Freelancing update - May 2021

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

Time was a major theme in May. Between handling client work, content production, legal to-dos, and various other admin tasks, it's becoming clear that successful freelancing is going to need me to be deliberate (and a bit ruthless) about where I give my time.

I mentioned in April's update that I was working more than full time hours in order to keep up with everything. That was still the case in May, but I was able to spot a few low value requests early, and either delegate or refuse them. Progress!

Despite working more hours than I'd like, May was still enjoyable. Getting comfortable with the idea that I'm no longer tied to a 9-5 schedule has lead to some nice spontaneous dog walks, early starts, late starts, and outdoor lunches. I even took a week off!

The stats

MonthSite viewsPost viewsTwitter profile viewsEnquiriesDays offRevenue
April 20211,1377494,80020£7,800
May 20211,2633,1444,66015£4,200

Revenue

I issued invoices for £4,200 (~$5,950) excluding VAT in May. These came from a mixture of consulting and development work for three different clients. If you read the April update, you'll probably have noticed this is a £3,600 drop from last month. There are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Time off: I took a week off in May, and when your income relies on you being at your computer, weeks off are expensive. I only took 5 days, but the time lost travelling, catching up on emails, and other small non-billable tasks in addition to those days really put a dent in my billable hours.
  2. Fixed cost work: One of the projects I'm working on is priced on a fixed-cost basis. I put many hours into it in May, but I won't be paid for it until later this year. My other work is invoiced on an hourly basis, and so I invoice whatever time I've spent on it at the end of each month. It's this that you see invoiced for May above.

Despite the lower number, I'm happy with revenue for May. It's enough to cover my saving and investment goals, and the drop was entirely expected and normal.

Enquiries

I received 1 new work enquiry in May. It was a respectable lead, and one that I was incredibly well positioned to help. However, there was a direct conflict of interest with my largest client, and so I turned them down gently in order to avoid a situation I'd feel morally uneasy about.

The consulting enquiry that I previously mentioned I was keen to move forward with in April's update seems to have lost its momentum in May. Knowing the company, I suspect this is them just being busy with other things rather than changing their mind, so I'm going to reach back out to them in June to see if they're ready to move forwards.

Website visits

My site homepage received 1263 page views in May. This is a few more eyeballs than last month, but nothing significant. I expect driving this number up in a significant way will take months and years of effort.

Posts visits

My blog posts received a combined total of 3144 views in May. This is a huge 2.8x improvement on my April numbers, and largely comes down to some lucky retweets:

A screenshot of a Tweet I wrote about a blog blog post on this website, showing 13 retweets, 1 quote tweet, and 20 likes.

I'm obviously pleased with this, but it's important for me to remember these people aren't my readers. I need to keep my head down and keep producing valuable things to build an audience of my own.

Twitter

I managed to tweet every working day in May. It continues to feel like hard work, but I did manage to gain 26 new followers this month, so maybe that's progress:

A screenshot of my Twitter analytics for May 2021. It shows 66 tweets, 45,600 tweet impressions, 4,660 profile visits, 55 mentions, and 385 followers (26 more than last month).

My new followers seem to have come early in the month as a result of some well received Tweets, plus a some chance retweets from 2020. Apart from the new followers though, my stats are down across the board for May due to the week off.

All things considered, I'm pleased with my Twitter progress for May, I'll keep at it throughout June and see where I end up!

Goals from last month

I set myself 5 goals for May based on my reflections from April. I'm pleased to say that I managed to complete all 5:

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

There's no need to go into detail on most of these, but I thought you might be interested in my week off and product ideas.

Taking a week off

After living indoors since November, we spent a week in Cornwall eating pasties, drinking cider, and doing big clifftop walks. It was beautiful:

If you're feeling a spot of burnout from the past 18 months, I'd highly recommend doing something like this to get perspective and clarity. It always takes me a few days to get out of work mode, but once I do, I can really begin to decompress. Within days, my brain begins to make sense of things that have been bothering me, and the way forward becomes much clearer on various fronts.

Generating 3 viable product ideas

I really struggled with this goal. Ideas come to me easily, but I usually convince myself they're not worth pursuing for one reason or another. To ovecome this, I introduced some constraints to act as a filter for ideas that could work well for someone like me - a technical solo founder looking to build an additional revenue stream:

With those constraints in mind, here are the 3 front-runners from a series of ideas I had this month:

I've not made a decision on any of these yet, I'm going to do more thinking and investigation over June with a view to comitting to giving one a try.

Goals for June

I'm feeling fairly refreshed and motivated at the moment, but have a busy couple of months ahead with client work. With that in mind, I've given myself just 4 goals for June:

  1. Write another blog post focused on product engineering.
  2. Tweet every working day, trying to be insightful.
  3. Choose a product idea to build.
  4. Outsource or stop doing 3 low value, time consuming activities.

That's all for May! 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.