Introducing Forecast

Since I started freelancing earlier this year, my most valuable metric has been how much runway I have left (or "how long before I need to get a real job").

I use FreeAgent for all my finances. It’s a great tool, but it’s more about showing you your balance sheets and capital assets rather than the bigger picture.

So, I looked into forecasting software and found the likes of Float and Dryrun both of which look great... for large companies. I felt like I needed an accounting department just to get any value from them.

It's for this reason that I'm very happy to announce my latest project: Forecast.

Forecast is a bullshit-free forecasting service for freelancers. It’s built on one key principle: no additional input from you is required.

To me, being a freelancer is all about the flexibility and the freedom to work on the things you enjoy. You should be too busy working on your projects or having fun outside of work, not babysitting another finance system. Once you've connected your FreeAgent account, that's it! It just works.

Scheduling Meetings With (Prospective) Clients

Almost 9 months into freelancing and I'm finding that the number of prospective clients is becoming a relatively steady flow. 🎉

Though some of my clients I have never actually spoken to (even during the "introduction") the majority I have always had an initial chat with. This is usually a 30 minutes call on Hangouts.

However, this amazing situation brings a lot more of this:

me - Can you do this time
them - no, can you do this time
me - no, can you do this time
...
— old me

Without being able to see the other persons calendar, the only option is to choose a random time that I can do. This can lead the scenario above which is a waste of time and if you're both stretched across multiple timezones it can take a while to come to a conclusion.

Solution

The other day I found a service called Calendly. The TLDR; Calendly gives you a link that you can share with the client. This link shows them all your available times in their time zone. All the client has to do is select which slot they want!

This then adds a calendar event. If you use Google Calendar, it can be setup to contain a Hangouts link, though Calendly does integrate with GoToMeeting.

Though my favourite feature is that you can limit the number of events per a day. I limit this to 1 so that my productivity isn't destroyed by lots of calls.

This is what my availability looks like:

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Invoicing + TransferWise

Taking a look at my clients in Freeagent I have about 50% that are UK based and the other 50% are based in the rest of Europe and the US.

When clients pay me, they send money to my GBP bank account. For my international clients this usually involves a charge either to them or me and sometimes a questionable exchange rate. This really sucks for me and my clients.

When Riot was around, we had attempted so many times to setup a US bank account but it was so much hassle and most of the time, the banks just said no. That was a long time ago and thankfully things have come a long way. I say things, but really I just mean one thing; TransferWise.

TransferWise has a product called Borderless Accounts. It's amazing. Once you've signed up and verified you can just make yourself new EUR, GBP and USD bank accounts (I believe more are coming). Each account comes with all the necessary details to transfer money to.

With these borderless accounts there is no charge for the client to send me money. There is only a small fee for taking money out (price list).

Freeagent

How I've got this to work inside Freeagent is to add each borderless account as a bank account.

Now when I create a new invoice, I just select which accounts details I want to appear on the invoice. Magic! 

Day in the Life of a Freelance iOS Developer

I’ve always found these type of posts interesting to read, so I figured I’d write my own…

I have a fairly structured day. I find that keeping to a routine really helps me focus. I can feel lost without it.

 

5:45am

I like to wake up early. Mornings are definitely my most productive time.

My day starts off with breakfast, a shower and then I take the Poppy out for a walk. On average, the walk lasts around 45 minutes, though this depends on how many other dogs we meet on our way (Poppy likes to play with all of them).

Once we get home, I feed Poppy and make myself a coffee. My current brew method of choice is a Chemex.

7:30aM

This is when I start the first “block” of client work. 

For client projects I prefer to work in half day blocks. I respect my clients money and feel that if I’m jumping between projects/chores/phone calls and doing the odd couple of hours here and there, then I don't feel they’re getting their moneys worth. I like to feel engrossed in a project which is why I also choose them carefully.

 

10:30am

Around 10:30am I usually take a break. My fiancé is currently back from university for the summer so I go and hang out with her and have my second breakfast of the day 🥐

12AM

When whatever I'm currently working on comes to a natural end, I break for Lunch. Either I'll cook or reheat left overs from the evening before.

 

1pm

Once finished lunch, I'll make a tea and continue the second block of client work.

 

4pm

I usually finish the day around 4. I'll then reply to any emails and contact any potential leads for new projects. I also update my draft invoices. I don't use any time tracking apps, I simply have draft invoices that I then add half or full day line items too.

How I Track My Time

Since I started freelancing back in January I've really trimmed down the number of services I'm using. I guess it felt really productive using so many.

How I work with my clients is always the same; invoice every second Friday and only work on a max of two clients per day (2 half day blocks).

So now I simply create draft invoices and then at the end of every day I add a new line item:

That's it!

I have an event in my calendar that reminds me every Friday to send any invoices that need sending.

Freelance Diaries #3

It has been almost 3 months since my last freelance diary entry 😮. Here is a quick run through of how everything has been going...

Asking For Advice

Around the beginning of February I was feeling a bit deflated and started to have some doubts:

  • Is there something wrong with my portfolio?
  • Is my price too high/low?
  • Are my introduction emails terrible?
  • Why do all recruiters want me to work on site? Maybe remote isn’t going to work?

I knew getting my first client was going to be hard, but I was really hoping to have my first one by the start of February.

I decided to email a few UK based iOS freelancers and basically ask them for some advice on getting work. I have to say, the responses were awesome. They settled my doubts and also said that they would forward me any projects they couldn’t take on!

Side Projects

Projects

February 15th

I started my first project on February 15th. It was only a small 5 day project but it was a good start and helped extend my runway by about a month.

- Project Source: Referral

 

February 28th

This was when things felt like they really started coming together. I was contacted by an awesome studio based in Northern Ireland who wanted ongoing help with various projects. This really helped in giving me a solid, predictable foundation for the future.

- Project Source: Direct

 

March 24th

Towards the end of March I started my first “built from scratch” project. These are the kind of projects I love to work on. I’m looking forward to sharing this soon.

- Project Source: Referral (from one of the freelancers mentioned above, thanks!)
- Estimated time: 3 weeks

 

April 10th

A small MVP project.

- Project Source: Authentic Jobs

Financials

My target turnover for the year is £60,000, meaning I need to hit a minimum of £5,000 a month. So far my turnover is £11,654 meaning I’m currently short by £8,346. Since I didn’t have a client from the start, this was always going to be the case so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Turnover.png