I thought I might do a mid-2022 update, but I didn’t. As a result, I’ve got a lot to reflect on and a lot to say about how the year went.
Here’s a recap of my year, mostly at work, which was characterized by embarking on self-employment.
I gave notice at work on the second day back after the holiday break. What I thought would be the standard two weeks turned into six. I had planned to not make any money for a while, so it was nice to have the extra paychecks. Even so, I was ready to get going on my independence.
The first thing I did was…not much at all. Three years of working at an agency (tough clients, fairly relentless pressure to show progress, the company’s emphasis on meeting sprint commitments, etc.) had taken their toll. I realized that I had a rare (maybe the last?) opportunity to have a real break. I always loved summer breaks and the time in between semesters in college — the work was done, and the only thing to do was rest. I decided to embrace this mindset while I figured out my first move.
During this period, I kept up my work with Parsity and took a few online courses. Copy That was super fun, and I hope will be a resource for years to come. Blanks’ course was also a nice diversion, but I haven’t kept up with music production as much as I’d hoped.
Fuel to the Fire
Initially, I planned to start my first contract in June or July. I wasn’t in a particular rush to find billable work and was enjoying the time I had to myself.
Then, a few things happened that made me feel I needed to start making money again. The first was that in March I had to go to the emergency room for back spasms. I had recently switched to my wife’s insurance and the company hadn’t fully processed me, so I received the full bill for over $6,000. I knew I wouldn’t end up paying the full 6k, but it was hard to know what I would end up paying, so I felt some risk there.
Then in April, my wife and I got sued due to a three-year old fender bender. (The statute of limitations for civil suits where we live is three years, so the plaintiff was suing to extend their timeline.) All signs seemed to indicate that our policy limits would be enough to cover damages, but I again wasn’t sure and was feeling the vulnerability.
As a result of these things, it seemed like it was time to start looking for freelance work. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but I was reassured that within a few weeks of interviews, I had two offers on the table.
First Contract - Summer
I started my first contract in May with an NFT platform based out of California. The terms were 40 hours per week for three months. My wife is most busy in the summer, so I thought this arrangement would work well for our lifestyle.
In practice, the contract played out a bit differently than I thought. First, the hours were fairly flexible - I probably ended up averaging 20 hours per week, with more at the beginning due to a replatforming effort the team undertook. Also, the contract extended beyond the three month term. The difficult thing about this contract was that the team implicitly expected full-time availability but the needs were unpredictable. I felt that I could sustain a full-time commitment for three months but not much longer (due to my other work). As a result, I began to think about how to roll off the project.
Second Contract - Fall
In late August, I got an offer for a new contract and decided to focus on it instead of keeping both freelance clients. The new contract was explicitly part-time, which I thought would help with my overall balance and lifestyle. On the other hand, I signed up for an accounting class through our local community college, so everything ended up feeling pretty full-time anyway.
After the summer, I began to explore some new interests outside of work, namely stand-up comedy. I also began to reflect on the year and how the “small bets” approach to self-employment was suiting me. In general it’s been great, but people like Daniel Vassallo seem to indicate that (for them) the whole goal of self-employment is to continue being self-employed and to sustain a flexible lifestyle. Though I really enjoy the autonomy of being independent, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t feel that independence is an end in itself and have been thinking about how to connect my individual efforts to a mission beyond myself. That’s still TBD.
I’m absolutely sure I want to continue working for myself.
I can’t imagine going back to a 40h/week job or feeling chained to a desk.
I’m still figuring out how to balance slack in the schedule with activity.
On a related note, I don’t know that self-employment will always be in this iteration. I’m getting a little tired of spinning multiple plates, it seemed appealing at first but I would like to simplify.
I need a greater mission and purpose - it can’t just be for myself, even though the year has mostly been about doing what I want and exploring things I’m interested in.
Would I recommend it? If you’re the kind of person that’s interested in freelancing or starting a company or having more flexibility, then yes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be entrepreneurial - I’m taking some time to be with a family member who is having a big procedure done soon. That’s part of all this too.
My First Million (Again! Continues to be my favorite pod. If I could only listen to this I would be happy.)
By the Numbers
Age: 30 (+3.44%)
MRR from products: $14.67 (+27.4%)
Articles: 2 (+/- 0%)
YouTube subscribers: 7,077 (+435.7%)
Twitter followers: 381 (+53.6%)
Email list: 606 (+1022% - introduced a lead magnet paired with a popular YouTube video)
Products: 3 (+200%)