Hi Friends — I’m Jessica, a Freelance UI/UX Product Designer, and the Founder of Hammock.
I’ve been full-time freelance for a little over three years. Over the last few months, I’ve started thinking about how I can build products to empower freelancers and help them make sustainable business decisions while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
First, a little background about my freelance journey
After exploring the design agency and startup worlds for the start of my career, I started to see how my skill set could benefit small businesses. We (my husband and I) moved from San Francisco to Boulder, Colorado (hello lower cost of living!), and I was able to build up a small client base, enabling me to transition to freelancing as my full-time job.
Enter the honeymoon period. After about 6 months, the referrals started rolling in, and I had an understanding of how I wanted to run my business and the types of clients I wanted to target. I was taking Fridays off to go skiing, ending my workday at 3pm, bringing in enough income to live the lifestyle I wanted, and even continued to grow my runway.
During my second year, I landed a massive project with an ideal client. Even though I was making more money than I needed every month, I continued to pay myself a limited salary every month. Leaving the rest in my business bank account, in an attempt to prepare for the inevitable slow month (or months).
Fast forward a year. Work was starting to dry up with my long-term freelance clients, and things were starting to slow down. Instead of realizing the money I had put away would get me through the lull; I immediately started stressing out. I kicked networking into high gear and took on multiple projects with clients who weren’t a good fit. They didn’t align with my career goals, and didn’t understand or respect the value that I could add as a freelancer.
I found myself daydreaming of the stability of a full-time job.
Figuring out my runway
After interviewing for a few full-time positions, I realized I wasn’t ready to give up the freelance lifestyle. I knew I had a comfortable amount of money put away for this exact position, but I never fully internalized what that meant for the next phase in my freelance career.
I decided it was time to take a closer look at my financial situation and accurately calculate my runway. After calculating my runway, I realized that I actually had enough money in my business checking account to comfortably pay my monthly salary for 6 months, and still have some cushion to find clients after that 6 months.
A mindset shift — using runway calculations to make decisions
Having this information in-hand, I took a step back and refocused on my personal and business goals.
I took some time to reflect on why I love being a freelancer. I figured out my strengths and started investing in learning new skills that could increase the value of my freelance business, and the quality of the service I provide. I was able to drop the projects that weren’t a good fit. I’m no longer afraid to do extra due diligence when speaking with potential clients because I can afford to wait for clients that are a great fit.
I felt empowered.
Scratching my own itch
Eventually, that led me to think about the tools that I’ve been using to run my freelancing business. I pay for four freelancer tools every month, but none of them told me about runway, or how to track, monitor, or grow it.
That’s why I’m building Hammock. A suite of tools to help you track your runway, grow your freelance business, and help you organize everything into a long-term career.
To start we will be sharing weekly thoughts, tips, and tricks for freelancers on this blog. We’re also starting a weekly newsletter to round up and share all of the interesting posts we find about freelancing every week.
We’re still designing the product, but if this sounds like something you would be interested in, I would love to hear from you! Shoot me an email, I’m always happy to talk shop or learn about the challenges you’re facing as a freelancer.