Mike Carter

Digital product developer, founder and technical leader.

Mike Carter

My first month of freelancing

I started working as a freelance development consultant full time in April 2021. Here are the numbers and reflections on my first month.


In my first month of freelancing, I issued invoices for £7,800 (~$10,775) excluding VAT. This has come from a mixture of consulting and development work for three different clients. I'll be tracking this figure each month so you can see how it changes over time.

I'm pleased with my first month's revenue. It's is enough for me to comfortably cover my household expenses and monthly investment contributions with some cash left over for saving and spending.

Although this is a good start, it's important to remember that not all of this is take-home pay. There are a lot of additional costs to account for as a self-employed person:

  • Service subscriptions
  • Accountancy fees
  • Service fees (other freelancers, agencies etc.)
  • Equipment
  • Business taxes
  • Personal taxes
  • Pension contributions
  • Sick pay
  • Holiday pay

Lastly, for anyone else looking to start freelancing, I should stress that all the client work I did this month was already lined up before my freelance switch. If April were a complete cold start for me I'd probably have invoiced nothing, and would be using savings to cover household expenses.


I received 2 new work enquiries in April. A lovely surprise! I think they were probably triggered by me announcing myself going freelance, and in doing so, hinting at some sort of availability to the world.

One of the enquries was a referral from a former colleague. The prospect was looking for consultancy and development for a new digital product for their mid-sized national organisation. Unfortunately I had to politely turn this down, due to lack of my own availability over the coming months.

The second enquiry was for some light strategic consulting work from a company I've worked with previously. This looks like it will go somewhere, as the work is a good fit for me, the trust with the client exists already, and the time commitment isn't huge. Happy days!

Audience building


My site homepage received 1137 page views in April. I'm not too bothered about numbers here right now, as I'm just trying to grow the number of prospective client visits through good SEO and targeted content creation. Any meaningful month-on-month increase is progress.

Blog posts

My blog posts received a combined total of 749 views. Again, it's the first month, so the numbers don't mean much yet. I'm more concerned about blog post views than website views though, as building a collection of valuable and regular content is a long term goal of mine.

At some point, I want to set up some sort of time-on-page analytics for blog posts, so I can tell if people are actually sticking around to read things in their entirety. If they are, this signals to me that I'm publishing things that are worth their time, and generating some sort of value.


I'm not a natural self promoter, so I find any sort of regular Twitter presence very difficult to stick to. However, it's proven to be a great tool for audience building for a lot of people, so I've made a real effort to Tweet more in April.

I've tweeted at least once almost every day, and have tried to focus on sharing relevant, useful content with a bit of non-work content mixed in to humanise things. It feels like a lot of hard work for not much return right now. I've had a few likes here, the odd reply there, and a massively impressive… 2 new followers:

A screenshot of my Twitter analytics for April 2021. It shows 75 tweets, 50,000 tweet impressions, 4,800 profile visits, 54 mentions, and 356 followers (2 more than last month).

Rather than let very mediocre performance deter me, I've been using Twitter analytics to focus on impressions, engagements and profile views from the content I share, rather than followers, which are a bit of a vanity metric. My thinking is that if I can drive engagement up with non-grifty content, the numbers will eventually begin to compound upwards. Let's see.


I took on too much in my first month of freelancing. I was able to keep all of my client work inside a 40 hour work week, but as anyone who's worked for themselves knows, there's much more other work to be done too. Admin, finances, marketing, sales and content creation all take significant time, and these ended up running into evenings and weekends in April. I need to make sure these tasks are being completed within work hours rather than being squeezed around already full days.

One of my goals for this year is to release a digital product of my own too. Besides dismissing a few half-baked ideas, I didn't make any progress on this in April. I need to take concrete steps towards making a digital product a reality in May.

I also realised in April that I need some time off. The UK has been in some sort of lockdown throughout 2021 so far, and as a result there's not been much to do other than work since November last year. This has left me feeling tired, easily distracted, and uninterested in things. Now that the lockdown is easing slightly, and the weather is better, I think it's probably a good time for me to get away from my computer for a week and do something different.


I have 5 goals for May. All but the last item in this list are things I have direct control over, and so this should be achieveable:

  1. Take a week off.
  2. Write a blog post focused on product engineering.
  3. Tweet every working day, trying to be insightful.
  4. Put together 3 product ideas that I think could work, and analyse viability of each.
  5. Generate enough revenue to cover living expenses and investment goals again.

That's all for April! You should follow me on Twitter if you want to see how this freelancing adventure develops for me. I also have a RSS feed on this site if you'd just like to keep track of new posts on this blog.