Last week at the digital freelancers networking event I put on every Wednesday, we had a special early start. Last year I surveyed members to see what would help them get more out of the Farm group and a few said they found it difficult to make it as we’re on quite late. Normally we meet 8pm until about 11pm.
I said I’d try some starts at 6pm to see how attendance went. This was the third time I’ve tried that, the first time in 2023. It was by far the best attended, with over a dozen people turning up between 6pm and 8pm, and seventeen people in all across the whole evening.
A lot of the attendees would have come anyway, just later, but we did have a couple of people who couldn’t have made it otherwise. So, it looks like I’ll try to make a 6pm start happen more regularly. It certainly won’t be every week as it depends on my being able to work in Brighton during the day.
Here’s some of what was talked about over the evening:
- Finding time for personal projects
- Tiredness post-Covid
- Strategically placed doilies
- Show & Tell at The Skiff
- Choosing a new coworking space / shared office
- Sussex Azure meet up
- Saving money on your AWS bill
- Publishing jobs to various places for recruiters
- Looking for design work
- AI tools and how they might effect what we do
- Welcoming people back to a project
- ChatGPT writing code
- AI coming for tech jobs?!
- The terrible state of the economy
- Is there less work around than usual? – comparing notes
- “He drew shrimps on it”
- Buy to Let landlords changes due to tax and interest rate rises
- Politics and religion
- Giving up smoking and vaping
- The prices of Brighton area projects over time
- Pub management change a comin’
- What will happen to the Sussex Yeoman pub?
Saving money on your AWS bill
Anthony talked about a recent piece of client work where he’d reduced a hosting bill from AWS by over £600 a month. An excellent job for his client! Talking with him and Haze, who had a similar success a few years ago, I got ideas of what to look for in client setups within Amazon Web Services, and how complexity can creep in. This can be accidentally through inexperience or deliberately through fiefdom building. I also heard about areas to watch out for, such as storage which is always virtual and never saved to disk – very risky as if your virtual server is ever rebooted or AWS have an outage, you’ll lose all your data.
Is there less work around than usual? – comparing notes
This conversation took in several members. In the last couple of recessions, there has been a lot of work around for freelancers. This was generally driven by companies making their web departments redundant and wanting more flexible workers, and by a trickle down of work as budgets tightened and clients who would usually use small agencies turned to freelancers instead.
This time, the economy has tightened – although we’re not in an official recession – but there aren’t as many offers of work around as usual. This doesn’t mean there isn’t work out there, but you need to hunt for it more than before. One member who is coming back from a bad case of Covid has recently picked up work thanks to someone else in the Farm, and now the various feelers he’d put out are returning enquiries he can’t fulfil. A year ago, and certainly pre-Covid, those feelers would have got him work much faster than now. I’ve known him get fully booked within a couple of days of starting looking.
It’s getting to desperate times, but it’s good to know there is work around if you put decent time into looking for it.
One of our members had a bad case of Covid over Christmas and although they’re able to work again, they are affected by an unusual level of tiredness. They’re coping with this by restricting themselves to working the equivalent of three days a week. Fortunately, they are someone who has been very hardworking and successful in the past and had a financial plan in place that has and is covering themselves.
When you’re freelance, this is the sort of thing that can wipe you out financially – enough bad luck and even in the UK, where our healthcare is covered by our taxes, you can still end up in a terrible position.
For me the lessons are: make sure you have some savings you can draw on in case you get sick, especially now Covid is so prevalent, and make sure you don’t work too hard when you’re first back from a bad illness. Whatever you’ve been suffering from, don’t try to launch straight back into a full calendar after you’ve been badly ill.
You’re a freelancer, you can control your hours. Say you’re available three days a week, or two, or whatever you need. The client doesn’t need to know why, they just need to know you’re tied up at the other times. As you get your strength back, you can increase your hours back to normal.
Strategically placed doilies
I’m not going to properly explain this. It’s to do with a gentle prank one member played on another and I know both will be tickled by it being in the notes when they see them. Like “he drew shrimps on it,” I like to have something bizarre that’s come up during the night and will never make any sense if you weren’t there. The best way of finding out is to come along.