tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Political interviews

The election has a week to go, so the television and radio are full of political interviews. Now the legal advice about going to Iraq has been leaked, and then released rather more officially (more with links at The Guardian) I've noticed Tony Blair today went from being rather huffy about questions about why he wanted to go war to now being rather shrill about it. That's not a word I ever thought I'd use to describe the Prime Minister.

Tonight there is a special Question Time with questions from the audience to the leaders of the three main parties. So far I think Charles Kennedy has come across relatively well, Michael Howard has done all right but got a bit more of a battering by the questions and came across a little slimy. Now Tony Blair is answering the same questions he's been asked over the last several weeks by the public - why did you take us to war? At the moment he's holding back the huffiness quite well, but he's got another 25 minutes to go and I expect him to be a little more ragged by the end of it. However, he's a very seasoned interviewee so it'll be interesting to see how much leaks through.

Work-o-mania parts and getting there

So this month I'm doing / have done:

  • CSS templates for a publishing company

  • Various search engine optimisation/marketing for three clients, one involving converting HTML and Javascript over to slimmer HTML/CSS and Javascript

  • ColdFusion and HTML work for an access hire company

  • ColdFusion / CSS/HTML work for a local search project, with a splash of PHP as well

  • Perl CGI work for a design company

  • ColdFusion work for a recruitment company

I was posting about work on the Freelancers Forum mailing list earlier this month and realised how much of my work was coming from referrals. Nigel and Alex have referred work to me this month, and some of the rest of the work has come from people in The Farm, the network of freelancers I'm in.

So, a big, public "Thanks" to Alex and Nigel, who are both buried in their own work at the moment, and I hope to return the favour in the future.


Things have been and still are very manic work-wise this month, in fact I haven't been able to do much apart from work recently, so everything else has had to take a bit of a back seat, including updating my websites and this blog.

I'm working for eight clients this month, which is a bit more than usual - the last couple of months I've been working for around six across the month, and in January it was a more normal three.

It's difficult to find a balance of clients when freelancing. On the one hand, it's lovely to have a large project I can get my teeth in which produces a great site; on the other, if I have several smaller pieces of work it means I get more variety, more chance to help more clients, and better cashflow. The downside of one large piece of work is if I don't get paid on time it's a real problem, whereas it's unlikely several clients won't pay out and having to chase one company for some of your money is a much more relaxed task than chasing one company for all of your money.

The last point is a little moot, I haven't had a client not pay since December, and I'm still chasing them for the small amount they still owe me. This is partly because I've got a better contract than I started with, i.e. I've got a relatively short written contract that I make sure I get signed, rather than working on verbal contracts. However, I've got two friends who have been caught by this recently: doing lots of work, and then not getting paid for it. One now has his money having had to pursue it and the other is in the early hassling stages before solicitors get involved.

I've been ripped off in the past, although not since I've been freelance this time, and it has made me wary of working on verbal contracts for anyone I don't trust completely. Finding a time to slip the contract under someone's nose can be very awkward, but it is a very necessary part of business and if a potential client won't sign a contract, especially a one that is balanced both for the client and freelancer, then it's time to walk away from any deal they're offering. I've never found anyone I've enjoyed working for has had a problem signing my contract, some have even asked if they can copy some of the clauses from it, whereas it tends to be the people who are hassle or unprofessional during the work are also the ones who resist agreeing to a contract. Sometimes it's better to have a thin month and find more work than it is to agree to do some work for someone under just a verbal agreement, there's no point having the work if you're not going to get paid for it.

Pasta / pizza

Pinocchio (Grid / Google) is a nice, low-cost pasta/pizza restaurant in Brighton near the theatres and the Pavillion. The Chilian Merlot is rather fine, and the chocolate truffle gateux desert is excellent, and was enough even though the two people with me kept nicking bits. Admittedly, my opinions might be affected by the company from the couple of times I've met there.

Too much work

You know you've got too much work on when the only exercise you get is walking between the desk and CD player.

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