I’m Emma Cossey, a long-term freelancer, mum of toddler and all round digital geek, and I’m happy to welcome you to The Freelance Lifestyle.
I launched this blog in 2011, to provide freelancers with down-to-earth support, and practical advice. I wanted it to be a kind, supportive place to get tips and advice on living a great freelance life (without the constant narrative of ‘earn six figures or you’re failing’).
Since then, the community has morphed into that friendly and honest place I dreamt of visiting when I first started out as a freelancer back in 2009. The space to celebrate successes, discuss the challenging elements of freelancing, and to connect with others on the same path. Because working on your own shouldn’t mean being alone!
What’s here for you?
I’ve spent years building up my own freelance business. I’ve been a pro blogger, a social media consultant, a copywriter, a teacher… but my passion is helping people just like you take the next step. So whether you want to pick up tips from the blog, listen in to the podcast, come join the Facebook group or get some more focused 1-2-1 support with my coaching, there’s something here for you.
Find blog posts and podcasts all about freelancing and working from home, including interviews with freelancers about their daily lives, pitching tips, finance facts and lots of free resources to help you live your best freelance life
Looking for 1-2-1 support, accountability and mentoring from someone who GETS freelancing? I'm your coach! I've been freelance for over ten years, and I love supporting other freelancers to achieve their goals.
Just a quick post today, as a reminder that Google Reader is closing down on Monday. So if you’d like to continue following The Freelance Lifestyle, you can subscribe on Bloglovin’. You can also like the Facebook page,follow on Twitter,Google+ andYouTube.
Thanks for reading this dull admin post. Here’s a video of a dog taking a puppy for a walk in a shopping trolley.
Today, I’m launching a little competition for those of you who love stationery and organisation in equal measures. While shopping in Paperchase recently, I came across this desk pad – and realised it was perfect for freelancing. It’s got sections for your Monday to Sunday errands, email and call back notes, to do check list and general notes, plus a separate sticky note pad for notes on the go. You can fill in the planner, then tear the top one off when you’re finished at the end of the week to start again. There’s even a ruler at the bottom for er….well, it’s probably quite good for crafters actually.
I’ve got a similar one in my office, for when I want to have my week all in one place. And now I’ve got one to give away.
I’ve popped a Rafflecopter below with four options on how to enter – like the Freelance Lifestyle on Facebook, follow on Twitter or send a tweet. UK entries only I’m afraid. Competition closes on the 7th July.
In just over a week, I’ll be on my way to Birmingham, to a place called The Custard Factory, to speak about social media, enjoy a picnic and chat to some of the most exciting bloggers in the UK.
Sounds interesting? It’s Blognix!
Blognix is a blogger event organised by Elizabeth Sellers from Rosalilium. A successful blogger in her own right, Elizabeth has gathered together a group of us bloggers to speak about a topic of our choice. Speakers include:
Did you know a lot of freelancers started out doing bits and pieces in their free time, around their full-time jobs, families and other responsibilities? Taking the plunge into full time freelancing can be, well…..terrifying! But free time freelancing is totally doable, and a great way to test the waters.
Read on for my guide on how to get started as a part-time freelancer…
Choosing what to do:
You can do anything! Here are a few of the most popular options:
Virtual assistant – admin generally.
Renting – You can rent out anything, from items you own to your home for filming!
Where to find freelance work:
When you want to find freelance work, but don’t have the time or money to promote yourself or network, there are plenty of tools you can use.
Fiverr – This task marketplace lets you offer a small service for $5. This is a great way to make a small amount of money while building up your portfolio.
People Per Hour – Another bidding marketplace, People Per Hour can be useful for picking up the odd job you can do during the evening or at the weekends. I occasionally pick up writing work through PPH, so it’s worth signing up for.
Task Squad – I wrote recently about Task Squad. If you’re 18-25, you can do ad hoc jobs through Task Squad, ranging from public stunts to event supervision.
Get your friends involved. Do you offer a service like baking, sewing, graphic design or child/pet care? Ask your friends to keep their ears open for any potential opportunities.
Get social. Creating a Facebook page for your work is a great way to promote your product or service, with no costs and little time commitment.
Tax and finances
If you’re hoping to freelance on the side of a full time job, you’ll need to get legal. When it comes to tax and NI, HMRC has a pretty detailed page about this. Essentially, your tax situation at work shouldn’t change, but you’ll need to start putting money aside from all your freelance earnings, to pay your tax bill and NI. I usually try to put 30% of my income away for tax/NI/business stuff (then whatever I have left after paying my bills goes on fun stuff.)
One of the important things when considering free time freelancing, is working out how much time you want to dedicate to it. While it might be tempting to fill your free time with extra work to earn extra money, you’re not doing yourself any favours. Try to keep at least a couple of evenings or a day at the weekend free from work, so you have a chance to recharge. You might also want to check your contract, as some employers prefer that you don’t do the same work for other clients, especially if they’re possible competitors.
This morning, after a couple of technical difficulties, I managed to have a great hangout with the lovely Rosie from One Man Band Accounting. We discussed a topic that I think a lot of you might find interesting – freelance marketplaces. Sites like Elance, People Per Hour and Fiverr, where you can bid on jobs or project against freelancers all over the world.
Want to know what we thought? Hit the play button below to watch our hangout (30 mins)!
Listen in to find out:
Who freelance marketplaces are best suited to
Which sites we rate
What to look out for if you’re a freelancer
What to look out for if you’re hiring.
Do you use freelance marketplaces? What do you think about them? Let me know in the comments below!
Welcome to The Freelance Lifestyle’s A-Z of Freelancing. Each week, I’ll be looking at a new topic linked to freelancing – from Admin to dealing with having Zero clients.
This week’s topic, as I’ve just mentioned, is the dreaded admin.
Admin is one of the inevitable but uninteresting parts of freelancing. For every successful meeting, interesting social media interaction and happy pay day, there’s a pile of paperwork, expenses to file, emails to send and clients to chase.
Somehow, it’s easy to find time for all the fun and interesting stuff – but we’re ‘too busy’ to do the boring admin.
So if you’re struggling to find time for admin, try this four step strategy.
The Admin Attack Strategy
Friday mornings are my serious admin time. I block it out to catch up on expenses, filing, clearing the remaining backlog of emails and catching up with clients. Then I either treat myself to a Friday afternoon off, or a really tasty lunch. Once a week might work for you, or half an hour each morning might work better. Try both, and see what works best for you.
Do it in bite size chunks
Recently, I’ve been using the 30/30 app to schedule in all my work for the day (thanks for the recommendation Michelle Jackson Rowe!) I’ve been scheduling in email time several times a day – then I ignore it the rest of the time. This has really improved my productivity, because I’m focusing on reading and replying rather than juggling it with other work. Breaking big jobs into bite size tasks make them less intimidating, and easier to slot into your daily schedule.
Make an admin sandwich
When I really don’t want to do a task, I make an admin sandwich. Find two tasks you love to do, then slot the admin task in-between. For example, I hate making phone calls, so I slot them in after social media and before blogging.
Really hate dealing with your accounts? Can’t keep on top of your emails? If you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle, and you have the budget, consider hiring a virtual assistant. It might be an added expense, but the time it could free up means you can concentrate on other areas of your business – potentially leading to a higher income.
How do you deal with your admin? What’s your biggest admin bugbear?
A lot of freelancers I know, myself included, have a reputation for being surgically attached to their smartphones. The beauty and curse of being freelance is that you’re never far from a couple of taps from work. I’m not entirely sure how I’d even manage my business without my trusty iPhone, and the bundle of apps on it.
When it comes to apps, I have a LOT on my phone. There are a few in particular that are great for maintaining a great freelance lifestyle.
In no particular order…
Pomodoro – Struggling to concentrate? Pomodoro is an app based on the popular Pomodoro productivity method. Set the timer for 20 minutes, then focus entirely on the task in hand. In fact, I’m using it right now to write this!
Mailbox – The latest mail app on the block, this is an amazing app if you use Gmail. With a couple of swipes, you can delete, archive, file or schedule a reminder for later. A vital tool for hitting Inbox Zero.
Bloglovin’– Now Feedburner has announced its closure, a lot of people have jumped over to BlogLovin’. I’m still mainly using Flipboard, but I really like Bloglovin’ for finding new and interesting blogs.
Podcasts – I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work, and Podcasts is my go-to app for subscribing and listening to them. They’ve recently added a function to create playlists of subscriptions – so I can have my meditation podcasts in one list, comedy in another and lifestyle ones in another.
Dropbox – I really couldn’t function without cloud-storage app Dropbox. It desperately needs tidying up though…
Hootsuite – For tweeting on the go, Hootsuite is a must-have. I look after several different accounts at one time, so Hootsuite is brilliant for this. Plus the scheduling comes in handy.
Wunderlist– I make dozens of To Do lists, which is why I love Wunderlist. Freelancers tend to spin several plates at once, so Wunderlist is great for keeping track of several projects and what needs to be done.
PeoplePerHour– The People Per Hour app works with the site to enable you to bid on jobs or tasks on the site. I often use this to browse late at night, so I can bid before others.
Journey Pro – Freelancing and travelling goes hand in hand. While I prefer to stick close to home, when I do need to go out I like to use Journey Pro, to plan my journey from start to finish. Particularly handy in London, where I always get lost.
GridDiary– This simple, but rather gorgeous-looking, app asks you a few questions at the end of each day. Questions cover who you’ve met, what you’ve achieved, what you’ve done for family and how you felt the day went. It’s basically a mini journal. When life passes so quickly, it’s handy to have an app that lets you take note of the little, important things.
Flipboard – Ah, the app iPads were made for. This is usually one of the first apps I open in the morning, to catch up on my social networks, RSS feeds, Instagram and YouTube. It turns all of these into a magazine style format, so you can flip through it while having your breakfast. You can also now create your own Flipboard magazines of content that others can subscribe to.
PayPal– Some of my clients prefer to use PayPal to pay me, so I often use the app to transfer into my bank account (or leave it there for my next eBay spending mission)
SatNav2/Skobbler – I’ve tried many sat navs on the iPhone and iPad. Google and Apple’s map apps have both failed me since the latest update, but SatNav 2 is consistently brilliant. I also really like Waze, which is user-driven – like a sat nav social network.
Spotify– Every freelancer needs a soundtrack to their day. Spotify lets me stream music quickly and easily – but it’s the collaborative element I love. I have a couple of shared playlists with other freelancers, filled with music to cheer us up, get us knuckling down or chilling out on a Friday afternoon.
Mailchimp – When it comes to newsletter tools, Mailchimp is an easy favourite. While the Mailchimp app doesn’t let me create newsletters (yet…?), I can view reports for opening rates, click rates etc.
Audible– Regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of the audiobook marketplace Audible. Until recently, the app has been a little disappointing, but a recent update has made it easier to listen to audiobooks and track how long you’ve spent listening to them. My only complaint is that you still can’t browse and download audiobooks from the app.
IM+ Pro – Skype and Google Chat are my versions of the office water cooler. I don’t tend to use Skype that often for video, but it’s great for text chat – plus it’s easy to look back on previous conversations.
Lift– An app to help create and stick to habits, whether it be hitting Inbox Zero by the end of the night or necking a green smoothie in the morning.
Calm.com – I’ve got a bunch of meditation podcasts and app on my iPhone, but Calm.com is my current favourite. It’s super simple – choose a background scene and sound, then relax as the app talks you through a meditation session. It’s great if, like me, you’re not really into the spiritual “ommmmmmm” side of things.
Happier – Well, this is a little slice of joy. In my ongoing quest to be more mindful and appreciative, I was recommended this app for sharing daily happy moments. It challenges you to share three happy things each day, with an optional photo. It’s social (what isn’t these days?), so you can view and like other people’s happy moments too. Sometimes, us freelancers are a modest bunch, so it’s nice to have a place to share what things have made us happy.
What apps do you use all the time for freelancing?
It’s been a fairly hectic few months, mainly thanks to planning a wedding (details will be over The High Tea Cast over the next couple of weeks). It was a truly wonderful day, but I’m excited to get back to spending more time on this site.
I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve, some of which will start appearing on the site from next week. Keep an eye out for a whole new interactive format for the Weekly Freelance Challenge, some new features and some new tools to make your freelance life a little easier.
But I want this to be a real community for freelancers – whether you’re thinking of taking the leap or you’re a seasoned freelancer.
So, what would you like to see on the site?
p.s Are you using Bloglovin’ now? Click on the button on the right to follow The Freelance Lifestyle on there too!
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