Starting 10 October 2005, I will report for duty at a new job.
A couple of months ago I was contemplating how my business was working out. Fundamentally, it had three problems:1. I wasn't making nearly enough money. 2. The easiest way to increase my cash flow was also the least appealing. 3. The most interesting work was also the work nobody would pay me to do.
As much as I like the challenge of freelance writing, almost nobody would pay me to do it. I had several close calls with near-subsistence pay in the writing world, but they never worked out. For instance, I started working with one of the local newspapers last December towards increasing their local technology coverage. Part of this effort was creating a dedicated Technology page that would run once a week. Earlier this year, they offered me a column on that page, and naturally, I accepted. Then, the column was yanked, and I was given a job writing a feature story every week. Fine. But even though I've written several things for them, not one has ever seen print. The crew putting together the Technology page (which doesn't yet exist) is either too busy or too disinterested to actually get the Technology page off the ground. So, nearly one year later, there is no Technology page and I can't wait for it any longer.
My consulting business also had problems. The clients I could get were the clients I didn't want. They were the clients with just one or two computers who weren't interested in any sort of complex computing environment. Quite frankly, I can't blame them. Most two person lawyer's offices don't need a the digital horsepower of clustered Linux servers or a distributed computing environment. So, I was doing work that I didn't like in the least.
In addition, smaller clients need help relatively infrequently, so you need a very large number of them to pay the bills. That means lots and lots of work I don't like.
Finally, other considerations came into play like the availibilty of health insurance. At the moment, I'm on Sarah's insurance through the University. However, if her appointment is not renewed at the end of December, we would then be facing a monthly bill of $600 for health insurance. That's a huge amount of money; more than half of our monthly mortgage payment, by comparison. So, I needed to get a job for the health insurance and the steady paycheck.
Monday will see me reporting for work at the IceCube project. IceCube is a scientific project dedicated to building a neutrino detector below the Antarctic ice. The UW-Madison is the lead agency so the project's headquarters is located in downtown Madison.
In the last few weeks, I've been doing some interesting consulting for a few West Coast clients. I'm hoping to continue that work even after I start this new job. In addition, I'll still keep trying to build up my writing credits as I can in my off hours.
I don't really see this as an end to building my own business. I see it as a time to gather my wits, do some better research, and look for a stronger market while working on an interesting project and pulling in a regular salary.