02017 Annual Report

Tuesday, March 6th, 02018 at 13:31 UTC

As we look back over 02017, there were certainly highs and lows. We spent a large amount of time on a few projects that are purely speculative. We have a rule never to do spec work, so how is this different? These projects aren’t free work for others in an attempt to maybe win the bid, this is an investment of our time into our own projects that some outside organisation needs to approve. For instance, we’ve sunk a lot of time into grant writing for the EU H2020 grant round 2 in an attempt to get funding to manufacture a new type of electric bike. It is speculative that we get the grant and we were comfortable with the investment given the potential reward for ourselves. We did pay ourselves, but it means less money coming in from other client work. Some of these projects were better tracked than others, especially after we saw they were going to become bigger and suck-up more and more time. Ironically, three of these types of projects landed in 02017 and we’re still waiting to hear about many of them. It isn’t going to be a sprint, more like a marathon!

We needed to keep these factors in mind when we looked back over all our logged hours, services and invoices. We’re learning that a “typical” year is atypical.

This is our 6th annual report looking back over the year’s finances at a high-level. The goal of this document is to let others know what they can “normally” expect in terms of expenses, income sources, workload, services and more. Last year we published our 02016 Annual Report along with 02015 Annual Report02014 Annual Report02013 Annual Report and 02012 Annual Report before that. Hopefully, this will be a useful insight into what to expect if you make the jump to freelancing or running a small business.


This year we worked closely with 4 different companies and sent out a total of 13 invoices. Three were local companies and one non-iceland-based. We also picked-up two new projects with two new customers in late 02017 and their invoices will appear in 02018. Many of these customers we plan to continue working with in 02018. Atleast one we probably will not. We consulted with them on some UI/UX screens for their devices. Those have shipped and unless then need further changes, it is unlikely we’ll spend time with them, but you never know, every few years they re-appear and we happily jump right back into the design challenges. We also ran a small workshop for a company to do some future predictions of where they might be in 02035. That was a fun project and the outcome was some nice posters of the ideas and designs. It is unlikely we’ll be doing that again this year for them, but who know, we might take it to a different company instead.


We managed to track less than 50% of the whole year in 02017. Granted, there would certainly be some vacation and sick time. We don’t expect a full 52 weeks times 40 hours, but this is certainly something we can improve upon. Therefore, any of the values related to how we spent our time are certainly an estimate and some things slipped through the cracks for sure.

When we do look at the hours we did track, the average length of time for each service was about 2.2h. That is up from last year’s 1.8h, an increase of nearly 30 minutes. What that means is that we are getting more time for each task and are probably context-switching less. It also means that on average, we’re spending more time in meetings than last year. This isn’t exactly a metric we want to increase or decrease overall, but it is something we want to understand more deeply and how it might relate to output, happiness and other metrics.


When we log our time, it gets applied to a customer and a service. This is mostly for us to see how our time is spent on the various aspects of running a business. Some of these percentages have drastically changed. This probably has two reasons, the obvious thing is that we are doing more or less of these services. The less obvious change is probably due to some of the same work being re-categorised and/or not even logged.

For instance, Administration has dropped quite a bit. This is probably due to just not logging it. If you reply to an email or handle a small task for 5 minutes, it is harder to properly log it. We’re also human and we tend to forget to log those few hours surfing the web chasing links down the rabbit hole.

Writing also made a big jump. As you can see from the output on this site, this was certainly not internal writing! We did a few projects for O’Reilly for their various salary surveys. This constituted mostly crunching some numbers and then writing a few thousand words about how the industry is changing and write about some of the observations and trends in the data.

Category 02013 02014 02015 02016 02017
Administration 14.38% 30% 19% 10.5% 2.9%
Consulting 0.0% 0.0% 0.26% 0% 0%
Design 4.07% 6.5% 6.34% 5.4% 5.8%
Meeting 16.68% 14% 20.41% 16.2% 21.1%
Presentation Preparation 6.78% 1.3% 0% 1.8% 1.7%
Programming 52.97% 30.75% 39.16% 50.5% 58.1%
Research 1.66% 2.29% 4.47% 1.0% 0.7%
Writing 3.47% 4.4% 3.47% 3.4% 8.4%
Attending 3.18% 2.16% 0.75% 0.5%
Travel 3.76% 2.19% 10%
Photography 0.15% 0% 0% 0.1%
Networking 2.6% 0.35% 0%
Pitching 0.35% 0.31% 0% 0.2%
Podcasting 0.03% 0% 0.5%
Planning 0.46% 0.13% 0% 0.4%


Travel in 02017 was very minimal. Early in the year we presented a workshop in San Jose, California for the O’Reilly Strata Conference. This was a half-day workshop using the D3 javascript library to explain data visualisation methods. Then, late in the year we did a similar presentation, but stretched it over 2 days for the students at Center-Centre school in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Given all the craziness in 02018, and planning another local Material Conference, it is unlikely we’ll do much travelling.


Knowing where your money is coming from is important, but it is also important to see where you are spending your money. We have a few rough categories to see where our money is being spent and how much. Over the last few years, our Office Supply budget has settled down. We have most of the equipment we need, so these fees are day-to-day expenses of phone, internet, printer paper, toner, etc. The next two categories of Tax and Salary aren’t really escapable and are pretty consistent in their percentages too. Professional services are specialised contractors; accountants, lawyers, etc. It seems this year was a pretty quiet year on that spending front, same for Projects.

The conferences category made a jump. Usually when we travel, our expenses are covered, but this year was different. We were hosting the Material Conference. There were a lot of expense to start with; booking flights, accommodations, speakers, venues, etc. Much of that got recorded into our budget. We’ll see how this number progresses in the future as we organise more events.

Category 02013 02014 02015 02016 02017
Office Supplies 7.73% 3.39% 1.49% 3.80% 2.44%
Tax 37.29% 37.38% 55.78% 57.63% 52.22%
Salary 29.60% 42.1% 34.84% 33.76% 38.39%
Conferences 16.16% 4.85% 2.34% 5.05%
Projects 3.71% 1.03% 1.69% 0.27%
Education 1.25%
Professional Services 4.24% 2.83% 2.72% 5.56% 1.64%
Contractors 7.85%
Analog.is 0.42%

Web Stats

We haven’t been writing much recently, but it is a goal to improve in 2018. We also write for ourselves, not for click-bait or just to get page views. Some of that is reflected in the types of articles people are reading or finding us via a search. Some of these articles are nearly 10 years old now, but still generate the vast majority of our traffic. We want to continue to write interesting and relevant content, and this list helps remind us that an article isn’t just for a day to drive traffic, they are useful for many years to come.

Article Year Traffic
Future predicting: What might happen in the next hundred years? 02009 31.16%
Titanic: Behind the numbers 02012 4.90%
Getting to your minimum hourly rate 02013 4.55%
What are 2D Barcodes? 02009 3.76%
Accessible Color Swatches 02011 2.34%
Week #293 02016 1.45%
Pie charts and other circular visualizations 02009 1.40%
Professional Oaths 02010 1.37%

Notes for 02018

This will be an interesting year for sure. The current plan is to not actively look for new projects. We have a small core group of customers we are doing work for and continuing to grow those relationships. Then we have 3-4 high projects waiting in the wings. These include Project Hydra, an EU grant for a new style electric bicycle, a few west-coast based projects and some other secret stuff. These all take a long time to mature and some might not even happen, but we’re committed to seeing them through no matter what the outcome.