March 1, 2013—the date I made the leap into freelancing. I’ve been a web guy for a little over 15 years, and it’d always been for someone else. So, not uncommonly, it had all finally come to a head. Colleagues were telling me to jump ship, friends were telling me to go out on my own, and finally my wife Sara (whom you’ll be hearing from tomorrow) said the magic words: “We can pull this off.”
So far, I’m pulling it off. I owe a lot of it to the support garnered from those closest to me both personally and professionally. I had been thinking about becoming a freelancer (or entrepreneur if you’re so inclined) for years, but the pieces weren’t there. Too many times, the lust for independence was riding the coattails of just being pissed off at a day job I thought I needed because I had bills to pay. So, after likely too much careful planning, I put in my two weeks.
Here’s what I did before going out on my own. First, I didn’t go out on my own. My wife works alongside me daily, which is a massive help. There’s an idea that when one side of a marriage begins to work from home that their day becomes full of opportunity to do laundry and dishes. Thankfully, this isn’t something that’s come up, because as a freelancer herself, Sara’s entirely aware that working from home means working on non-home things at home.
Second, I started going back to (and joining) a handful of awesome collaborative groups in the area, rekindling and growing new friendships. These groups—Doctype Society, The Collaborative, and the awesomesauce folks over at Room to Think—gave me perfect excuses for leaving the house and getting involved in things bigger than myself.
Third, my first day of freelancing wasn’t spent hungrily seeking work, or freaking out over not having a steady income; I got to spend it working. Squid&Crow had picked up and been working for a handful of clients for the past year, doing some really awesome and varied work. On top of that, I’d left my previous day job on fair enough terms to continue working as an independent contractor with clients I’d spent years building relationships with. Aside from billable hours, I was able to make a handful of pet projects a higher priority which should (with any luck) give me some long-term residual income to help out during those lean times I have no doubt are coming.
All that being said, I’ve learned a couple of things unique to freelancing that you only really get to experience from the other side. The most important is that I’m able to completely throw myself behind whatever I’m working on. Being able to choose my clients is incredibly empowering. My work’s better, and I’m enjoying it more. I don’t have a level of sales staff or bureaucracy between me and the client keeping both sides miserable. You know those red flags you pick up on in discovery meetings? I can act upon them and choose not to take on the job. Any problems I encounter with a project I’m entirely able to address and resolve. I have no boss playing politics or compromising for the sake of short-term status quo. For good or ill, I get to do things my way, and I couldn’t be happier.
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