Ben Dodson

Freelance iOS, Apple Watch, and Apple TV Developer

Developers who work from spectacular locations

I was recently asked some questions about how I work for an article about developers who work from spectacular locations. You can read the full piece over at InfoWorld but I’ve put their full questions and my answers below:

What work do you do?

I am a freelance app developer working on apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

When/how did you go remote?

I used to be a Development Manager in a London-based digital agency back in 2009 and when I moved to another agency it wasn’t a good fit (far too many meetings, not enough actual work). I made the decision to go freelance as a PHP developer which necessitated me working from home essentially forcing me into remote work. I was intrigued by the recently launched iPhone and so started to develop for that - thanks to a lucky appearance on The Gadget Show, I’ve been able to do that ever since.

How did you end up in the location you are in?

I’ve always worked from home as a freelancer so the location I’m in now is really just because I live here (which was due to meeting my wife). The greatest joy of remote working is that you can literally work from anywhere so whilst I could theoretically work in a hammock on a beach I’m much happier sat in bed with a cup of tea and my laptop!

What did it take to go remote? (Buy a laptop? Outfit an office? Argue with a boss/team? Something else?)

The only thing I needed was the confidence to quit my job and base all of my income on freelancing. That wasn’t an easy decision and it was fairly difficult for the first few months but it all worked out in the end.

Have you compared the economics of your remote situation to your previous one? How do they compare?

Initially I was earning a lot less money due to having very few clients and I was paid irregularly compared to a monthly salary. This changed fairly quickly though and now there is no question that financially it was the right decision to make. Even more importantly is the economics of happiness; I am far happier in my life as a freelance remote worker able to choose when and where I work than I ever was working in an office. This is so true that I refuse to work as a contractor in a clients office even if only for a few days as I find I just can’t produce the same quality of work when stuck in an open plan office on a fixed time schedule.

Are there hassles you didn’t expect?

The biggest problems are distractions and motivation. It is very easy, especially in the first few months, to kick back and do very little work as you don’t feel the need to rush. Then, when you run out of money you panic and work ridiculously long hours to try and get some invoices sent out. Freelancers typically have periods they call “feast and famine” or “rollercoaster dips” but they are generally referring to having enough advance work; my problem was always that I introduced those periods myself by putting things off as sometimes I’d wake up and just want to play on the Xbox rather than writing an algorithm for a social feed. Thankfully I have now gotten myself into a comfortable routine (especially now that I don’t live on my own) and so things tend to be smooth sailing but at the start it was very difficult to stay motivated when surrounded by nice distractions!

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