freelance

Cool Things - April Edition

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Brave Web Browser - A project to keep an eye on. It was reasonably stable on macOS but has recently crashed a lot, so I have moved back to Safari for now.

Revolut Business - Revolut added Freeagent sync. Once it supports unique IBAN numbers, rather than relying on a reference number, I'm all in.

Showerthoughts - a macOS screensaver I built.

Balance Manager (beta) - A web-based tool to help you manage your tokens.

Symple 1.1 - AutoPay

Last week we launched Symple 1.1! This release bring the ability to set your payments on autopilot with “AutoPay”. Just turn it on and choose the payment terms. Now when a partner sends an invoice you no longer need to manually manage paying them.

iOS Freelancer Diaries #4 - Year In Review

Blimey, what a year!

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a Freelance Diary entry (I know, I know. I said that last time too), so I figured I’d just write about the whole year.

Shameless self promotion - A lot of the numbers below are taken straight from Forecast.

Workload

The points below give a rough feel for my workload over the year. I feel things really started to change from September when I started booking in much larger projects and have managed to pretty much fill my schedule up until March 2018 🎉.

  • January - Mid Feb: Nothing
  • Feb - March: Semi booked
  • April: Fully booked
  • May - September: Semi booked
  • October - December: Fully booked

Clients

I’ve been very lucky this year and have worked with some great clients with projects ranging from an internal app for airport parking staff to the rather crazy world of cryptocurrency.

Over the year I’ve worked with 8 clients. The largest client contributed 35% to my turnover and the smallest; 3%.

Client A

  • 35% of turnover
  • Always paid on time

Client B

  • 24% of turnover
  • Paid on average 8 days late

Client C

  • 16% of turnover
  • Always paid on time

Client D

  • 9% of turnover
  • Paid on average 2 days late

Client E

  • 4% of turnover
  • Paid roughly 22 days late

Client F

  • 4% of turnover
  • Paid roughly 1 day late

Client G

  • 4% of turnover
  • Paid roughly 13 days late

Client H

  • 3% of turnover
  • Paid roughly 2 days late

Note: I realise the above doesn’t add up to 100%. I removed referral income from Gorilla and also a deposit for a project starting next year.

Notable Side Project

Forecast

Forecast is cash flow forecasting software for freelancers. It’s something I’ve personally wanted for a while so I teamed up with Nick to turn it into a reality.

Four Pints In

Towards the end of the year I started a Podcast called Four Pints In with two friends; Tom and Nick. In it’s simplest form; it’s 3 friends chatting over a beer or four. First episode was a bit nerve-racking but it’s been great fun to record and Tom has done a great job on the editing (Nick has also done a great job at turning up).

GFIB 7

Hector and I teamed up with a couple of friends who own a local gym called GFIB and put together our take on the “7 minute workout”.

Investments

It goes without saying, but I’m no expert…

Monzo

Monzo ran another crowdfunding and because I was involved in the first round I got to invest a % of my previous investment (£134.33).

Balance

Balance were actually a client of mine, but I also invested $1,000 in their crowdfunding. I think they have great potential to bring cryptocurrency to the mass market.

Pension

I had a private pension before but then paused contributions once I started freelancing. Once my runway improved I started £500/month contributions. I hope to raise this as my runway improves.

My pension is managed through St. James’s Place (I have a friend who works there). I have also heard good things about Nutmeg Pensions (though it has a £5k minimum deposit).

It’s also worth noting that since I have a limited company, the contributions are paid through that.

Stocks & Shares ISA

I also started a personal stocks & shares ISA with Nutmeg.

Financials

My aim at the start of the year was to turnover £60,000. This was my old salary so figured this was a good starting point.

By the end of the year turnover should have reached £65,000 🎉.

What’s crazy is that that just over half of that was created in the last 3 months.

Day Rate

I started freelancing with a day rate of £500. I’m a big believer in playing around with your day rate and over the year I have raised by rate by £25 every 2 clients (currently £600).

I also introduced a retainer rate at 20% discount.

Working For Equity

Though I have yet to officially do this, I get asked enough that I updated my contact page outlining my requirements.

The key points are:

  • Equity amount is based on the discount. For example, if I give a discount of £10,000, then in exchange I receive £10,000 in equity.
  • Provide any financial and business details I require
  • Pay all costs (e.g. legal)

The idea behind it came from the Sandwich Fund.

What Went Wrong

Too Much Work

As mentioned previously, I made just over half of my years turnover in 3 months. Yes, that sounds cool, but in reality it was too much. The summer had been relatively slow and I felt obliged to take on as much work as I could get my hands on. I’m now happy I did as it has given me a very solid foundation for 2018, but I don’t plan on doing that again, unless necessary.

Fixed Price Project

I’m generally totally against fixed price projects, it’s just not how building (good) software works. Unfortunately I didn’t listen to myself and took on a fixed price project. The scope was pretty well defined and payment was milestone based. The problem was that I hadn’t taken into account any dependancies that I needed from the client. These dependancies took a while to be ready and by that time I was due to start new projects, so I had to let the project go.

2018 Goals

Freelancing

  • £75,000 turnover
  • Experiment with 4 day work week
  • Sign with another client that is focussed on crytocurrency
  • Open source some of my libraries that I use everyday

Forecast

  • 100 paying customers

Four Pints In

Being able to land our first sponsorship would be awesome. We’d love to be able to outsource the editing of the episodes.

Introducing Forecast

Since I started freelancing earlier this year, my most valuable metric has been how much runway I have left (or "how long before I need to get a real job").

I use FreeAgent for all my finances. It’s a great tool, but it’s more about showing you your balance sheets and capital assets rather than the bigger picture.

So, I looked into forecasting software and found the likes of Float and Dryrun both of which look great... for large companies. I felt like I needed an accounting department just to get any value from them.

It's for this reason that I'm very happy to announce my latest project: Forecast.

Forecast is a bullshit-free forecasting service for freelancers. It’s built on one key principle: no additional input from you is required.

To me, being a freelancer is all about the flexibility and the freedom to work on the things you enjoy. You should be too busy working on your projects or having fun outside of work, not babysitting another finance system. Once you've connected your FreeAgent account, that's it! It just works.

Sign Up Now!

Scheduling Meetings With (Prospective) Clients

Almost 9 months into freelancing and I'm finding that the number of prospective clients is becoming a relatively steady flow. 🎉

Though some of my clients I have never actually spoken to (even during the "introduction") the majority I have always had an initial chat with. This is usually a 30 minutes call on Hangouts.

However, this amazing situation brings a lot more of this:

> me - Can you do this time > them - no, can you do this time > me - no, can you do this time > ...
— old me
Without being able to see the other persons calendar, the only option is to choose a random time that I can do. This can lead the scenario above which is a waste of time and if you're both stretched across multiple timezones it can take a while to come to a conclusion.

Solution

The other day I found a service called Calendly. The TLDR; Calendly gives you a link that you can share with the client. This link shows them all your available times in their time zone. All the client has to do is select which slot they want!

This then adds a calendar event. If you use Google Calendar, it can be setup to contain a Hangouts link, though Calendly does integrate with GoToMeeting.

Though my favourite feature is that you can limit the number of events per a day. I limit this to 1 so that my productivity isn't destroyed by lots of calls.

This is what my availability looks like:

Invoicing + TransferWise

Taking a look at my clients in Freeagent I have about 50% that are UK based and the other 50% are based in the rest of Europe and the US.

When clients pay me, they send money to my GBP bank account. For my international clients this usually involves a charge either to them or me and sometimes a questionable exchange rate. This really sucks for me and my clients.

When Riot was around, we had attempted so many times to setup a US bank account but it was so much hassle and most of the time, the banks just said no. That was a long time ago and thankfully things have come a long way. I say things, but really I just mean one thing; TransferWise.

TransferWise has a product called Borderless Accounts. It's amazing. Once you've signed up and verified you can just make yourself new EUR, GBP and USD bank accounts (I believe more are coming). Each account comes with all the necessary details to transfer money to.

With these borderless accounts there is no charge for the client to send me money. There is only a small fee for taking money out (price list).

Freeagent

How I've got this to work inside Freeagent is to add each borderless account as a bank account.

Now when I create a new invoice, I just select which accounts details I want to appear on the invoice. Magic!

Day in the Life of a Freelance iOS Developer

I’ve always found these type of posts interesting to read, so I figured I’d write my own…

I have a fairly structured day. I find that keeping to a routine really helps me focus. I can feel lost without it.

5:45am

I like to wake up early. Mornings are definitely my most productive time.

My day starts off with breakfast, a shower and then I take the Poppy out for a walk. On average, the walk lasts around 45 minutes, though this depends on how many other dogs we meet on our way (Poppy likes to play with all of them).

Once we get home, I feed Poppy and make myself a coffee. My current brew method of choice is a Chemex.

7:30aM

This is when I start the first “block” of client work.

For client projects I prefer to work in half day blocks. I respect my clients money and feel that if I’m jumping between projects/chores/phone calls and doing the odd couple of hours here and there, then I don't feel they’re getting their moneys worth. I like to feel engrossed in a project which is why I also choose them carefully.

10:30am

Around 10:30am I usually take a break. My fiancé is currently back from university for the summer so I go and hang out with her and have my second breakfast of the day 🥐

12AM

When whatever I'm currently working on comes to a natural end, I break for Lunch. Either I'll cook or reheat left overs from the evening before.

1pm

Once finished lunch, I'll make a tea and continue the second block of client work.

4pm

I usually finish the day around 4. I'll then reply to any emails and contact any potential leads for new projects. I also update my draft invoices. I don't use any time tracking apps, I simply have draft invoices that I then add half or full day line items too.

How I Track My Time

Since I started freelancing back in January I've really trimmed down the number of services I'm using. I guess it felt really productive using so many.

How I work with my clients is always the same; invoice every second Friday and only work on a max of two clients per day (2 half day blocks).

So now I simply create draft invoices and then at the end of every day I add a new line item:

That's it!

I have an event in my calendar that reminds me every Friday to send any invoices that need sending.

iOS Freelancer Diaries #3

It has been almost 3 months since my last freelance diary entry 😮. Here is a quick run through of how everything has been going...

Asking For Advice

Around the beginning of February I was feeling a bit deflated and started to have some doubts:

  • Is there something wrong with my portfolio?
  • Is my price too high/low?
  • Are my introduction emails terrible?
  • Why do all recruiters want me to work on site? Maybe remote isn’t going to work?

I knew getting my first client was going to be hard, but I was really hoping to have my first one by the start of February.

I decided to email a few UK based iOS freelancers and basically ask them for some advice on getting work. I have to say, the responses were awesome. They settled my doubts and also said that they would forward me any projects they couldn’t take on!

Side Projects

Projects

February 15th

I started my first project on February 15th. It was only a small 5 day project but it was a good start and helped extend my runway by about a month.

  • Project Source: Referral

February 28th

This was when things felt like they really started coming together. I was contacted by an awesome studio based in Northern Ireland who wanted ongoing help with various projects. This really helped in giving me a solid, predictable foundation for the future.

  • Project Source: Direct

March 24th

Towards the end of March I started my first “built from scratch” project. These are the kind of projects I love to work on. I’m looking forward to sharing this soon.

  • Project Source: Referral (from one of the freelancers mentioned above, thanks!)
  • Estimated time: 3 weeks

April 10th

A small MVP project.

Financials

My target turnover for the year is £60,000, meaning I need to hit a minimum of £5,000 a month. So far my turnover is £11,654 meaning I’m currently short by £8,346. Since I didn’t have a client from the start, this was always going to be the case so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.