I’ve been freelance now for over one year. It was a forced move, but I think it’s been the making of me.

Where I used to work, I had regular pay, I worked in a great team but for all the benefits, I was wasting away, not learning and not being listened to. I wasn’t in the boat alone.

A year on, I’ve learnt more than I could ever imagine. I’ve worked with some great people and hope to continue doing so.

It was also around April I made a decision. I was going to stop designing. I became a front end developer, web designer or whatever you want to call me. I’d had a few jobs where I lost money due to amending this PSD and amending that PSD with the end result not really being something I was happy with. I felt designing a simple site was taking ages. I looked at sites like dribbble and thought, “I’m way off here. I need to rethink”. I decided I would stop wasting time and money in Photoshop and concentrate on improving my jQuery, HTML and CSS. And as @malarkey showed me, you can design in the browser, an approach I love and had kind of started to do in the old job only to be shot down by those who knew better.

I got to know WordPress (don’t forget the capital P) quite well. I worked with Magento, a solution I’d like to do more with. I’ve embraced ‘Responsive’ web design. I’m using HTML 5 where once before I feared I was well out of the loop and for the first time in a long while, I have confidence in my ability.

I also have confidence in what I am charging. Something that has been a hot topic of late with Cole Henley’s freelancer survey. It was good to see that as of 2012, I was on the right track.

I’d always wanted to be freelance. I wanted the office at home, spend more time with the kids, try and enjoy life a bit. Around the same time of going freelance, my marriage went tits up. That has been a big upheaval too. A learning curve in itself.

So you could say 2011 has been a mixed year.

But 2012 looks to be an exciting one. I’m under no illusions work could dry up and I’m struggling to pay the rent but thats been over my head for a long while. It’s the one thing that keeps me awake at night. How can I afford to live. It’s so frustrating doing work and not seeing money for me it. Could be weeks / months even. You know you’ve done the work but someone is dragging their heels. I’m not alone. I see it daily. I have maintained if the right job comes up, I’d go back, no matter how many cups of tea I have can sat on my sofa in just my pants or taking an hour off to watch Batman. Money is needed to survive.

But for now, I am a freelancer. Living my dream I guess. Living it alone maybe but living it. I just hope 2012 goes well. Be just my luck to land a massive contract and then the Mayans be proven right and we all die as the Earth packs in.