Pockets of Blue

musings of my mind

Freelancing: One Year In

Well, technically it hasn’t quite been a year yet, but close enough for me to provide some perspective on my new career freedom.  I guess I quit my job at the end of June 2010, so I’ve been going at it for over eleven months now.  A few thoughts:

  • Holy God I’ve done a lot of traveling.  Several weeklong trips over the summer, dozens of weekend trips, an extended holiday trip: I’ve been all over the place.  Sometime around the end of last year I started realizing how much I’ve been getting around, and started collecting stats (this is for all of 2010):
    1. Overnight trips (at least one night away from home): 21
    2. Days away from home: 82 (divide that by 365, and I’m gone 22% of the time!)
    3. Nights sleeping in a tent: 36 (almost 10% of the time, which is kind of ridiculous as I’m a homeowner)

    And I was only freelancing for half of that year. This year has been pretty much the same, and this summer is shaping up to be the most epic yet — more on this later!

  • I’ve only had a handful of projects, but can already tell that I’m making leaps in my development ability, especially in Javascript.  I can bang out snazzy user interfaces in no time at all, much to my clients’ delight.  The short project timelines (typically less than a month) mean I’m regularly shipping code and building my portfolio.
  • I’m basically working for two companies right now, thanks to one friend who basically single-handedly launched my freelance career.  Thank you, Corey, you are amazing, and I’m so grateful our paths crossed not so many months ago.  Both are a joy to work with, are super laid back, and employ exceptionally talented and good-natured people (I swear I’m not trying to be a kiss-ass, though it’s probably coming out that way…)
  • There’s not a better time to be a freelance developer here in Salt Lake, especially in the advertising industry.  Even if freelancing isn’t your cup of tea, if you’re a halfway decent programmer, make sure you like where you’re at, because you have tons of options.  Just count the billboards advertising for programmers on I-15; it’s laughable.
  • One thing I run into from time to time is the feeling of being expendable (which, let’s face it, is often a reality).  Companies need to keep their employees busy before they can contract stuff out, which sometimes leave the less desirable projects for freelancers.  This might improve with a better relationship with each client (where they learn your strengths and weaknesses and can cater to them), and it may just be the nature of the job.

In short, though, so far so good!  I’ve got a jam-packed summer ahead of me, and I’m trying to save a bunch of money for my trip to Europe this fall while still packing in a few trips.

1 Comment

  1. Randy LaLonde

    June 18, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Alec, I must admit that, when you first told me of your freelancing plans, I was nervous! Now, however, I brag about you (and the revolutionary changes in workplace possibilities available to your generation) and what you have accomplished. It still blows my mind to think about you doing that three-way conference call last Christmas–a Glenfield-Salt Lake-San Francisco connection, via an I-phone and I-book. I like to think that, at your age, I spent a lot of time whitewater kayaking, which I did, but my time in the outdoors doesn’t even get close to yours at your age. Bravo! It is a brave new working world out there–I think of cousin Jay now living in Marquette and electronically working for his employer out in Illinois–and your generation is leading the way to a more balanced work/leisure lifestyle.
    You go, son!
    Cheers, Daddyo

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