Sam Brown

How much does it cost to be a freelance web developer?

“This article is not meant to be a ‘oh woe is me… it’s so expensive to be a web developer’ moan, I’m merely pointing out the costs that a lot of people (myself included) overlook when they set out to work on their own.”

Phil Thompson on some of the often overlooked costs involved with being a freelancer.

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Spencer Fry 29 September 2008, 07:05 #1

That guy doesn’t list an external monitor! Does he only use one monitor? I hardly know any designers that can get away with that.

Phil Bowell 29 September 2008, 08:20 #2

@Spencer, he uses an iMac so it has a large enough screen to get buy. I’m forced to use a single 24” screen at work as a graphic designer and I survive.

Sam Brown 29 September 2008, 09:18 #3

I am firmly in the dual-monitor camp, after surviving for the longest time with only a single monitor (albeit my 15” MacBook Pro screen), the dual setup is well worth the money you spend on it.

There are quite a few other things I would have added to the list:

  • External Monitor
  • Music (can’t work without it)
  • Food (can’t live without it)
  • Domain Names etc.

As well as the boring stuff such as rent, bills, accountant etc. Still, it's a pretty decent well thought out list. A good start.

Shaun Inman 29 September 2008, 12:39 #4

I did dual monitors for a couple years (after weening myself of a third 640×480 use solely for palettes and Audion) but I’m down to just one again. Not because of budget though. Focus is key to quality. Embrace unitasking. ⌘ + tab is your friend.

Sam Brown 29 September 2008, 22:05 #5

@Shaun – True. To be honest I say dual-monitor, but the only reason I bought my Cinema Display was to have a bigger monitor. I do use my MacBook Pro screen for Email and iTunes though, but that’s it.

Phil Thompson 29 September 2008, 22:10 #6

Until last month, I’d never known the joys of the external monitor; a place I was working had an external Apple display so I could hook up my macbook to it and wow – what a difference!

If I could go back in time to when I bought my imac, I’d definitely buy a macbook (normal, air or pro) and an external monitor, coupled with an extra keyboard, mouse and an iCurve. That’d be one hell of a setup.

Sam Brown 29 September 2008, 22:16 #7

@Phil – It is a pretty decent setup! :) I love it.

That said, I love the iMac’s and think they are great desktop machine, Cameron Hunt has a very sweet setup if full-screen proper dual-monitoring is your thing. Personally I just love my big screen and use the secondary for simple stuff.

Darren McPherson 30 September 2008, 00:30 #8

I’m easy on the monitor front. My old work a web agency I had 3 monitors, it was great.

My current job, an in-house company I only have 1 but its a 24” widescreen. It’s not so bad. I’m used to it.

At home it’s a macbook and a 22” widescreen.

I’m hoping to dive into the freelance world over the next year or 2. Consuming all the advice I can get.

Darren McPherson 30 September 2008, 00:38 #9

Sorry if im spamming. but the post from “Darren” on is not me:)

Phil Bowell 30 September 2008, 09:47 #10

The iMac’s are very nice. I have one at home which I use for the odd bit of freelencing and personal stuff. It does the job. I by no means de-cry the dual screen but like Shaun I prefer the single screen for focus.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.