Semi-retired

No, I’m not retiring, but I am semi-retiring AnywhereMan.

In the past year, I’ve had little-to-nothing “work anywhere”-related that has inspired me enough to blog about it. I’ve been inspired to write about other topics, but none that would fit here. That realization has motivated me to start up a “topic independent” blog called Yank On.

Yes, that’s the title.

I’ll be posting about tech, creativity, music, life, people, and maybe even food. Each post will be my take on something, hence the Yank On.

So follow me there and I promise I’ll keep existing AnywhereMan content live. Maybe someday I’ll even add to it. This site was an excellent outlet/therapy for me back when I first took the leap to freelancing. Thanks for following along!

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Ron Swanson In A Canoe Being Ron Swanson

WHOA! I’ve Been A Full-Time Freelance Web Developer For Four Years

That’s a crazy statement. I’m still not sure what my thinking was back in March 2008 when I first decided to leave the comfort of a full-time job for the risks of being self-employed.

Working from home: could I really do that?

Make enough money on a single income to pay for a mortgage, health insurance, and feed our family of four (now five)?

How would I drum up enough business on a regular business to make ends meet for more than just a few months? Where would these “clients” come from?

What did I really offer to clients? Was I a web designer, or was I an ASP.NET web application programmer?

One day you realize you’re just doing it.

I don’t know that there was ever a moment where all of the above questions had definite answers or affirmations, but looking back at the last four years is almost mind-blowing to me.

When I first started, I was taking any project I could get just to keep things going whether it was a simple static website, a custom web application, an email design & campaign, or even videography. And I think that was okay. Though at times things got really, really tight, we never missed a mortgage payment or had to sell a kid.

Now, my business has become so much more focused. I am a front-end WordPress developer. That’s what I do. I’m perfectly comfortable turning down projects that don’t fit into my “ideal” mold. The more projects I take that fit this mold, the more of those I’ll get in the future. (Shameless plug: I just launched my new website – Feedback welcome!)

I’m starting to understand cash flow and the ups and downs of a really good month and a less-than-ideal month – it all averages out.

I’m comfortable having potential clients say “no” to a project they feel is priced to high. In fact, if I don’t get rejected from time to time it tells me I’m charging too little.

I understand that I can go a few weeks without any new business but then four new projects might come in on a single day. It’s zero to sixty in no time.

Four years in, I’m still figuring this thing out and nothing is guaranteed (except death and taxes, right?). However, I’m happy to do what I do and earn a living doing it.

If you’re just starting out as a freelancer and unclear on your direction, that’s okay. Keep pushing forward and working hard. Look for opportunities. Try new things. Ask lots of questions. Blog about your experiences – the good and the bad. Someday it will be fun to look back and see just how far you’ve come.

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Seth Godin: Time Doesn’t Scale

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Another Wonderful Google Voice Transcription FAIL

"Give away some knowledge. People fear that if they give it away, people won't need to hire or buy from them. If everything you know about your industry can be explained in a few articles, you don't know much."

Scott Stratten, UnMarketing
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New Use for the Phone Pocket

"I’m really frustrated by armchair critics. I see a lot of people ready to trash other people’s efforts, but when I dive into what they’re doing, I don’t see any body of work on their websites. I don’t see them taking to stages. I don’t see them advancing the cause. If you’re going to earn the right to complain and moan, do it by being better than the person you’re trashing."

Chris Brogan

Is College A Scam?

Let’s pretend you are a high school senior. You already know what you want to do for a career: you want to be a programmer for a company like Google or Facebook.

What’s going to get you there in the best, least debt-incurring manner? Four years of college? Or walking up to Google and telling them you’ll work for them for four years for FREE? After four years, you’ve already got a ton more experience than your peers who are just graduating and you won’t have the massive student debt (you might just need a paying part-time job on the side…which you’d need through college anyways). Your professional network is also going to be immensely larger.

Yes, you’ll start at the lowest rung possible but 1) You’re not costing Google anything and 2) you’re learning exactly what they want you to learn. You’ll be putting in some extra time doing self-study over the years, but almost everything you’re learning will be applied.

So which is the better deal? And which would give you a better chance of getting your foot in the door in the first place? Now that everyone goes to college, does it really get you ahead of the pack? I think education through experience is becoming more important than formal education.

Disclaimer: I have a four-year degree. Obviously this approach wouldn’t work with a profession such as a doctor, teacher, or lawyer. But I think it would have worked for me (Business/marketing degree).

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Taking Time Off As A Freelancer