My Experiences as a Contractor

Having become a contractor around two years ago, i thought i would summmarise my experiences up to now and outline the pros and cons of being a London web developer contractor, compared to a permanent.

It has been a mixed bag so far, and takes some getting used to in terms of the cash flow inconsistencies which comes from being a contractor. I have had a good mixture of contracts already, ranging from one to two week gigs, through to my time at British Medical Journal, which eventually ran on for 14 months.

Having worked as a permanent web designer and then developer for a total of around 12/13 years, i had met many contractors and also seen permanent colleagues make the switch too. My impressions were that it would bring more money and freedom, and so far that has been the case.

Paystream Contractor Accountants Logo

I have hired Paystream to handle all of my accounts, leaving me to concentrate entirely on my work. This has proven a geat decision, and i would recommend it to any IT contractor starting out on this path. There is always the option to do your books yourself at a later date, if you wish to, but the time it would take me to learn these skills does not make sense for the amount it would save me in accountancy costs.

Moving Blog Content from WordPress.com to WordPress.org

I recently re-started blogging after disbanding my old website several years ago. Whilst travelling around China it made sense to record my experiences in a WordPress.com blog. After coming home i didn’t feel that i really had much to talk about anymore and eventually took the site down.

I managed to drop all of that old content into this new blog through a combination of WordPress importer plugin (RSS) and using Archive.org to find other old posts that were not in the various export files that i managed to dig off my old harddrive. This combination worked well as there were only about 80 posts or so to move across and most images were links to my Flickr account, so were still working fine.

One issue that i did run into was that after trying out several different import plugins, my admin area started to run incredibly slowly and so i would advise anyone to de-activate and delete these plugins as soon as they have completed their content migration.

How’s the UK design industry fitting into a recession??

There is much talk at the moment about problems with the economy in general but i am wondering how this affects the design industry and in particular the internet. When i return eventually i wonder how easy things will be for me. I am hoping that people will just move from print to cheaper web advertising media, and so we’ll be fine. But i’ll keep a close eye on things as i also need to get a mortgage eventually too. In the meantime i will just enjoy things here and take advantage of the solid currency here :-)

My ex-colleagues seem to not have had any problems so far in the contract market which i’d hope to return to in order to save funds for a deposit. I am still hoping to find somewhere in East London eventually, but would need to research where is good value, safe, and modern. I don’t think my budget would suit North London but who knows. That could be my ideal choice but i’m not too choosy. There are many new builds which would be ideal as they are linked to special offers for first-time buyers and also would not require too much of my appalling DIY skills! Design-wise, they are also normally COOL, and fit with my ideas for minimalist design with occasional funky things here and there.

Blog Editor Update – 03 Feb 2009 – “…This blog post has proven quite popular, and gets plenty of interest from Google, so i shall take a little care to tidy up this blog entry on ‘How’s the UK design industry fitting into a recession’ and add further content…”


I have some ‘great’ ideas for when i finally get my own place, with chandeliers, Moroccan furniture and furry walls all considered!! (Ok, the last one was a joke, but it could still end up looking like a tart’s boudoir!!) The key is of course a monster flat screen TV for sports. I will seek my sister’s advice on this nearer the time, as she has done a nice job on her own place, and shares a similar taste for design and style. One worry i have is that my love of oil paintings will not really fit well with the ideas i have in mind, and will need somewhere to display either some of my funny works, or others from my favourite painters, like Van Gogh, Monet & Klimt.