year in review

2018 - Year In Review

Token Unplash Photo - by NordWood Themes / Unsplash

I'm now reaching the end of my second year freelancing and it’s been pretty much non stop.

You can check out my 2017 year in review here.

Clients

2017 left me with a nice long term retainer with a client that I still have today. I’m finding the perfect project combination for me is one large project plus one, maybe two, small projects or a side project. This works well because the large project can provide you with predictable income and generally be an awesome project that you can show off when it’s complete. The small projects will help you extend your “network” (word of mouth has become my best source of new projects) and, for me, help improve the way I try to sell my services (practice makes perfect!).

Compared to last year, where I worked with 8 different clients, this year I have worked with 5 different clients with the largest providing 75% of my turnover. Having one client make up 75% of my turnover is probably not the safest thing but to help counteract this I have made sure to put extra money into the rainy day fund.

Side Projects

Along with my open source projects (listed below) I've also worked with Hector on xPal; a tool for generating Xcode color asset catalogs from a Sketch file and Quids; which we brought back to life to be a Cryptocurrency manager.

Investments

This has become a lot more organised since last year. Once I've paid myself, put some aside for tax and put some in the rainy day fund, the rest is then distributed to 4 buckets:

  1. Pension
  2. Zopa
  3. Funding Circle
  4. Bricklane

2018 Goals & Results

£75,000 turnover 👍

Having got married in the middle of the year and then taking a month off I was unsure if this was going to be possible but amazingly as of today Freeagent is reporting my 12 month turnover as ~£110,000 🥳

Experiment with 4 day work week 👍

This actually worked really well. I only started doing it around the summer (I think) but it allowed to work on side projects and grow the business.

Sign with another client that is focussed on cryptocurrency 👎

Definitely a nice to have goal but it didn’t really come close to happening, I really didn’t put enough time and effort into getting this done.

Open source some of my libraries that I use everyday 👍

Really happy I was able to get back into doing open source. Over the year I released these projects:

100 paying Forecast customers 👎

Currently Forecast has 11 paying customers. I was super focussed on improving my freelance business that Forecast had to take a backseat.

Four Pints In Sponsorship 👍

Not a cash sponsor but I guess we technically hit this goal as Absolute Music provided us with audio equipment.

2019 Goals

  • £125,000 turnover.
  • Increase high quality incoming leads.
  • Improve on-boarding flow for new clients.
  • Release Quids.

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.