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  • Work with me

    Are you freelance, or looking to be freelance? I’m here to support you!

    I’m passionate about working with freelancers to help them set and meet their goals, get strategic and grow their business. All with a sprinkling of useful tools and hacks to automate and make your freelance life easier!

    The Freelance Business Lounge

    The Freelance Business Lounge is my monthly membership, containing a bundle of freelancing resources in my Teachable school, a private Facebook group and weekly group coaching calls.

    The resources include:

    • Email templates
    • The 30 Days To Go Freelance course
    • Exclusive interviews
      • Kerri Watt: PR for freelancers
      • Helen Pritchard: LinkedIn for freelancers
      • Laura Agar Wilson: Wellness as a freelancer
      • Holly June Smith: Having a portfolio career
      • Elsewine Rietveld: Video Confidence
      • Cat Plummer: Money and mindset
      • Rebecca Broad: Freelancing as a student
      • Julieanne Walker – Creating a client management system
      • Ruby McGuire: How stories can help you manifest your goals
      • Carmel David: How to Get Started As A VA
      • Helen Higgins: Automating your lead generation with funnels
      • Jo Wheatley and Zoe Hawkins from In Good Company: Getting started as a Coach
      • Daire Paddy: Creating content that sells without the sleaze
      • Catherine Morgan: How to get started with investing
      • Helen Higgins: Funnel Template and Facebook Ads calculator

    • Goal Setting for freelancers course
    • How to boost your freelance business course
    • Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits course
    • How to Pitch for New Clients course
    • Checklists – onboarding, offboarding, client red flags and daily checklists
    • And much, much more (new content added monthly)

    The Freelance Business Lounge is only £25 a month, so this is a great option if you’re new to freelancing or looking for group support.

     

    Coaching and mentoring

    Looking for 1-2-1 support? My coaching and mentoring packages are for you! Sessions take place over Zoom. You can find out more about my coaching packages, and how to book a free 15 minute coaching consultation, by clicking the link above.

    Biz & Brew Group Coaching Club

    Live in or near Berkshire? Every month, I run the Biz and Brew Coaching club, an in-person monthly group coaching session.

    Biz And Brew will be back on the 18th September. It’s based at the chocolate workshop at Chocoholics in Hurst (near Wokingham and Twyford)⠀

    (Yup, that means chocolate and a cuppa during the session.)⠀

    For this second session, we’ll be diving into goal setting, so this is perfect for the ‘new school year’ mindset. It’s only £25 for two hours.⠀

    To book, click here: https://www.paypal.me/emmacossey/25

    The Freelance Lifestyle offers some opportunities for paid/sponsored blog posts, product reviews and partnerships for brands.

    Suitable products and topics may include: office products, stationery, anything related to working from home, remotely and anything that benefits the self-employed and freelance. Anything related to freelance parenting is also worth contacting me about!

    A couple of admin notes:

    • My readership is primarily UK based, and female
    • I always tell my readers if a post is sponsored or if I’ve been sent a product for free

    Download the Freelance Lifestyle Media Kit

     

    Free Support

    I’ve got lots of free support and goodies available for you too!

  • The tools I used to run my virtual summit

    A few weeks ago, I ran my very first freelance virtual summit.

    I. Was. Crapping. It.

    As someone who isn’t naturally organised, organising a summit seemed like a really overwhelming, scary project. But I also wanted to do something exciting for National Freelancers Day, with brilliant speakers who could really share something special with this lovely freelance community. In the end, I had over 120 people sign up!

    Want to see how I did it? Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I did it (and it’s surprisingly simple, thanks to a few online tools)

    Prefer to listen? Catch it on The Freelancer’s Teabreak podcast! You can hear it on iTunes, Spotify, Libsyn, Podbean and Stitcher.

    How to run a virtual summit in ten steps

    1. Choose a date. This was easy, as I knew I was going to hold it on National Freelancers Day. I started organising it a month before!
    2. Reach out to the speakers you want. I had eight, which was perfect for a one-day summit, but if you have more, you can make it a two-day event (or maybe even three!)
    3. Create a Facebook pop up group. There are plenty of platforms you can use for the talks, but FB was the easiest to set up for me, and it was free!
    4. Create a sales page. I used a WordPress page, using the Elementor page editor, and created a sign up page in ConvertKit. I included details of all the speakers, what attendees would get out of it, and added details of what would be available free. Attendees got free access for 24 hours. After that, all the recordings were made available in my Freelance Lifestash (via Teachable), which was available on special offer.
    5. As I use Teachable, I was also able to give all the speakers an affiliate link for the Lifestash, so if they shared it they could make a percentage of the sale.
    6. Promotion! I promoted it to my email list, social media channels and the speakers also shared on all their channels. The day before, I released the schedule for the day, along with the social links for all of the speakers so people could get to know them better.
    7. I also sent reminder emails to those who had signed up, the day before and the day of, with a reminder about the Lifestash offer.
    8. The big day! It all took part in the Facebook group, in Lives. I jumped on initially with a welcome video and coaching task. Then the speakers all took it in turns during their slots. The majority of these Lives were solo, so it was all relatively simple. Several of the speakers also gave away prizes during their sessions, which was a great way to encourage live attendance.
    9. Now the coolest tool of all. I set Repurpose.io (affil link) up to take all the Lives, upload to YouTube as unlisted videos, so I could download them or embed them in Teachable later. One of the videos didn’t upload, but there is a hack if you don’t want to automate it. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to know they were all uploading in the background.
    10. Finally, I closed out the day, reminded everyone of the offer if they wanted forever access, and left it up until midnight the final day. An email went out the following day with the offer. I then closed the group (removing all members).

    That’s it! The majority of it took place in Facebook, making it easy for people to access. There are some things I’d like to try next year. Facebook Ads for one, and a longer lead up time. Podia also looks amazing. And I totally forgot to post about it on my blog! But for a first go, and with relatively low costs, I’m pretty happy with that!

    Have you ever fancied running a summit?

    p.s If you missed it, you can still catch all the recordings here

  • Looking for accounting software? Sage review (sponsored)

    One of the most common questions that pop up in The Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group, is ‘what accounting software should I use?’

    Especially this time of year, when people are keen to start better financial habits so they’re not panicking about their self-assessment again this time next year!

    Thankfully we’re surrounded by options, one being Sage. Accounting software used to be clunky and offline, but the new generation of cloud-based accounting softwares are intuitive, easy to use and make the whole accounting side of freelance life a little easier!

    I gave their Sage Business Cloud Accounting a trial, to help you see if it’s right for you!

    First impressions of Sage Business 

    Cloud Accounting

    ◦ There was a 30 Day free trial, so it was easy to setup and get started straight away.

    ◦ There’s a great startup page on the website which takes you through each of the setup changes. There’s also a quick start bit at the bottom, and a comprehensive help section (including an AI assistant for common questions)

    ◦ There’s also an app, an important factor in choosing accounting software (I really hate dealing with ‘mobile-responsive’ websites that are anything but).

    General overview

    Invoices are easy to set up, especially on the app. I like that there’s a Terms & Conditions section built in, as well as the notes (regular readers will know how much I urge freelancers to issue new clients with T&Cs). There’s also an automated section for adding in products or services, so you can quickly add in a product or service (e.g. ‘one blog post’ or ‘one month of Facebook management’). Finally, you can enable foreign currency transactions, which is really handy if you have overseas clients. All good on the invoicing front.

    Another important factor when choosing accounting software, is to check whether it offers bank connection. It saves SO much time when you can see all the incomings and outgoings of your business within your accounting software, matching up expenses with receipts, and money in with invoices. Connecting your account is really easy, and they have a wide range of banks to choose from.

    On the expenses front, it’s nice and easy to upload and assign expenses to clients, and to the correct category. It took me just a minute to do a couple of them.

    Is Sage for me?

    Sage is definitely the option for those that want to take their business seriously, rather than for side hustles. It’s also ideal for those who are making the move from freelancer to business owner with more team members.

    There are certain elements the average freelancer won’t use. Departments for instance, and for many freelancers VAT is something that isn’t needed (but hey, handy to have for the future). It needs to cover the bases as it’s for 1-25 employees. One handy thing to note is that you can use it for multiple businesses, great for the multipotentialites out there!

    Pricing

    Sage is running a special offer at the moment, where the first three months are £13.20 a month (+VAT), which then goes up to £22 a month (+VAT). As with any accounting services, I would suggest using the 30 day trials to have a really good try out.

    Sage have kindly sponsored this post, and this post contains affiliate links

  • Five ways to save time as a freelancer

    Let’s talk about how to save time as a freelancer. When you’re paid by the hour, using your time efficiently is vital. Whilst it’s a running joke that freelancers work from home in front of the TV, in their pyjamas, my experience is that freelancers are more driven and efficient than some people in traditional office jobs, because they’re judged far more on their output. Coasting has consequences.

    With that all being said, without a little self-discipline, I’m a terrible procrastinator. Sometimes I drift a little, but these tips for how to save time always help me get back on track.

    • Stop being on your phone ALL THE TIME. Honestly. I’m so guilty of this (as in, I’ve been told off for mopping while swiping through Instagram), and have to make a real effort to tuck my phone away for a few hours. If you suspect you might be a mobile overuser, tuck it away for a few hours and see how much you get done. Oh, and depressingly, the world doesn’t fall apart without you being online all the time.
    • Save drafts or templates of emails you regularly send. For me, that’s coaching contracts, email confirmations, answers to common questions and my fee structure. I’ve also got an auto-responder set up with the answers to common questions I get. I use MixMax (affil, but it’s free) too, which lets me save templates, and very quickly insert things like available dates from my calendar, polls and more.
    • Plan your weeks and days. Yes, it’s boring. But when you know exactly what you have to do that day, it’s easier to get focused than thinking ‘crap, I’ve got so much to do but I’m not 100% sure what!’ Choose your top three goals each day and your Frog, you have to eat before anything else.
    • Use an automated calendar tool. If you spend lots of time going back and forward trying to schedule things, an automated scheduling tool can really help. I like and use Calendly. Also, automate as much of everything else as you can. I’ve got a few articles on automation here. Whenever I’ve struggling for time, I look at my processes and decide what’s essential, what needs automating and what needs dumping.
    • Speak to Jo Shock. Jo is a total whizz at all things organisational and time-saving, and a little chat with her this week has got me back on the wagon when it comes to feeling more focused. She does free 30 minute sessions too, have a look here. 

    What are your top tips for how to save time as a freelancer?

  • 5 ways to boost your freelance business on Facebook

    freelance businessA few years ago, like many others, I was thinking about leaving Facebook completely. That now seems crazy, as Facebook is one of the best places to be as a freelancer. With the combination of Facebook groups, Facebook pages, Facebook Live and being able to target your perfect audience, using Facebook to build your freelance business is a no brainier.

    Let’s look at some of the new ways to boost your freelance business through Facebook.

    Facebook pages

    Facebook Pages has added lots of lovely new stuff recently, including a header image that doesn’t get overlapped with the logo (at last), and a section for including your products and services. Now is a good time to revisit your page and check all the details. Set up an automated response if you regularly get messages through your page. Edit your button to go to your mailing, list, services page or to a video you’ve recorded. You can even link it up to book an appointment. Did you know you can also link up your Instagram profile now? This means that if you boost a post or create an ad through your page, it will also promote it on Instagram within that price.

    Facebook Canvas

    Facebook recently introduced a new way to create a Facebook ad that works as a mini website. Facebook Canvas lets you create a mini stream of content, including videos and images. It loads up to 10x faster than a web page on mobile, so it’s a great way to create a landing page for your services that convert better. You can find it in the publishing tools section of your page, and create it with several sections. This is ideal for launching a course, sharing the highlights of what you offer or a preview of the items you sell. If you want to see some clever brand examples, peek here.

    Facebook Live

    Live streaming continues to be a hot trend in 2016, and from a time-poor freelancer point of view it’s the perfect way to create quick and easy content. People respond well to video, because they get to know you as a freelancer. Facebook will be adding two people Live sessions and waiting rooms soon, I can’t wait to try out live interviews in the group! If you haven’t tried it yet, I’m challenging you to do one video this week on a topic you love. You can then download it afterwards and share it to your YouTube channel – instant content.

    Facebook Profile

    This isn’t anything new, but it’s something I see often. Make sure your profile lists your business, and ideally links to your page. So often, I’ll click on someone’s profile and their occupation will just be listed as ‘freelance’ or ‘self-employed’. That’s a prime opportunity wasted!

    Facebook Groups

    I’m sure you’ve seen a hundred posts in your Facebook feed now about how groups are the key to building a six figure business (SNORE, can we drop the obsession with six figure launches please, especially when they don’t mention the thousands they’ve spent on ads….). But communities are great for building your business – and not just for finding clients. I get so much inspiration from my group, and I know it helps with accountability, finding solutions to tricky client issues and building lots of relationships with other freelancers.

    (Are you a part of the Freelance Lifestylers community? Jump on the mailing list and you’ll get the link!)

    Are you using Facebook to its full potential to boost your freelance business?

  • My freelance favourites for growing my business in 2015

    grow my freelance businessEvery few months or so, I like to share which tools, courses and books I rate as a freelancer. The ones that help me grow my freelance business. Below are a few of my current favourites. A few of them are affiliate links, which I’ve marked. I only recommend things that I have used and loved myself.

    Tools I use to grow my freelance business

    Freeagent for my accounting and invoicing (affil link). I’ve been using Freeagent for over a year now. I love that I can quickly and easily import my bank activity, send invoices in minutes (or automate them), input my expenses straight from my iPhone and even submit your Self-Assessment to HMRC.

    Opinion for recording and editing podcasts (read my guide for how to record, edit, upload and blog about your podcast in minutes from your iPhone here)

    Buffer for social media scheduling. I’ve tried so many of the social media management tools out there, and while I still use Hootsuite’s basic (free) package for monitoring my accounts, I love Buffer for scheduling up large amounts of content in one go then analysis what does best. You can also now schedule to Pinterest, something very few other services offer.

    Flipboard, Feedly and Bloglovin’. When it comes to keeping up with my favourite blogs, social networks and RSS feeds, these three are my favourites. They’re mobile-friendly, making them great for using with Buffer to schedule up content when you can’t get to your laptop.

    Get It Done. I adore this app for creating long-term, short-term and daily goals, as well as reflecting on my day.

    Evernote. I use Evernote every day to save documents, draft blog posts, record audio, scan any important documents and share content with team collaborators. The best advice anyone gave me about Evernote is that you have to go ‘all in’.

    IFTTT. Ever since becoming a mum, I’ve been relying on IFTTT more and more to get more done through automating certain processes. IFTTT does this brilliantly. Whether it be saving emails with ‘receipt’ in the subject to a spreadsheet for me to save for my expenses or saving my favourites tweets to Pocket.

    Courses I love

    Kerri Walker’s DIY PR club (affil link). I’ve known Kerri for a while now, and she has been a huge inspiration to me when it comes to running a business with a baby. Kerri is also a fantastic source of information and ideas for getting your business out there and doing your own PR. Her DIY PR club is perfect for anyone who wants to know how to grow awareness of their business.

    Denise Duffield Thomas bootcamp (affil link). Denise Duffield Thomas’s bootcamp is one of the most valuable money bootcamps I’ve ever taken. She tackles the kind of money blocks business women often face – whether it be a lack of confidence in their pricing, the belief that they’re not good enough to actually sell their product/service or that it’s greedy to want more. If you feel like there’s a mental block holding you back from working out how to grow your business further, or you’ve ever wobbled about charging someone for a service or product you offer, Denise’s course is a must-have. She’s got a bundle of freebies on her site too.

    Psst! Have you checked out The Freelance Lifestyle School of courses? It’s on the excellent Teachable platform, which you can find out more about here. 

    Books

    Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. If you want to read more about the psychology of habits, Gretchin Rubin’s book (and podcast) is a must. This is probably one of the key things I’ve read and implemented which has helped grow my freelance business.

    Jump Start Your Money Confidence: Personal finance confidence in 30 days for the overwhelmed and anyone who thinks they’re useless with money. Penny Golightly was one of the first few people I followed on Twitter back in 2009. Her blog posts, books and courses on money are realistic and practical. Her Jump Start Your Money Confidence book is the latest in her series and will make a significant difference to your money outlook.

    The Jump Start Journal: One small action every day to improve your personal finances and quality of life. Another book by Penny, perfect for kicking off 2016 with.

    ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever. If you’re looking for a book that challenges the traditional ideas of how offices, businesses and the modern working world should run, this is the book for you.
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    Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. If you suspect you might be introverted, this book really is an essential read. It made me feel like I could have control and power as an introvert – and that’s a very empowering thing indeed.

    Those are my 2015 favourites to grow my freelance business. What’s yours?

  • 5 ways to use tech to stay sane

    Jo-GiffordHappy Monday everyone. We’re kicking off this week with a guest post about how tech can help you stick to those January resolutions, from Jo Gifford, digital media genius and lovely tweeter.

    Have your New Year’s resolutions already faded into the ether? Is your willpower for that diet, marathon training plan, novel writing goal or general world domination starting to dwindle?

    Go easy on yourself. Let tech do the legwork for you to help your productivity, information overload, focus and, in general, sanity. Reduce the noise, step away from the screen, and re-discover your goals with some free time to actually do them.

    Ready?

    1. Automate daily habits and tasks

    Taking the monotony out of daily repetitive tasks frees up both your time and inclination to do something else.

    • For daily digests of RSS feeds, newsletters or hot topics to keep abreast of, set up filters using IFTTT to aggregate them all somewhere that works for you, be it Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox or wherever else tickles your fancy. You can browse and comment, share or act on anything in your own time in a more organised way.

    • For habits and daily activities, Routines is a lovely little app with friendly, easy to set reminders to tick off and feel a sense of direction and accomplishment. Set the reminders to vary how strict the timeframe of the action is and how aggressively you wish to be reminded, and keep on track with getting things done.

    2. Reduce inbox overwhelm

    Inbox overwhelm is the antithesis of sanity and productivity. By setting up some smart tech systems and habits you can step away from the inbox and break the reliance on instant response requirements and general “noise”.

    • Scoop is an excellent add on for Gmail that literally scoops up promotional emails and smartly presents them to you in one daily digest, not unlike an inbox VA.

    • Sanebox is another excellent option which allows emails to be diverted from your inbox and re-presented to you when you need to see them again, dictated by you with a simple click to file the email. Lovely.

    • Use IFTTT to collate reading material or emails you need to respond to or read later by storing them in relevant files which dump them into corresponding Evernote notebooks or a Google Docs location.

    • Canned responses by Gmail in combination with Sanebox and IFTTT filters allows set responses to be sent out to emails with certain criteria, filed, ordered and re-presented to you when you need.

    • Awayfind lets you step away from the inbox safe in the knowledge that if the urgent information you need to react to comes in, you can set filters for a text message instant alert.

    How does that inbox seem now you are in charge?

    3. Get smart with social

    Setting up smart social media sharing workflows is another sanity saving trick.

    • Buffer is an excellent resource for sharing content in one dedicated social media portion of time, with the updates flowing throughout the day to avoid an obvious dump of information on your feed.

    • Collating tweets or updates from users relevant to your niche that you need to follow can be easily set up in IFTTT straight to a spreadsheet. Simply read, paste and click to schedule relevant content for your audience throughout the day while you are free to pursue those lifelong dreams…or, indeed, get on with some work.

    • Set up workflows to collate and file tweets you favourite and instagram pics you like to store information and resources for an appropriate time so that social interaction time doesn’t lead you on a bottomless pit of web browsing.

    See? Social doesn’t have to be a time vacuum.

    4. Go paperless

    Living without a constant pile of paperwork and general “Stuff” is a breath of fresh air. Use Evernote to photograph sketches, letters, business cards, Post It Notes, kids artwork, invitations, and any other ephemera which clutters up your desk.

    Free yourself from mountains of letters and find your way around information so much easier.

     

    5. Talk to yourself

    What if you could be productive even in the outside world, away from the screen? Taking time out to enjoy fresh air or a change of scenery doesn’t mean ideas can’t be captured on the go; dictate memos, blog posts and emails into Evernote to transcribe later, or use Dragon Dictation to record your thoughts and ideas to be dealt with when you plug back in – whenever you choose that to be.

    Wishing you a productive, sane and tech powered 2014.

    Jo Gifford

    Jo Gifford is a designer, writer, blogger, illustrator & creativity addict; she teaches creative ideas for online content creators, business owners & self employed mums via her Access All Areas programme and one to one sessions.

    Find her blogging over on Dexterous Diva and grab yourself a place on her free webinar The Smart Bloggers Guide to social scheduling

     

  • Five freelance-friendly IFTTT recipes

    iftttlogos

    Have you tried out IFTTT yet? It stands for If This Than That, and is a way to create triggers (or recipes as they call them) so that when you do something on one site, it shares/saves it to another. It’s a nice and simple way to automate your life. You can create your own recipes, or browse others and implement them for your own accounts with one click.

    I use a bunch of IFTTT recipes to make my life easier. Here are just a few of my favourites….

    I’d love to hear about your favourite IFTTT recipes! Let me know them in the comments below…