All posts tagged “thoughts”

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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Time For Sale

I sell time.

Yes, people pay me to build WordPress websites, but what they’re really paying me for is the time it takes to complete their projects. It’s something I love to do, but lately I’m seeing some limitations.

I’m a “sky is the limit” kind of guy. While I’m staying rather busy these days, I’m realizing that the commodity I am selling is my own time…and a finite amount of it. There are only so many billable hours available in a day, month, year. My development schedule is absolutely full and I’m finding that it’s forcing me to turn off my phone, keep conversations shorter, and focus on the work to be done.

That should be a good thing.

But I like talking to people. I like the conversations with current and potential clients. In fact, I think I enjoy those connections more than the actual projects and development.

I’m looking for ways to “productize” some aspects of my business so that I can free up some time for the connection aspects like conversations, meetups, and even blogging.

I’m re-thinking my approach with my TweakMyTheme sub-service. Are there ways I can productize that? I think there are.

Are there new products I can launch to create a passive income stream? I’m exploring the idea of selling premium WordPress themes. I’m looking at some affiliate income-generating options. Maybe I can sell custom tutorial materials. I don’t think it hurts to diversify a little bit.

The beauty of being my own boss is that I can always be refining and re-defining what I do and what I offer. Maybe that’s foolish to some incredibly-focused folks, but I don’t think it is in my case. I think it’s a part of staying relevant.

What have you done to expand the limits of your business? What are you selling?

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