When I made the jump back into freelance work in March of this year, I didn’t have much time to get my plan of attack in order. As a matter of fact, I pretty much just started taking on clients again without really giving it a second thought. I had only been out of the game for a year after all. But a lot can happen in a year when you’re talking technology and the internets. When I realized I was a sinking ship, I started to evaluate myself and how I conduct business. That’s when I realized I had been making mistakes left and right. These past couple weeks have been spent trying to turn those mistakes around, and I’m already seeing results.
Stale. Wait, is that Mold?
The first thing I had to do, was get get people talking about my blog and my work again. It’s been a while since I’ve done something or rolled out a project that’s received a lot of attention, and my previous design was quickly approaching it’s three year anniversary (November 1). The response to this new design has been amazing and I’ve already been featured in a bunch of showcase galleries and mentioned in a handful of articles, which has resulted in a substantial increase in traffic. Whoo!
I Probably Should Have Hung Onto…
One thing I took for granted over the years was passive income – making money from projects that require little-to-no maintenance. When Feed Icons was in its prime and prior to the Google smack-down on the text link ad services, I was making $500-$600 each month from ads. Sure, those aren’t huge numbers, but that’s enough to cover a few bills or purchase eight or nine full priced games.
In the late months of 2007, shortly after launching a redesign, I decided to sell Feed Icons. I banked half of the money to help prepare for my wife’s maternity leave, and picked up a glorious 40″ Samsung TV. Clearly, I don’t regret making that move. But I soon realized just how nice it was to receive a couple hundred bucks each month from the AdSense on that site.
In my last post, many people suggested re-introducing ads by way of a service like BuySellAds.com. I signed up and was approved for a beta account the same day. After spending a bit of time setting things up, I thought it was foolish to use this service and lose 25% off the top of every sale, when I could host and manage the ads myself. Sure, there’s a bit more maintenance involved and I spent about 6 hours setting it all up, but I get to keep 100% of the profit. Once I found my way around, OpenX proved to be just what I needed to get the job done. Now it’s dead simple to swap ads in and out, and even schedule them so I don’t have to remember when to take them down. It’s been about 48 hours since I soft launched, and 6 of 8 of the ad spots are already reserved.
Keeping Up Appearances
When I made the switch to working for a design firm back in 2007, I stopped maintaining a lot of my online profiles on social networking sites. So, to anyone new that came across my blog, work, or caught wind of a project I was involved in, it appeared I had fallen off the internet. Again, I took services like Carbonmade and LinkedIn for granted. I’ve been using both for years now, and have made several connections with both new clients and freelance allies through them. But when I stopped maintaining them, I stopped making new connections. A couple days after giving my Carbonmade portfolio an overhaul, I received a very promising lead from someone who found me there. Granted, that was by way of the interview I just did a few days ago, but still. Had I not updated my portfolio, I doubt they would have wanted to speak me.
But Wait, There’s More…
I’m feeling pretty good about the progress I’ve made in improving my online presence and generating a passive income revenue stream. And that’s just in the span of a couple weeks. Here’s my short list of other ways to expand and grow…
Release Some WordPress Themes
I like to think that my rates are reasonable, but I don’t come cheap by any means. It’s always a drag when I’m replying to a new lead and I know full well I won’t be hearing from that person again. Although I’ve started offering customization of premium themes, there are still a lot of people who want something designed by me but don’t have the budget for it. I’m going to release both free and premium themes in the very near future. Some of which will be inspired heavily by some of my more popular work.
Start a New Side-Project
I thought this was going to be difficult, but I’ve already established a partnership relationship with a developer and we’re well on our way in the brainstorming stage. While this will be a side-project, it will be seeing some dedicated time from myself and the developer over the next couple months.
Share My Knowledge and Experience
I wish I had more tutorials and tips in my archives, but I’m lacking that department big time. I’m going to make an effort to release more of that sort of content in the form of articles and screencasts in the coming months. The topic of freelance seems to be one that many people are willing to chime in on, so I’m thinking of keeping the flow of posts like this coming as well.
What Do You Want to See From Me?
I can come up with whatever ideas I like, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to fly. After-all, most of them rely on you to accept and desire them to be truly successful.
I’ve thought of taking my design skills in different directions, like branching out into the real world and trying my hand at some posters, buttons, and other geek merchandise. But would anyone want that sort of thing? Perhaps there’s something else you would love to see my trademark grunge style inflicted on?