Freelance diary, week 4

Posted on 25 July 2020 in:

Now is the right time to talk about “managing expectations.” I don’t mean that it is time to write about how to navigate a client’s expectations, but about the expectations that I have as the writer of these blog post entries, and that you might have as a reader. When I wrote my first entry in this series, I did not expect that the series would go on in weekly form indefinitely. There was never going to be a “Freelance diary, week 52” post. I assumed that, if I kept with this kind of time tracking, I would eventually switch to a different format. Perhaps once a month.

At the same time, I did not enter solely freelance work by choice, and I began this kind of work with a hope that it would be a short episode in my professional biography. And indeed, it will be. Already in my first and second weekly posts, I mentioned that my family and I had traveled across the country because I was interviewing for a job. Well, I got that job. It’s in Krefeld and I’ll be leaving Berlin permanently at the end of August.

Many people live in Berlin who I will miss dearly. I’ll also miss several of the design communities that thrive in Berlin (or at least, which had regular meet-ups before the coronavirus arrived). I will also miss the institutions very much. Over the last few years, as I finished my doctorate and started new research-based side projects, I came to realize how unique the collections in Berlin’s libraries and museums are. Not being able to just drop in to have a quick look at a particular type specimen from 1875 or 1904 is going to sting a little bit.

But life goes on. I’ll describe what I’m going to be doing from the beginning of September a little later. So far, I already have daycare spots lined up for our children in Krefeld, but we still need to find a place to live. In the meantime, I have work to do. And I’ll try to get as much as possible done over the next five weeks. All of the projects I’m working on now are things I really love, which is great! There will be a “Freelance diary, week 5” and a sixth week, too. After that, I’m pondering what to do with these posts. Let me know what you want, dear reader!

Project updates

  1. Few-weeks-long research project: On track to deliver next week.
  2. Long-term research project: Really kicked-off at the end of the week.
  3. Potential second long-term research project: No progress this week, but I may have a meeting about it next week.
  4. Overdue marketing text for a website: No progress.
  5. Typeface description for a client: Too little progress.
  6. My poorly-performing MacBook Air (2018) keyboard: Still at the repair shop; I’m going to pick it up over the weekend.
  7. Work I provide to others at no cost: I devoted at least eight of a total of about 40 available working hours this week on projects that will only pay me in “exposure.”
  8. Apply for KSK membership: This is canceled!
  9. Register for voluntary unemployment insurance: Ditto.
  10. Change health insurance payment details: Still waiting to hear back about how much I’ll have to pay for July and August.
  11. Paperwork related to the new job and the move: This is not “freelance” work at all, but neither is the work-for-for-no-financial-payment I do, and that’s included in this list.

What did I do this week?


  1. Scanned in a bunch of type specimen pages to place as images into a report I’m writing for my “few-weeks-long research project.”
  2. Began collecting online resources to use for my “long-term research project.”
  3. Was invited to submit a bid on a type design job here in Germany. Demurred and recommended that the agency ask for a bid from one of my previous employers instead. I can’t take on a project like that at the moment. Would be cool if my recommendation worked out for them.
  4. Edited a text of mine that will be printed and sold in a small print run later this year.


  1. My new work contract arrived in the mail, so there was some paperwork with which I busied myself.
  2. Continued to edit a text that will be printed and sold in a small print run later this year (this is not paid work).


  1. Today was basically an admin day, which can be annoying when you are a freelancer because you don’t feel like you are actually doing work that earns you money. Of course, without doing any of that admin work, you won’t really earn any money at all.


  1. Ditto.


  1. Spent my first day on-site at the institution where my “long-term research project” is happening. I may be working in the space every day in August, until the move.

What’s planned for next week?

  1. My daughter has a birthday, the S-Bahn stop nearest to our flat will reopen, and the kids’ daycare center will reopen for the next school year. So much hurray!
  2. A film crew is coming over to record a session I’m doing for an online workshop series. I’m going to have to prep for that, and also give my office a good spiffing up.
  3. I’m going down to Leipzig for a meeting regarding my “potential second long-term research project.”
  4. The submission date for my “few-weeks-long research project.”
  5. Deliver that typeface description text a foundry commissioned from me.

Any blockers or challenges?

  1. My laptop will still be out for repairs next week. I have been surprised about how seamless working on most tasks sans main computer has been. However, there are some tasks that I cannot do at all, as well as a few things that take a lot more time to get done now. My work progress next week should be acceptable, but it won’t be as quick as I’d like.
  2. In conjunction with the cross-country move that’s coming up, my wife and son will be apartment hunting in Krefeld on Monday and Tuesday, while I’m at home with our daughter.  Her daycare reopens on Wednesday. This will reduce the amount of total work time I’ll have, and I won’t be able to work on-site for my “long-term research project” at the beginning of the week, either.

Footer of Shame

  1. That overdue marketing text that is still overdue. Ugh