Back in May, I made the leap of going into freelancing. So far I’m still here. I’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster since I have to rely on myself to do pretty much EVERYTHING. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far
1. Budgeting – Since I have to steer away from waiting for that pay day, I’m more conscience of my spending. I still have to control here and there but I’ve definitely incorporated coupons and sales into my grocery spending.
2. Various Projects – Sometimes the problem with certain agencies and studios, you work on the same type of project over and over. You can find ways to improve your process but not always a lot of room to learn something new. Over the past three months, none of the projects I have done are similar to each other. One project, I am working with responsiveness and ExpressionEngine. Next project, I am working with forms. And then, I am working with a native web app. I love learning something new! I think this is what I need to keep me in the game. Diverse my skills.
3. Flexible Schedule – I get to shop in the day when no one is at the supermarket. I can check out a movie when it’s still $5. I can walk in the nice weather or read my books (both development and casual) by the pool.
4. Inbox Zero != necessary – I know with a flexible schedule, it’s easy to get caught up in email. Well, I made sure I nail this down. Check the email in the morning. Answer the most important ones first, save the rest for later if necessary. Make sure responding to email doesn’t take more than an hour or an hour and a half.
1. More Time, but More Busy Work – I went from doing programming and research most days. Now I have to answer emails from different clients, keep accurate hours and send invoices, constantly looking for the next project. I have more time but I have more to do. Every once in a while, I do try to find a way to work more efficiently, if possible. Every minute counts.
2. Time Estimations – Since a lot of my projects are very different from each other, I’m still learning how to estimate my hours. I keep my time for all projects but they all consist of doing different things. I will have to do this by trial and error until I get the hang of it.
3. What does healthy mean? – I have the habit of getting caught up in my work real quick. Whether it’s for A Book Apart or an actual project, I can be sitting at my computer for hours until I feel I can actually stop. Sometimes I forget lunch or to take a break to stretch my legs. I am going to start my day with workouts again to help me focus better and keep myself git. Get my #geekfit on!
4. Lonesome – If you know me at all, I’m a HUGE social butterfly. Going from being surrounded by co-workers to my two cats is insane. I get cabin fever real quick. Since I only have a desktop, I can’t go to my local Starbucks to hammer out some code. I do plan to get maybe a MacBook Air or a 13-in MacBook Pro to do that sort of thing. For now, I just make sure once or twice a week, I get out of the house to keep my sanity.
What I’ve Learned
I’ve learned a lot over the last three months. It’s definitely a good idea to have about three months worth of your salary saved up before you take a leap into freelance. It will make you feel a little more at ease when you work. I still have a lot to learn from freelance and I’m always open to advice from the pros. Time management is key and it helps to know where all your time is going. Here’s some great advice about freelancing I’ve found from Freckle: Institute of Awesome. Hope my experience gives you some insight on freelancing.