2013, a year in review

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If you’re a regular follower of this blog, or if you know me from social media or forums, you’ll know the past four or five years have not been particularly wonderful here at Snaptophobic Towers.

Just to recap quickly, I’ve been more or less self-employed since 2001. I’ve had spells in and out of proper full-time and part-time work over that period, but it became increasingly obvious my chosen career path had pretty much come to a dead end in the last few years.

I was really stuck for ideas on how to revive my interest in the design world, and how to beef up my income. I mean, it’s bad enough that being self-employed means you never quite know when your next pay cheque will be, that you continually fret about which bill needs to be paid over another, but not even managing to get any decent work at all just added insult to injury—or should that be penury? There were also personal health issues, poorly Best Beloved, poorly pets, and generally being just stuck in the bottom of the deepest, darkest rut you can imagine, and it really began to wear a body down.

2013 began in much the same way, frankly. I was making half-hearted attempts to get my graphic design business going again. I tried to push some photographic services, as well as a scanning and digitising service, but nothing was gaining traction, not even a sniff of work.  I continued to try and find a “proper” job, but I wasn’t even getting rejection letters any more. I was pretty much at rock bottom, and about to head off to sign on for the dole. I was not looking forward to doing that. I’ve not “signed on” since 1981 and, frankly, it felt like giving in. While the small financial support would have been welcome, becoming dependent on the state after all these years may not have been ideal for my state of mind.

My only solace was building some model coaches for a friend, who suggested I should offer model-making services to a well-known (in model railway circles) kit manufacturer. I spoke to Laurie at Just Like The Real Thing. He said if anyone enquired, he’d pass them on. I thought little more of it. After all, life doesn’t instantly turn around, at least not from the bottom of my particular deep, dark rut.

But I was wrong. Suddenly, or so it seemed, I was in demand. Requests to quote for building JLTRT models came in. Somewhat amazingly, my quotes were being accepted. As I type, I’ve built a dozen railway coaches for clients, and got three more models on the shelf to build next year, and quotes in the pipeline for even more. I’d got a waiting list!

Colour me amazed. What a turnaround!

In 2013 I’ve managed to make a small business out of a hobby. I admit I may never make a fortune—I can only charge what the market will stand—but there is no price you can place on happiness. I—we—have become accustomed to living on modest means, and I see no reason to change that. Being happy and productive, with enough income to pay bills and have a little left over for the nice things in life, is good enough at the moment.

There is, of course, that nagging doubt at the back of my mind that I ought to plan for the future. I am aware that I may have yet to find a “proper” job in order to keep the bills under control. I will have to cross that bridge when I come to it. I am content at the moment to be able to pay my way in the world with money I’ve earned doing something I love.

What could be better?

7 thoughts on “2013, a year in review

  1. Hang in there Heather. I’ve not had a “proper” job since 1969 but have somehow just about managed to keep body and soul together. If a talentless twit like me can do it, should be a doddle for you. Happy New Year, and remember the Newsletter pages are always open to contributions from you.

    1. A happy new year to you, Richard!

      I think my problem is I’m not pushy enough in order to get the work and keep it. I’ve had some excellent clients over the years, but for various reasons they used me for a couple of jobs and then never came back. Over the past five years or so I became very disillusioned with the whole design thing, especially when clients I did find always thought they knew my job better than me. I gave up trying to fight them.

      I’ll think of something for the newsletter. There must be something good in what I’ve been doing I can share!

  2. That’s is you keep going, after all money is not the be end of life. Everything you do you enjoy so stay as you are.. Best of luck in 2014, regards, Mike and Sue.

  3. Wonderful to read how you have progressed over the past year, good on you and I wish you continued success.

    Happy New Year to you and Paul, regards Graham

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