The First Year

Well, I’ve got my first year of self-employment under my belt now and I’m looking forward to year number two.

2004 was great. I worked my tail off at times, but was also able to go golfing in the morning on a Tuesday if I needed to get some sunshine. Of course, when you’re self-employed, there is no one else to take up the slack so you end up making up the time later. :)

It was probably around September or October when it really hit me that I was indeed making enough money to sustain myself as an indy developer. Sales of Tasks Pro™ and Tasks had been steady and I had been receiving enough inquiries on contract jobs that I was able to choose to work on the ones that were most interesting to me. Since I indend to continue working independently for the forseeable future, I decided to go ahead and invest back into my business a little bit.

I went ahead and finally ordered my business cards. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this was my first business expense that was solely for the business (as opposed to a new computer, which is useful regardless). It certainly wasn’t a big expense, but it was a big step for me symbolically.

The other thing I’ve been working on is getting a real web site back up on kingdesign.net. There is no out of pocket expense for this, just a whole lot of time. The new site uses WordPress as a back-end engine (for all the things WordPress excells at) with a little custom code I’ve added. This is moving forward nicely as well and I plan to launch it at the same time I release the new versions of Tasks Pro™ and Tasks.

A few things I learned this past year:

  • All the time and energy you spend automating a process for yourself is well worth it.
  • Never underestimate how little people actually read on a web page. Even when it’s in bold, even when it’s above the form they need to fill out, etc.
  • If you can keep people from making a mistake (by removing options, or not requiring them to actually read something), do so. For example, I get numerous e-mails and even occasional forum posts from people trying to install Tasks 1.x using the Tasks 2.x documentation. My solution? Tasks Jr. (the successor to Tasks 1.x) will sport the same basic installation process as Tasks Pro™ and Tasks so the install instructions will look the same.
  • Along those same lines, don’t just dismiss bug reports that aren’t really bugs. Instead, look more closely at the area of the report and see what could be done to make it less confusing.
  • Don’t be afraid to re-consider decisions you’ve already made – things can look different further down the road.
  • I haven’t once regretted taking the extra time to do something right.
  • Remember to consider the ‘vocal minority’/'silent majority’ properly.
  • When a feature is :scare: finished :/scare: , ask yourself, “Self, how could this be better?” Then make it better.

Onward and upward, thanks for reading.