The start of next year will mark my one year anniversary as a freelance web developer. It’s been an amazing ride this last year. I can’t believe I’m still doing what I am doing. Working from home, flexible hours and of course working with Ruby on Rails are all great benefits but what’s it been really like?
As for the client roster I’m dealing with just a handful of clients at the moment. The clients I have I can a manage at the moment and I haven’t got to the stage where I would be looking for another developer to sub-contract work to. It has been at the back of my mind the last few days with the amount of work I have lined up for next year, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
I’ve managed to build a nice relationship with the clients I have at the moment. I would be the first to say that I’m not really a people person, but the feedback I’ve had from clients has been excellent. I think being in constant communication is key to building a great relationship with clients.
The work itself has all been Ruby on Rails work. All the applications I am working on are 3.x applications but I have rolled out a couple of Rails 4 applications of my own just to see any differences so that I can prepare for any upgrades I may have to do in the near future.
I do all back end development work. I don’t do any design work or front end development at all. It’s amazing the number of people who think I do the design work. A designer I am not but I am looking to expand to doing some front end development work next year. It’s important to be not only providing value for clients but also providing options. If I can provide additional services that they would go to someone else for then that benefits
I’ve had to make a number of small adjustments to my daily work routine in order to survive working from home.
I keep to a 9 to 5 work day purely for the fact that it works well for not just me but everyone in the house as well. What’s the point in me working all evening and missing spending time with my family? However I do have to sometimes do work at night, maybe once a week. Things like invoicing and admin work I do at night so as not to split my time on client work during the day. It’s extra work that needs to be done.
Jen works half days on a Thursday and a Friday. When she comes home with our youngest son on those days, we have a chat about our day so far and have some lunch. Then I retreat back to the office to finish my work for the rest of the day. She understands the importance of me finishing my work for the day and I only get interrupted by Jen if something is really urgent.
An adjustment I’ve recently made is no client work on a Friday. I made this decision so that I could get some time to work on side projects and hopefully turn them into income streams. Client work is important but my freelance business will need to weather the ups and downs of demands for my work. In order to get through those hard times it makes sense to have other income streams from products.
Working for myself is a real benefit to me at the moment. We have a young family with one at school and one at nursery. With myself and Jen both working child care has always been an issue. Up to last year though we were quite fortunate in our circumstances but if I continued working full-time we would definitely need to consider child care for both our kids, which at the time was an expense we were hoping to avoid.
Working for myself though means that I am able to be more flexible in my hours. I still do a 9 to 5 day most days, but having the option there to take my oldest son to school and pick him up means that we only pay child care for our youngest. I always catch up on work at night if I need to but it’s usually only an hour or two which leaves me time to spend with my family.
I’m usually quite good working on my own, but I do miss the banter of working in a development team. Not just the chance to work with others but also the banter, the jokes and the other perks that come from being part of a team. That’s the only drawback to my freelance career so far. I can live with working on my own. The benefits far outweigh this one drawback.
A Great Year
It’s been a great year working for myself. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, but the opportunity just hasn’t been there in the past. Now that I’ve completed a year working solo, I’m prepared to put the work in to maintain my freelance career as long as I can. It just offers so many more benefits than a full-time position. I’m looking forward to writing another post like this at the end of next year. It’s going to be hard work but it’s going to be enjoyable hard work.