On Wednesday 24th September, I handed in my notice at work. As of the 1st of November, I’ll be a free agent. And I’m not going back into paid employment for the moment – I’ll be working for Unreality TV.
A little over three years ago, Lisa and I started a little blog about Reality TV. I was working for Cleaver Fulton Rankin and doing a bit of web design work in my spare time to bring in extra cash.
Unreality TV has had its share of ups and downs. The first year was the worst, as we balanced the growing readership with the relatively poor revenues the site would bring. We toyed with having a forum. The forum failed twice, then caught on in its third incarnation.
We spread ourselves too thin, trying to start blogs in different areas, then realising that we didn’t have the time to commit to them all. After a crisis discussion, we decided to scale back massively and concentrate on Unreality since it was our biggest (read: only) successful brand.
Two years of further hard work (mostly on Lisa’s part) have resulted in a very successful site, averaging a million pageviews per month and a couple of thousand forum users.
In the meantime, I took on a position with Howden, an engineering firm on the Queen’s Road in Belfast. Awesome job, many challenges and a very busy environment. The stark contrast between the pragmatic engineers and the cautious, deliberating lawyers was so refreshing, especially after 8 years of service in the previous job.
However, due to a number of factors, I’ve decided to hang up my IT Manager hat and work full-time with Lisa on Unreality TV.
After more than a decade in employment, the idea of becoming effectively self-employed is terrifying. Especially in the current economic climate. But the idea of finally completely committing to Unreality TV is thrilling. I’m excited about how we’re going to build the site up, the extra time we’ll have to focus on new projects.
The other benefit from going solo is the increase in family time. One of the big downers about both my previous jobs is that neither firm was truly committed to work-life balance. Despite a grudging acceptance of working hours that suited me, neither were accepting of the fact that a man wanted to spend a bit more time with his kids. I could tell you more stories, but enough said.
Anyway, the one thing we’ve noticed is how much more settled the children are when there’s two of us about the house. Even though we only have three children, with the members of their entourage, there’s usually six in the house at any given time.
Working from home will give us an opportunity to spread the household load, and hopefully bring back some of the fun of parenting. Squeezing in a full-time job and evening stints as a blogger/web designer has been quite exhausting.
The Scary Bits
Don’t get me wrong, there are scary aspects to all this. Some of the questions running round my head:
- How will it be for both of us working out of the same house full-time? If it’s likely to be overkill, we’ll have to plan some extracurricular activities.
- How will the economic events affect web publishers? Will we see a scaling back of advertising spend, or will we find that more people go online as their budget for socialising decreases?
- If things slow down, will it be easy to get back into the workplace?
- Can I discipline myself to have a consistent level of output in terms of blogging while balancing the design needs and promotion of the site?
- What about health aspects? Will it be possible to be in the house without pigging out, and can I schedule some regular time for exercise to burn off the pot belly?
Even with all those things up in the air, the whole experience is thrilling. We don’t know what’s around the corner. We’re flying without a safety net. But we’re both confident that we have a great website, and some knockout ideas that’ll hopefully have people talking about Unreality TV for a long time.