A few months ago I did something crazy: I QUIT MY JOB. I had noticed a growing trend in my attitude towards my work in general. I was more excited about what I was working on before and after the hours of 9-5. So I took a bit of a leap of faith and decided to strike out on my own.

If you follow me on twitter, I’m sure you know how things are going for me since I’ve been doing the freelance dance. This blog post is a bit of ‘status update’ that is more than 140 characters. I’ll talk a bit about running a business, organization, income, friends, sanity and the future.

(Awesome illustration of me by my friend Jimmynotjim)

Business Stuff

At my last job I was surprised by the amount of meetings and phone calls my boss had scheduled on a daily basis. It seemed as if he was always running from meeting to meeting. Well guess what?!?! This is happening to me, but I’m keeping things in check.

I am keeping in person meetings to a minimum. While they may be helpful for some clients, most times an email, phone call or skype screen sharing session with an agenda will suffice. Point here is that I always ask or set an agenda before a call.

I’m also surprised by the amount of time I spent writing estimates, tweaking contracts and attempting to get invoices paid. Not that I have had any huge problems, but this is stuff that just takes time. Probably more than you realize. This is why I’ve accounted for some ‘admin hours’ in my estimates. Just a bit of padding to cover this time.

Organization

At the core of all this business stuff is organization. I’m not a hugely organized person by nature so I have to work hard at staying organized. Emails, invoices, contracts, multiple versions of designs, coded templates, wordpress installs, version control, OH MY! Luckily I’ve found some super awesome web apps that help save my ass on a daily basis:

  • CurdBee – Invoicing & Time Tracking
  • Basecamp – Collaboration, Client Corralling
  • Git & Github – Saving my ass, Collaboration, Version control
  • Mint – Keeping track of finances
  • Kodery – Saving all those wordpress code snippets I can never remember!
  • Gather Content – Getting specific content from clients

Income

One of my biggest fears after making the jump was income. I had a pretty decent salary at my last job, so my goal was to try to make at least the same wages. As you all know freelancing income tends to come in waves. $2,000 here $6,000 here $500 there. This is all fine and dandy, but my expenses are regular and need to be paid. This freaked me out a bit so I was on the lookout for a steady gig.

Luckily a friend recommended that I inquire about a part time teaching job at a local school. (CDIABU). I’ve done some public speaking in the past and survived (and rather enjoyed it!) so I gave it a try!

I managed to impress someone (or convince them I was sane) and now I’m teaching a few classes on nights and weekends. (HTML & CSS, WordPress, Illustrator). This part time job (~6-10 hours a week) allows me to chill a bit about money and at least pay my rent and buy beer. This has been great for me so far! Teaching is awesome and incredibly rewarding.

Friends

One of the reasons I was able to make the jump to full-time freelance was because of my awesome designer / developer friends out there. You know who you are! There seems to be no shortage of web work out there and every web designer and developer tends to be busy. Luckily my friends are all busy and have passed on several clients and project leads to me. I can’t tell you guys how thankful I am for this. Seriously! If you are looking to make the jump to freelance I would recommend having a network of awesome friends that do what you do.

That being said I hope to return the favor or pass work along in the future to my friends. Right now I am so busy and its the best thing in the world! :)

Happiness and Sanity

One of the biggest things I’ve noticed since making the jump is that I am much much happier! Not that I was unhappy when I had a job, but now I’m in control of my own schedule. If I want to work from 2pm-10pm I can! If I want to get up and drink coffee and write a blog post before working – I CAN! And thats what I’m doing right now! :)

Freelancing has provided me the freedom to control my own schedule and control which projects I work on. I can’t emphasize how enjoyable (or sometimes scary) this is. No more working on powerpoint slides because someone ‘told me so’.

Aside from the work side of things I’ve been able to spend more time on myself. I’m one of those crazy runners – so when I get the urge to run I run! No matter what time of day it is!

The Future

So now that I’ve been on my own for a bit I’d like to plan where I see my business going. I have been working on a variety of things here and there and I’m getting a good idea of what I like best. I’ve worked on a few iPhone apps as well as with a few startups. These tend to be my favorite projects because entrepreneurs are just so damn excited about what they do! That enthusiasm tends to rub off. I love hearing people pitch their biz and try to excite others.

Besides my ‘ideal’ client, I’m planning on doing some of my own ‘non-client’ work. Here’s a few things I have in the works:

  • posters / prints
  • writing a small ebook
  • custom wordpress themes? themeforest?

So this is my ‘state of things’ post a few months in to freelancing. I’ll do another post at the 6 month mark and hopefully I’ll be doing some of the things I mentioned and business will be good!