Tag Archives: salary

1 year indie

One year ago, I celebrated my first day without a boss. I had just written 2 weeks of daily blog posts about wrapping up work after 14 years at the same company. Today, I’m wearing the same Mac t-shirt and working from Whole Foods again to mark the anniversary.

So how has it gone, a full year as an independent developer? It depends who you ask. While I was leaving the best day job I’ll ever have, there’s still no substitute for the flexibility and freedom to work on my own projects. From that perspective, the last year has been amazing, with some great success on new revenue from Core Intuition and contracting too.

And I made a few decisions early on with how to manage the business that have proven useful to smooth over the bumps. For example, I pay myself a fixed salary on the 1st day of each month, and for 12 months straight I’ve always met that goal. This month, I gave myself a small raise.

On the other hand, I’m still bringing in less money than when I had a real job, and my wife might say that there’s a fine line between being self-employed and unemployed. We’ve let our credit card debt go unchecked. There’s been no slack in the high monthly expenses of the house, car payments, business costs like hosting, and everything else. My income from Riverfold has grown significantly, but not significantly enough.

Yet, I’m upbeat. I’m upbeat because of the potential for what I set out to do a year ago: ship Snippets.today and help revolutionize independent microblogging. That’s still the plan. That’s still why this experiment of working for myself is in its very early stages, even a year later.

Two weeks notice: accounting

Bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers… I should get one of those at some point. Instead I seem to waste time moving from one accounting app to another — Xero, QuickBooks Online, Less Accounting — hoping that the next one will solve everything. Then I go back to tweaking monthly revenue summaries in Numbers because it turns out that spreadsheets are still pretty useful for this sort of thing.

This year I did sign up for what has turned out to be a game-changing app for my business: Baremetrics. I dragged my feet subscribing because it starts at $79/month, but it’s worth it. The way it breaks down which of your web subscriptions — in my case Searchpath, Watermark, and Tweet Marker — is the most profitable or has the highest customer churn or best average lifetime value… It was just eye-opening to me and led to finally taking some action to invest in the products that are doing well.

I still have a lot to figure out with this. The one thing I am doing right, on the advice of several folks over the years, is paying myself the same amount once a month from my business checking account, as if it was a normal salary. This helps in forecasting how much income I need in the near-term to keep enough padding in the bank to cover the slow months. It also makes sure I don’t spend everything too quickly.

We haven’t traditionally had the most strict budget. It’s easy to get lazy with finances at a regular job where you seemingly have a never-ending paycheck supply. The freelance or indie software world is quite different. I’m learning quickly.