Deciding to go freelance full time back in January was a liberating experience. But it's times like these that I miss working in a stable day job.
Making the decision
It was a both a tough decision and an easy decision to make. Going freelance allowed me the opportunity to work on my own projects and choose the clients that I get to work with. It was tough knowing that I have a wife and son that counted on me but I felt confident that I'd be able to pull it off, that money wouldn't ever really be an issue, and that if I did run into any slow periods, I could find myself back into a day job quickly.
And for the past ten months, things have — for the most part — gone smoothly. In the first couple months, I rented an office space, ironically from a company I used to work for a couple years prior. The expense seemed unnecessary so I decided to give up the office space and work from home. However, because of my son's daycare and our unwillingness to disrupt his routine, I found myself driving an hour or two back and forth each day. If a huge snowstorm hit, that travel time would double. Work was good but the travel was bad.
Once August rolled around, we found some place closer for our little guy to go and I cut my travel time to just 10 minutes a day. A sheer joy, for sure. In fact, in some ways, I was really enjoying the freedom. I chose when I wanted to work, when I wanted to go out for lunch, or maybe run some errands. This was what working freelance was all about.
But it was also around this time that my wife and I had an opportunity to adopt another child. With an expected due date in mid-November and the anticipated $20,000 to $30,000 costs that go along with an adoption, I felt it I needed to turn up the crank.
I took on extra work. More work than I should've, I'm sure. I brought somebody on board to help manage things. Before I continue with the story, let me just say that bringing people "into the fold" as it were doesn't necessarily cut down on time. There's always the management and testing overhead that is required and when I'm pressed for time, it's probably one of the first duties I shirk. In fact, throughout the year, I tried to take on additional projects and often outsourced them. From design to production, it was a lot to manage and occasionally didn't save me much time. I'd find myself receiving poor results and with deadlines looming, I'd just end up staying up late and getting the work done myself. That's never a good situation to be in.
By mid-September, I was starting to feel burnt out. I was eight months into this and, while I've had the opportunity to work on some fun projects, I found myself still unable to work on my own things. I was no further ahead with some of my ideas than I had been in January.
I was also finding less and less time to work on the blog, which I felt and still feel, the need to post to consistently. The blog has been my sales and marketing. I haven't had to make sales calls or answer RFP's or do pitches. People have either just come across the site or I've gotten work through referrals. If anybody asks if running a personal site like this can be worthwhile, let me be the first in line to say yes. I'm sure many of the freelancers out there would agree. As a result, I didn't want to fall behind. I had some article ideas but started seeing others beating me to the punch, as it were, making much of what I wanted to write redundant. This led to some of my frustration with my own site that pushed me to get the redesign out.
By this time, I was looking forward to my vacation. It'd be a time to just forget about work and relax. It was fun but how time flies. Once the vacation was over, it was already mid-October. There was still plenty of work on the burner and I was turning away even more (although contemplating the thought of hiring somebody else again). This wasn't a 9-to-5 business, for sure. In any case, I trudged on.
Then late last week, getting behind on timelines and desperately trying to catch up, we receive a call that the birthmom has gone into labour. That's the heat getting turned up a notch. Luckily, the baby doesn't come and gives us some time to try and complete the remaining paperwork that we needed before we could head to the States.
Yesterday morning, we get a call that the baby was born. A beautiful baby girl. (That notch? Turn it up a couple more.) We're ecstatic and frantic at the same time. A flurry of phone calls and a mountain of paperwork to organize is under way. In the meantime, I still have my work commitments to meet. Client meetings get rescheduled as they did the week before and timelines shift some more. Remember, no work = no money.
Twenty-four hours later, and our world is flipped upside-down again. This morning another phone call, one I assume is just an update on how the baby and the birthmom are doing. Instead, it turns out that she's going to keep the baby. It's a decision that I have to respect and regret at the same time. It still feels like somebody kicked me in the stomach, though.
Alas, no time to rest. No time to relax. For I still have bills to pay. Clients are still waiting.
It's times like these that I miss working in a stable day job.