I started out self-publishing, then had a couple books picked up by small publishers. My self-published books have sold better, but I won't deny there was a feeling of validation over having a publisher pluck my work out of the pile. Still, I don't think I'd go with a small publisher again--or, rather, I'd be way more selective about which publisher I contracted with now that I know better what to look for. Now I have an agent shopping my current manuscript, though, so hopefully I've leveled up again.

As for stigma, I don't usually feel it around my self-published books, but I will say I see many readers on various Facebook pages saying they've had terrible experiences with self-published books and won't buy them any more. So that's a real shame. People get burned and then don't want to give self-published books another chance. We [self-published authors] get lumped into one big basket of "not good enough to be 'real' authors" or something. Not saying I believe that, just saying I've seen that attitude. It's by no means a pervasive feeling, but it's something I see pop up semi-regularly. Readers rant about typos and poor editing, and that's very fair. As a reader, I don't like those things either. But as a writer, this idea about the poor quality of self-published work is something I sometimes have to battle.