Freelance General

  • Poll: What are the worst bits of freelancing?

    Last week, I ran a poll asking what your favourite bits of freelancing are. The two winning reasons were “Working on projects I’m passionate about” and “Working hours that suit me – whether they’re 9-5 or 5-1”, followed by  “Working from home” and “Trying lots of new and different projects and working with different people”. So it seems that working hours and project passion are the two reasons people become, and stay, freelance.

    This week, to balance things out and show that it’s not all rosy, we’re going to look at the things in freelancing that irk us. It’s not all waking up when you want, taking long lunches and afternoon naps (in fact, if we did that every day we’d never get anything done!). Sometimes it can get lonely, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate and sometimes (usually around January when we have to pay our tax bills), it can get very, very stressful.

    So, fess up: What do you find tricky about freelancing?

    [poll id=”5″]

  • Not another stuffy LinkedIn group…Homeworkers UK: Freelancers

    Linked In groups are a bit…well, stuffy really aren’t they? Full of cocky hardcore sales types promoting their businesses and trying to persuade you to buy their product or service right now. Not all groups obviously, but a lot of the ones I’ve tried have been filled with those types.

    (Y’know, the type of people you avoid in real life networking events because they have a tendency to ram their business card down your throat? And the types that call Twitter ‘Twatter’ and laugh heartily at their ‘original’ joke.)

    This is pretty much why I’m awful at spending time on the groups networking (even if it’s on my list of things I Should Be Doing).

    Anyway, not to get all ‘my group is better than your group’, but the Homeworkers UK group is a lovely group full of friendly people who are quite happy to just chat. No sales script here. For homeworkers, it’s like Twitter but without the character limit. And if you work from home, it’s a pretty great place for sharing problems and ideas and getting feedback. So far, we’ve chatted about our favourite bits about working from home, how to juggle freelancing and family and why we chose to go freelancing.

    Off the back of the success of this group, a few sub groups have been formed – and I’ll be moderating the ‘Freelancers’ subgroup. So, if you want to go somewhere other than Twitter to chat about freelancing and the joys and perils of working for yourself, come join!

    Do you get involved with LinkedIn? Or only log in when someone has requested to be a contact?

  • Issuu: How to publish your own magazine

    Ever fancied being the next Anna Wintour? Launch your very own magazine? Or just want to embed documents on your blog in an attractive way? That shouldn’t be an Issuu

    Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to launch your own online magazine these days (well, as easy as writing an entire magazine can be…) Issuu is an interesting site that offers a publishing and embedding service for wannabe magazine editors. It’s as simple as creating an account, uploading your magazine doc (Word, Excel or PDF) and hitting publish!

    You can then leave it in their library for readers to read online (through their sleek flippable technology that lets you read it in a similar way to how you would on an iPad), or grab the embed code to add into your blog or website.

    You don’t just have to use it for magazines. Embed your ebooks, documents and photos in an attractive way on your site!

    As it’s public, it’s also a great opportunity to get your content out there – and you can check out the stats to see how many people have read it.

    From the reader side of things, it’s a great way to find and read new content and magazines using the online library. You can also subscribe and be notified of new issues. I’ve found some amazing cooking magazines and lifestyle magazines which are too specialist for the news agents. You can download them to your iPad too – hello lunchtime reading.

    Here’s a little video to show you how it works.

    The only thing I wish they did now was an iPad app…

    Tempted to launch your own magazine?

  • Five freelance articles to read this week

    Pinterest CV

    Looking for some reading material for the weekend? Here are five posts that might be of interest:

    Making the Leap From Full-Time to Freelance – Freelance Switch

    I love reading about how people get into freelancing, so this post looking at the experiences of a photographer and an editor  is worth a nosy if you’re the same. A big lesson from these case studies is that you can’t just jump into freelancing without building some form of base first – whether it be a portfolio of experience or committing to a client or two first.

    110 ideas to get more freelance work and generate new client leads – Freelance Switch

    Does exactly what it says on the tin. A lot of it is common sense with some great suggestions for new freelancers, but also a few more unusual ideas for those who are more experienced. Especially like the sections on ‘Be an Industry Expert’ and the ‘Industry Specific Ideas’.

    Job Seeker turns Pinterest board into CV – Simply Zesty

    One for freelancers and job seekers – and an interesting take on how Pinterest can be used in new and creative ways. The image above shows how Jeanne has laid her boards out to showcase her skills and experience. Smart!

    Rantbot : Freelancers end long payment periods now! – Freelance Advisor

    Great post by Rantbot about long payment periods. This is a big bugbear for me, as I spend quite a bit of time chasing payments. I never commit to anything longer than a 30 day payment period, but 60-90 day payment periods are common – especially for magazines or newspapers (understandable for some where they’re working a few issues ahead). I do find it an odd practice in general though – why is it ok to delay payments to freelancers but not employees?

    How do you feel about long payment periods?

    Death by Desk Job: How to Fight It [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Sitting behind a desk all day isn’t the greatest thing for your health. Print out this infographic and stick it on your wall to remind you to take regular breaks and do these desk exercises.

    Get fit at your desk

     What links have grabbed your interest this week?

  • Getting to know your local community: Gossip Girls

    Just a quick post today to let you know about a project I got involved in recently (well, last night to be precise). Across the UK are a string of Facebook groups called ‘Gossip Girls’ groups, which bring together the women in each area to discuss everything from builder recommendations to how to deal with an issue within their community. I’ve been a member of the Wokingham Gossip Girls for a while, which is run by Rachel Bradley. Rachel has helped several other groups start up in the area, and has just finished kindly helping me launch the Bracknell Gossip Girls (feel free to join if you live in the local area).

    The benefit of groups like this for a freelancer, and I think for a lot of mums too, is that they have a really supportive, friendly community feeling – something that a lot of areas are sadly lacking. If you’re freelance, it’s nice to know you can pop in there and either search the discussion or post “I am in desperate need of rentable office space/a plumber/vast quantities of wine” and receive recommendations from your local fairy godmothers.

    Think of it as a lady-filled Twitter especially for your area.

    The other benefit of the Gossip Girls group, is that you can promote your own business on the 1st of each month (and ONLY the 1st of each month to avoid spam). On the last day of the month, you can also promote any sales you might be having.

    So to sum up, it’s a great way to get to know others in the area, get recommendations, keep up with local news AND promote your own services.

    If you want to start up your own group in your local area, drop me an email and I’ll point you in the right direction. It takes literally minutes to set up, although you will have to admin it.

    Are you part of a Gossip Girl group near you?

  • Poll: Are you an early riser, a night owl or a nine-to-fiver?

    What are your working hours like?

    Do you love getting up early to attack your work before your inbox fills up? Or perhaps you find you’re most productive late at night?

    Everyone has different working patterns. In fact, this is one of the motivations behind a lot of people’s decisions to go freelance – to have more flexibility with time. Particularly if you have a family to work around.

    Personally, I’m an early riser (somewhat helped by my fiancé setting his alarm for 5.30am for work). I like getting a head start on the day, and I have the most energy first thing. But I know plenty of friends get into their writing flow at 11pm.

    So, this week’s poll is all about when you work. Let me know in the poll below, and feel free to expand on your thoughts in the comments!

    [poll id=”3″]

     

  • Five bad health habits of freelancers

    1) Snacking/bad diet

    A lot of freelancers I know, myself included, have put some weight (freelance fat) on since starting to work from home . You’re right near the kitchen, it’s tempting to comfort eat when things get tough and lunch portions can gradually increase with access to an oven.

    Freelance Health Tip: Meal plan, so you know what you’re cooking for the week (or download the Freelance Planner I created last week to make a note of what you’re going to eat that day). I’m also a big fan of Weight Watchers if you want to lose some weight (you can see my weight loss updates on my other blog).

    The other problem with weight as a freelancer is…

    2) Not exercising

    You know that annoying commute to work you had to do before freelancing? And all that running up and down stairs and popping out for lunch? That was all a little bit of exercise that you’re not getting now. In theory, it should be easier to fit in exercise – you could pop to the gym mid-morning or mid-afternoon when things are quieter. But when you’re freelancing time can run away with you a bit, and you don’t have the structure of a 9-5er.

    Freelance Health Tip: Try booking fitness classes in and paying ahead, so you HAVE to go.

    3) Not taking enough breaks

    This isn’t just a problem for freelancers. All office workers who work at a computer should take a break away from their screen each hour. But how many of us actually do that? And how many bosses would be realistically happy with you leaving your desk every hour (even though it’s a health and safety requirement)?

    I know a lot of freelancers take their lunch in front of their computer and rarely take breaks.

    Freelance Health Tip: Set a timer to remind you to take breaks every hour. Alternatively, download Fitbolt which will give you reminders every 20 minutes to take a break from your screen and adjust your posture/doing a 30 second exercise/eat healthy. Make sure you take your lunch away from your desk.

    4) Not sitting at a desk

    Where do you work? At a desk? On the sofa? I’ve been seduced by the comfort of the sofa recently – and surprise surprise, my back has been hurting. Sitting at a desk means you’re more likely to have good posture, which will help your back, ease headaches from hunched shoulders and stressed necks and stop you from being too close to your screen.

    Freelance Health Tip: Got a desk? Use it. Not only will it improve your posture, but it’ll help you stick to better work hours too. I’m going to try and do that all this week.

    5) Not discussing work with others

    When you’re freelance, it’s easy to store up all your worries and not have somewhere vent, which can be emotionally unhealthy. Twitter now gives us somewhere to discuss things (to a limit) and there are plenty of forums on Facebook and LinkedIn for chatting to other freelancers.

    Freelance Health Tip: Get to know fellow freelancers, who you can chat to about any worries you might have. And if you have a partner, don’t be afraid to talk to them about work. That exercise malarky can also be good for working out stress.

    Have you discovered any unhealthy habits since going freelance?

  • Branding: It’s not just for the big guys

    How do you feel about branding? Just something the big guys do, right? With their fancy logos, huge budgets and whole teams of marketing types?

    Well no, not really. I’ve been reading up on this quite a bit recently, and had a few conversations with other freelancers about it. See, we’re not very good at creating a personal brand for our small businesses here in the UK. Especially if we’re freelancers. While our contemporaries in America are more than happy to promote themselves as a brand (see fabulous women like Marie Forleo and Amy from SexySavvySmart), we’re all about the self-depreciating remarks. I absolutely include myself in this group. I’m guilty of saying “Oh, I write about bags and gadgets for a living” when asked what I do for a living. It’s true, but not a particularly good representation of the big picture.

    How many times have people introduced themselves to you with phrases like:

    “Hi, I’m Julie and I’m a solicitor. I know, it’s as boring as it sounds! *Nervous laugh*”

    “I’m an accountant. Well, it pays the bills”

    Not exactly inspiring, is it?

    We’re all a little bit shy of promoting ourselves as a brand. But you wouldn’t find a big company like Apple saying” Oh, we just make these phones and laptops.” They shout their achievements from the rooftops and tell everyone how great their products are.

    I’m not saying we should all go that far. If someone came up to me at a networking event and said “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m awesome. Really awesome. I’m one of the best IT recruiters you’ve ever met. Bask in my brilliance”, I’d think they were a bit of a prat. But if someone said “Hi, I’m Bob, I love my job helping talented people find great jobs in the IT industry”, I’d be interested to hear more – and more likely to mention their name to others.

    If you think of yourself as a product or service, rather than just a person, you should find it easier to promote yourself as such. It’s something I’m certainly trying to do more (even if I have to fight the urge to throw in a self-depreciating joke or two).

    Social Media is one of the biggest forces behind personal branding now. Companies are no longer faceless masses, and people are getting to know the people behind the ideas. Therefore one of the best ways to create a personal brand now is by blogging, tweeting, YouTubing and creating a Facebook page for your company. By doing this, you create a ‘voice’ which contributes to your brand. Oddly enough, especially on Twitter, it’s far easier and more acceptable to promote your freelancing or small business.

    Want to know more about Personal Branding? Check out Dan Schawbel’s website Personal Branding Blog.

    How easy do you find it to confidently promote your business and your brand? Or are you, like me, guilty of a few too many self-depreciating jokes?