Operation Liberation: WHD to Become Full Time Agency

As of May 1st, White Heat Design becomes a full time web design and branding agency. White Heat Design has been around for just shy of seven years and each of them has been a hectic mish-mash of balancing a regular, full time job (as the Lead Designer of a global publishing company) and working on White Heat Design projects. As of May 1st, that will no longer be the case.

WHD has been gradually demanding more and more of my time of late and I’ve continually found myself in the position of having to turn exciting projects away. For someone who likes to build things, improve things and constantly create, this has been extremely painful. I believe now is the right time to make the switch.

What does this mean for existing clients?

Existing WHD clients will get more of my time, whether that be to work on new features for their websites, more opportunities to discuss progress or simply more time to catch up. Every project we work on is a partnership and I intend to keep that promise.

What does this mean for new clients?

New clients get arguably the best deal. With even more time to focus on building better websites, crafting original and beautiful brands and helping to solve business issues, I’m certain that my work will only get better. Where before I had traditionally only a couple of spare evenings and some of the weekend to squeeze in everything, I’ll soon have entire days. And if you know me at all, you’ll know I don’t clock off when everyone else does :)

What does this mean for WHD?

There are a tonne of things I’ve wanted to do and not quite had the time. Below is a short list of just some of the personal projects I want to attack:

Refresh the WHD Website

While I’m largely happy with the current design, I feel I can do more with it. I like that it’s visually different from most other agency sites out there and I feel it has genuine personality, but while taking WHD full-time, it could’t hurt to add a couple of touches of “business” panache.

Integrate a New Project Management System

I’ve been using my own custom system to manage projects for the last four years and by and large it’s done everything I’ve needed it to. But I’m a guy who likes to explore new systems and continually enhance and hone my processes for how I work. One particular system I’ve been looking at recently, called Podio, has so much potential that I’m considering transitioning my entire CRM and project management setup over to it.

Upskill

There’s never a shortage of things to learn as a web designer and mastering new languages or ways of using known languages is great for your CV as well as your self esteem. But consistent, high level learning while working a full time job is tricky unless you have a genuine motivation to do so. I intend to make upskilling a priority when I finally have the time.

Write More

I’ve had the same 19 blog posts in draft status for the last 2 years. I enjoy writing. It’s therapeutic and it’s good for my business in general. But working two jobs makes it difficult to find time to do it on a consistent basis. That’ll change soon, and naturally, one of the first things I’ll be documenting is my experience of going from part time to full time with WHD.

Explore new creative outlets

The job I’m leaving holds relatively little in the way of creative outlets – down in part to the industry in which it resides, but not helped by the conservative mindset of those steering the ship. A business culture that embraces safety and familiarity over expression and exploration leaves little space for the revving of one’s creative engine. With my new found freedom, I intend to open up the pipes some.

Continue working on my WHD framework

I started building my own framework a couple of months ago with a view to speeding up client work and ensuring all of the websites I build started from a consistently solid, flexible and optimised base. The framework is a fusion of WordPress (the underlying CMS), Zurb’s Foundation (for rapid layout construction) and some of my own custom functions. It’s been an incredibly rewarding exercise and I want to continue expanding it in as many ways as possible that will both benefit the website owners and improve my working processes.

Get back in shape

I’ve been sitting down for the last 7 years. If not at my desk at work, then at my desk at home. And if neither of those, then on trains and buses in between. It’s no secret that working in most tech industries invariably leads to health problems unless you actively engage in some form of corrective fitness or exercise regime. I’ve sorely missed that over the years. So soon I’ll be regularly wheezing through my local park, knocking seven shades of shit out of my punch bag and repeatedly lifting and lowering weights.

Enjoy my work, enjoy my life

This is pretty self explanatory. When you work from 9 AM to 6 PM, come home and then work from 8 PM til bedtime, you gradually lose track of all the pieces that used to make you whole. I’m a great believer in balance being the key to happiness in everything I do, whether I’ve managed to practice the concept successfully or not (definitely not). One of the key motivators behind this entire exercise is to restore some balance to my life.

A happy person <=> A happy worker <=> A productive worker <=> A successful worker <=> A happy person

Let’s do this

Receiving a steady wage and knowing your job inside out is ok for many people. For many it’s the end goal. For myself, it isn’t, at least not yet. One day I want to be able to look back over a body of work and experiences that I carved out myself, my way. It may only last a few months or a year. Or it may last much, much longer. But I won’t find out by staying put. It’s going to take discipline, hard work and an undying tenacity to achieve the things I want by myself. But the reward should be worth every bit of it. If it isn’t, at least I’ll have had the journey.


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