Thoughts on Freelancing

Now that the holidays are over, I’m looking forward to rocking out on some new projects in 2011!

In April, I will have been freelancing as a web developer for four years.  Kinda scary to think that I didn’t have a stable paycheck every two weeks or employer-paid health insurance during this time.  And when times are slow, there’s that sinking feeling that creeps in: am I going to have to go back into the “real world” and get a “regular” job?

But, some of the things that I do love are:

  • flexible schedule and free time
  • working remotely from ANYWHERE (with an internet connection, of course)
  • sleeping in and working the hours when I’m most productive
  • not dealing with morning/evening rush hour commute
  • working in a T-shirt and sweats :)

Over the past few years, I’ve learned a ton… web/tech/geeky stuff, how to setup/run a business, dealing with difficult clients, but most importantly, being able to manage your time effectively to get sh*t done and still have some time to play.

I’d keep up with new job postings just cuz ya never know when work will dry up, but also to see what skills/technologies companies are hiring for.  If you’re looking for a tech job, make sure to post your resume on monster.com, careerbuilder.com, and dice.com.  Setup weekly job alert emails on indeed.com.  Setup your professional network on LinkedIn.

People will probably doubt your decision to go freelance-style.  It’s definitely much easier if you do not have a family to support or maintain an extravagant lifestyle.  Not having a stable paycheck actually forces you to budget better and think about your expenses, knowing that you’ll need to cover mortgage/rent, food, and bills.

So, how did I get started?

I setup an LLC through legalzoom.com to keep my business liability separate from personal assets.  Fill out some paperwork and they take care of all the documents and filings that you need to setup business in your state.

I bought health insurance through ehealthinsurance.com — when I resigned from my job in 2007, I had the option of purchasing COBRA for $400+/month.  At the time, I ended up purchasing a plan with Care First Blue Choice for  ~ $118/month.  Since then, it’s gone up about $100 extra per month, so I’ll probably be checking out other health plans soon…

I setup a self-employed 401k plan with Fidelity.

I setup my home office.  Painted the walls w/ Behr’s Eastern Amber for a sunny work environment :)

More later… go Ravens!

Filed under: Freelancing | Posted on January 15th, 2011 by Jan | No Comments »

2011 Tech / Startup / Webby Events

Upcoming

January 13 – Startup Baltimore Workshop w/ Grotech Ventures – Baltimore, MD

February 1-3 – O’Reilly Strata Conference – Santa Clara, CA

March 11-15 – SXSW Interactive – Austin, TX

March 28-31 – web2.0 expo – San Francisco, CA

Past Events

January 4 – New Tech Meetup – Boulder, CO

Filed under: Events | Posted on January 2nd, 2011 by Jan | No Comments »

November 2010 Baltimore Webby Events

Thursday, 11/4 – 8a-12p

Baltimore Business Journal – FREE Fall Business Growth Expo

Is your company looking to reach more small businesses and get in front of decision makers in order to help your business grow?

Watch your business blossom at the Baltimore Business Journal Fall Business Growth Expo on November 4, 2010 at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. Attendees will enjoy a full morning of Free educational breakout sessions:

Session 1 (8:15-9:00 a.m.) – Constant Contact – “Online Marketing Best Practices”

Session 2 (9:15 – 10:00 a.m.) – SECU – “How to Grow Your Business In This Economy”

Session 3 (10:15 – 11:00 a.m.) – SIOR – “Economically speaking, what attracts companies to Baltimore?”

Session 4 (11:15 – 12:00 pm) – Constant Contact – “Social Media Marketing Made Simple – & Effective!”

With over 40+ exhibitors and 400+ attendees, this is a great opportunity to get your name out there, meet other local area professionals and build your permission-based list of prospects, business partners, members and more!

Thursday, 11/11 – 6-8pm

Refresh Bmore Data Visualization with Jesse Thomas of JESS3

As individuals and companies across the world rely more and more
heavily on social media, data visualization has become
indispensable for not only displaying analytics and metrics, but
also in understanding macro and micro trends by platform, network
and individual.

JESS3 CEO and Founder Jesse Thomas’ talk will explore information
design, data visualization, relationship mapping and statistics –
and how they all fit together to create compelling infographics,
data visualizations and dynamic dashboards in hot pursuit of the
holy grail of information design: make it more digestible and
more human.

JESS3 has created two of today’s most recognizable infographics
on the web: The Conversation Prism (http://theconversationprism.com/)
and The State of the Internet video (http://vimeo.com/9641036).

EVENT SPEAKER: Jesse Thomas of JESS3
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We wanted to come back with a bang and when Javie Rios
(http://twitter.com/javierios) told me that he had reached out
and confirmed Jesse Thomas of JESS3 (http://jess3.com/) to come
talk to our group, I knew we were in for something awesome!

Jesse Thomas is the CEO and Founder of JESS3. A creative
interactive agency specializing in social media data
visualization. Jesse has architected visual masterpieces and
interactive solutions for Nike, Facebook, Google, Discovery
Channel, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, MySpace, Pfizer, NASA, Nestle,
Pepsi / Tropicana, Classmates.com, C-SPAN, Salesforce.com, The
Wall Street Journal and many others.

Filed under: Events | Posted on November 2nd, 2010 by Jan | No Comments »

jQuery Featured Content Slider

Implemented a jQuery Featured Content Slider on www.jangophotography.com :)

jquery-featured-content-slider

Source:  http://webdeveloperplus.com/jquery/featured-content-slider-using-jquery-ui/

Filed under: Web Design, Web Development | Posted on August 21st, 2010 by Jan | No Comments »

Putting the QA hat on…

I’m currently QAing a proprietary CRM and documenting all the browser inconsistencies between Internet Explorer and Firefox.  Not exciting at all, but here are some of its advantages:

1) You can get ramped up to speed fairly quickly and get a better understanding of what the business’ product is supposed to do, from a technical programmer’s perspective.

2) You get to delve into the “user experience” mode and use the product from a customer’s perspective.   Are the forms intuitive?  How many clicks does it take for me to get to where I need to be?  Is the software’s workflow helping or hurting the sales process?

3) Yes, in an ideal world, everyone would use a universal flawless web browser and web developers and designers would not have to deal with annoying CSS quirks.  I’m not saying, “let’s bring back IE6″, but your web app should work across the most recent versions of Internet Explorer, Firefox, (Chrome, Safari, etc) to ensure your customers are able to use your product!

Filed under: Web Design, Web Development | Posted on July 30th, 2010 by Jan | No Comments »

Baltimore City Data Day 2010

Last Friday, I attended a conference/workshop at the University of Baltimore Business Center and got a page full of notes and resources about local community organizations and how they’re using data!  Details coming soon…

Filed under: Events | Posted on July 30th, 2010 by Jan | No Comments »

Spring/Summer 2010 Webby Internships

Seeking LOCAL (Phoenix or Baltimore metro area) web design/development interns, junior programmers, or freelancers who are interested in part-time work ($18/hr) over the next few months.

Some projects include:

  • social media/networking/web 2.0 development, incl. facebook and twitter
  • content management systems (CMS) implementations, incl. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, DotNetNuke, jomSocial
  • e-commerce implementations, incl. Magento
  • SalesForce integrations
  • various website maintenance & SEO: Phoenix Music Entertainment company’s website
  • website for travel/tourism/vacation rental industry
  • website for “green” technologies and resources
  • health/community website, including support forums and blogs

Seeking web design/development skills in XHTML, CSS, Flash, Photoshop, ASP.NET, PHP, MSSQL, MySQL.

Please email me with responses to the following questions:

* Do you have a website portfolio? Describe your role in the development process for each website.

* What aspects of web development are you interested in, ex. graphic design, programming, database, etc? How would you rate yourself in each skillset?

* What types of projects/industries are you interested in?

* When are you available to start?

* How many hours per week will you be available?

* What hourly rate are you seeking?

An internship is a valuable way for you to explore new opportunities and determine the type of work that you enjoy. A web development career does not have to be a “job that pays the bills”–it should be something that interests you and motivates you to continuously learn new skills and technologies.

For more information, please call 443.756.1035 (MD) or 480.663.3201 (AZ).

Filed under: Web Design, Web Development | Posted on March 30th, 2010 by Jan | No Comments »

Reflections on 2009

Scrambling to get some projects out the door before the holidays, but I’m working on a post that will summarize my experiences with…

  • the world of freelancing (the good, the bad, and the ugly)
  • networking, establishing, and maintaining a client base
  • utilizing social media applications (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, blogs, etc.) from a personal and business point of view
  • and other random musings (and upcoming webby 2010 events)

Stay tuned, and Happy Holidays!

Filed under: Uncategorized | Posted on December 20th, 2009 by Jan | No Comments »

Kill IE6. Upgrade to IE8 to fight hunger.

“For every completed download of Internet Explorer 8, Microsoft’s Browser for the Better campaign (extended through September 2009) will donate the financial equivalent of eight meals to Feeding America’s network of 206 local food banks, which supplies food to more than 25 million Americans each year.”

Downloads must be made through www.browserforthebetter.com (see Microsoft’s press release).

Or, screw Microsoft, and use Firefox instead ;)

Here are some browser stats, if you’re interested…

Filed under: News | Posted on September 9th, 2009 by Jan | No Comments »

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