My Year, 2013, in Numbers
Some numbers regarding the ways in which my personal business evolved during the past year.
Last year was the first year in which I was completely freelance, without full-time employment or other jobs on the side. Because I really enjoy reading similar reports by others and because I like to compare my progress with that of other people in the industry, I thought it might be interesting for some of you to read about the evolution of my business during the past year – it is also interesting for me to put together some statistics!
The past year was, for me, the most successful ever from the perspective of income – I almost doubled my income from 2012, when I worked for four months as a full-time employee and freelanced for the other eight months. I increased my rates twice, first in January, from 50,00 € per hour to 65,00 €, and due to the increased request for my services, again in July – this time, from 65,00 € to 75,00 €. I do have special rates for selected clients (decreased rates for long-term projects or increased rates for guaranteed monthly available hours), which are sometimes lower or higher than my usual rates. I have also had a small, additional passive income from my blog, which is essentially from ads served by FusionAds.
Split by month, it looks like this:
Something I do feel that I have to talk about is payment fees. I‘m really tired of paying -actually, my clients are paying this, but this money could have been used for something more useful - PayPal or banks 2.0-4.0% or a flat rate of up to 50,00 € for an international bank transfer.
Over the past year, I have continued to work with some of my fantastic, long-term clients, as well as gaining a few new ones, all of whom have introduced me to exciting projects. Some of these are not yet ready for the public, but I‘ll let you know when they are. I have also “fired” one client.
Because I usually worked for startups in San Francisco and the surrounding areas, it is not surprising that the most of my clients, and their referrals, come from that area. In 2013, I worked for the first time for certain companies in Australia, which was a positive experience. I also generated a new lead in Germany, but I have to admit that I have quite a small client base here, given that this is the country in which I live and work. This is something that can definitely be improved but, as I enjoy working with international clients, I don’t really see the reason for becoming more active in terms of generating local leads.
Split by country, my income looks like this:
I have experienced three unpleasant situations with clients this year, but was able to avoid my first law-suite. I had two late-payers (one was 4 months late, the other about 1 month late) and one client who was an active micro-manager, had poor taste in design and who changed the basic requirements for the project about three times after the work was done. I am not going to go too much in detail here but, after I discussed my issues with the client and he was still not prepared to change anything concerning our working relationship, I returned his deposit and cancelled the contract.
Luckily, all my other clients are great! They pay quickly, behave professionally, and enjoy working with me.
In January, I redesigned my site and I am still generally happy with the design – something that does not happen too often. Of course I made some adjustments, but nothing too drastic. In 2012, I redesigned it twice.
In 2013, my original aim was to publish at least one article per month but, as it turned out, I don’t have too many interesting things to say – at least, none that that haven’t already been posted elsewhere. It is also difficult to find free time to sit down and write something you care about between client projects.
Overall, traffic on my blog has increased significantly.
Even more important than work is what you are doing when you‘re not working, in other words finding a balance between working and taking a rest. When I am not working, I enjoy traveling. In the past year, I have visited Sweden, Thailand, and the Canary Islands (Spain).
Next year, I plan to go skiing with friends in the Austrian alps, escape the hard German winter by staying 3 weeks in Thailand and the Philippines in February, followed by a trip to Jamaica or once again to South East Asia in autumn.
I will continue to work in the manner that I do at present, since it really works well for me. In 2014, I will try to focus more on iOS design instead of web applications, and I want to spend more time traveling. I will work more on personal projects - one of which will be announced in a few weeks - instead on contract work for my clients. As a long-term goal for 2014-2015, I am looking forward to hiring my first full-time employee, renting an office that is actually not part of my own apartment, and starting a “real” agency. Let’s see if and when it works out – I’ll keep you posted!
Thanks to everyone who supported me over the past year.
My thanks go particularly to my amazing clients of 2013 – Applovin, everchron, Bewo Kompakt, LabGenius, Airspaced, Event Market, Stitch, Bright, Sonico GmbH, Pagevamp, Felix Andersen, Crowdbooster, Autodesk, and Classmate.
To all the people who have read, commented, shared, liked, and re-tweeted my articles, my followers on Twitter & Dribbble who have always been helpful when I had any design-related questions or needed some feedback, my profuse gratitude!