I’ve been stressed again lately. The ups and downs of hormones, the DOOM of summer holidays, the move, the kids, the usual shit. When I get stressed I start to ponder what I’m doing with my life and whether I should get a proper job.
Unfortunately, I’m basically unemployable; there’s no way I could go back to a 9—5 at this point and make it work. Sometimes though, the call of being able to switch off and walk away at the end of the day, of being able to take a day off sick without worrying about what’s piling up, of having an actual proper holiday… the call of all that is really bloody strong.
Of course the reality is that while a 9—5 job has those advantages it would also massively impact upon the flexibility in my schedule, my ability to work out while the kids are at school, would add wraparound childcare costs and all sorts of additional loads and problems.
So instead of being a moany arse (OK, as well as being a moany arse) I sat down and had a think about how I can achieve the two things I really need right now, those things being:
- Regular money (as freelance income is so unpredictable) to tide me over during times like e.g. summer holidays where my working hours are massively curtailed
- Time off (an actual holiday would be amazeballs) to de-stress
And how better to achieve than by setting some wildly unachievable, mostly stupid goals?! Something crazy like “raising 20k to buy my ex out” (which I mostly did with mortgage, but the hard work and kindness of strangers meant I could afford to go that route) or “paying off my mortgage in 5 years” (which I didn’t manage, but did eat enough into it to give myself enough equity to buy a new house!). So my track record isn’t great, but it HAS given me focus and achieved things that I wouldn’t have done had I not even tried.
Luckily, I can probably achieve the second “need” by tackling the first, which means “all” I have to do is find a way to raise enough money per month to cover my half of bills and regular expenses. This means that additional freelance income can then go in a) towards the tax bills, which regularly screw me up, b) towards my savings, whereby I might eventually have enough to go to the seaside or something. I reckon I need to get to the point where I have £750 per month guaranteed with usual more flexible work/income on top.
How am I going to raise a guaranteed fixed £750 per month? I’ve only got two things on my list so far:
- Stop being scared of offering maintenance contracts to clients. One of the things I really struggle with, even after 6 years of working for myself, is feeling like I am ripping clients off. Although I value my time and experience and charge a decent amount for coding time, I don’t like hooking people into recurring fees as I don’t want them to feel I’m pocketing their hard earned cash and doing nothing. However, there’s a genuine need for some of my clients to have regular services — like back-ups and upgrades — that if I don’t do, won’t get done.
- Work on my bloody “product”. I have a product, that ‘thing’ everyone talks about as a must-have for recurring income. I have a product that works, is good at what it does, and makes a handful of sales a month… but that I ignore for 90% of the year. I’m talking about my mail form, of course. I need to stop procrastinating, and put the effort into improving what’s there. The membership option and form builder aren’t used (because the form is mostly used by devs who can write their own forms) so I need to rip that out and then concentrate on moving into other markets using my strength: starting by creating a JMF-brand of spam protection add-ons for other form providers.
I have also considered working a fixed amount of hours in-office with a client or agency per month, but I’ve trialled this before and it didn’t work. I’m in a better place mentally now, but it’s very easy for these placements to feel same-y and stagnant so it would have to be for someone — or some project — I really care about. I need to think more about this one.
Plenty to be getting on with though. First step: reach out to clients who would benefit from a monthly maintenance package. Project recurring income is on! Watch this space…
Lead photo by rawpixel.