At this time of year, my workload tends to fall off. It’s one of the few times that, instead of panicking when I see the number of projects go down, I actually welcome the lack of business. It gives me time to enjoy the holidays, instead of running around in a frenzy of activity. It gives me time to do those things for my business – like update my website or upgrade my PC – that have been pushed to the bottom of the to-do list for months.
It also gives me time to evaluate the state of my freelance career. In spite of the economy, I had a fairly good year. I’m especially thankful for:
• My clients, most of whom have maintained my pay rate, even in this bad economy
• Editors who make good copy great
• Editors who think my stories are good enough to enter in the ASBPE awards, one of which I won in November (Thanks, Computerworld editors!)
• Clients and colleagues who refer business to me
But there are several things I want for next year. Here’s my freelance wish list. If there is a Santa, I hope he’s reading this.
• Quality, affordable healthcare. I’ve posted about this before, both here and here. The single most difficult part of being a freelancer is obtaining and paying for health insurance. After a long struggle, I finally got mine through a Maryland state high-risk pool. To keep costs down, I’ve gone with high-deductible ($2,600) plan. The premiums have gone up more than 100 percent in four years. I now pay $300 a month, or $3,600 annually. Meanwhile, my doctor is changing to a “membership practice,” which will require another $1,800 a year on top of that. That’s $8,000 before my health insurance provider even thinks of covering my healthcare costs.
• Reliable electricity. My regional power company, PEPCO, has one of the poorest reliability ratings in the country, and I seem to be on the weakest part of its grid. My power can go out for no apparent reason, even on a sunny, windless day. When bad weather hits, my street is usually the first to lose power and the last to regain it. During last winter’s Snowmaggedon, when the D.C. area got hit by two blizzards in a row for a total accumulation of almost four feet, my power was out for more than three days.
• If I can’t have #2, then a windfall of $10,000 to buy a generator for the house would be nice.
• Continued economic recovery. I’ve seen business pick up this year, and then fall off again, and then pick up again. It’s generally headed in the right direction, but I’m paranoid that another financial catastrophe could pull us all down again.
• Just one more steady gig to even out my sometimes erratic cash flow.
In the spirit of slowing down to enjoy the holidays, I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next couple of weeks. Happy Holidays. May we all get our wishes in 2011.