Joe StoneI was recently contacted by fellow freelancer Joe Stone for a quick-fire interview on my time as a freelance developer.

Joe describes himself as an experienced WordPress developer based in the South East of England with a love for all things digital.

I’m always happy to give interviews and guest posts, so if you have a blog, feel free to get in touch. Thanks to Joe for asking the questions this time!

The interview

What is your most fulfilling moment since becoming a freelance developer?

I think my most fulfilling moment is when I hit a certain target I’d set myself last year. I’ve been freelancing for 8 years now and I always set targets. I usually hit them, but this year was a special one and it’s really assuring to know you’re doing things right.

I’m a believer in results. Measurable results are the best way for me to see how well my business is going.

What is something you would do differently if you went back to the start of your freelancing career?

I would be more confident from the off. I would push myself harder to engage more with clients. I used to like working alone, undisturbed, whenever possible; and while I still appreciate that time now, it’s not how projects work. You should collaborate with your clients. As a freelancer your contacts are everything and these relationships should be nurtured.

I feel my lack of self-confidence in my abilities (slight imposter syndrome) and fear of regular client interaction set me back when I first started.

What are your favourite project management tools and why?

Oh, I’ve tried a few of these. Being a freelance developer, you often get invited to agencies’ browser-based project management tools. I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly of all of these – Trello, Basecamp, Teamwork, et al. I don’t prefer any one of these to another, to be honest. They’re all easy enough to use, but I wouldn’t choose to use them on my own projects.

I’m a big fan of writing things down. There’s something more satisfying about crossing off a task on a paper list than in a digital app.

One thing I’ve been doing a lot in the last couple of years is to use sticky notes for task management. It’s a simple system of three piles, to-do, doing and done, not unlike Trello, but it feels more natural to me.

Have you ever considered travelling and working? If so where would you go?

Although I work from my home office more often than not, I do take my work with me sometimes. I’m lucky to have clients outside the UK that invite me over, so that’s great.

In the early years, I’d have loved to have travelled North America while working, but I didn’t really have the client base. Life has since caught up with me and day-to-day I prefer to work from home.

I still get to travel a lot for leisure and often enough for work, so I feel I’ve got a good balance.

What is the best work-related advice you have had since starting out?

While I can’t put my finger on a single piece of work-related advice that has helped me, I can point to a person. My Dad has been my business mentor over the years and I look up to him massively. The things I’ve learned from him are: work hard, do a good job and try to look after people.

I think it’s important to have regular contact with mentors and peers to bounce ideas off of each other.

Finally, any tips for staying calm when things get a bit stressful?

Exercise. The gym is my medication. There are times as a freelancer when it can be incredibly stressful; I’ve been there on more than one occasion. Through regular exercise, I keep myself mentally level, focused and productive.

Another tip would be to take every day and every task one at a time. Sometimes my workload can look overwhelming at the start of the week, but if I break it down into smaller chunks it becomes less stressful.

Posted by Tom Hirst

Consultant WordPress developer with 10 years experience freelancing for agencies and businesses globally. Available for hire.

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