Year Eight

July 4, 2021

There’s probably not a whole lot I can say about the past year that hasn’t been said or felt by anyone else. But aside from the pandemic, my eighth year of freelancing was just as good — and even enjoyable — as any other.

In fact, things are great. I’m still churning out work for the exact same clients. Nothing slowed down, even at the peak of the recession last March. I am busier than ever; so busy that I am actively trying to figure out how to cut things back. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Let’s get on to the highlights from my eighth year in business.

I’m now an employee… sort of.

One of my long-time clients, Modern Tribe, sold off its WordPress product business that includes The Events Calendar, which I’ve worked on for a number of years. Even though I did cross-over to Modern Tribe’s agency side a few times, I went with The Events Calendar and am now — get this — an employee of Liquid Web.

Well, sort of.

I was told that moving me to a part-time role was easiest for the transition between companies. I was reluctant, I admit, but also never want to be a roadblock. So, yes, I am indeed a part-time Liquid Web employee who punches in like everyone else and gets a W2 at the start of tax season.

Despite that, I am still very much an independent worker and nothing has really changed in my day-to-day besides where I clock my time. And, hey, I don’t have to worry about invoices so maybe that’s worth something, eh?

I’m now teaching two classes.

I started with an introduction to WordPress. Now I have an additional introduction to HTML and CSS. I definitely feel the impact on my schedule but also extremely enjoy the work that comes with it.

The class usually starts with about 45 students on the first day, then dwindles to ~35 by the second week. Add that to the ~20 students in my WordPress class and that gives me a nice little roster of students. It looks like this will be my ongoing load for the foreseeable future.

The funny thing is that I’m a part-time faculty member which makes me, yet again, a full-on W2 employee. Crazy how my freelance work is slowly moving to at-will employment. It doesn’t bother me, of course, but does make it tough to run my personal reports as far as how much I’m working and making. It’s less overhead though.

I’m getting schooled in equity, inclusion, accessibility and distance learning.

I acted on two whims on two separate days. The first, I applied for a formal training program at the college focused on equity and inclusion in the classroom and curriculum. The second, I applied for a role as a distance education facilitator for the college. Oh, and I enrolled in a rapid-fire accessibility training to round things out.

I got all three. I wasn’t expecting that. So that definitely put extra layers of strain on my schedule, which was already scarce on time to begin. If it sounds like I’m whining or resentful, then gosh darn it, I’m sorry, because this is all part of my big picture plan to incrementally transition from freelancing to teaching. It’s supposed to be a long transition over 10 or so years, or when my hand is forced to choose between the two. Who knows, maybe it’ll come sooner than I think.

What a great decision to do all of these extra curricular things! I now have the template for a syllabus that I’m genuinely proud of, and a digital classroom that I know sets students up for success, regardless of their circumstances. And I get to help others do the same as a distance education facilitator!

I’m writing and editing more than ever.

It’s funny because I think of myself as a web designer, and always have. As I worked, I found myself spending a lot more time in a code editor than Photoshop, so most of my work centered around front-end development. Now, I find myself more on the communication and education side of development.

For example, I document a lot of things for different clients. I’m writing actual technical documentation, penning tons of tutorials, recording oodles of screencasts, and creating educational materials. It’s like I’ve gone from creator to doer to educator over the years, which is a super cool trajectory. If I’m being honest, I’m proud of this because it sort of implies that I’ve done good work and built up enough cache and experience to teach others and raise up the next generation of doers and makers.

Does that sound too prideful or cocky? I dunno. My counselor says I need to give myself more credit and do a better job recognizing my accomplishments. There you have it.

I’m happy as ever.

Eight years! That’s so much longer than any other job I’ve had. It’s taken a long time, but I feel totally at ease with where I am at this very moment, as though things fit just like a glove. I have my place in lots of teams that I love and I wouldn’t change a dang thing.

So thank you to everyone who continues to make my job(s) so rewarding and enjoyable. I hate naming names, but I’m talking about folks like Chris Coyier, Hazel Quimpo, Barry Mulock, Zach Tirrell, Michael Robertson, Rob La Gatta, Kudzai Vilika, and Kristen Wright. There are many, more, of course, but I worked super closely with these folks this past year and I am so proud of all that we’ve accomplished during this trip around the sun. Thank you so much.

And thank you for checking in and reading. I know I don’t write on this site as much as I’d like, but I’m always thankful knowing cool cats like yourself care enough to keep up with where I’m at.

Cheers to this past year! And here’s to the next!