One Year Indie

One year ago, I published this:

I’m leaving my 9-5 job to work on Relay FM, 512 Pixels and my freelance business full time.

The last 12 months have been nothing short of amazing. If you’ll forgive the introspection, I’d like to talk about what I’ve been up to for the past year.

In the fall, I attended both Release Notes and XOXO Festival. My Relay FM co-founder Myke Hurley gave the keynote address at Release Notes, and killed it. It was great to meet so many people in the indie design and development field outside of Twitter and WWDC.

XOXO was special for some very different reasons. It is part conference, part festival, and 100% awesome. XOXO was the first event I attended after going indie, and it was really great to have so many people (outside my regular circle) who make things for a living share their stories.

I’m still working on my fall schedule, but I hope that I can make both trips again this year.

* * *

I started 2016 with a renewed drive to work on 512 Pixels. I’ve been writing more, and added the YouTube channel. It’s hard to believe it, but this site is about to turn eight years old, and I finally feel like I’ve finally hit my stride with it. I’m more comfortable writing what I want to write than I ever was when I thought 512 Pixels was my ticket to self-employment. Now that it’s just part of the pie, I am enjoying a new sense of freedom here.

* * *

In April, my family and I flew to Maine, and spent a week at Camp Sunshine, a getaway for families with children who have catastrophic diseases.

The week we attended saw a wide range of diagnoses. We were the only brain tumor family,1 but we met parents of kids with Down syndrome, sickle cell disease, Wilms’ tumor and more. It was incredible to hear how many of their stories parallel ours. Families with sick kids all experience similar types of bullshit from school districts, challenges within the medical system and their own internal stresses.

The trip really opened my eyes that families like ours with pediatric cancer diagnoses aren’t alone in the things we deal with that most people will never encounter.

Camp Sunshine marked the first time since our Make-A-Wish trip in 2013 that I took more than one day off. I spent five days almost completely offline, and completely out of my work email and task manager. I came back recharged and refreshed, not realizing how overdue a break had become.

* * *

Relay FM continues to fire on all cylinders. We host a lot of shows, and I’ve spent significant time and energy behind the scenes this year getting the network to scale more efficiently on the business and technology fronts.

In just a few weeks, we will be celebrating Relay’s second birthday. We have a lot of fun stuff planned for our members, but I’m most excited about the fact that Myke will be flying to Memphis. We’ll be spending a week together hammering out some work that I think is critical to where we want to take the business.

* * *

When you work on something you love, it’s easy to lose track of time. I’ve missed family meals, lost sleep and been a bad friend, all in the name of work. Outside of a few small freelance projects, very little of what I do these days is directly billable by the hour, but there’s a lot to get done. I fear that if I stop pedaling, the whole thing will lose the momentum it has.

Of course, that’s baloney. Relay FM is a lot bigger than just me, but more importantly, having time and flexibility for family is one of the big reasons I made the jump to independent life in the first place.

I’m not saying I’ve completely blown it in this regard. I see more of my kids and wife than I ever did when I had a 9-5, but I’m working to make this more intentional. Very rarely do I schedule family time during the work week in advance, and that’s something I am working on changing.

* * *

So, what does Year Two of self-employment hold? I’m sure it’ll be more Relay, new projects, several more old Macs and some new adventures. 

I’m ready.

  1. Speaking of that, I’m happy to report that Josiah’s recent MRI was stable. For the first time in seven years, we’re moving from a six-month MRI schedule to a nine-month one. It’s a big step in the right direction!