Looking back at 2013

On the Eve of 2014, I thought I’d put down a few thoughts. It’s really more for myself, to consciously think about where I am, what I’m doing, and where I’d like to go in 2014. 2013 was the 5th year of working entirely for myself, and I feel now that I’m getting into the groove a little better with planning my work load. It’s been a steep learning curve, but it’s certainly been more rewarding than the previous 5 years working for a salary. This could be due to many factors, but I think the main one is that I’m working in an area that I’m really passionate about.

Work wise

2013 has been a rather full year. I’ve been doing a lot of consulting on e-learning projects, web development, travel and getting married. Keeping a balance when you work for yourself is tough. Beside cash flow, time management / work load is one of the main things that I’ve heard from other self-employed people that they struggle with. I’ve found myself saying ‘no’ more often in 2013, and I’m getting better at saying it. I find myself doing things that I really want to do rather than things that other people wanted me to do. I don’t know what it is with me, but I feel so bad saying no to people. It’s a bit of an ego boost when people say that they want to hire you, or have you join their startup, but it’s important not to let your big head get in the way of your decision. An important skill is also being able to quickly identify clients who will start to be a drain on your time.
I’m also working on more of my own projects, which will hopefully generate income on an ongoing basis rather than just getting paid once for a delivered project.

Is it better to work 8 hours on a project that will generate €1/day for the rest of the year or to get paid €365 for your day’s work ?

I started to quote how much I charge, which frightens away most tire kickers and also aims to be a bit transparent on how I work. I plan to stop offering SEO services (perhaps a topic for another post), in an effort to focus even more.

Start to charge (more)

Across the board I’ve started to increase my rates, and for 2014 I aim to make my sideline projects (like dogs.ie, which just had it’s 5,000th dog ad posted this week) more profitable. These sites generally start out with a little idea, and as they grow they can start to consume a lot of time, so at some stage there has to be some level of ROI.

Training goals

Another issue when working for yourself is that you should make sure you keep up to date with new technology and what’s going on in the industry. I’ve signed up for TeamTreehouse earlier this year, while I’ve not completed as much as I’d have liked, I think it’s a great way to keep on learning. [1]. I started one or two edX & Coursera courses, but sadly didn’t get to complete them. Some ideas I’ve had about increasing levels of user engagement in online courses will be rolled into EmailTrainer.com.

Attending conferences like the WebSummit or LeWeb was another great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening.

Getting fit

The other type of training… My on-going challenge of moving my ass off the computer chair is going well. I’ve done 4 x 10 kms this year, with personal best thrown in of 43:46. I’m not quite sure about doing longer distances, I’ve a 15km next weekend and a 20km in February. The problem with these longer runs is i) the time it takes to train for them and ii) they are just a bit boring after about an hour I find.


Overall I’m really excited with what direction 2014 will take me. The next steps are to launch a new version of jobsinireland.org and maybe kitten.ie tomorrow.

[1] – get 50% your first month at TeamTreehouse via http://referrals.trhou.se/paulsavage