As 2017 draws to a close, we take stock and discuss what 2017 had in store for us personally. Both of us have made major changes to our lives this year and we unpack what it means for us personally, and our indie projects.
Ok, so this is part two of our Year in Review. Part one, if you haven’t already listened to it, we covered the highs and lows of tech in 2017. In part two we thought we’d focus a little bit more on kind of our lives personally and how they’ve changed over the last year. I think it’s fair to say that both of us have had some fairly substantial changes in our lives, although probably you slightly more than me, Dave (Wood) because you’ve moved literally to the other side of the world!
Ok, yep this has been a bit of a big year in terms of all that. This year we we emigrated and that that happened at the end of July… we left the UK. So, we’ve been in New Zealand now for just over 4 months I think and life’s kind of starting to get to a stage now where living here is is becoming more normal. I think you know, when we first landed, there was so much we had to sort out that our first maybe five or six weeks is kind of just this blur, you know? We landed and had sort of set up house and do things like making sure we had a car, just generally settling in. Yeah, I must admit though it was pretty tough. We landed in the back end of winter as well, so going from the UK summer to everything being quite cold here was sort of fairly harsh in some ways, you know? I think you don’t realise this, but your body adjusts to the temperature that’s around you quite a bit and then when you sort of jump from one thing to the other it’s it’s a bit of a shock because you’ve not had the change in seasons or build up and you know we certainly found that the place we were staying in was was really quite quite cold anyway compared to where we were living in the UK at a similar time of year. That’s just the thing here, insulation is kind of optional for Kiwi houses it seems. So we had all of the initial kind of setting up house, I started my new job at Paper Kite which has been really quite awesome. This kind of marks my sort of first full-time salaried position as an iOS developer for somebody else. Prior to that, it’s been been contracting over this last sort of 18 months, so yeah first first proper salaried iOS position and also in a brand new country and four months, and it’s fair to say, I’m really loving it. Now that we’re into sort of summer here, it’s kind of easy to love being somewhere when it’s really sunny and we’ve been in the middle of a heat wave recently which everybody’s been telling me is abnormal for Wellington, so I’m trying not to get used to it too much, but then everybody in the UK is posting their pictures of it snowing recently and I’m sort of looking and going “mmm” I think I’ve got the better end of the deal at the moment.
But no it’s been a dramatic change, but it’s not happened overnight, you know. We had we had a trip over here over to New Zealand in the sort of back end of 2016, and we knew we wanted to live here we’ve been sort of building up to this for for quite a while, but having said all that, you know, we we’ve made all of our plans, we’d be progress so to me applying for jobs to get us over here and trot down that path. We’d we’d reorganised everything in terms of like, we started decluttering our house sort of an anticipation of the move, we did all all of those things and yet when it comes down to it and you said ok I’ve got the job now, you suddenly realise everything that you didn’t plan for. You know all the things that you didn’t know sort of come out the woodwork because you’ve got to do certain things, we had to apply for the visas, we knew that we had to apply for medicals, we knew that, but then upon like submitting our visa requests we found out a whole load of other things that we needed to submit with it that nobody had told us about. that we couldn’t even have found out by sort of the online information. So that was interesting, you know trying to get everything submitted and through, so that we had the visa quick enough to be able to go out here for me to start work properly, and had to do that the kind of a couple of go arounds in terms of getting information together and across so the collections office so that we could apply for the visa. There’s a lot that happened actually, sort of in in the sort of six weeks before coming over that was quite pressurised, and I can remember sort of a lot of it but it’s kind of blurred and sort of all going into this or one one kind of period of time where you know every, every day I had a tick list and something needed to come off that tick list and I just got it done. You know, that that was around working as a contractor for paper for Swipe and Tap, which was also awesome, that was back in Lester. Swipe and Tap were a very good company to work with, so yeah working wise, it’s been an awesome year as well, that’s two good places to work for.
That’s that’s an interesting question because we started this podcast at the start of the year as is quite an indie focus podcast you know this this was the journeys of two independent iOS developers, and then sort of suddenly I wasn’t. But, yes, so to answer your question, Dave…I don’t really see myself as indie right now. I’ve had to minimise all of myself side project work and kind of mentally compartmentalise what I’m up to there in a way, just so that I can focus on settling into life at Paper Kites and enjoying time with my family outside of work as well, something has had to give, and all of my side projects and other apps and things they’ve had to give. That’s had to be the thing that it goes for now, but I say for now, because I don’t think that I will ever not have sort of something on the side. There’s just a bit of me that likes having a project that likes having something that I’m developing to sort of put out there to the world, and although I’ve got that within my day job now, you know I’m working on projects and apps and things that are being released and that’s that’s really cool, but there will always be that bit of me that wants to have something that is specifically mine. And specifically, something that I can just sort of go “no, I’m going to do it like this and this is what I want it to be” and and I can sort of nudge along and kind of bring into existence.
Yeah there’ll be something in 2018 and I mean we’ve said on previous shows and I’ve sort of said oh I’ll put my app GoVJ kind of on the back burner, but come back to it in 2018. I don’t know if that’s specifically what I will end up doing. I have quite a bit of time off over Christmas and I kind of plan on on sort of putting a bit of thought into saying, okay well if I’m going to do anything in 2018, what what sort of form does that need to take? What is going to be the the sort of guiding principles of that thing? Is it something that’s purely going to be for for fun and kind of to to scratch my own itches in terms of things that I want to exist? Or is it going to be something that I’m developing with a sort of whole kind of product mentality and full-on business mentality. At this stage I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be I guess, for it to be something that that kind of still captures my interest and that I put spare time into. It’s going to need to be something that’s there’s a bit of both, you know really it’s got to be big worthwhile in terms of sort of renumeration for effort, but it also has to be something that is fun and I can sort of keep coming back to, kind of yeah… after I’ve spent all day coding I then go and do a little bit more coding, you know? This is got to be something that’s fun in that regard so yeah definitely it’s been a transition for me I’ve had to say I’m really not quite indie right now but I don’t think that’s that’s a forever thing, I think this is just a case of you know, you’ve got to kind of pull the levers and shift gears down on some things to make room for other things. And those other things have been so immense, you know, moving country, moving our entire lives as a family, that I’ve had to give that this of appropriate space.
Cool, so… obviously my year was quite quite dramatic and big in terms of sort of shifting countries and everything but, you made a big leap yourself at the start of this year, Dave. You left your sort of regular job set yourself up to work from home as an indie web and iOS developer
Yeah it was a an interesting time. It felt fairly weird leaving that job, because I’d been there for about five years and in a way it kind of took me a few months to feel like I wasn’t there anymore. There were, you know…three or four months in and I still had things in my head from that job, it took a lot of took a lot of shaking out. Now i feel I’m pretty much done, yeah I’ve left and that’s that’s it. It’s just interesting, probably because I’m still in contact with some of the staff as well on a friendly basis, so that probably why it reinforces that in my mind, that maybe I’m still there even though I’m not.
Yeah, yeah to a point, like if they ask questions and things because you know… projects go on for a long time, even after I’ve left and there are still some running, so questions are going to come up, so that can drag you back into it quite quickly. It’s amazing some of the detail that you can remember given how long ago it was now.
Yeah totally I I can still remember things I think from the job I left in in June 2016, the job I had been doing for ages British Gas, you know that took me quite a while to sort of decompress from.
No, but it’s all relative and like you say, it took you a few months to sort of decompress and I think it took me a little bit longer really. I think there’s an argument say that perhaps I hadn’t really sort of fully left and decompressed properly almost up until just before I started working with Swipe and Tap really, sort of earlier this year. Yeah so that would be a good good eight to nine months or so. I think at least before I’d really sort of made that jump away properly in terms of sort of my mentality. So I guess there is something there, you know, obviously we started out this year with this podcast from a sort of very indie perspective, and part of the indie dream is you know, leaving your job to sort of pursue the the work you you might rather be doing. And I think there is something there for anybody listening, just in terms of who might be sort of considering leaving their job and pursuing their indie development and that that side of things, in terms of just not under estimating that decompression. Because it can be quite a big thing. Obviously you’re you’re a few months in now Dave. you you’re how many months?
Nine-ish going on ten I suppose. So yeah I feel like you’re kind of right…you say eight to nine months it took you so, that’s probably about right I would say. But yeah I’m still kind of vulnerable to being sort of sucked back into it like if I get a text from an old colleague about such and such a thing I’m feel like I’m right there all over again.which is yeah yeah strange.
Yeah I can imagine that going down well! It’s interesting, my challenges are different now. I mean one of the main motivations, well, the primary motivation for kind of leaving the job was that we had a child in August of 2016. My wife is a school teacher, so she took some time off for maternity and we kind of came to the decision that the work that I do naturally lends itself to kind of being done at odd times of the day, whereas her work will always be sort of the nine-to-five (although, it being school, it’s not 9:00 to 5:00) but whatever…there is a set period of the day where she has to be at work and there’s a set period of the day where she isn’t at work. Where with me, it’s kind of like I could work on a Sunday morning like right now or I could work one o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday morning/evening whatever you want to call it! Yeah, it kind of made sense that I should leave my job and during school hours, I can take care of our little boy, Charlie. And then I can work outside of that. It’s been like nothing I’ve ever done, not least of all because I’ve never really looked after a child that’s around one year old and trying to balance work around that as well I’ve found quite challenging, because in a strange way the work is in my head constantly, but during the working day I’m not really able to do it. I find I can get quite frustrated sometimes in that I’ll have an idea, or I have a thought of something I want to do, something I want to get out of my brain and quickly get it ticked off the list and I can’t. It sounds maybe quite terrible, but sometimes I feel like I’m almost busy doing nothing – which is a strange way to look at it, one way or another my entire day from basically whenever Heather goes to school to when she comes home is taken up looking after and after Charlie. It’s only then when school time is over that we can sort of tag-team and I find that’s a challenge in that it’s kind of like the end of the day where I’m feeling more tired – is the time right you have to do something productive. I find it a challenge in that during the day when I would like to maybe be doing something when I have a thought, I can’t. And thirdly it’s tough because if I go to work the minute Heather sort of comes in, we don’t really see each other that much, so it brings a whole set of challenges that I didn’t really anticipate as much. On paper it seemed like a fairly easy thing to do and it seemed to make sense on paper, you know…you’re the software developer person so you can kind of do your work at odd hours of the day and it’ll work out. And then that kind of frees me up to help out with Charlie during the day which means we save on childcare costs which are a lot of money it turns out!
Yeah, unbelievable and it turns out if you want to do sort of like 9:00 to 5:00 Monday to Friday you can be looking at a thousand pounds, nearly. But it’s like, yeah, an iPhone X – every month! Yeah, just gone…I wasn’t expecting that! Thankfully it turns out when they get to three years old I think you get like 30 hours a week of funding from the government, which is cool well that happens. Wow it is expensive, yeah, so again, that’s kind of what sort of led us to this this point really is that yeah my sort of career if you like lends itself to its flexibility by its nature it can be very flexible which is which is really awesome. I mean if I were if I was stuck in a profession that has just had to be 9:00 to 5:00 in the same way that Heather is as a teacher we’d be looking at a very different scenario right now. Yeah so yeah, it comes in waves, like if I’m if I’m busier with sort of work from clients, I find that sometimes I feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends in that basically the entire time that I’m awake I’m busy doing something I don’t really get much downtime. Luckily I’m in a bit of a lull I suppose at the moment in the things are a bit quieter, I’ve just finished up on a project which is cool and that kind of frees me up to work on some of my indie apps, while you know I wait for like the next project to start up. Which is kind of interesting as well because that’s kind of revealed something in that what I would really like to be kind of my long-term future I’ve learned, is definitely my indie apps. I found that when I finished up this project I was kind of glad in a way, I thought “ah good” now I can work on my apps now this site is out of the way, I can, you know, do what I want to do. Which is fine… but then it’s hard to sort of fund life just with the apps I found. It needs to be complemented with something else, which is kind of like the the indie web developer side of me I guess which helps with that. But it’s it’s made it really clear that one way or another I really want to make this kind of indie app thing work so it can be a full-time thing permanently, that’s the dream and sort of having to balance client work with my work is only kind of made that even clearer than it once was.
Pretty much, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m sat around working on on websites being like “oh I hate this, this is rubbish” I mean… I like it, it’s great, yeah I enjoy making websites for for people or myself or whoever, but when I start coding an iOS app, I’m like yeah this is…this is this is what I really want to be doing.
Yeah and I kind of had moments like that with with my old career when I was doing the the analytics and customer insight work bucket in the job I left in June 2016, there were bits in that job that I really truly enjoyed and there were bits that I absolutely hated as well, don’t get me wrong there were reasons though you know I walked out after a 14-year career. But every time I was doing my iOS developments on the side in the evenings at weekends and things, you know it sort of felt like there was a sort of mental shift, you know now I’m doing what I really enjoy doing. It’s um I guess it’s the equivalent of kind of driving in rush hour traffic sort of just going from A to B, you know okay I’m driving that’s fine, versus taking a reasonably sporty car out on a country road, you know and kind of nipping round corners and and just sort of generally kind of getting into that groove with the car, you know, and really enjoying the drive. For me that’s that sort of the analogy you know going into iOS developer mode sort of feels like “yeah okay, yeah now I’m kind of running through the gears” and things are just just you know in flow I guess is the right description there for me.
So I guess there’s perhaps something for you in terms of 2018, I guess is going to be a bit of sort of more of the same in terms of you’re still going to have your clients and you’re still going to be sort of in in this current kind of life situation for for a lot of 2018.
I think yes, It’s difficult because I find like if I was to take on a web development job, it’s kind of like I find myself in a dilemma right so, I could I’ve used that money and yeah that could pay for a Charlie turn to nursery or… I could save that money on nursery and get the money from the job and just working to the nights which I need to be careful of because that makes me tired and grumpy, but the temptation is to do that because almost like you’re saving, you’re winning on both there, it’s like you’re not having to pay off for nursery and you get the money from the job rather than just doing the job and basically giving the money to the nursery.
Yeah so it’s it feels like a difficult balance sometimes. I just kind of need to watch that I’m keeping everything in balance overall and I’m quite bad and not doing that sometimes which makes me want to watch out for even more. But yeah, I think you’re right, I think for the most part that’s going to kind of stay roughly the same for 2018. I think my approach to my apps might change in 2018. I was listening to an episode of Under the Radar, and if you’re not listening to it, you should be. It was about how Marco Arment and David Smith kind of approached their apps and how Marco goes all in on one app pretty much, which is Overcast in his case. Where as, David Smith has got a tonne of apps, and it’s kind of like, very different approaches. And I think I’ve sort of taken Marcos approach-ish with Armchair. Yeah but I feel like I’ve gotten it to a place that I’m quite happy with at the moment, so I’m kind of thinking like I might like to sort of try lots of other apps maybe sort of lean towards David’s style of having many apps and then obviously as you build more apps over time you’re kind of potential for income grows as well because you’ve got more apps out there that have the potential to our money. So yes I’m thinking that could be a potential strategy to make apps most of my apps more sustainable in the long term, because if I’ve got more of them out there there’s more of a chance I’m going to get some money that day. And that could be a potential kind of route forward. That’d be really good in terms of my personal life as well, being you know an app developer making apps for myself I can be completely in charge of my schedule. I mean I found scheduling a little bit difficult when I’ve introduced client work because they still kind of have expectations that are fairly typical of nine-to-five working schedules, in terms of when you respond and things like that. I’ve managed to duck and dive and sort of get around it, I haven’t really told them that I’m working at like 1:00 in the morning and silly times like that, if I’m gonna respond to an email I’ll leave it in my drafts and send it sort of about 20 past 9 the next day.
Yeah exactly and yeah being able to reply from my phone during the day is quite important as well, like I think back to my old job like I would respond to a client email and it might be three or four days before they even see anything work wise, so it can definitely work the way I’m doing it and I haven’t had any complaints so far and you know so far so good long may it continue.
Okay we’ll call that a wrap for this episode, if you’ve enjoyed the show we’d love if you could leave us a review on iTunes it’s always great to hear from our listeners, and if you’re an overcast user and would be kind enough to recommend us you can do so by hitting that star button. Also we’d like to remind you that we have a slack channel and you’ll be more than welcome to join. If you’d like to, there will be instructions in the show notes, or the best way is just to reach out to us on twitter @wfrpodcast and we’ll get you signed up. So before we run off, Dave, where can people find your work