I migrated a bunch of content over and this post was probably written a lot earlier than the published date. As such it might contain out-of-date content, shit opinions, Dunning-Kruger levels of overconfidence and less creative swearwords than usual.
The following is an excerpt from my book ‘Mindful Design: How and Why to Make Design Decisions for the Good of Those Using Your Product’ (Mindful Design will do, like). This excerpt is around 25% of the final chapter. If you like what you read then you should totally buy it.
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Part1, Part 2 and Part 3 are all fucking delightful reads (they’re not) but you don’t need to read them to understand this one, so do whatever you want, which is probably gonna be skimming through and realising my headers are all shit and there’s not enough pictures and closing this article so fuck you too I guess?
This post will likely cover lots of stuff I’ve already mentioned because that’s how Content Marketing™ works, you get some reads, some Likes, then you realise you can regurgitate the same old shit and oh whoops you just released St Anger and everyone thinks you’re a fucking scrote.
Something I’ve realised after a good while of fluttering between various projects where I’m hired to scribble on a whiteboard and shout at Atom every time I make a typo is: I am a fucking terrible business person. Shocking, right?
You’ll probably notice that my freelance posts generally revolve around me fucking things into oblivion and sharing why fucking things into oblivion is maybe something you shouldn’t do. Well buckle up, Teddy, cause this one’s no different.
This post is gonna be pretty insular, in that it’s all about sorting your (my) shit out internally, with sensible products or decisions on keeping the business side of your (my) Crayola career from crumbling into an absolute shitshow.
I want to focus on stuff you can do as a Legit Business Prick to protect your shit, keep you happy and sane, and maybe save you from ruination. before you know it you’ll be storming down London Bridge Rd in a slim-fit suit with a Hitler Youth haircut and your headphones in taking a loud call so everyone knows you’re an important fucking jizzblot.
Just fucking do it. Go to WithJack because they’re great and I designed their quote shit so obviously I’m gonna say that.
For real though, professional insurance is one of those things that you need to either 1. get fucked over once for not having it, or 2. hear about someone else getting fucked over for not having it, before you realise that shelling out a kinda-small bit of cash monthly/yearly for it is actually a no-brainer.
Basically, if you ever fuck up and cause damages, Indemnity insurance can save you. If your clients don’t pay and you need to take them to court, Indemnity insurance can save you. If your client ever wants to take you to court, Indemnity insurance can save you.
Get it, pay for it, wallow in peace of mind for the cost of Adobe CC that you probably fucking torrented anyway you absolute neckbeard.
Insurance is like a good lawyer or accountant, you’ll feel like you’re paying for nothing until suddenly they swoop in and save you from getting sued, or going bankrupt, or having to deal with HMRC in any fucking capacity.
Insurance is one of those things that lets you be proactive (by choosing to pay for good insurance) in order to swoop in and be reactive on your behalf.
I’d write more, but Ashley already nailed it.
Oh look another thing I probably wrote too much on in one of these other articles.
Still, I can’t stress enough how important it is to actually manage your time and not die.
I wrote about why this shit is important in Part 3 and meandered around the point that sorting your routine and being as productive as possible is gonna save you from burnout; but I feel like I mostly stuck to intrinsic advice and suggested experiments. If you’re like me and are happy to spend a few £ a month on peace of mind, do yourself a favour and sign up to Cushion.
Usually, startup/product taglines make me want to go and live in the woods and survive on tree sap and the sheer unbridled glee of knowing I’ll never be retweeted by @iamdevloper again — Cushion is different though because ‘Peace of mind for freelancers’ is literally what you pay for. And it’s worth it.
There’s lots of nice features, sure. And everything it offers makes sense as a justification for the price. But it’s one of those rare products that is way, way more fucking lovely than the sum of its parts. The time-tracking-plus-expected-income-plus-this-is-how-you-should-split-your-days-up side of it is fucking incredible. Please, please give it a try if you’re struggling with the mental load of having to do and plan work. It’s like a little hug on a screen. Or a comfort blanket. Or a Cushion. Woah.
Cushion helps with shit that’s basically macro-management of your time. If you wanna micro-manage yourself (that sounds like doing a wank, which is fine too) then I’d suggest trying something like Pomodoro. I won}t go into detail on what Pomodoro is because undoubtedly some Thought Leader shitstain has a 3-part series on it somewhere, but I’d be lost without Pomodoro Timer. Which is now called Tomato One. Which is a fucking stupid name.
It’s super useful if you’re still a toddler that needs to be told exactly when to take your nap and drink your milk. I am this toddler. It’s not so great if you rely on momentum or flow to get shit done, but if you’re in that boat you can always just ignore the timer every now and then and look up and realise it’s 8pm and you’re dehydrated and your stepdad forgot your birthday again.
Having a good sense of what you need to do each day, what you’ve got coming up, how much time you can really commit to that potential project and suggestions on how to budget your time and money going forward is very nice.
Have you ever done your own accounts? Are you an accountant? Then fucking don’t.
This post has been cathartic in that it’s forced me, twice now, to admit that I am a literal toddler in need of concise instructions and hand-holding just to survive another fucking day on this planet. Absolutely nothing beats accountancy to prove this.
Here’s what I did for my first couple of years as a director of a Ltd company.
I would literally pay my accountant half of my earnings if I needed to. I mean, I don’t. But I would. These poor fucks have to deal with HMRC on a regular basis? Just fucking imagine that.
I write this shit as pseudo-helpful catharsis, which is probably why it reads like stream-of-consciousness wank, and it’s often whimsical, but don’t think I don’t take shit seriously.
Somehow I’m paying rent and becoming debt-free and keeping a family together and surviving the shittest year since they had to invent the word bubonic, so there’s lots of times where I have to take a step back from being a fucking pest online and actually make difficult, sensible business decisions.
Remember that, by deciding to go freelance, or start a company, you’re taking on a fucking huge amount of responsibility, to yourself, your dependants, your company.
Some people can coast through this shit because they went to enough conferences in 2008 to never have to worry about recommendations again. Others have to grind like fuck and push through a lot of hardships to make it work. You probably do too. I’m not saying to #hustle your fucking life away, but learn when you need to be stern and serious and make smart business decisions.
This shit can be extremely profitable and fun, but it can leave you barely treading water if you let it.
Be fucking suspicious of every ‘Freelance is amazing’ post, every Instagram you see of The Successful Freelancer living an amazing life, be cognisant that you’re seeing a filter, a facade of Everything’s Okay. Be cognisant that the reality of Everything Is Mostly Okay Sometimes But Sometimes I Fuck Up So Hard It Takes Three Months Of Bullshit Work To Recover From That One Stupid Decision I Made On A Whim isn’t shareable or desirable or comfortable to talk about.
It’s so easy to only share the good bits, but know that everyone who wants to do their own thing in this silly little industry of scribbles and code will eventually encounter obstacles, often of their own making; will be forced to consider if it’s all actually worth it; will have months where they just about keep it together.
All that difficult bullshit is part of the deal. It doesn’t make for pretty reading on a pretentious blog. It doesn’t fill your clients with confidence. It doesn’t convince your followers you’ve got it all figured out. It doesn’t meet the facade that every pseudo-successful fuck wants to piss out into the ether as a justification for their shitty, self-aggrandising behaviour.
So yeah, have fun, but remember to get serious when you need to, because we all face difficult times and have to make difficult decisions. Don’t be tricked into thinking everyone has it easy and it’s all conferences and high-rolling. Be proactive, be sensible every now and then, set yourself up so that when Bad Shit happens you have some get-outs. It won’t stop bad shit from happening, but you’ll be fucking glad you took the time to set up safeguards to mitigate the effects of bad shit when it does.
Tweet me if you wanna hug.
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