A Day in the Life of a Freelance Website Designer

Yep, that’s right, for my sins I’m a freelance website designer. Actually its a great job for funding my ‘Simple Life of Luxury’ as it allows me to be pretty flexible, it is also a fairly interesting job in its own way and no two days are ever the same. That said, most days do tend to follow a similar pattern, and I do end up working fairly regular hours. Many people wonder what I do all day (myself included some days!), so here is a step by step account of today, which may or may not turn out to be a typical day.

June 16th 2009 – A sunny day in West Wales

4.00 am Awake to the sounds of birds in the garden.
4 am – 6 am Snooze in bed
6 – 6.30 am – Get up and start the day.

Time to start with the daily chores. While Anna gets Morgan and his lunch ready for school I make a start on tidying the house, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the bathroom, washing up, sorting out the laundry, and vaccuuming the house. Id on’t have OCD or anything but I can’t start work until the house is clean and tidy.

8 am – Anna leaves for work, I continue with the chores, clean Morgan’s teeth and see him off to school.
8.30 am – Start up computer, make coffee and eat a croissant, then sit down to check e-mails.

Thankfully I checked them last thing yesterday so there aren’t too many, 75 in the Junk e-mail box, so I just delete those without even looking at them! 35 in my inbox which I read through. 1 or 2 I can deal with immediately and do so, 3 or 4 go into my ‘Action’ folder and the rest get a cursory glance or a read and then filed / deleted.
Next I check a few websites that I run to make sure all is OK. Forces-of-Nature and catch up with the posts there. Same with the Ystwyth-MTB Club website. I also check a few servers and check a few accounts to see if I made any money from affiliate earnings, Google Adsense etc. yesterday. Nothing unusual there, some income but I’m not rich yet! Oh well, looks as though I will have to work today.

Twitter is next. I don’t try to keep up with everything here, but a quick check and then leave TweetDeck open to see what transpires throughout the day. Same on Facebook. Next I check my RSS feeds to keep up with various developments from the world of web design and development and other things that interest me. Too much information in most cases and nothing really catches my eye this morning, so its down to some proper work.

Today I start with the task of updating several installations of WordPress. First I make backups of the various databases and all of the files related to each installation. Then I overwrite the old installation with a new version, upgrade and test. For some reason my usual text editor and website management software (Coda) is playing up with several sites this morning. Everytime I connect to these sites the application crashes so I end up having to revert to some older ftp applications and do these upgrades in a slightly less efficient way than I would have preferred. It seems fine with most sites, but crashes when contacting a certain server. I’ll have to sort this out soon otherwise it will drive me mad.

By the time I’ve done this it is 11 am and time for another coffee. Not the most exciting of mornings, but I did get quite a bit of work done and for a change some of it was work that I was actually billing for, so I’ve made some money!

Whilst drinking my coffee I check my bank accounts and update my billing and financial software so that my accounts are up to date. I also write a blog post about a new compact camera I want to buy. This may not seem like work, but keeping my personal sites up to date is an important part of my weekly routine and it all helps with my online profile.

Next its time to look into the unexpected behaviour of Coda, but can’t get to the bottom of it so send a support request to the software developers. As soon as I do I try something else (removing the preview image) and that seems to fix the problem. Another e-mail to the developers and back to work. I’m not sure why this became an issue today when it has been fine for years, but at least I’ve found a fix and can get back to some proper work.

Time to start working through my ‘Action’ mailbox. First tasks are a few minor updates to a couple of websites. and the replying to a couple of e-mails. Followed by some more website maintenance.

Next on my list is the writing of a tender for a website design proposal, not something I enjoy too much and as its now 12:45 pm that gives me a good excuse to stop for some lunch. Whilst stopped for lunch I also take time to wander down to the end of the garden with the compost bin and shreddings, hang the washing on the line and spend 5 minutes in the sunshine admiring the garden.

1:00pm – Not the longest of lunch break, but it is back to work. Still avoiding writing the tender so set some server backups in motion first and then decide to treat myself to a slightly longer lunch break whilst they run and wander across to the beach to check the surf whilst listening to Digital Planet podcast. But as I’m about to leave I get a phonecall from a client saying their website is down. I check it and all seems OK. Then in comes a message from Anna with a task for me to do. Upload some images to our weblog.. I do this before heading off to the beach as well…. And then I get another phone call from someone thinking about buying a website template so don’t manage to go to the beach in the end!

It’s now 2 pm and the server back ups have finished and I feel as though I’ve done quite enough work for one day. I guess its time to write a proposal though. Not something I enjoy, especially as I’m sure half of the people I write them for already have a web developer in mind but need several quotes in order to get funding. Still, it has to be done so I settle down to that with a glass of orange juice.

2:45 pm – Tender finsished and submitted, it wasn’t that bad in the end! I could start some more work, but Morgan will be here in an hour so I think I’ll call it a day and go collect him myself. Just a few bits of admin to finish up and a phonecall to make then I head off to the school and into town to buy some bike bits.

4.30pm – Back from the school run and the sun is still shining so decide to take Morgan out for a play in the inflatable canoe on the seafront. Anna arrives home too so comes over to watch.

6.00 pm – Back from the beach, clean canoe, shower, check answer phone messages and think about checking e-mails but resist. Pasta for dinner.

7.30 pm – Sort out rear wheel on bike, convert it to ghetto tubeless. Morgan off to bed.

Time to settle down for the evening in front of the TV. Not something that I’m too good at, but do most evenings anyway. Quite fancied a bike ride really but watched TV and ate lots of unhealthy snacks instead before heading off to bed.

A fairly standard day really. I didn’t get stuck into any proper projects, but did do lots of little tasks, all of which needed doing, I got my inbox to empty and made all of the phonecalls I needed to make and I even earned some money! Same again tomorrow? Actually, no as I shall be working at the university, but no doubt Thursday will follow a similar patern.

3 Responses

  1. Alan says:

    As you can see, it isn’t particularly glamorous and it hasn’t made me wealthy, but it does pay the bills and working from home gives me the ability to do other things in and around my work.

    It’s now Thursday and I started work at 5.30am in the hope of getting out for a windsurf later and attending Morgan’s sports day.

  2. Alan says:

    I worked out what was wrong with Coda. Apparently a conflict between Flash 10, Mac OS 10.4.11 and Safari 4.

    All I can do to fix it is downgrade to Flash 9 or upgrade to Leopard.

  3. Alan says:

    Yesterday was more like it. Started work at 5.30am, finished around 10am and went windsurfing, then a little bit more work before heading off to Morgan’s schools Sports Day. Then back hone and out for another windsurf session before settling down to watch ‘The Mentalist’ on TV.

    On days like that the benefits of being freelance are obvious for all to see.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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