Freelance Business

  • The A-Z of Freelancing: Bad Clients (and a little favour….)

    AZoffreelancing

    This week’s A-Z of freelancing is ‘bad clients’, voted for by the fans over on The Freelance Lifestyle Facebook page.

    I can see why they want it covered. Dealing with bad clients is tricky, time-consuming and frustrating. It can take freelancing from fun to a big fat fail.

    I’ve discussed before that bad clients come in lots of different disguises, in my post Five difficult clients and how to deal with them. You’ve got late payers, the goal post changers, the vague ones, the ones that expect you to be on call 24/7 and the manipulative ones.

    In that post, I’ve outlined how to deal with bad clients. But how do you spot them and avoid them in the first place?

    It’s not always easy. But there are some things you can do.

    • Do your research. Have a search of their business online, on Twitter and Facebook. It’s best to know the full picture before you go forward.
    • Offer a consultation session. This is a great way to get to know them and their business without a commitment. 
    • Go with your gut. If your gut isn’t sure, either don’t go for it (or make sure you charge enough to make it worth it!)
    • Send your Terms of Business, and don’t work with them until they’ve agreed to them (on paper/email). Include your hours, the maximum use of free revisions if applicable, where your work can be used and payment terms.
    • Ask for an initial payment, if it’s a big project. This will weed out the flighty ones, and often the late payers too.
    • Be firm and confident. Potential clients that constantly request or expect a discount don’t respect your work – and are therefore likely to be tricky further down the line.

    Chances are, you’ll pick up the odd bad client here and there. To be completely blunt, a well-paid project can often blind us to downsides of a particular client. And even great clients can occasionally become bad clients. The key is how you deal with them.

    How do you spot bad clients?

    The little favour

    I have a little favour to ask of you, dear readers.

    Remember a few weeks ago when I told you about Task Squad, a project that helps young people get paid temporary work? Helping young people find work is something I’m really passionate about, and I know the team at Vinspired are just as passionate about it.

    As a disclosure, my friends Sam and Lea from The High Tea Cast are involved with this (in fact, Task Squad was an idea pitched by Sam to her bosses) 

    Anyway, the favour. Task Squad is up for the Google Global Impact Award. There are just 10 UK organisations up for this award. This is a huge deal for them, and could lead to a £500k award that could help 270,000 young people get access to paid work over the next 3 years. So I’m asking for your votes, which takes just a second to do. You don’t need to give any info, just click the ‘vote’ button.

    Want to know a little more? Jump on the Twitter Q&A on 28 May from 1-2pm.

  • The Freelance Lifestyle Co-Working Venue Map – I need you!

    I’ve been moaning about the lack of decent co-working spaces in Berkshire for a while now. I live in Bracknell, near Reading, but the nearest permanent co-working space to me is probably in London. We have temporary co-working events, Jelly events. And I recently signed up to the Club b Business lounge at the Bracknell Hub, a brand new office space for entrepreneurs. I’m excited to see what happens with Club b, but I still think there’s room for other co-working spaces in the Berkshire area.

    I wanted to find out what else is out there. Turns out, some of the big cities have pretty amazing co-working spaces…

    Sheffield Co-Working

    @Pixlz on Twitter suggested I have a look at Electric Works. This is a co-working space with a helter skelter.

    A HELTER SKELTER PEOPLE!

    Electric Works slide

     

    They’ve also got some pretty amazing facilities for freelancers too. Check out the Electric Works website for more details.

    Leeds Co-Working

    Next up, @Tiger_tea sent me in the direction of Duke Studios in Leeds. This is one of those co-working spaces that understands that facilities are as important as inspiring surroundings. It has cool little touches like indoor picnic benches, cardboard studios and art from the residents of Duke Studios.

    Duke Studios

    Liverpool Co-Working

    The Leaf Tea Shop gave me a shout, and caught my interest with their website introduction “Over the years we’ve worked hard to deliver our ethos, which is to provide a space that can accommodate creativity and good times.” I’ve had a little nosy at their events too – they’ve got a lot to offer for freelancers and bloggers.

    Brighton Co-Working

    Several people in the Brighton area raved about Super Super HQ. I’m not surprised – it’s got that quirky, cool look that works perfectly in one of the UK’s hippest cities. They list their perks as biscuits, tea, being close to the sea and free entry to monthly S+S Sunday night film club for you and your family. More co-working venues like this in the UK please.

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    London, Bristol and Manchester Co-Working

    If you tend to travel quite a bit, the B-Hive co-working spaces are worth a look. For £25 a month, you have access to the B-Hive locations in London, Bristol and Manchester, which includes refreshments, free wi-fi and discounts on various other business service. They’re aimed at women – and the beautiful surroundings reflect this.

    screenshot377

    I need YOU!

    So, that’s just a few of them. There are plenty of other co-working spaces though. I’ve started to create a Google map pinpointing all the co-working spaces in the UK, so you can find your nearest one with just a few clicks.

    The Freelance Lifestyle Co-Working Venue Map


    View Freelance-Friendly places in a larger map

    Want to add your favourite co-working space? Just fill in the form below, and I’ll add it!

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    Where are your favourite co-working spaces?

  • Freelance Education: How to create and view learning courses

    One of the things I discovered about freelancing, is that it’s given me a constant thirst for knowledge (something that I sadly missed at school when education was, y’know…free).  When you run your own business, you realise that the continued success of your work relies on you and your skills/knowledge, so learning becomes as essential as making sales and networking.

    So the idea of mylearningworx appeals. It’s a hub where users can buy, sell and create learning online. If you’re a fan of using YouTube to learn, this should be right up your street. The site is packed full of professionally developed elearning courses, but you can also create your own courses. If you go down the create route, you can give it away for free, or sell it. Handy if you want a little extra revenue stream. Currently, there’s very little in the lifestyle/craft section, so plenty of opportunities there for my more crafty freelance friends.

    It’s currently in beta at the moment, so if you’ve got a course in mind you might want to jump on board now. I’ve been looking to do more products in 2013, so this really takes a lot of the work out of it for me. It’s the first of its kind in the UK, and hopefully its success in the USA will be replicated over here.

    What would you like to create a course in?

     

  • Freelance book of the month: Be A Free Range Human

    Be A Free Range Human bookDespite the fact that I spend most of my time reading and writing online content, I still end up splurging on real books, audiobooks and ebooks all about freelancing, entrepreneurship and lifestyle. A lot of my favourite freelancers I know make a real effort to constantly update their knowledge with content online and offline. Therefore, I thought it might be interesting to start a series of posts on great books to read as a freelancer.

    Be A Free Range Human

    First up is the first book by Marianne Cantwell, who runs the community Free Range Humans. According to Marianne, Free Range Humans “escape the corporate cage, get paid to do what they love and live life on their terms.” Definitely a mission statement I can get on board with. I’ve been a fan of Free Range Humans since I read her article on ‘How To Create Your Ideal Career When No One Job Ticks the Boxes‘, which rang so many bells for me. Why should we settle for doing just one thing, when most of us have an assortment of passions? Most freelancers I know juggle a number of things, ranging from graphic design and social media to blogging and life coaching.

    What’s it about?

    Free Range Humans is a book all about creating the career you want, while ignoring the traditional rules of how you should go about it. If you’re a fan of Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, this will probably tick some boxes for you too. It’s essentially about doing something you love, earning a decent amount and still having time to enjoy life. Considering how much time you spend working in life, isn’t it worthwhile working out how you can do something you actually enjoy? As someone who has never particularly fitted in well to the corporate mould and the traditional approach to life, I rather like the idea of being a Free Range Human.

    The Freelance Lifestyle verdict

    So far, I’ve only read the first free chapter, but it’s inspiring enough for me to make it my book of the month already (check out beafreerangehuman.com if you want to read the free chapter too). If you feel like you need a kick up the butt for 2013, this might be worth investing in.

    You might like Be A Free Range Human if you like….

    Tim FerrisMarie ForleoMayi Carles.

    Where to buy

    Now, it doesn’t technically launch until January on Amazon, although I hear if you pre-order it on Friday there might just be a bundle of extras….

    Have a look at the Be A Free Range Hero video for a little more info.

     What books are you hoping to see in your Christmas stocking this year?

  • Freelance tip: Get everything in writing

    The one piece of advice I would give to any freelancer working with a new client is: Get everything in writing.

    A couple of years ago, I was in a position with a client where they changed their mind about a payment and my work. Unfortunately  as I  had only spoken to them over the phone, I had little evidence to back myself up. My invoice went unpaid.

    Freelancers are naturally in a more vulnerable position, and not having everything in writing can make this worse. I’ve heard more than enough stories from other freelancers who have worked hard on a project, only for the client to turn around and refuse to pay (or ask for several more free changes).

    Here’s how to make sure you get everything in writing:

    • Create a Terms and Conditions document you can send to new clients, with your expectations regarding working hours, changes and workload. Ask them to acknowledge it (a reply should suffice).
    • If the client demands that all conversations take place over the phone, make sure you follow up every call with an email summarising what has been discussed, and ask them to acknowledge it. Not only will this give you a written record, but it’ll also make sure you’re both on the same page. However, if they demand all phone calls take place over the phone, warning bells should ring.
    • Have they issued with a contract? Read it, get someone to check it over if you’re not legal-minded, and don’t be afraid to raise any issues if you have any. Some freelancers also issue their own contracts (although the Terms and Conditions doc should cover most of this).
    • If the client wants to make any changes, ask them to email them to you (or acknowledge your own email confirming this)
    • Use Skype. Skype text chats are a great way to have a discussion with a client, and you can save the contents afterwards for your records.

    Do you get everything in writing?

  • Flexi-working – Are Work From Home Fridays the answer?

    With Nick Clegg outlining a proposal to give all workers the right to demand flexible working, I thought this infographic about Work From Home Fridays was worth a share. Flexible working has been available to parents for several years now, but Clegg is hoping to expand the concept to all workers, and therefore remove the stigma of flexi-working.

    It’ll be interesting to see what impact this will have on businesses, especially as there are additional plans for parents to share a year of parental leave when they have a child (a practice that has been successful in several European countries). Work From Home Fridays may be one way to adopt a flexi-working approach, where employees can choose to work from home one day a week (depending on the role, obviously).

    Work from Home Fridays. Join the movement!

    What do you think about the potential move to increase flexi-working and rework parental leave?

  • A day in the life of a freelance PR: Clare Homer

    Freelance PR

    Clare Homer has kindly submitted a guest post all about being a freelance PR…

    I am sitting comfortably (with funky music playing in the background) in a creative venue in Nottingham – better known as Antenna. It’s designed for self-employed professionals like me and is a fantastic place to work from. As I write this post, I’m juggling various tasks for various clients. I fancy a break. I’ll ask one of the brilliant staff for a cup of tea and pain au chocolat.

    Ok, so not every day is like this. But I have the option to work anywhere I want and, within reason, anytime I want. Flexibility is what makes freelance life so appealing.

    Just a few months ago, I was employed as a PR manager for a software firm, working a typical 9 to 5. It was a great experience, getting involved with product launches from start to finish and taking control of the company’s social media strategy. I worked with some really nice people too. But what I do now – freelance PR – is the icing on the cake when it comes to my public relations career.

    Today, I am working across a number of clients, so there is no risk of boredom or procrastination. And no day is ever the same. I always have interesting projects I can sink my teeth into. What’s more, I’m learning so much. I specialise in technology and, in my first week of freelancing, I had brain overload. But I am gaining knowledge that I can share with others (IPV6 anyone?!).

    The downside though, as I’m sure many freelancers would agree, is that if you work alone at home you can feel isolated. I admit there have been days when I have not left the flat and I’ve seen the same four walls for too long. Or I’ve forgotten to play some music in the background so all I can hear is a really loud clock (thank you friends for this gift – you know who you are).

    But there are no distractions: no office chat, no tea-making rounds and less baking (yep, I started volunteering as office baker and brought in cakes). As a freelancer, I am far more productive!

    Now, I’m 100% focused on work when I am ‘at work’. I can’t afford to waste time, as I would be doing my clients a disservice. And I can’t have an ‘off day’. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. It’s that simple. I don’t have a set income paid to me on a set date either. At first, I missed the secure world of employment, but the prospect of earning more money and choosing how much I want to work far out ways this. I realise there are no guarantees with freelancing. I have worked hard to find the clients I have now and I know this doesn’t mean I can relax. I look to the future more now than I did as an employed PR. That said, is employment any more secure in the current economic climate?

    The future of freelance is bright. The level of responsibility motivates me to learn about new developments in PR and social media. I also make an effort to network, constantly putting myself in front of potential new business leads – or friendly faces that I can call upon anytime.

    It is early days but I can confidently say that I love working for myself. When I first started seriously looking at launching a career as a freelancer, I wondered how I’d ever be able to submit my own tax return, set up business insurance and all the other paperwork that comes with it. But it’s actually not that bad. If you are good at what you do, then there are fantastic people out there to help you with the bits you aren’t so good at. Everyone has something to offer. Get back in touch with past industry connections, attend networking events, and join LinkedIn groups. Discuss IR35 worries, have a rant or just talk about why going freelance is one of the best decisions you ever made. Emma’s site Freelance Lifestyle is a great place to do this. So what do you love most about being a freelancer?

    By Clare Homer

    PR & Social Media Consultant 

    http://www.cfhmedia.co.uk 

  • 10 things no one tells you about freelancing

    There are certain things about freelancing, that you can only learn from experience. Most people won’t know for sure whether they’ll love freelancing, how much time it will take or quite how much earning potential there is until they’ve given it a try.

    But here are a few things I’ve learnt, that might be helpful if you’re new to, or considering, freelancing. These are just my experiences, so I’d love to know what you’ve learnt in the comments!

    • Sometimes, when you’re working at 8pm on a Sunday evening or you have to leave the pub early to meet a deadline, you have a moment where you want to give up and do a 9-5 job. For me, that moment passes quickly. For others, it may be constant (and a sign that perhaps freelancing isn’t for them). But at some point, we all wonder if working for someone else would be easier.
    • It’s incredibly hard to switch off from work when you work for yourself. This isn’t always a bad thing, but does lead to workaholic tendencies.
    • When I was a kid, I found it excruciatingly embarrassingly when my parents would carry a spare catalogue or business card for their business Chocolates for Chocoholics, and hand them out. Now, I do it.
    • You might become office-resistent. I’ve gone back to working in an office a couple of times since going freelance, and always feel like a trapped animal. I have no patience for office politics, processes I haven’t implemented and uncomfortable office chairs. Freelancing and working from home has spoiled me for working in an office, but works perfectly for my introverted personality traits.
    • If you’re an extrovert however, you might end up missing the office. Missing tea break chats, office banter and after work pub visits. Many of the big cities have creative spaces for freelancers to work together, so it’s worth looking into if you’re feeling like that.
    • Once you go freelance, you’ll never go back. Well, unless you hate freelancing. It’s still tricky to go back to taking orders from others when you’ve been your own boss though.
    • A lot of freelancers have a number of skills and roles. This makes it difficult to explain what you do to others without them drifting off. I’ve yet to come up with a full title for what I do. This, I fear, is why so many people refer to themselves as ninjas, experts and gurus.
    • I’ve often come across the assumption that freelancing is a relaxed, boho lifestyle that requires little work. This is, as you all know, bullshit. Freelancing is hard work. Far harder than many 9-5 jobs. This is why many people say they run their own business rather than freelance – less stigma.
    • Feeling ill? Fancy pulling a sickie? Or want to take a holiday? Great! Just know that the work you left will still be there when you get back – with a whole bundle more. You are wholly responsible as a freelancer for your business.
    • Freelancing has made me unable to relax. If I take a week off, it’s inevitable that I’ll end up tinkering with HTML, planning future posts or planning a future product. Time spent lazing around the house rather than working on something seems like a waste of time. In fact, I went on a relaxing spa break with my mum and sister this year, and ended up leaving feeling more stressed from how inefficient I had been.
    So, that’s my experiences and lessons from freelancing. What are yours? What have you learnt about freelancing that you didn’t know before?