Starting Again

When I first started blogging a few years ago, I started with the idea that I could write awesome tutorials, sell ad space and get stinking rich. With heinsight, it was the stupid idea of an idealistic 19 year old me.

Since then, i’ve grown up. The type of stuff I write has changed and my writing skill, despite my hideous grades at school, has increased dramatically.

With that, I have decided to stash my old blog away at oldblog.pauladamdavis.com and start afresh here, on Ghost.

Go and make the future, or it will happen without you

Something I’ve said for a long time is; Life it what you make it.

For me, that has never been truer than it is now. The last several months have been life changing for me. Specifics of what happened don’t matter, that’s not the point, but each and every one of these seemingly little events has shaped my life in profound ways. An example would be getting nominated for the .net award. That alone bought freelance work my way and raised my profile. A couple months later, I was fortunate enough to win it.

Prior to going to the awards, I saw my ex in town, that would turn out to be the last occasion we spent time together purely for entertainment. Seems insignificant, but after my name was announced and I went up & picked up the award, I stood backstage, cried a little tear and said to myself “This is it. A new start. A new everything.”. That meant not seeing her too, even as a friend. Too painful. I meant it, and I’ve made it happen.

I haven’t spoke to my ex in two months now. Not a single word, message or notification shared. Even though it hurts sometimes, I’m putting my mind and body into my work. I am relocating the energy I would otherwise waste missing her into building a career for myself. I tend to use the bad stuff to inspire me to get better and push for the good.

Pushing for that good stuff, has ultimately led me in a direction I didn’t think I’d be able to take for years, and that’s leaving agency life and going freelance. It seems like a boring decision to some, but for me, it’s another fresh start. The opportunities that await me, if I keep pushing for them, are ones I would never get otherwise.

Sure, there are days where everything goes wrong, stress builds to un-liveable levels and frustration leads to bad things. But here’s the thing, that’s probably for the best. If something in life gets me worked up and bothered, I probably don’t need it. I may want it, but that’s something else. It’s live those books that tell you to throw all your un-used, un-loved and useless crap away and feel more connected with what you do have.

Hell, I threw away the chance to work on a startup with a 6 figure investment (as a co-founder no-less) due to frustration, but looking back to a few days ago, it’s for the best. Start-up culture would not suit me at all. It was better I get out now than when I’m invested in it emotionally. I’m glad about this. This bad thing, only means I can push for what I really want, to be my own boss. I’m making that happen even if it means being an arsehole to a few people. It’s my life, I know what it needs.

I take comfort in knowing that whatever plan I make, I know there is a way to make it happen. No telling how long it’ll take, or how it’ll happen, but one day, somehow, events will happen in a such a way that leads me to that big opportunity I’m craving.

So what does the title mean? It’s something I tell myself to motivate me. It means, if you don’t make things happen, they will happen to someone else and you will not be part of them. I cannot sit here slogging away, day in, day out, waiting for opportunities to come my way. I seemed to have built myself a career by asking people for things.

I will not stop now, I will never stop.

Good Is Less Than Great

All too often, a simple, mindless tweet makes me think a lot.

For a long time, I’ve felt that the proverbial body of water between good and great design is increasing. If I had to be given a class, I would say I was a good designer, not a great one. Let me explain why.

Good design is something that fulfils a purpose, it gets the job done. It can look pretty, clean and professional, but it can also look horrible but get the job done equally well, Amazon being a perfect example. It looks horrible in my opinion, bur clearly works very well for them. This is a good design.

Great design is something that fulfils its purpose just as well as the good design, but also gets peoples attention because of its artistic qualities. A perfect example here would be the redesign of Create Digital Media by Mike Kus. This tells you about the company the website represents very well, I can see what they do with ease. Equally, it’s a complete joy to look at. This makes it a great design, and Mike Kus a great designer.

It would seem having the ability to take something that would ordinarily look boring and make it beautiful is what makes you a great designer. That, is far, far tougher than you would think.

Pricing

Here I go again. A chat on Twitter turning into a huge blog post that’s essentially me ranting for a while, pissing off some people and alienating others.

My topic today is a controversial one too. Pricing. Someone tweeted a link to an old study by Cole Henley that looks into how much peep charge per day in relation to what they do and where they live. There was a link in there that helped you quickly work out what you should be charging, though simply done. Mine came to £186. I tweeted this with the comment that it was close to half my daily rate. So disclosure needed: I charge £320 a day (as of 16th November 2011). Some people seemed gobsmacked by that! Andy Clarke himself once said in a video interview that he charges £800 a day. That was a couple years ago, he may be the £1200 person in that link earlier. Is also could be anyone. Don’t quote me. (If I find out who does charge that £1200, I’ll note that here)
Some perspective there.

A conversation then ensued about pricing and we all pretty much agreed to blog about it instead, so here I am.

Why So Much?

Before I began in the web, I had no idea what to charge, so the boss of the company I did my first freelance gig gave me the rate of £30 p/h, £240 a day. I took it. It seems that’s more than some people with years of experience change today. That’s silly.

My feeling is that you should increase your price until the work starts to dry up, so you end up with a balance of the higher prices and constant work.

A few benefits of high prices are that you feel more motivated to work, at least I do anyway. Also, you tend to scare away sillier clients who want the world for a hundred quid. As soon as they see a high price, they usually run a mile. That’s not always the case though. As I’ve slowly upped my pricing, I’ve seen the quality of work that comes through the metaphorical door rise dramatically. Again, that might just be me though.

Skill Level?

Yeah I admit it, I’m not a man with a couple kids, mortgage, decades of experience or knowledge, but I know my shit and if people are coming to me, knowing my price and are willing to pay for it, I’d be a fool to say no, if I can do the work they want.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with a small but well respected agency in the music and fashion industries, letting me get some big names in my quiet portfolio that potential clients see. That’s let me prove myself. I am lucky, I know that.

Type of pricing

One of the subjects that came up was how people price things and how that related to an hourly cost. In my opinion, that shouldn’t matter. Whatever you charge hourly, daily or per project, the amount of time you actually spend on the project will be roughly the same. Putting discounts for large per-project quotes aside, you’ll earn the same cash. Might just be me.

If I am quoting for an entire project, I still price things up in hourly costs first and just bunch it together, maybe take a few hours off as a thanks.

Regularly?

No not really, though I would love to be a full time freelancer and have loads of time to do client work and my own projects. That day will come. Until then, I have the luxury of not living off my freelancing money (I have a full time job doing the same stuff), which means I can afford to push my luck a bit. My thinking is that by the time I go to freelance full time I’ll have a high enough rate for me to only need one week’s client work a month and live solely from that and use my other time to do personal projects like Kodery and admin stuff.

Let’s talk on Twitter about it. @pauladamdavis