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.