Freelance diary, week 2

Posted on 10 July 2020 in:

This week was abbreviated: I was out-of-town through Wednesday night. On Thursday and Friday, I worked a bit slower than normal, because of all that travel. I was very chuffed by all the likes my first post last week ended up receiving on Twitter. Some of you even texted me words of encouragement, and trust me: gold stars have been added into all of your columns in my score book. While I know that attention ≠ money and clicks ≠ success, the increase in likes and hits gave me some hope for the future nonetheless.

Still, this week’s instalment might not live up to your expectations. Below, you’ll find no meditations on the right levels of payment for a designer’s labor. Nor will you read any insights into freelancing in Germany this time around. Also missing are any suggested hacks that could make you more productive. There are no links to cool and inspiring portfolio pieces, either.

Project Updates

  1. I’d scheduled a few-weeks-long research project to start this Thursday. I actually started it then, too.
  2. When it comes to what I’ll call potential longer-term research project A, I’m still waiting to hear if the respective institution will decide to fund it.
  3. Meanwhile, there’s potential longer-term research project B, and that is still in the planning phase. I worked on it for one day this week.
  4. Two marketing texts for one website: As I mentioned last week, I’m very late with this, but I made progress on both this week.
  5. Work I provide to others at no cost: I always do a bit of this, I’m doing a small amount at the moment, too. This will likely continue next week as well.
  6. My poorly-performing MacBook Air (2018) keyboard: I’m going to drop the machine off with an authorized repair service on Saturday or Monday, depending on when the back-up is finished.
  7. The website that you’re reading this one is too slow, but I’m working on this!
  8. Apply for KSK membership: I did not make any progress on this.
  9. Register for voluntary unemployment insurance: Ditto.
  10. Change health insurance payment details: Another failure. I still need to contact my provider.

What did I do this week?


  1. Last Friday, my family and I traveled to a city in western Germany where I had been invited for a job interview. That took place on Tuesday afternoon. I spent all available time on Monday and Tuesday preparing for it. Afterwards, my family and I made the long train journey back to Berlin. I did not engage in any other work activities during these two days.
  2. The city that we visited is lovely, and we all enjoyed the trip. What more could you want? We even took our kids to the zoo on Sunday.
  3. Would totally move.


  1. Took another trip. This time, it was just a day-trip down to Leipzig. There, I meet with a designer in the morning to discuss potential longer-term research project B, which is still in its planning phase. For that same project, I spent the afternoon at the Museum für Druckkunst Leipzig, where I viewed matrices and other surviving original artifacts in their collections that pertain to a particular typeface.


  1. Sent a draft text off for feedback. This is one of two website marketing texts that are overdue.
  2. Spent a lot of time with my website. As I wrote last week, it has gotten unforgivably slow. I suspect that this is because TypeOff. runs as a version 5.x WordPress website on a server running PHP version 5.x, instead of a PHP version 7.x. Last week, I wrote to my provider about this. They can move my site onto a PHP 7.x server, but they wanted the go-ahead from me first, since my site could potentially break as a result. The PHP Compatibility Checker plug-in’s analysis only returns warnings, not errors, for my custom WordPress theme. Following the instructions on this page, I tried to install a test version of my site on a local server running PHP 7.3, to see if anything in my theme would break. Unfortunately, those instructions rely on back-ups generated by the UpdraftPlus plug-in. When I uploaded my backups into the plug-in on the local server, the plug-in told me that I was trying to migrate my WordPress site, not restore it. For migration, I need to purchase the UpdraftPlus Migrator add-on. By this point, I realized why people pay web developers to web develop. A little frustrated (my website is so slow that making and downloading my backups took about four hours), I wrote to my ISP telling them to go ahead and move my site onto a server running PHP 7.3. A result of that might be that this post could soon simply disappear, or that I have to deploy a generic template onto my site until any I can arrange to have someone update any out-of-date PHP code. I’m sorry already, in advance.
  3. Began working on a research project due at the end of the month.


  1. Some library reading rooms now allow you to book spaces in advanced. Often, this is for one week in advance. Booked a morning slot at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin for Friday in a week.
  2. Started writing my second overdue marketing text for a website.

What’s planned for next week?

  1. Finish the marketing text that I started writing on Friday; send the draft off for feedback.
  2. Submit a topic for a virtual talk at this year’s ATypI conference.
  3. I need to spend about four entire working days on the research project I mentioned above, due at the end of the month. One of these days will be Friday, since I can view some specimens at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin that morning.
  4. May spend another day in Leipzig.
  5. Start writing a new typeface description text for an existing client. I said that I would deliver this later in the month.

Any blockers or challenges?

  1. Travelling across the country with two small children is a challenge. Planning on eight hours of effective work the next day (on only about 5 hours of sleep) was not wise. The result was that I got a lot less done in total than I had planned pre-trip. Parents: Don’t think you can just pull this off every time! Future me: When you do this next, be better.
  2. A slow website makes backing up take forever.
  3. Estimating deductible business expenses ahead of time can be more difficult than estimating future pre-deduction income.
  4. On Monday I thought that I was going to include a meditation on when to consent to perform unpaid labor for the potential sake of your career and to help bolster your reputation without your own little network in this week’s post, but it turns out that I am just too tired to tackle that now. Maybe in another week or two.

Footer of Shame

  1. I did no admin at all this week (Künstlersozialkasse application, unemployment insurance registration, health insurance changes, etc.).
  2. There are also some e-mails that I had planned on answering this week that I just … didn’t.
  3. The draft text I started on Friday was a text I had hoped to start and finish in one day, but I failed to get through it.