Moo voucher Business cards are essential as a freelancer, and Moo makes it a lot more fun to do them. A voucher would be perfect!
Quite a few people in my Facebook group want a new laptop for Christmas. If you’re after a budget option and you mainly work online (and mainly use cloud-based apps), I’d highly recommend a Chromebook. I have a Dell Chromebook, and use it far more than my Macbook – especially as it’s light, extremely fast (as everything is on Google Drive) and lasts for most of the day. Plus you can usually get one for less than £300. Alternatively if you need something for more powerful tasks like video editing etc, the Macbook Pro is for you.
If podcasting is your goal for 2018, the Blue Yeti microphone is touted as one of the best value and quality
Alexa. God I love Alexa. She helps me set timers for the oven when I’m juggling a toddler. She tells me the news headlines. She tells me what the weather will be like today. She plays my music.
Slippers – OK, these don’t really fall into the category of stocking fillers as they’re £79, but they’re perfect for home workers who occasionally need to nip outside. Mahabis are slippers with a solid sole you can pop on for when you’re outside.
Heated blanket. When you work from home, anything heated is a bonus. This heated blanket will not only keep you cosy, but it has a very Hygge vibe about it.
Goodbye Halloween, hello Christmas! Ok, not quite yet, but there’s a strong chance I’ll be doing some admin in front of Elf in the next couple of weeks.
October was an interesting month on the work front, and I’ve had quite a few fun projects come up. After several months of things settling into a quiet routine, it’s been both exciting and a little bit unnerving to shake things up again. But I’m a big believer that personal growth comes from moving outside your comfort zone.
Want to see what I’ve been loving from October?
Freelance Life Favourites for October
Favourite Apps: HypeType
I’ve been using Instagram Stories a lot more recently, both for clients and my own accounts (I’m @TheFreelanceLifestyle), and HypeType has become a really useful part of that. Essentially, it’s an app to add animated titles over your images and add music, with lots of different styling options. You can also record straight in the app, using several different clips if you wish. I’ve really enjoyed using it as an introduction tile when sharing a series of behind the scenes shots on Instagram Stories.
Favourite Podcast: Walking The Dog With Emily Dean
This month’s new favourite podcast is Walking The Dog with Emily Dean, a series of celebrity interviews conducted while walking their dogs. It’s relaxed, funny and Emily is able to get the most interesting stories out of her walking companions.
Favourite Product: GVOREE Led Selfie Ring Light Mirror
While I love my little garden office, the lighting isn’t always the best, especially now the nights are getting darker. I ordered the GVOREE Led Selfie Ring Light Mirror, partly due to the lighting options, but also because it’s brilliant for having somewhere to put my phone during live streams and Instagram stories.
Also, it’s brilliant for angling away my chins and lighting away my eye bags.
Favourite Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
2017 has been the year of decluttering for me in every sense, and so I’ve been listening to Essentialism with interest. I particularly like the idea of testing out what happens if you don’t do time-heavy things for a while. Will people notice?
What have been your freelancing favourites from October?
Hello October! We’re into the flow of Autumn, the scarves and slippers are out, and I’m lighting an excessive amount of candles. I’m a big ol’ Hygge cliche, and I’m absolutely fine with that, because working from home means I can really indulge. It’s not quite as easy to get cosy when you’re sitting in an office booth, is it?
Before I dive into my favourite spooky month (because of COURSE I’ve got Hocus Pocus ready to watch this afternoon), I’ve shared a few of my Freelance Life Favourites for September below.
Freelance Life Favourites for September
Favourite Apps: Bring and No Waste
September was the month I focused on improving my meal planning and shopping. I’ve been using two apps to reduce my waste and get more organised. The first app is Bring, a shopping list app that syncs with the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. I can quickly add items to my shopping list, and browse from previous lists so it’s quick and easy.
The second app is No Waste. This app is used to add in everything from your fridge, freezer and cupboards. You can add expiry dates, so it makes it easier to see at a glance what needs eating, and it’s great for those days when you have no idea what to cook and need to see your cupboard contents in a glance. Finally, you can then meal plan in the app.
Favourite Podcast: What She Said
There are so many brilliant podcasts at the moment, but I’m particularly enjoying What She Said by Lucy atWanderluce at the moment. Her interview style is really relaxed and chatty, leading to a podcast that often feels like you’re having coffee with friends. Lucy interviews lots of bloggers, tapping into their experiences and top tips. As a bonus, I often come away from episodes with a bundle of new things for my To Do list.
Favourite Blog: Freelancer’s cookbook
Can you tell there’s a foodie theme to September’s favourites? Next up is The Freelancer’s Cookbook, a blog filled with recipes aimed at busy freelancers. I love how quick and simple the recipes are (this gnocchi one was a particular favourite this month). If you’re looking for inspiration, give Rose’s blog a follow!
My friend Melissa launched her online store, Honeybee Home, this year, and so far I’ve loved everything she stocks. A couple of months ago I got this funky geometric mirror, and now she’s released the autumn range and this LED side lamp is top of my wishlist. Especially as it’s only £16.
Favourite Book: A Mindfulness Guide For The Frazzled by Ruby Wax
Hands up, this has been sitting in my Audible library for ages. It’s been recommended a lot to me, but….I wasn’t Ruby Wax’s biggest fan.
But this book is good. Really good. I’ve dealt with anxiety and mild PND since having my little boy, both of which have thankfully improved a lot since going onto medication. But I’m aware that this isn’t a long-term solution, and I’m keen to explore how I can help myself when it comes to reducing the medication. Ruby’s book is honest, practical and full of tips. If you have anxiety or depression, I’d highly recommend this book.
Favourite Parenting buys: Autumn book and Play Prompts
As I know a few of you are also freelancing parents, I thought I’d add a new category of brilliant buys for freelancers with kids. This month, that’s a book and something great for planning play. The book is one that’s perfect for this time of year – Autumn by Ailie Busby. It’s a beautiful book filled with autumn scenes and activities. Thanks to Ashleigh from That Ginger Mama for letting me know about it!
The second buy is a set of Play Prompts cards. These are a set of cards with prompts for different activities to set up for children. They’ve been great for rainy afternoons. I’ve got my eye on the Play Prompts Advent Calendar too.
What have been your freelancing favourites for September?
This weekend, I was invited to a blogger breakfast at Bill’s in the newly opened The Lexicon shopping centre in Bracknell.
If you’re a long-term resident of the Berkshire area, there’s no doubt you’ll have heard about the Bracknell regeneration, not least because it’s been in the works for 30 years! Bracknell’s reputation hasn’t been brilliant over the last few years, despite the beautiful parks and being surrounded by lots of family-friendly places.
That reputation is set to change though, with The Lexicon opening last Thursday. It’s a brand new shopping destination, taking the place of the old town centre (which was, to be frank, a bit of a concrete jungle which I rarely visited). I briefly visited The Lexicon on Thursday, and again this morning, and it’s hard to believe that you’re walking around Bracknell, as it has such a funky, metropolitan vibe about it. It feels more like walking around an outlet village. Without the bother of jumping on tubes and trains. In fact, it’s a two minute drive from my son’s nursery, so I’m looking forward to popping in there on the way home.*
*my bank balance doesn’t share this enthusiasm.
I also really liked that they used a local artist, Kerry Lemon, to come up with a lot of the artwork around a forest theme. Hurrah for local, independent talent! There are areas of The Lexicon that play forest sounds as you walk past, and others that show a marble run through a forest theme. It feels like a really nice link to the leafy forests around Bracknell, and it caught my toddler’s interest too!
Wi-fi. I clocked as we left that there’s free wi-fi throughout The Lexicon.
Bill’s – we had our bloggers breakfast here, and it’s perfect for either a meeting or to enjoy an hour or so working – especially as they have free Wi-Fi and huge pots of tea. The eggs benedict was beautiful, highly recommend it if you want to hit the shops early.
Coffee Barker Co – an independent coffee shop if you want something with a bit of charm. They have a huge variety of loose leaf teas too, handy if you’re not into coffee, like me.
Flying Tiger. It’s Instagram p*rn. Seriously, everything in there is pretty much guaranteed an Instagram comment of “OMG where’s that from?” on your shelfie snaps. Come payday, that’s my first stop.
Paperchase. My home planet.
Loads of seating, and a new area called The Deck coming soon, which could be good for working outside in.
There are still some stores that are opening soon, but I quite like that it’s not all open at once – it stretches out the excitement a bit.
I’m really proud to have lived in Bracknell for the last six years, but even more so now that we’ve got such a great place to shop and socialise. In the past I’d have gone to Reading or Basingstoke to shop, but now my heart is firmly with The Lexicon.
Update: I visited Coffee Barker this week, and it was SO good. I love that they have blankets to snuggle under, big pots of tea, china cups and really good cake. It’s perfect for this hygge-loving, tea-guzzling freelancer.
What’s your town like, for freelancers?
Disclaimer: This post isn’t sponsored, I just really really love it there. They did give us a free breakfast though.
Before I had Oscar, I had a very naive idea of how I would mix the freelance life and parenting. I’m not sure if I assumed I’d have one of those children who happily just sat down doing one thing for ages, or I just assumed that I’d have more energy than I do. But the honest truth is that, on the days I don’t have nursery or childcare, I find it extremely challenging to get anything done. I think there’s a lot of pressure on mums who work from home to achieve so much – and being a mum on it’s own can be challenging enough. Someone recently asked me how I get so much done – and I honestly don’t feel like I do, I just happen to be fairly visible online. 21 months on, I still feel like I’m not achieving enough.
So, I thought it might be interesting to share a day in my freelance life, before and after having Oscar (on a day when I don’t have him in nursery).
Before Kids: Wake up at 7am, feeling (fairly refreshed). Sit in bed scrolling through e-mails. Saunter to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and breakfast. Scroll through social media. Put shower on. Wash. Put bra on. Dress. Meditate. I’m ready for the day.
After Kids: Wake anywhere between 5-6.30am. Scramble out of bed to be greeted by the noisy but smiling alarm clock/child. Go downstairs with Oscar and give him his milk and breakfast. Put kettle on. Put Peppa Pig on. Scroll through emails. Put kettle on again because I forgot to make tea. Make tea. Play hide and seek. Forget tea. Drink cold tea like it’s a shot of Sambuca.
Before Kids: Sit down at desk and work through To Do list. Take conference calls.
After Kids: Sit on sofa and keep Oscar busy with building bricks/cars/Disney movie/something in the garden if the weather is nice. Try to reply to e-mails/tweets/Facebook comments while he’s distracted. Stop half a dozen times to pull him off the walls/stop him eating the toys/stop him filling his toy box with water/applaud him for stacking a high enough tower. Repeat. Give in after five e-mails and join in with play. Still not wearing a bra.
Before Kids: Make lovely, healthy lunch. Eat lovely, healthy lunch.
After Kids: Make lovely, healthy lunch for two. Oscar refuses lovely, healthy lunch. Throws it on the floor. Put fish fingers in oven instead. Return to lovely lunch, now cold. Still not wearing a bra.
Before Kids: Drink tea and proceed through To Do list.
After Kids: Kid goes down for a nap. Mad panic about what to tackle first in the 1-3 hours of nap the toddler takes. Work, housework, shower? Procrastinate by mindlessly scrolling through phone for first 30 minutes. Panic a little more. Finally focus on e-mails, writing content and planning ahead. Take a conference call with one eye on the baby monitor, praying they don’t wake up mid-call. Throws wash in machine (last lot of wash is still in the basket, unfolded and un-put away). Debates whether to jump in the shower or baby wipe wash. Finally put on bra. Quickly dash around the house doing a five minute tidy. Child wakes from nap.
Before Kids: 6pm rolls around and you finish up for the day. Write tomorrow’s To Do list, and enjoy an evening of dinner, Netflix, social media scrolling and blog post writing. Maybe even venture outside and socialise.
After Kids: From 5pm, I have grand ideas of the many things that will be achieved after bedtime. As soon as Oscar is in bed, anytime between 7-8pm, I’ll collapse on the sofa in an exhausted heap. Half an hour later, realise I’m still watching Peppa Pig. Two hours later, collapse in bed.
Obviously, the ideal is that as someone who is self-employed, I should have the flexibility to just not work on the days when I don’t have nursery for Oscar. Reality is a little different.
But would I change it for a job? No! I love what I do, my freelance life is just as much a part of my identity as being a mum is. I love that I can be at home to see all the cool things my son learns to do. I love that there’s not as much pressure to be a polished mum all the time (because, no one apart from Instagram can see me at home). Plus my boss (me) is pretty understanding of the days when not much sleep has been had and all I want to do is have a day watching Trolls on repeat. Being a freelance, work-from-home mum is certainly a privileged position to be in, even with its challenges.
Oh, and this is really only very short-term in the grand scheme of things. In just over a year, he’ll be applicable for the free 30 days of childcare a week. And I’ll be sitting at home, working and missing him horribly. So if you’re going through these early years of freelancing and parenting, remember that it’s not forever! And you’re doing far better than you think you are.
How does your freelance life compare, before and after kids?
Do you have a freelancer in your life that you want to treat this Christmas? Or stuck for ideas on what to ask for? This is the guide for you – The 2016 Gift Guide For Freelancers!
Digital Gifts (perfect for last minute)
From top left, clockwise.
A Buffer subscription will save a freelancer time, allowing you to schedule content to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram.
Appsumo credits (affiliate) are perfect for freelancers who regularly use new and popular online tools and resources. Appsumo offers a new deal every few days, and offers huge discounts. I’ve had everything from lifetime access to You Need A Budget, to access to big bundles of WordPress themes, usually between $19-49. Most of them are tax-deductible too…
Creative Market credits are a must have for any creative freelancer. It’s a marketplace of beautiful digital products, from fonts and themes to photoshop overlays and illustrations. I’ve got my eye on this LadyBoss font package (affiliate). If you’re on their mailing list, they’ll also give you access to 6 free products every Monday.
Canva continues to be one of my favourite tools of 2016, perfect for creating quick and easy graphic designs for social networks, blogs, newsletters and even printed products. The paid, business version makes it even easier to create one design and then quickly adapt it to different platforms, as well as add in your own templates and brand colours and font.
Also, for bookworms who are short on time, an Audible monthly subscription would be great for audiobooks, and Blinkist serves up keynotes from popular non-fiction books which you can listen to or read on your mobile device.
Get Rich Lucky Bitch. I’m pretty sure this was on my wishlist last year, but it’s still one of the most interesting, life-changing books I’ve read. If you have any money worries (especially as a female freelancer), or any blocks around finances, this is a must-read.
The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck is both hilarious and fantastic for giving you perspective. It’s so easy to get stuck in your head and overwhelmed when you’re working alone, and this really helps you work out what you do need to care about. Just don’t listen to the audio version if you’re in the car with the kids. There are a LOT of f*cks.
Planners are huge news still this year, and Paperchase have pulled it out of the bag this year. This Raindrops multi list book is lovely if you tend to jump around between different tasks, and this Blogger’s Journal has made it onto my wishlist.
If your budget is slightly smaller and you’re on the lookout for a smaller laptop, the ASUS Chromebook Flip offers the benefits of both a touch screen tablet and a Chromebook. As my beloved Dell Chromebook broke recently, I’m hoping to invest in this.
Yup, it’s that Instagram cliche – a lightbox. But it’s a must-have for any social media maven (£16.99)
Interested in podcasting? The Blue Yeti microphone is touted as one of the best value and quality for podcasting.
This originally went out in my newsletter this week, but I had so many lovely messages from subscribers who felt relieved that they weren’t alone when it comes to freelancing peer pressure and perfection, that I thought it was worth a share here too.
I’ve been feeling the peer pressure recently.
Every time I log onto Facebook, I’m (super-enthusiastically) told:
You’re just one Facebook ad away from a six figure business (just as long as you’re OK with paying five figures in FB ads to launch that six figure launch)
Make SEVEN figures from your online course! Here’s a 15 step plan to do it! Only £4k.
Raise your prices! Constantly! Even if it makes you really, really uncomfortable.
You can have a baby, have a million dollar business and have a pristine house and office. To not do so is terribly un-feminist. Pushing yourself to a breakdown is so 2016, darling.
Everything I’m doing is wrong and everyone else is right, and get with the programme Emma (OK, that one might just be that mean little voice in my head)
How utterly exhausting.
Honestly? I don’t give a damn about having a six figure business right now. If that’s your goal, more power to you! I have nothing against having a chunky bank balance, but right now my goals have to be life-based. I mean, I want to be able to pay the bills, treat myself and my little family and have a semi-comfortable life. But the reason I love being freelance is the flexibility it gives me, the ability to be able to work with people I actually like, and to work from home. I’ve been so focused on ‘proving myself’ financially (partly from guilt that I’m not setting a good example here as a freelancer), that I got a big lost along the way. Which actually limited my income.
I’m also tired of cookie cutter sales language. Big claims without the evidence. I feel like I’m back at school, with the popular girls boasting about how many boys they’ve pulled and the rest of us feeling a bit inadequate in comparison. Except, now they’re charging thousands to teach you how to replicate their success. In general, I’m just a bit tired of the overwhelm and the enthusiastic quick fixes to a big business. My introvert brain needs a break from all that noise!
So, I’m making some changes.
I’ve lowered my coaching prices. It’s not really the done thing to lower your prices, but I want to help more freelancers (new and established), and lowering my prices makes coaching more accessible. I really believe coaching can make a big difference, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. In fact, as hard on myself as I can be, I think without it I’d have caved in and thrown in the towel by now, instead of relaunching my business and growing it.
I’m going to get over this peer pressure block that’s stopped me blogging and podcasting until I’m ‘perfect’. I’ve actually achieved quite a bit over the last year, something I want to blog about more.
Here’s a controversial one – accept that it’s ok for the next couple of years to not be where my business was pre-baby. I have a third of the time I had before to work (and that’s throwing working nap times into the mix). It’s ok not to have a baby and a bazillion pounds in the bank, as long as you’re achieving what you want to (for me, that’s time with my son while affording to pay the bills and helping more people to go freelance or improve their freelance life). On that note…
*deep breath* Share an income report. This one is risky and very scary, because I don’t have a six figure income (or anywhere close). But there are two benefits: a) it shows you what I actually earn, so I don’t feed into the number bending bullsh*t b) it keeps me accountable with some goal setting for the following month. Because I do want to increase my income, but not by adding to the bullsh*t.
What does success mean to you? I’d love to hear your personal definition of success in the comments.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I had visions of curling up with some freelancing reads while the baby napped.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. I mean, he actually was (and still is) a good napper. But reading felt like a waste of time when the house was a mess and I had work I wanted to get done. But thanks to audiobooks and fitting in the odd evening session of reading, I’m surprised to see I’ve read more than I thought in the last year. And quite a few of them are books that have made a big impact on my life. For me, it’s important to take something away from a book to put into action. So often, I’ll read a book and enjoy it, but not feel like it’s enhanced my life in any way after.
So, I put together some of my favourites in a video (links to each of the books below).
What are your favourite freelancing reads recently? What books have led to you making real changes? Let me know in the comments!