Just over two weeks ago I quit my long standing, well paid and secure full-time job in the NHS.
I’m leaving to do freelance web design, front end and WordPress consultancy while also growing Make Do, my start-up events and education business.
What drove my decision
Last year I spoke to my manager about reducing my hours in the NHS down to four days per-week (later three-days if all went well). This was so I could spend more quality time on my own projects.
A year later and the dream of part time had not worked out. My role at Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust requires that I be on-site five days per-week and that I am focused and involved in the tasks at hand. It can’t be done half-arsed.
So I remained working two-jobs for another 12-months until something big came along that gave me enough drive to finally quit my day-job.
Enter WordCamp Europe
I headed over to WordCamp Europe as an event volunteer on the 4th of October 2013. After the first day was over the seed was planted for me to arrive back in the UK and hand in my notice.
I’ve been attending WordCamps for four years and they have always been inspirational. But this time was different. The buzz and size of the event cemented just how large this community that I’m part of had become and I met so many new and interesting people.
For most of the weekend I hung around with the UK-WordPres crew. These are folk that I have known for years and they pretty much all gave me a hard time about the state of my career.
I won’t name any names, but one quote cut deep, it came from an old peer that I met back at my first-ever WordCamp in the UK back in 2009 and went something like:
What are you still doing working in the NHS when you have so much more potential?
Ouch. I remember trying to justify my decision to stay in stable full-time employment but inside my guts were churning and that night I started thinking about what my resignation letter would look like while I sat alone in a bar across the street from my hotel.
By the time I got my flight back to the UK on the 8th of October I had made up my mind. The time was right for me to quit the NHS and seek opportunity elsewhere.
A long time coming
Now the dust has settled I feel like I’ve been preparing for this change since 2009 when I:
- Turned 30
- Started base6 Design, my first stab at freelance
- Attented & spoke at my first WordCamp (WordCamp UK Cardiff)
On turning 30
OK so turning 30 may sound trivial but it was a massive thing for me personally. I remember I felt a deep desire to ‘do something’ after the shock of leaving my 20s had died down. I responded by starting base6 Design a small design studio that I ran out of my home-office.
On base6 Design
Looking back base6 did pretty well, I had a list of clients all over the world (weirdly hardly any UK ones) and I used some of the money I earned from this venture to fund my first start-up WonderThemes.
Sadly, the reality of working a full-time job, running a freelance design business AND doing WonderThemes was too much so I put base6 to pasture to concentrate on WonderThemes and let all of my old clients go, something I now regret since WonderThemes was closed late last year.
Finally, attending and speaking at my first WordCamp event was massive for me. WordCamp UK 2009 in Cardiff wasn’t just my first WordPress conference, it was my first ever web-conference too. The inspiration I picked up from attending this event is still with me today, it sparked something in me that made me do things like starting The Digital Barn conference and later Make Do.
This was also around the time when I moved jobs in the NHS and left my role in IT to work in Marketing & Communications. A change which allowed me to re-discover my creative design skills that had laid dormant for so long while I was stuck doing mostly back-end web development and project management in IT.
So that’s it – my 10 year+ stint in the NHS working in web design, development and digital will be over very soon.
I’ll officially be available for hire from December 2013. I’ll be on the market for any web design, front end development and of course WordPress jobs and will be at WordCamp London actively looking for work opportunities.
Life barrels on?
The title of this post is taken from a lyric in the Ben Folds song “Fred Jones, Part 2” from his Rockin’ the Suburbs album.
It’s an odd choice because the track is about someone being forced out of their job but I found these lyrics helped sum up how I’ve felt since handing in my notice:
He’s cleared all his things and he’s put them in boxes
Things that remind him: ‘Life has been good’
He’s worked at the paper
A man’s here to take him downstairs
And I’m sorry, Mr. Jones
You can check out ‘Fred Jones Part 2’ on Spotify:
Simon Dickson says
I have a nasty, nasty feeling I know who that quote came from…
Leaving one’s comfort zone is never, well, comfortable. But it’s the only way to move forward. There’s no doubting that the WordPress ecosystem is evolving, maturing, and growing. Demand is up, from all kinds of clients – SME, PLC and OMG. And there really aren’t that many people with a deep understanding of the WordPress product, or the structures and people behind it. You’ve already ticked all those boxes, most of them some time ago.
Go for it.
Ian P says
Best of luck with freelance. I will treat you like a canary 🙂 You obviously have the skills.
You are and will continue to be awesome.
Matt Watson says
Best of luck with it all 🙂 I know you will smash it!
Ryan Hellyer says
Good luck with wherever this takes you! If you ever find you are short on work, just let me know. I’m always happy to send out tweets out to help out anyone temporarily short on work.
Kimb Jones says
Thanks Ryan, I may hold you to that 😉
Tony Scott says
Good luck in the freelance world…
Rob Mason says
Mid-life crisis? Yeah, I had one of those at 40. Then started my own business…
I’d wish you luck, but you seriously won’t need it.
Kimb Jones says
Thanks Rob, been meaning to contact you but it’s been chaos 🙂