A year of freelancing

The other day, whilst sitting at my desk, I realised that it had been over a year since deciding to take the scary leap to becoming a freelancer. I can’t say that it’s been all fun and games, in fact quite the opposite, trying to earn each and every penny has been tough, yet so very rewarding.

I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, a lot has happened since then. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer early in the year and beat it like I knew she would. I’ve moved in with my lovely girlfriend who has been nothing but patient with me and my anti social work hours.

Starting out I had to set up a client base from scratch. Being frightened of not earning enough money for rent each month took its toll. I took on too much work at times and exhausted myself working late nights and early mornings. I gained two stone! Before being self-employed I played football weekly and jogged quite a bit but because of injuries and work commitments I had to stop playing. This resulted in me gaining weight and feeling pretty crappy in myself. After reading freelance articles from people with the same problem I decided to take action and fix myself (my body) I hired a private physio to fix my torn muscles and set about swimming 2/3 times weekly. Since then I am steadily losing any extra weight and have started to feel myself again.

I importantly learnt to prioritise my workflow. When I started out I would find myself checking emails most of the day and taking phone calls. This ate up my days work time very quickly, now I check emails once in the morning at lunch then in the evening. Allowing me to work without distractions breaking into the creativity. I created my own visual task system as I found online task systems just didn’t work for me. You can read more about that here » Why a visual task system has proven so productive

When leaving my last job I created the site Needstyle which I used as my freelance site. I found however the largest searched keywords for Needstyle were ‘Harry Ford’. Realising that my clients or prospect clients were searching for me individually helped me change my mind and move over to and away from the agency sounding Needstyle. After all it’s me as an individual that the client wants to work with for the re-design or branding of their website/app.

As a creative I find myself coming up with my own ideas for sites and applications all the time. Sparing time to work on these is hard but it is vital to work on them if you want them to become a reality. I am in the process of building which already has well over a thousand beta members listed, not bad for a still pretty unknown idea. I have just finished the first stage of my idea along side Phil Ricketts which has been a great success and so far very well received. I am in the process of designing a Mac app called Invoicebox which I would like to get finished and in the app store early 2012.

When starting out I didn’t have the time or the funds to spare to go to events, well this is what I thought. I actually made the mistake of not socialising enough which was never a problem of mine previously! After attending a few local events including the Sushiworks launch party and the monthly meets generously hosted by Kyan I found my work load increasing and the type of client projects improving.

Prepare to Activate was one of the best events I’ve been to this year. If your a lone freelancer like me or a web company it was fantastic day out. Hosted by the guys at Decode and Elliot Jay Stocks it was by far the friendliest web event I have been to, meeting far more designers and developers than ever before. I highly recommend it for 2012. I even met Phil Ricketts there who I have worked with on Rememberthewar and even some client projects.

One thing I have only just realised is the importance of this blog, other than Twitter and Dribbble it is the only way I can connect online with like-minded professionals. Since blogging more in recent months Fordoing’s traffic has more than quadrupled, at one point hitting 7000 unique hits in a day, with the help of some social sites mind. The more work or time you put into something the more you will eventually get out it’s the same with a blog or a personal project.

Just like to say a big thanks to all that have followed me over the last year it has been awesome making so many new friends and I hope to make many more. May see some of you at New Adventures of Web Design in January?


  1. I didn’t realise you had only been freelance for such a short time.

    Keep up the good work mate and hopefully after I get my wedding out the way I can make one of these events and share a beer.

  2. Love your story. Wish you success in the future!

  3. Interesting year roundup Harry! Did you meet your income goals? I’m doing the part-time day job + freelance on the side and it’s worked out really well for me this year. Income was great, but the downside is the hours I worked. I don’t always want to work as much as I did this year, haha. Good luck in the coming year!

  4. Congratulations on your first year Harry!

    With design and illustration skills as good as yours I don’t think you’ll never have a problem finding work! 🙂

  5. romain scheibert

    Hi !
    I found your blog while I was looking for inspiration… I’m a newbie freelancer (A month) and your article is really inspiring… Keep going on !

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