Monday, September 08, 2008

Charting a new map for my life

Tackling the utter lack of athleticism which plagued me up to the ripe old age of 35 has made me braver. I'm starting to branch out in other areas. Looking for ways to challenge myself mentally, in addition to the physical challenges.

I have a few very big decisions to make. Some of them are easy. Beginning to market my skills (maps, informational graphics) and expand my client base is one of those. For the last eight years, since I officially stopped being a full-time employee, my business plan has been more of a non-plan. My old clients (former employers) stuck with me, and when some of the people with whom I worked switched firms, I had a new client.

It’s really been a pretty cozy system. I get to keep doing work I love, and make enough money to fund things like housekeepers, the birthday mini-trips, and gear for running and riding. I get to converse with other adults about things which have no relation to my children, and a sense of accomplishment when I receive the printed sample from the press.

I work ten hours many weeks, and am rarely over twenty. The occasional flurry at the end of a full street map or an offering book might require a full forty hours one week. I follow those weeks with a week to clean house, do some extra volunteering at the schools, and go for long rides on my bicycle.

Lately, I’ve gone beyond the idea of doing this Someday. I have the gut feeling it’s become Someday. It’s not the money. It’s me. I want a challenge. The projects requiring my full mental attention these days are rare. I can crank out maps in my sleep. (When home with a sick child means switching to evening work hours, I’m pretty sure I have sleepmapped.) Even though this decision is not based on any economic worries, the extra income will be nice.

There will also be a sense of freedom to accompany the increase in projects. If I have other things waiting in the queue, I will have the peace of mind to set the timelines. I’ll do everything I can to meet my client’s expectations, but won’t have to bend over backwards and stay up until 2:00 a.m., just because I’m worried they’ll find someone else next time.

It’s a big step. Tough, but not as hard as I’d built it up to be in my mind. Get a domain and webhost, put together samples of work online, along with basic writeup of what services I’ll offer. A few emails around town, a bribe for google, so I come up higher on the search list.

Thanks to my current office setup, cell phones and eFax, I’m not going to have all that many expenses. I know who to call for my domain registration and hosting. Friend of a friend, won’t be pricey. I have over a decade of digital samples - more, if I resort to scanning in pieces from the early days. Sweat equity is the big requirement.

Thanks to the last year or so, I'm not timid about the sweat anymore.

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