Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

Week one of working for myself

Posted on 26 April 2008 Comments

Article illustration for Week one of working for myself

I can’t believe it’s over so soon, but I’ve already finished the first week of being self-employed. And I can’t rave enough about the freedom of being my own boss!

As a few of you have asked, I thought I might document the early days of ‘the business’. I’ll try and cover a number of things as I go – business cards and personal branding, timekeeping and to-do lists, etc. – but for now I’m just going to briefly recap week number one.

An intentionally slow start

It hasn’t been a typical week (not that I really have a benchmark for ‘typical’ yet, admittedly), mainly due to personal circumstances – a) we’ve briefly relocated to Shropshire for the week, b) it was my last week with Sam before her travels, and c) I’m preparing for my imminent two-month trip to Norway – and so I purposefully booked in less work than I usually would in order to give myself a decent amount of free time. Somehow, though, I still ended up working a little more than I’d intended, thanks to a whole stack of paperwork and the mammoth task of managing my calendar – something I’d grossly underestimated! I also didn’t realise just how important a to-do list app would be, even right from the start… although this is a (forthcoming) blog post in itself.

Tedious admin

People always say, “Ah, you’ll spend most of your time doing admin and paperwork,” and this is something I’d prepared for (I’ve been freelancing ‘on the side’ for the last four years or so), but I had even more to contend with in my first week because I’ve just employed the services of an accountant. Not only did I need to get contracts off to him, but I also needed to send the paperwork he needed to do my tax return for 2006 / 2007, so there was a whole bunch of stuff to sort out, which was made all the more difficult by most of our earthly belongings being neatly packed away in boxes from our move. sigh

Control (cue evil laugh)

Still, in spite of this admin stuff, I managed to get the work done that had been booked in previously and still had enough ‘downtime’ to spend with Sam before she left for Vietnam on Saturday. It was this sense of control over my own workload that summed up my first week of business; this was why I decided to go freelance; this is why everyone decides to go freelance. Sure, I know there will be ridiculous client demands along the way, but having the power to set up a project based on deadlines I decide myself – and then, importantly, being able to charge for extra work if the goalposts are moved – is the kind of control I enjoyed when I freelanced part-time. Having that full-time is even better than I’d imagined.

How have the experiences of you other freelancers out there mirrored or differed from this?

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