Gone freelance!

Today was my first official working day as a freelance IT consultant!

After 8+ years of working for a boss, I’ve taken the plunge and started freelancing. No more personal development plans, awkward end-of-year evaluations and begging for a minimal raise in salary. Instead of that: freedom to choose my own projects, unlimited days off (in theory, at least..) and, certainly not trivially, a significant increase in income if all goes well. Luckily, the demand in my field is still pretty high, so I’m pretty sure I’ll do fine as long as I keep working on my skills and keep showing them to the world.

I’ve also been very lucky to be allowed to continue the last project I was working on at my former employer as a freelancer. This allows me to settle in nicely and to keep the cash flow going while I’m getting used to my new working life.

It’s funny, because today wasn’t very different from the previous ones (same project, as I said), but somewhere within me there’s a feeling of true liberation. I hope it stays for good!

Started freelancing!

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Business: me

It’s been a while now since I’ve been able to post any significant progress towards an item on my bucket list. And I don’t like it. However, sometimes life does get in the way..

Between work, sleep and spending time with my wife and son, there has been little time for other things. And then there’s the story about my job. I officially resigned this week and took on a new challenge. From November 1st, I’ll be working as a freelancer in the field I’ve been working in for the past 8+ years (IT). I’ve been accepted as a member of a partnership of freelancers, each of whom has their own registration with the Chamber of Commerce, but all are acting as a team to help each other in sharing knowledge and the acquisition of assignments. It also offers a bit of extra security in the financial department compared to true standalone freelancing, something that goes over especially well with my wife (and with me as well, to be honest).

I can’t wait to start this next step in my career. I’m curious to see whether this way of working suits me, but as I’ve been thinking about going the freelance route for a while now, I just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity. It also means another item can be checked off the list as soon as I get my Chamber of Commerce registration in.

Leaving my previous job has been (and will be) hard, as I have learned a lot in the past five years and owe a lot of it to my soon to be former employer, but it’s time to move on..

Starting as a freelancer soon!

My first side gig (albeit a small one)

Even though I have a very interesting full time job, which pays the bills quite nicely, I’ve lately been looking into possibilities to expand my income streams beyond this monthly paycheck. Mainly because it would provide me with some extra money, which is always nice, but also as a means to prove myself that:

  1. I have skills that are worth money to people other than my employer and its clients, and
  2. I’m capable of turning these skills into profit outside of my daytime job.

I’m in no way looking to give up my regular job, at least not for the forseeable future, but rather to learn to market myself and earn a little bit of extra income while I’m at it.

Nowadays there a quite a few online platforms where employers and freelancers meet, such as http://www.elance.com and http://www.odesk.com. A while ago I registered on both these sites, set up a profile and started applying to jobs I could do from home, that matched my skills and that wouldn’t take too much time. I thought it would be a good idea to start out small and see how things go first, before trying to apply to bigger assignments.

The first thing I noticed is that there is lots and lots of competition! Most jobs get a lot of applications, at hourly rates I can’t (and won’t) compete with, because I can’t be bothered spending my precious time on a $5 an hour job. I’d rather read a good book or go running at that wage. Fortunately, there are good jobs to be found between the chaff, and I find myself applying to these quite regularly. These mainly involve skills that aren’t as widespread, such as fluency in Dutch and skills related to my daytime job.

After a few unsuccessful attempts and a pause due to a holiday, I managed to get my first positive response to an application this week. I’ll be writing a blog post (and potentially more) for a new blog on software testing, for which I receive a payment of a couple of $10 bills. It surely isn’t enough to quit my day job (would I want to), but it’s a start and one I am very happy with.

I’ll keep you updated on my further adventures in the world of freelancing side gigs, hopefully there will be more to report on soon enough!

Landed my first side job!

Landed my first side job!

A bit of public speaking experience

A few months ago I was invited to give a presentation on a bit of work I myself and the company I work for have been carrying out for our clients. We have a partnership with a US-based international provider of software for automated testing and service virtualization. Yesterday, they held their annual Dutch client gathering and they invited me to do a short presentation on something I’ve been working on.

Now, although I can safely say I’m fairly good at what I do, I am not the most proficient public speaker. I do teach a couple of classes every now and then, but that’s almost always for a small group of around 6-10 people. Here, there were around 80. Still, it’s not something I do often. I think the last time I spoke to a crowd this large was at my graduation from university. So, even though I was prepared well and knew the topic inside out, I was still a bit nervous yet also excited. It’s not often that I am given the chance to speak in public.

The presentation (combined with a short demo of our work) went very well, after all, and I got a couple of very positive reactions afterwards, both from a couple of colleagues who were at the event as well as from near strangers, so I must have done something right! Afterwards, I felt relieved and, and I do not say this all too often, pretty proud of myself. Not just because the presentation itself went well, but also because I was asked to give it in the first place.

Even more so, I’m looking forward to getting another chance at public speaking, because once the presentation started, the bit of nerves I had were gone completely and I actually enjoyed being on ‘stage’ and talking to a crowd. Nothing’s planned for the moment, but who knows what opportunities come around in the future! I’m sure there will be more to come as long as I perform well on the job and keep on improving and learning.

Speaking in public

#57 – Be recognized as an expert in my field

Nearly all of the items on my list are related to achievements outside of the workplace. However, since I’m a fulltime office dweller (at least at the moment), spending 40 hours a week at work means I think there should at least be work-related one item on my list, if only to keep me motivated in the office as much as outside.

One of the things I am constantly looking for is personal improvement, and I strive to being regarded as an expert in my field. In concreto, I would love to get the opportunity to write an article for a renowned (IT) magazine on my field, or to be given the chance to present at a conference amongst other experts.

I'd love to be able to say this

#9 – Start a business

I have been an employee for all of my (still pretty short) career. Even though I am pretty happy in my current position, it would be a great experience to set up a business and run it myself. It does not have to replace my day job, a small webshop or service providing business would be enough. Who knows what might come out of it, and if it fails, at least I will have learned a good lesson. It should be something that does not require a lot of upfront investment though, as I think I might need to save my money for some of the other items on my list.. There’s lots of great ideas on lifestyle design web logs and in Tim Ferriss’  bestseller The Four Hour Work Week though, so it should be doable.

I'd be happy if the profits turn out like this!