Freelance General

  • Are you introverted or extroverted?

    Ever read something and thought “Wow, that’s exactly how I feel”? That’s pretty much how I’ve felt recently when reading about introverts and extroverts.

    Obviously, these are not new terms to me. But I’ve always looked at them in quite a basic way – extroverts are confident people, introverts are shy people. I grew up being a shy person, but I’m generally quite confident now so does that make me now an extrovert?

    Can you be introverted and confident, or extroverted and shy?

    The interesting thing is, it’s actually not to do with confidence. An extrovert is someone who gains energy from being around others. An introvert is someone who feels drained from being around others for too long. Introverts generally need time away from people to gather their own thoughts. Extroverts seem out company, while introverts need time to themselves. That’s not to say introverts don’t enjoy socialising, but they have a limit. According to Wikipedia, “An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends”

    This is exactly how I feel. I find big social occasions completely draining, even if I’ve enjoyed them. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my friends. They’re brilliant, funny and interesting people and I love spending time with them. But part of me can’t wait to get home at the end of the night. I always thought that I was being anti-social, overly-irratated or anxious. Journeys back from London would leave me feeling emotional, stressed and completely exhausted, for days. But because I’m not particularly shy these days, I assumed I was more of an extrovert.

    I’m sure this is why I love being freelance – I have the time and space to be on my own. In fact, introverts are usually found in more creative roles, while extroverts favour roles like politics, teaching, sales, managing and brokering.

    Introverted AND extroverted?

    You can be a bit of both (Ambiversion), and I’m sure most people are a mixture. For example I’m talkative which is an extrovert trait, while my extroverted fiancé is a man of few words. There’s a quiz here to tell you just how extroverted or introverted you are. The important thing is to stop fighting what kind of person you are – it’ll only make your life harder.

    Annoyingly I can’t find the exact article, but I read somewhere that introverts make up a far smaller percentage of the population, which is why social norms tend to be tailored towards the extroverted population.

    On the upside, apparently introverts make up a higher proportion of ‘gifted’ people 🙂

    Are you introverted or extroverted? Does this ring any bells for any other introverts out there?

  • Poll: How healthy is your freelance lifestyle?

    “When I go freelance, I’ll go to the gym three times a week at off peak times! And I’ll have time to make healthy meals and take long lunch breaks away from my desk, walking in the park….”

    Hands up, who’s said something along those lines to themselves before going freelance (or if they’re considering going freelance)? Most of us go into freelancing with healthy intentions.

    But then..well, some of us like to enjoy those little lie ins we gain from avoiding the morning commute.

    And sometimes we don’t have time to nip to the shop for healthy food when we’re on a deadline, so we end up creating something from the fridge that mainly involves cheese and carbs. Or a vat of chocolate.

    And a lot of the time, we’re a bit rubbish at taking those breaks from our desks.

    Being healthy when you’re freelance is harder than you may think, when you lose the daily structure and movement that you might have in an office job. I don’t think I’m alone with noticing a little (ok, a lot) of freelance fat creeping on. It’s not impossible, but you really need to MAKE the time to be healthy. Especially as being unhealthy can make you less productive.

    With wedding dress shopping coming up, I’ve actually taken desperate measure and got a personal trainer and healthy eating plan. But up until now, my exercise routine has been sporadic at best. My eating routine has been even worse – hello pasta at lunch. Oops, was that packet of Rich Teas full this morning?

    For those that juggle freelancing and a family and STILL manage to fit in fitness, I take my hat off to you.

    So, I’d love to know – is it just me? What’s your freelancing lifestyle like? Healthy? Unhealthy? Yo-yoing? Let me know in the poll below:

    [poll id=”7″]

  • The Weekly Freelancing Challenge: Find your USP

    Last week, I started a new series of posts where I set a weekly freelancing challenge. The first challenge was to set yourself five goals for the end of 2012. How did you get on?

    This week, it’s all about finding your USP. Stick with me people, it’s not just a sales buzzword! Finding your Unique Selling Point is essential when you’re working in a competitive industry. It’s quite easy to promote your work, but how do you make yourself stand out from the rest?

    Your USP could be your location (I concentrate on working in the Home Counties rather than London which is overcrowded when it comes to bloggers and copywriters), your skill set, your contacts or your experiences. You might specialise in a particular sector or work with a specific type of customer. It’s actually much easier to build a brand for your business when you can tell people exactly why you’re worth hiring.

    If you’re struggling, think about the USPs of big brands. What makes Apple stand out? Or Moonpig? Or ASOS.com?

    Have you found your USP? How did you decide on it?

  • The Future World Of Work (Infographic)

    At the moment, I’m reading ReWork, a book by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson all about how our current perception of how a business should work isn’t how it has to work (thanks for the recommendation Kerri Chalk!). The pair explain how people doubted their business would be successful when none of them worked in the same office (or even the same country). They went on to launch a number of popular software packages, including Basecamp, which are aimed at small businesses, freelancers and remote workers. Their ability to be flexible with the rules,or even break them, has been the secret to their success.

    The reason I mention all this, is because I’ve just come across this infographic below that backs up how important it is for businesses to embrace flexible working and remote working. While many businesses have trust issues regarding employees working from home, those who have embraced remote working have noticed a higher level of productivity – and they’re able to attract and retain talented employees much easier. With technology getting better and better, the need to work in an office is becoming less important (which hopefully means you’ll have to go to less pointless meetings – but that’s another blog post entirely).

    This infographic is interactive, so you’ll need to pop over to Visual.ly to view the full content.

    Browse more infographics.

    How do you feel about flexible or remote working? Are you already a remote employer/employee? Let me know what you think about this working direction in the comments!

  • Poll: How long have you been freelancing?

    Last week’s poll was all about the worst bits of freelancing. Overwhelming the biggest bugbear of freelancers is chasing clients and invoices. Surprisingly 27% found working on their own the hardest part (although not all freelancers work from home on their own), and 18% struggled with a less secure income. Another 18% worried about dealing with financial issues – keep an eye on the blog as I’ve got a few guest posts coming up about the latter.

    This week, it’s all about how long you’ve been freelancing. On and off, I’ve been freelancing for just over three years. While it’s not for everyone, it suits me down to the ground. Thanks in part to the world of blogging and social media, and in part thanks to the appalling economy, freelancing is becoming more and more popular – so I suspect most people will be in the same boat as me – three years or less. But there’s a lot to learn from those who have had a long term career from freelancing.

    So, have a vote in the poll below! And if you’re an experienced freelancer, what advice would you give to newer freelancers?

    [poll id=”6″]

  • The Weekly Freelance Challenge

    Welcome back from the weekend (or rather, welcome to the extended weekend – hurrah for Jubilee bank holidays!)

    This week, I wanted to do something a little different. I’d like to set a small challenge each week for those freelancing or working from home, or thinking about doing either of those. I’ll take part in the challenges too, and report back on how I get on.

    This week’s freelancing challenge

    As it’s a short week, I’m going to keep it simple for the first one. We’re six months into the year, so I challenge you to come up with a list of five goals you want to achieve by the end of 2012. They can be a mixture of personal and professional, and as big or small or serious or silly as you like. The important thing is that they’re achievable.

    For me, my five goals for the rest of 2012 are:

    • To increase my income from 2011 by 15%. I’ve got a few different projects which I’m hoping will help me meet this goal, but a business plan is needed!
    • Continue to post regularly on The Freelance Lifestyle.
    • Podcast more. I got the bug last week when doing my first podcast, and I’d love to continue doing them.
    • Adopt a more healthy freelance lifestyle – I’m looking into a new exercise routine and getting back on the meal planning wagon. Now I’m freelancing full-time, it should in theory be easier to fit in some exercise. Challenge coming up for that.
    • Finish planning the majority of my wedding in April next year. It’s been on the back burner a bit because of work but I’m hoping to get it mainly sorted by the end of the year.

    So now it’s over to you! Leave a comment with your top five goals, or write a blog post and let me know! I love to see what other freelancers are hoping to do this year.

    p.s Like a challenge? Want 30 days of them? Check out my 30 day Freelancing Challenge ebook.

  • Five essential freelance and blogging reads this week

    This week’s been an interesting one for news. Facebook have finally got their butts in gear with scheduled posts for pages (although as Hootsuite has offered this for a while along with multiple accounts, I’m not entirely sure they haven’t left it too late). They’ve also added multiple levels of admin permissions, which could be handy if you want to give others the ability to see your stats or admin notifications but don’t want others to post.

    Editorial Calendar planning

    There’s a great post over on Savvy Sexy Social all about editorial calendar planning to make sure you’re posting regularly. Check out Amy’s long list of blog post suggestion too, which is great if you need a little inspiration.

    Google+ goes local

    Great news if you’re a local business. Google has launched Google+ Local, for users to find local businesses easily. Google+ Local takes it’s info from a range of other Google products like Maps, Places and Plus, so it’s even more reason to get your business on those pages and maximise your traffic.

    What should your day rate be?

    Judy alerted me to this great post on freelance day rates and what the right price generally is. It’s not easy to find decent guides for how much you should charge, and this gives a fairly realistic idea.

    Save 2% when you get paid: Don’t end up in the workhouse when you retire

    If you’re freelance, it’s easy to forget about pensions. Especially as you don’t have a boss paying into it. But Rosie from One Man Band Bookkeeping makes the valid point that you should put 2% of your income away to make sure you’re ok for the future.

    What have you been reading this week?

  • My favourite freelancing reads

    There are certain books that always sit on my desk. Some are very work-based, while others are for inspiration (or just for picking what I’m going to do for lunch). Sometimes I just prefer to read an actual book with pages rather than scroll, scroll, scroll (although I do have a rising collection of ebooks – but that’s another blog post)

    Starting from the bottom:

    Blogging for Dummies

    C’mon, we all have a ‘…for Dummies’ book tucked away somewhere don’t we? This is great for checking a few things or brushing up on blogging skills. Also, it makes a great laptop stand…

    BUST DIY Guide to life

    A recent addition, but one I’ve had my eye on for ages. It’s got DIY guides for pretty much everything – from putting up shelves to sorting your finances. As I write for a number of different clients, it’s handy having a general guide to hand if I need some inspiration.

    Domestic Sluttery

    Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of the blog Domestic Sluttery. It’s ‘The home and lifestyle blog for women who have better things to do’, and the book follows the same theme. I tend to dip into this for recipes and general advice (there are some great cheat sheets in the back for size conversions and washing instructions, which is handy for when I write about fashion).

    My Grammar and I (or should that be ‘Me’?) 

    This is my go-to grammar book, and I’ve got a dozen post it notes poking out the top for bits that I regularly come back to. Very readable too, considering the topic.

    Eats, Shoots & Leaves

    I occasionally flick through Eats, Shoots & Leaves for grammar advice too, as it seems to be the industry standard for anyone that writes for a living.

    The Wonderful Weekend Book

    LOVE this book. I tend to dive into it for inspiration when I have a rare day off and want to do something (I have an inability to laze around since going freelance, feels like a waste of time). It’s all about reclaiming your weekends and doing something interesting, rather than spending hours in the supermarket or watching SATC reruns.

    The Thrift Book

    Freelancing is a feast or famine business. So for times when money is a bit tight, I turn to India Knight’s The Thrift Book. India outlines everything from how to make your own cheese to what make up you must splurge on. I’ve folded the corners of half the pages. This is why I’m not allowed to rent from the library anymore.

    Thesaurus

    Well, there’s only so many times you can call a bag gorgeous, cute or pretty before you lose the will to live.

    What books do you always keep on your desk?