk. BUT if you want to use mysql, posgres or similar, check out TypeORM, Prism or another ORM-like solution. you can use any db with express, and there's plenty of abstraction layers, which make your life easier. but i noticed that expressjs does a lot less "holding hands" compared to .net core (c#), or laravel (php). can be a pro or a con.
Of course, this was my plan as I have some time available these days to learn new stuff. However, you are right and a few months learning a new stack will probably not give me enough experience to be able to "deliver" well for a client. So, thank you for pointing this out !
Hi Eva, As you have solid experience with Spring already, you should jump into freelancing with that. It would be quite stressful to start freelancing with a tech stack you don't know well. Then in the background you can keep learning/practicing an alternative and switch over when you are confident enough (eg. 0.5-1 year later). I think you should learn Laravel as you already like it and find it easier. Express has better performance but that is not required for most of the small freelancer projects.