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  • Post round-up: Finding balance as a freelancer

    Balancing
    Over in The Freelance Lifestylers Group we’re going strong with a 4-week challenge to build better habits in our freelance lives. So far we’ve focused on Health and Money, and during the rest of the month we’ll be working on our Business and Balance habits.
    There are a lot of posts about balance on the blog, so this list should give you a head start on your balance habits:
     And if you haven’t joined us in the habit challenge yet, there’s still time!

  • 7 Ways To Earn Passive Income As A Freelancer

    how to earn passive income as a freelancer

    Earlier this week, I was listening to one of Claire Mitchell’s excellent bitesize The Girls Mean Business podcasts about passive income. I can’t find the exact quote now, but essentially she mentioned at one point how growing her business and boosting income was often as simple as introducing a new e-product or passive income service. It was perfectly timed, as this week in the Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits (Edit: You can now access the four week course for free here), we’re talking about how to give your money situation a little spring clean. One of the three challenges is to investigate how you can use passive income to boost your income streams.

    Not sure what passive income is? Pat Flynn, who runs The Smart Passive Income blog, describes it as:

    Building online businesses that take advantage of systems of automation that allow transactions, cash flow, and growth to happen without requiring a real-time presence.

    These are income streams that sit alongside your regular services, quietly earning you extra money. It’s very, VERY important to understand that you still need to run some of your business as a real-time presence. For example, a freelance blogger could earn extra money from advertising and affiliate links, but would still need to regularly update their content and write new blog posts. A graphic designer may have some free templates sold through Etsy that brings in some income, but they’ll probably need to be taking on ‘live’ graphic design products at the same time.

    Anyway, the list you’re here for – a few ideas of how you could add some extra moola to your freelancing income.

    One other note before we proceed – EUVAT. You need to be careful that you don’t get caught out and end up with a delightful VAT bill. Have a good read of Clare Josa’s guide here.

    E-courses

    E-courses can take a while to set up initially, but they’re a great way to create regular content. By adding a Facebook group for support, you should be able to get around the EUVAT issue too (plus it’s lovely to have a central place for everyone to compare notes). I use Teachable for my e-courses, but you can also use sites like Udemy. The great thing about e-courses is that you can create them using content you’ve already put together.

    E-courses range from being free to earning you £100s. If you add in some 1-2-1 consultations, it could be even higher. 

    E-books

    Again, e-books are a great way to recycle content or come up with something new and interesting to pop into the Kindle store. They don’t have to be long or particularly expensive, plus you get to plop ‘author’ next to your name on your Twitter bio…

    E-books range from as little as 79p to the £9.99 mark in some cases (or perhaps even more) 

    If you like the idea of e-products, there are lots of other things you could produce too – worksheets, cheat sheets, templates, your own photography to buy etc.

    Affiliate links

    There are certain products I always recommend because I love them – and I initially felt a bit icky about using affiliate links when mentioning them. Affiliate links are links where I’ll get a small fee or % back if the clicker decides to buy. But as long as you’re ethical about what you’re using affiliate links for (for example, only using them for product and services you’ve actually used and liked), I think they’re a great way to earn a little extra for something you’d recommend anyway. You can also use plugins embedded into your site, like Skimlinks, which will automatically change any of your product links into an affiliate link.

    If I use an affiliate link, I pop (affil) next to the link so you know what’s happening. If you want to know more about affiliating, I found this course (affil) really interesting, with lots of extra tips around increasing your affiliate rate, using prettier links and how to increase click throughs. It’s from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents, and she makes over $100,000 a MONTH from all sorts of affiliate income, so it’s worth checking out her income reports to see how.

    Affiliate links can earn you anywhere from a few pence to £100s for the big courses.

    Webinars

    Webinars are short presentations, often done through tools like GoToMeeting and Google+ Hangouts, with a Q&A session at the end. These webinars are often used as a sales tool, giving away lots of free information in exchange for a promotion at the end of the webinar about a new e-course or service the webinar host is offering. I’ve seen a lot of people using recorded webinars in bundles, as an incentive to sign up to their newsletter, or as a small product to buy. Is there a topic you could talk about on a webinar, then package up to resell after?

    You can charge a small amount for the initial webinar (say £10-20), but the income can come from adding it to a bundle of other content, or selling it as a mini product for anywhere between £10-99. 

    Sponsored posts

    For bloggers, sponsored posts are a great way to make a quick buck (or pound). I have no problem seeing the odd sponsored post on my favourite blogs, especially when the sponsored post is still entertaining and works well with the rest of their content. Girl Tweets World did a great piece earlier this week on how she earns money as a travel blogger, which is worth a read as she gives actual numbers for how much she often charges for everything from blog trips to Twitter takeovers.

    How much you earn depends a lot on your blog audience, but anything from £100 upwards to £1000 is fairly normal.

    Cashback

    Cashback is where you use a website or tool to click through to a retailer, earning a small amount of cashback every time you buy something. You may have also heard of cashback credit or debit cards, where you’ll earn as you shop. Essentially, you’ll earn for stuff you’d have bought anyway. Penny Golightly has a great guide to this. I use Quidco, on everything from Amazon purchases to hotel rooms. If you sign up with this link, you get a £5 credit.

    Personally I probably earn £50-200 a year from cashback sites, but I know friends who use it when travelling, eating out, making big purchases and more who have earned £100s a year back.

    Advertising

    Are you making the most of your advertising space? There are lots of different ways you could add advertising to things you already offer. Below are some examples

    1. Blog – Google Adwords is the biggest player in this market, but you could sell space in your sidebar direct to advertisers, or use a tool like Passionfruit Ads. Bonjour Blogger has a great guide to blog advertising. 
    2. Podcast – Have you got a podcast? Why not see if there are any brands who could add a quick advert to your audio (Ru Paul does a pretty amazing job of promoting his advertisers in a fun way, as does Gretchin Rubin)
    3. Newsletter – You’ve got two options with your newsletter. Get someone to add an advert to it as you would on your blog, or (my preferred method), add in an affiliate to your newsletter. The affiliate has a more personal, recommended feel and means you could earn a nice extra income from your weekly newsletter.

    Do you earn passive income? What are your favourite methods? I’d love to hear your suggestions below!

  • Five ways to be a better public speaker

    (c) Sunny Gill
    (c) Sunny Gill

    Public speaking is one of the hardest skills to learn as a freelancer. Standing in front of a crowd of people, presenting your thoughts on a topic can be nightmare inducing. As someone who was a shaking, stuttering red-face mess at school when presenting anything to more than two people, I know this fear well. I’m the introvert who felt uncomfortable being the centre of attention at my own wedding.

    Even two years ago, I’d have stayed away from anything that involved the words ‘public’ and ‘speaking’. Embarrass myself publically? No ta.

    But I kinda love it now. I get what people mean when they talk about the buzz you get.

    So, how did I go from bumbling mess to someone who feels more comfortable with public speaking? (not TED talk comfortable, but room full of 100 people comfortable). Here are five steps I took.

    1) Using PowerPoint? Update to Prezi

    Update: I now use Canva for my presentations, both to create them and present them directly through Canva. You can have a nosy at their presentation templates here.

    As tech is something I both enjoy using and find keeps me calm, my first step was to look at what I was using. Mainly my presentation tools. PowerPoint has been doing the same thing for years and it shows. Prezi is far more impressive and a little bit more intuitive (plus if you activate it with your iPhone, people tend to get very excited). Other tools you could try are Haiku Deck and Slideshark.

    2) Make it funny

    One of the best ways to keep the attention of your audience during your presentation is to make it funny. I’m not talking about using an entire stand-up routine, but the occasional funny picture in your presentation or perhaps a funny experience you can share will keep them hooked.

    3) Make it interactive

    Ask the audience questions or for a show of hands throughout your presentation. If you show you’re interested in what they think, they’ll be interested in what YOU think. Also, it keeps everyone awake…

    4) Do it YOUR way

    The danger of watching too many TED talks is that you can feel pressurised to use the same approach. You know the one. Dramatic pauses for effects. Not a single indication of nerves. It’s brilliant, but if that’s not you, then don’t do it! The more natural you are, the more the audience will enjoy it. So if you prefer to use a bunch of props, pace around the stage (I’m a pacer and a hand mover), do it! It’s worth filming yourself beforehand though, so you can pick up on anything you’re doing wrong (such as talking into your boobs or failing to look at the audience).

    One thing EVERY public speaker needs to do though, is plan what they’re going to say. The idea of blagging it may seem appealing, but it rarely works out well.

    5) Practice, practice, practice

    This is the best advice I can offer. I’ve been fortunate to get a year of experience under my belt, working at a business school for young people. A couple of friends who saw me present at Blognix last year and this year mentioned they could tell the difference. Teaching classes of 16-year olds can do that!

    The more practice you can get, the better. Volunteer at local networking events to kick things off. Do training events at companies. It’s all great experience and will help you create your own personal presenting style. If you can’t do any of those, try YouTube. Set up an account (make it private if you want), and get talking about things. Or try podcasting (check out my lovely friends Sam and Lea at The High Tea Cast for more info on podcasting)

    I can’t promise you’ll be rivalling Tony Robbins anytime soon. And you’ll still worry that your legs will give way when you stand up to do your talk. But hopefully, you’ll also start to kind of enjoy public speaking.

    Do you have any tips for being a better public speaker?

  • Five things you need to know before hiring a freelancer

    workspace

    Got loads on your plate and juggling things like a slightly tipsy clown? Thinking about hiring a freelancer to take some of the pressure off? Before you start the process of finding a freelancer (that’s a whole other post), here are five things you need to know before you start.

    Set deadlines

    If you want to have a great working relationship with your freelancer and get effective results, have a firm idea what you want from them first. It’s an easy trap to fall into to think you ‘should’ have a freelancer, without having a firm idea of what you can fill their hired time with.

    Hiring a freelancer often means you’re paying someone by the hour or the day to do a job. So make sure you’ve got a To Do list ready for them – otherwise you’re wasting your own money and their time.

    Pay them on time

    *Puts on stern face* Personally, I think paying purposely late (yes, freelancers know the difference between a ‘lost invoice’ and a lie) is bad manners and, in most cases – inexcusable. Freelancers have to pay bills at the same time as everyone else, and a freelancer paid on time is a happy and productive freelancer. After nearly six years of freelancing, I still fail to understand why some businesses, small businesses in particular, have a 60/90/120 day payment period. If you’re unhappy with their service, tell them in good time and allow them the opportunity to rectify the situation, rather than avoiding them and refusing to pay.

    Basically – if you can pay your employees on time, pay your freelancer on time (Added bonus – if you pay me within a week of getting your invoice, you actually get a discount!)

    Respect their hours

    In the past, I’ve had clients who call me up at 9pm at night or the weekends. My terms of business now detail that my set hours are 8-5, and contact after that (unless previously agreed) will have to wait until working hours. Your freelancer had a life too, and it’s unlikely you’re paying them to work for you every day, so respect that by contacting them within business hours. If you want someone who is available at all times, get an employee. (Or, as my less polite inner voice says, a life)

    Don’t insult freelancers with high expectations and teeny budgets

    Say, for example, you ask for a quote from an experienced freelancer for blog posts. You’ve probably heard about them before and had a recommendation from them because they produce blog posts that excite. They offer a quote of say five posts for £100 (which is a good deal, by the way!). Please don’t go back and ask for 50 posts for £100. It’s beyond cheeky, and borders on insulting.

    Oh, and saying “can you write for free, we’ll give you a byline” when you have a brand new magazine/blog with a tiny readership, isn’t the enticing offer you might think it is. If the freelancer is passionate about the subject, they might be be interested – but don’t make out that you’re doing them a favour.

    If at first you don’t succeed…

    Don’t give up on freelancers! Unfortunately there are a few bad eggs, as there are in every industry, but if you have a bad service from one, please don’t resign yourself to the belief that every freelancer is like that. Ask around for recommendations, check out freelance reviews like PeoplePerHour and check out their LinkedIn profile.

    Working with a freelancer can be a brilliant experience. Promise!

    What tips would you give someone looking to hire a freelancer?

  • How to deal with freelance envy

    freelancenevyPicture the scene: your morning alarm goes off and you roll over to pick up your phone (everyone does that seconds after they wake up, right? RIGHT?). Squinting your eyes and opening your inbox, you find a tastefully-designed newsletter from a freelance friend you did a course with a couple of years ago, who has launched a brand new ecourse. Isn’t that fab? They’ve basically turned into Marie Forleo overnight, and you’re totally chuffed for them. Really. You are.

    Oh, hang on, what’s that uncomfortable feeling in your tummy? Maybe it’s just last night’s Dominos…

    You flick open the Twitter app.  A funky lifestyle blogger you know, who appears to have achieved overnight success with her quirky but totally adorable way of combining food and fashion in one post (let’s call it fooshion), happily tweets about a new collaboration with a brand you’re dying to work with. That feeling in your gut grows. It could be hunger, but you’re pretty sure you’re still full from last night’s Dominos. What kind of human being says no to their Chicken Kickers? (Possibly your blogger friend. They’re all about the vegan diet. A clean diet for you involves not eating that slice of pizza that fell on the floor for 4 seconds after a few beers which were definitely not organic).

    Bad news, freelancer. That feeling in your tummy? It’s envy.

    It’s not that you’re not happy for them or feel they deserve it. You are and you do! But there are times when every freelancer looks at another freelancer, and compares their success to their own experience and success record. And it’s easy to feel like you fall short. Especially if that person started freelancing around the same time as you, or worse *gulp* after you.

    But freelance envy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I quizzed my freelance friends about it, Cathryn Clarke said the following:

    “I see what they’re doing and how they’re living their lives and am jealous because I want that. I want to be making more money, be more confident and being able to mix client work with my own seamlessly. It makes me push harder and focus on what I want to achieve so it’s really good to see other freelancers being successful. I just wish more freelancers would share their successes and tips so that those of us who still feel relatively new to it wouldn’t feel so lost and alone. “

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I think freelance envy exists for a number of reasons.

    1. We perceive others as being perfect, forgetting they edit their life online just as much as we do. Notice how a lot of people don’t actually mention income? Maybe they’re working with amazing brands or travelling the world while blogging, but there’s a good chance they’re having to weigh up whether buying a ticket to that swanky business conference in town is worth living on pasta alone for the next two weeks.
    2. We don’t give them enough credit. The inconvenient truth is, most people get to that point because they worked their arses off.
    3. We underestimate our own situation, or lack confidence in our own skills.
    4. We work on our own, which means it’s harder to see the realities of how others are doing. .We also don’t get that workmate who says ‘That freelancer? PLEASE! She totally got to do that project because her boyfriend works with the boss’, which is totally bitchy but also really comforting.
    5. We don’t know how they’ve become this mega successful person. Where was I when the ‘how to be totally rich and successful and a size 12 on a diet of chocolate alone in three easy steps’ rulebook was given out?
    6. We’re never happy with what we’ve got. Seriously, name a time when you were like ‘I’m 100% happy’ for more than a day. Sober happy.

    But one of the points Cathryn made, is that it makes her ‘push harder and focus on what I want to achieve’. With that in mind, here are three things you can do to turn that envy to your advantage.

    Swap competition for collaboration

    Instead of quietly kicking yourself for not being as awesome as the fortunate freelancer you see (which, fyi, is bullcrap), why not see if there’s anything you can work together on? For example, my blog series A Day In The Life Of A Freelancer came about because I was having a crisis of confidence, and wanted to learn from other freelancers. You could turn that ‘competitor’ into a collaborator, by interviewing them, offering to work with them on a project or even approaching them to be a mentor.

    You might even realise, when speaking to them face to face, that they feel the exact same way you do!

    Repeat the mantra

    Every time you find yourself looking at a friend’s blog or latest newsletter and feel that flutter of envy, I want you to repeat after me – NO ONE IS PERFECT! Sure, they might have landed a mega amazing client, but they probably have a bundle of other problems going on that you don’t know about. Maybe they yearn for more time with their families, dream of a regular paycheck or miss working with small companies and charities.

    Compete….with yourself

    The only person you need to worry about competing with, is yourself. Revisit your goals and objectives. Do you even want the same things as others? How are you doing compared with how you did last year. As long as you’re doing the best you can in the circumstances, you’re succeeding.

    I’d also recommend mindfulness (who doesn’t at the moment, eh?) Every day, make a list of the things you’re grateful for. I love the app My Wonderful Day for this. It’s a good reminder when you flick back, that life is actually pretty good.

    So, how do you deal with freelance envy?

    P.S Emma-Louise sent me these two perfect posters for this post. How perfect are they?

    freelanceenvy2

  • Let’s Pitch Slap Wednesday: Finding new clients

    #PitchSlapWednesday

    I’m not really in the habit of telling little white lies or giving the impression I’m the perfect freelancer. Telling porkies tends to only adds pressure to others (and a whole heap on myself). I like to be honest with you – whether it’s about the state of my accounts or a change in the approach I’m taking. I love freelancing, but it’s not all onesie Wednesdays and tweeting for brands.

    So, here’s my truth this week: I have been a lazy freelancer in 2014…in terms of finding new clients. Work has been happily busy, but I’ve lapsed a little bit in terms of hunting down new clients. When things are going well, it’s easy to let these things slip – and you only realise when something happens to a regular client and you’re in a state of panic about finding more regular income.

    Chatting in the Facebook group for my Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse Alumni, several others felt the same – whether they’re brand new freelancers or experienced. So, in the spirit of adopting an accountable approach where we can share tips and set ourselves goals, I’m renaming today ‘Pitch Slap Wednesday’. Today, I want to make step to hunting down some new clients – and I want you to join me!

    So, here’s what to do. Choose three things from the list below, and put them into action today. There are a mix of tasks that take between a few minutes and a couple of hours, so even if you’re tight for time you should still be able to do something.

    • Update social media bios with your latest info and keywords – 10 minutes
    • Find a local networking event, and book your place/email the organiser – 45 minutes
    • Update PeoplePerHour/Hourlie/website bidding site bios – 45 minutes
    • Look up the hashtag for your local area on Twitter, and have a browse for potential opportunities. Tweet using the hashtag – 15 minutes
    • Pull up Google, and look for the local business parks. Look at the businesses, and consider whether it’s worth dropping a leaflet/pack round to them in the next week with more information on what they do – 60 minutes
    • Check out some of the groups on LinkedIn and Google+ that link up to the service or skill you offer – 30 minutes
    • Check out the services page on your website. Is it doing you justice? Is it SEO friendly? Spend some time auditing it, and some time on Google Keywords working out which terms work best – 60-120 minutes
    • Ask around – you’ll probably be surprised by how many of your friends and family don’t really understand what you do. Explain it in terms of what they’d need, and you’ll probably find one or two will have a lead for you – 60 minutes
    • Check out some online job sites you’ve never used – 90 minutes
    • Get in contact with previous clients, to see if they have any needs. Also, consider offering them a referral incentive if they don’t have anything for you but know someone who does – 30 minutes
    • Consider a special offer – whether it be a 30 minute taster session, discount if they pre-book several months work or a free ebook when they purchase your services. – 30 minutes
    • *NEW* Give LinkedIn Pulse’s new blogging platform a try – a great way to reach out to business contacts – 1 hour
    • *NEW* Create a Slideshare presentation to share publicly (this is on my list today!) – 1 hour
    • *NEW* Check in with your previous clients, to see if they have any needs – 30 minutes

    How will you boost your freelance business today?

  • 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…

  • Five ways to improve your freelance confidence

    freelanceconfidenceRecently, someone asked me about how to boost your confidence when freelancing. I’m not sure this post will entirely address this. I’m a big believer in faking it until you make it. I get why celebs like Lady Gaga and Beyonce have these personas that they put on when they’re in the public eye. In all honesty, most of the freelancers I know have the occasional (or regular) crisis of confidence. Many admit to feeling like a freelance fraud – that someone will rock up and say “Hey, who do you think you are? You can’t run your own freelance business? Hahahahaha. Go home freelancer, you’re drunk” That all said, there are some things you can do to boost your confidence and beat those nasty little voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough.

    Build a network

    When I’m feeling low or unconfident about a decision I need to make, I turn to my network of freelance friends. They’re a supportive and honest bunch, who can advise me or give me a second opinion. As cliche as it sounds, we act as each other’s cheerleaders. Or, y’know, intervention team.

    Remind yourself of your achievements so far

    All those brilliant things you’ve done? Make a note of them, and return to them every time you’re feeling less than confident. Even if it’s as simple as ‘started as a freelancer’ or ‘nailed that scary pitch’. Or ‘didn’t spend my entire work day in last night’s pyjamas’. Penny Golightly suggests having a look at your CV to remind yourself of what you’ve done.

    Ask for recommendations/testimonials on LinkedIn

    I make a habit of sending my clients a LinkedIn recommendation request after completing a contract. This is useful for two reasons – it gives my LinkedIn a power up, so it looks particularly good to potential new clients, and it’s a great thing to visit when you need reminding about your achievements (see previous point)

    Don’t compare yourself to the more experienced

    This is an entirely pointless exercise. In fact, don’t compare yourself to anyone. Everyone works in different ways – and having plenty of clients or big names on your portfolio doesn’t guarantee happiness and success.

    Get Happier

    I’m addicted to the Happier app. It’s an app and social network that asks you to submit three ‘happy moment’s each day. The theory is that sharing happy moments, no matter how small, can contribute to making you happier and healthier. Personally, I think it’s a nice way to remember all the lovely little things that happen each day, which you might otherwise overlook.

    If all else fails….

    I adopt the ‘it won’t kill me’ approach. I recently started a new job where I have to stand up in front of a group of adult students and teach several times a day. This is terrifying. And full of opportunities to embarrass myself (I am a naturally awkward person). But y’know what? It didn’t kill me. No one has ever died of embarrassment. How do you boost your confidence as a freelancer? Joanne Mallon has put together some (arguably far more practical and useful) tips on how to boost your confidence on her blog.