I’m in a quandry.

  • I’ve got multiple high-profile parties in the Genesis community asking me to help them by putting some child themes together. Some big, some small, all wanting to pay me.
  • I’ve got my own websites (and that of some family members) to do the development and design customisations for, including my business and main personal site.
  • I’ve got personal projects (WP plugins, non-WP sites, Zend Framework learning) that I want to do.

And that’s just the website stuff – there’s plenty of other tasks I’ve got to do on and off the computer.

Being self-employed is good, as it gives you the freedom to take on the projects you want. Unfortunately, being self-employed is also bad, as it gives you an excuse to do what you want, rather than what you need to be doing, especially if you struggle for self-discipline as I sometimes do.

I’ve had a break from WordPress in the last few days, to concentrate on trying to get to grips with Zend Framework. I know that I’m a long long way from being able to make money from a ZF-based application, but I also know that if I just continue to do service jobs, I won’t ever be able to sit back and make a greater proportion of my income from having created products, and that’s where I want to be (personally, and from a business aspect).

I don’t know if I should raise my rates to make the paid work more appealing to me, try and take on an unofficial business partner to ensure I / we stay on track and accept all personal projects as off-limits for now.
Or push on with the various personal / product projects and play the long game, turning away the service jobs.
Or do the very difficult task and do a mixture of both.

I look at sites like Click71 and it makes me sad – I’m really happy that Craig has built up his new company, and it’s clear he is an excellent business man, and that makes me sad as I know I’m not. Even looking at the landing home page of Northbound Design shows me I’m doing things wrong.

I know what I’m good at, but the things that interest me seem to wander too frequently. I’ve just turned 31 and I’ve been developing for over 10 years, but what major things have I achieved? I seriously suck. I can’t even write a fucking blog post coherently.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m in the same position. There never seems to be enough hours in the day and having started working for myself for the last year I seem to just move from work work (paid work) to home work (projects for myself, friends and charities). I so need a holiday but which should be dropped first!

    I’m in the same position of looking at other people’s sites & business decisions just to get annoyed at my own sales and marketing skills.

    I don’t have any answers :-p But I did want to let you know that you are not alone and someone else can feel your pain!

    I know you don’t know me but if you ever need an independent ear to run something past then feel free to give me a shout. Freelancers have to stick together :-)

    One day I will make it to a Basingstoke Tweetup, I’m only up the road in Camberley. Until then, good luck with whatever you decide!

    • says

      Thanks Dogsbody – good to know I’m not the only one. A well worded point re getting annoyed with my own sales and marketing skills.

      We’re having (trying to have!) a bigger tweetup for the next #bsktweetup in April, so see if you can make it along to that :-)

  2. says

    Gary. Sometimes it just needs an objective viewpoint. When I started doing my Click 71 stuff last year, my initial service offering turned out to be completely misguided on my part. But, only by talking to quite a few people, did I refine it to work out how to make money out of the work that I like doing.

    Every experience is a learning experience – no failures only feedback. The more flexible you can be to adapt to what works and what doesn’t is essential.

    The key for freelancers like you is to understand who needs what you are good at. Arguably, the end customer may not because it’s more technical, but design agencies?

    In terms of the money side of things – don’t aim too low. That end of the market is full of people who want a lot done for not much money and it may leave you feeling undervalued. Again, this is a mistake I made last year in the beginning. Made me feel a little bit shite about myself and what I was doing.

    The key to any marketing and sales is about offering something that someone wants, selling it to them in their language (not yours) and making sure you talk to a few people along the way to spread the word.

    It’s a tough economic environment at the moment but companies seem to be spending money on marketing. So, what do you have to offer anyone in that supply chain?

    Always up for a coffee and chat Gary.

    • says

      Thanks Craig – I agree with everything you’ve said here. I’ve come to a bit of a conclusion that I’m taking on too many projects at once, and I’m trying to get them all out the door at the same time. I need to be more structured with my time, and concentrate on one client job and one job only until it’s complete. If that job is held up for whatever reason, then it’s a good chance to go do some of the other non-client tasks.

      I have done some work where I’m removed from the end-client and I’ve enjoyed it. My direct client is often more technically minded, and understands the value of the work I do, which further makes my work easier to get on with. I think I should carry-on aiming myself exclusively for that niche.