Freelance Life

  • Post round-up: Finding balance as a freelancer

    Balancing
    Over in The Freelance Lifestylers Group we’re going strong with a 4-week challenge to build better habits in our freelance lives. So far we’ve focused on Health and Money, and during the rest of the month we’ll be working on our Business and Balance habits.
    There are a lot of posts about balance on the blog, so this list should give you a head start on your balance habits:
     And if you haven’t joined us in the habit challenge yet, there’s still time!

  • FREE E-Course: Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits

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    How do you feel about habits? Do you automatically think about good habits (exercising, tidying, maintaining a fierce manicure) or bad habits (smoking, drinking, letting your accounts pile up until the end of the year)? I’ve been devouring Gretchin Rubin’s book on habits recently, and it’s got me fired up about looking at my current habits – and how I can adopt some positive ones to boost my freelance life.

    According to Gretchin’s quiz (which you can take here), one of the most common types is an Obliger whose motivation is through accountability. But it’s tricky for us freelancers who don’t necessarily have that accountability structure at home or work.

    So, I’ve come up with a FREE e-course that will take place in the Freelance Lifestylers group where we can all get a little accountability. Each week, a new challenge will be set to focus on a different area of your freelance life:

    Health, Business, Money and Balance.

    With each of these areas, you’ll get a choice of three small habits to adopt to make your freelance lifestyle even better. Simple, huh? By the end of the month, you’ll be well on your way to a rockin’ business and life, with just a few tweaks.

    Your Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits kicks off on 4th May.

    Interested? Great! Simply pop your details in the box below and I’ll send you all the info you need. If you’re already a member of the group, you’ll automatically be able to see the posts and join in.

    Subscribe to the mailing list

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  • What to do when you fall ill as a freelancer

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    While pregnancy is obviously a joyous blessing, it also means you can spend quite a bit of time feeling, well….shit. For the past week I’ve been struggling a lot with energy levels, the joys of SPD and the return of a sprinkling of nausea. While these are all things I can cope with, it has got me thinking a lot more about what to do as a freelancer when you are sick or you can’t work. The trouble is, like a lot of freelancers, I’m quite stubborn when it comes to taking time off. Especially when it’s a forced time off due to illness and needing to recover. Why? Because when I’m not working, I’m not earning. As illnesses often creep up unannounced, you can’t necessarily plan for this time out. It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s something I really struggle with because mentally I’m ready to work, but physically sometimes I’m struggling to keep my eyes open, focus or concentrate. The smart bit of my brain knows I need to take time out to recover or I’ll only feel worse for longer. But the stubborn part of my brain often overrules.

    Pregnancy has just given me a tiny insight into those who are going through serious illnesses, work with disabilities and anyone who has a child to juggle with everything else (because when your child wakes up ill, you can’t just carry on).

    Now in all honesty I’ve been very fortunate. I haven’t suffered illnesses very much at all since being freelance. There’s a good chance that because I’m not spending so much time in offices where I can catch every cough and cold going. Also my stress levels are lower which helps. I know I’m lucky. But being ill when you’re freelance means I also don’t have the luxury of calling in sick and getting paid for it.

    So, being a practical type, I’ve decided to stop whining (well momentarily) and look at what my options are.

    Option one – power through. Well, that’s working out well so far…

    Option two – cut down the hours I’m working. I’ve managed that a bit, averaging a four hour work day at the moment.

    Option three – outsource. Again I have an amazing VA, and I have been out sorting bits and pieces that has definitely take someone of the stress off.

    Option four – be straight with my clients. This has a sort of part A and part B to it. Part A is being up front when I need a little deadline extension. If I’m really ill, Part B is being honest about taking a few days off. I don’t relish the thought of either because…well, it feels like admitting I’ve failed.

    Being freelance is a bit weird because you’re almost expected to always be available and never take sick days. That’s partly because we work on our own. We don’t usually have cover.

    So, what do you do when you’re ill as a freelancer?

  • It’s my 30th birthday – and I’ve got a bundle for you!

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    Eek! I turn the big 3-0 this month (and I’m secretly really excited).

    *Hits play on the Kool and the Gang Greatest Hits album, brings out the bowls of Wotsits and Twiglets, attempts to have a boogie (which is easier said than done when you’re nearly 7 months pregnant).*

    30-year-olds seem to have their shit together. And while I’ve had a ball in my twenties (especially since going freelance), I’m really excited for what the next decade has to come. Especially as this will be my last birthday before I learn how to juggle freelancing and *gulp* motherhood.So, I want to celebrate with you – by offering you TWO birthday bundles.

    I’ve created two bundles – one for those just starting out on their freelance journey and one for those that have a little more experience.

    [su_service title=”The Beginner Bundle” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” class=”a:link {http://www.freelancelifestyle.co.uk/tbuilder-layout/birthdaybundle }”]Contains the tools and resources you need to start out as self-employed, including the 30 Day To Freelance e-course, support of TWO Facebook communities and my Pitch Slap e-course. Value £279.00 – Price of bundle £149! [/su_service]

    [su_service title=”The Experienced Bundle” icon=”icon: hand-o-right” class=”a:link {http://www.freelancelifestyle.co.uk/tbuilder-layout/birthdaybundle }”]Looking to take your business up to the next level? This is the bundle for you to ace outsourcing, collaborating, building a customer base as well as a client base PLUS a 1-2-1 with me to get a customised plan to move forward with. Value £259.00 – Price of bundle £149! [/su_service]

    You see, I’d love to move into my thirties really helping other freelancers starting up their business, increasing their client base, finding new markets and breaking through income barriers. Wonderfully, a few of my freelance friends want to join me in this little online birthday party, by adding some goodies to the bundle.

    Jo GiffordOn-Off Awesome course

    Each bundle contains essential e-courses from The Freelance Lifestyle and a medley of 1-2-1 consultations, ebooks and valuable extras from my freelancing friends – including coaching calls to help you run your business in three hours a day, increase your visibility, find out how a VA can help you, plus ebooks on adding creativity into your day and growing your contacts list.

    Honestly, I can’t believe how much is going into these packages!

    Oh, and each bundle offers a BIG discount on the full collection.

    Here’s the kicker: It’s only available between 3rd-10th April

    Intrigued? Come on over to my Birthday page and find out exactly what each bundle includes.

  • Five of the best organisational tools for freelancers

    Five of the best organisational tools for freelancers

    Running your own business as a freelancer can be a lot of hard work. You have to do your own PR, marketing, HR, finance, networking, admin and negotiating. It’s a tough old job, and you need to be organised (which, if you’re creative, doesn’t necessarily come naturally).

    Thankfully there are some apps to make getting and staying organised a little easier.

    Asana

    I’ve see Asana mentioned quite a bit recently. I’ve only recently tried it out (with thanks to the lovely Jo Shock who introduced me and this video from Carrie at Female Entrepreneur Association).

    It’s a great way to brain dump and organise your business, and see in a clear way what you need to do in each area. Asana is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and online.

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    Slack

    slackdesktopSlack is a brilliant community tool for having conversations with your team. I have my own Slack community for the team I work with, plus I’m a member of two others who use it to communicate quickly with others. You can ask quick questions, drop in files, gather thoughts on images and even import Asana updates. As someone who hates dealing with emails, being able to quickly keep track of a conversation and respond without delving into inbox saves me a lot of time and stress. You can have different sections for different parts (‘channels’) of your business – for example I currently have one for newsletter chat, one for blog chat and one for general discussions.

    Slack is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android devises and online. There’s also a MacBook desktop app.

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    IFTTT

    IFTTT (If this then that) is a tool to create triggers to get life working automatically for you. One of my favourite vloggers, Savvy Sexy Social, has done a great video summarising how it works.

    Love the idea? Check out the post I recently did for Yell Business on Ten ways to use IFTTT to make your business more efficient

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    Buffer

    bufferappBuffer has, hands down, saved me the most amount of time this year as a freelancer. An hour a week spent scheduling social media content (and taking advantage of their suggested content and feeds section), has taken a lot of the stress out of my social media use. Also, they’ve just added Pablo which works like ShareAsImage to create very quick and easy images for your social media. PLUS they’re lovely people generally – after I recently joined in on their #BufferChat Twitter chat, they sent me some free stickers in the post with a handwritten note. Class act Buffer.

    Buffer is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android devices and online. There are also some browser extensions to make it even easier.

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    Productivity Wizard

    productivitywizardappIf you’re getting into goal setting, the Productivity Wizard app is a must to use. I love the way I can create daily, weekly and monthly goals, break them down into smaller tasks which can then slot into my iPhone calendar, reflect on each day with a series of insightful questions and track your progress. You can even add in regular rituals, like meditation and exercise.

    The Productivity Wizard is an app available on the iPhone and iPad.

    Which organisational tools do you use as a freelancer?

  • Five Facebook groups for UK Freelancers

    Facebook groups for UK Freelancers

    One of the most common concerns I hear from freelancers, is about feeling lonely when working on their own. While there are plenty of ways to go out and meet other freelancers (co-working and networking in particular), the emergence of Facebook groups as online communities has been a vital and incredibly useful alternative. Over the last few years, some really great groups have popped up to help freelancers, entrepreneurs and home workers get that community feeling and support that we so desperately need. Additionally, I strongly believe that a great Facebook community can help you grow your own business and help others too – which is beneficial for the freelancing community in general. You can grow your business to a certain point on your own, but at some point you need to reach out and get help from others.

    Haven’t dipped your toe in the world of Facebook groups yet? Here are a few of my favourites.

    • Dexterous Divas and Dudes is one of my favourite online hangouts, so much so that I’ve become an admin in the group. A hub of supportive entrepreneurs, interesting discussions, weekly workshops and friendly tips, there’s rarely a week that passes that I don’t learn something new or connect with someone great in the group. To join the group, simply sign up to Jo Gifford’s excellent free newsletter. 
    • No1 Freelance Ladies’ Buddy Agency is a must for anyone that works on the freelance journalism (or even PR) side of the industry. Case studies are requested, fee advice exchanged and editor contact information sourced.
    • While The Members Group is not a free one (it’s a bonus of the Female Entrepreneur Association subscription which is worth it’s weight in gold), the discussions are brilliant and the advice is priceless. Carrie’s group is an extension of what she already offers – monthly packages of really useful information ranging from Facebook advertising to improving abundance. At the moment, there’s a waiting list to subscribe and join the group, which you can find here.
    • If you want to up your business book reading, The Coaching Book Club is a worthwhile look. Each month, a new business book is chosen and the group read it together and discuss it. Through the group, I’ve learnt about habit stacking, being brilliant everyday and eating frogs.
    • Finally, two groups from me! The Freelance Lifestylers is a free group where you can chat to other freelancers, share what you’re doing for each Pitch Slap Wednesday, discuss all things working from home and freelancing and generally meet lots of other lovely freelancers. My second group is the newly launched Social Lite Support Group, a monthly subscription group for those that want to up their social media game and grow their business, but aren’t ready to hire a social media consultant or coach. You can find out more information about the Social Lite Support Group here.

    Which Facebook groups do you rely on as a freelancer? Let me know your favourites in the comments below, or over on Twitter.

  • Five things you shouldn’t give a shit about as a freelancer

    freelancer quoteFreelancing can be a minefield of worries, from ‘Will I land this pitch?’ to ‘Will they pay me on time this month, or will I have to send another civil-but-pissy email?’. There are, however, some things you definitely shouldn’t worry about.

    You shouldn’t give a shit about..

    1. ….the negative opinions of anyone who hasn’t run a business before (or a successful one at least). When you first go freelance, you’re going to get a lot of ‘ooh, that won’t give you much security, are you sure that’s a good idea?’ and ‘Don’t you want a real job?’. Ignore them, unless they have your best interests at heart. Most of these comments are rooted in their belief of the old stereotypes of freelancing – that there’s no security, no money and it’s not a viable option to pay the bills. Us freelancers know better, right?
    2. ….being like everyone else. Seriously, quit it. You’re never going to be just like you’re business idols, and to be honest that would be a bit creepy if you did become their clone. Instead, look at how they made great decisions, and work out whether you’re using the same approach to your business. BUT, make sure it works for you. I love the glossy, pro videos and motivational statements Marie Forleo makes, but it’s really not me. AT ALL. I don’t really do polished. Work out what you’re about, and who you’re selling to, and focus on that rather than chasing after someone else.
    3. …..not being cool enough. We’re out of school now. Being cool is, frankly, pointles and chasing the concept of it is a massive waste of your time. And some of my favourite freelance women currently making waves in the freelance work are card-carrying dorks. Dorks with really nice shoes, but dorks all the same. Being passionate about what you do as a freelancer is way more important than being cool.[su_quote cite=”@freelance_life” url=”http://www.freelancelifestyle.co.uk/2015/02/five-things-yo…s-a-freelancer.html”]Being passionate about what you do as a freelancer is way more important than being cool.[/su_quote]
    4. …..not looking the part. I am not a skinny girl. In fact, during my freelance career I’ve gone from a size 12 to a 16. Despite spending several years writing for a fashion blog about killer heels and beautiful bags, most of my shoes are flats and most of my handbags are designed to be huge and practical so I can carry all my gadgets around with me and destroy my back always be connected.  I ate kale once by accident, and drink occasional green smoothies, but I’ve also been known to devour a Domino’s pizza. Don’t wait until you fit the mould of what a successful freelancer, because you’ll wait forever. I’ll say it again Don’t wait until you fit the mould of what a successful freelancer is supposed to be, because you’ll wait forever. Passion and hard work are the most important things..
    5. ….what other people’s goals are. Do your competitors (and I use this term loosely as I’m not a fan of pitching freelancers against each other) want to work from a beach, earn a million quid this year or feature in Forbes? Good. For them. But don’t feel like your goals have to match theirs. If success for you is happily paying the bills while having time with your family and enjoying monthly spa days, then make those your goals. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself all the time (are you seeing a theme here?)

    Next week, we’ll talk about what you really should give a shit about.

  • Freelancing and Pregnancy – The Challenges

    Freelancing and pregnancy

    Well, I’m 18 weeks into this pregnancy adventure. If you read the classic baby books or rely on TV/films for your pregnancy knowledge (like I did), you’ll be under the impression that this is the joyous time when the first trimester is out of the way, the nausea wears off and you’re packed full of the kind of energy that has you spring cleaning the house from top to bottom.

    Reader, I’m writing this under a blanket on the sofa, while sipping ginger ale and ignoring the dangerously large pile of washing that has to be done if I want to wear something other than pyjamas next week. I’m also googling sweaty feet, because that appears to be a delightful new pregnancy symptom. SEXY.

    It’s not AWFUL. It’s a bit like trying to get a full day’s work in when you feel like you’re suffering the effects of five tequila shots from the night before (when the reality is you were in bed by 9pm with a big bottle of water, and the idea of booze in general makes you gag). It’s just a bit…rubbish.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are exciting bits too. Like buying baby clothes, debating baby names, enjoying pregnancy massages and generally getting excited to find out the baby’s gender and meeting the little one in five months.  But I want to be honest with you about the challenges of pregnancy when you’re freelance. I also want to make it clear that every pregnancy is different – some people have horrific morning sickness, while others manage to get through most of pregnancy without a single day of nausea. But I suspect for many freelancers, an element of adaptation is needed. Which is pretty good practice for when you become a mum or dad, right?

    The Challenges

    The biggest challenges I faced were and are:

    • Exhaustion – Most people I’ve spoken to suffered from a lot of tiredness at some point. If you’re freelancing around a day job, this can be tricky as you simply don’t have enough energy to get stuff done. This also meant I had to postpone a couple of meetings as I simply didn’t have the energy to do them.
    • Nausea – While I was only physically sick a couple of times, I had pretty much constant nausea for months, and it occasionally turns up again when I’m tired or hungry. This meant that I had to take quite a few breaks and take some fresh air at times. A good walk outside did wonders.
    • Hormones – No tears here. Well, only once. I’ve never been a particularly emotional person in terms of crying or flying off the handle. But oh my GOSH has my patience been short. Again, this probably ties in with feeling tired and sick, but I’ve had to make sure I haven’t lost my temper or sent off a sniffy email a couple of times.
    • Guilt – Ah, the go-to emotions for pregnant women and mums everywhere. I’ve felt a lot of guilt, not just from the usual pregnancy things (Am I eating enough healthy stuff? Is this symptom normal? Should I really look like the size of a house already), but from not being able to be as productive as usual. I complained to friends and family that I felt a bit useless when I couldn’t do what I could do before, but everyone said the same thing – you’re being productive by growing a baby. Which is lovely and all but…well it doesn’t put money in the bank to pay for all those baby basics.

    Survival tips for pregnant freelancers

    Those are the challenges. But you didn’t come here just for me having a good ol’ moan, right? No, you want practical tips to actually deal with this stuff. Fear not, I have some freelancer pregnancy survival tips.

    1. Outsource. For the love of God, outsource if you can. This ranges from passing your household chores over to the other half for a few months if you can, to hiring a VA. I’ve actually hired two – the hugely talented Kerri Walker and Jo Shock, and they’ve really helped keep my business ticking over.
    2. Downsize. I’d advise anyone to do this anyway, but look at your clients and work out which ones are the best value and worth focusing on.  I let go of a couple of clients who were a lot of work for less than my standard rate.
    3. Passive income. This is the kind of work where you put a bit of effort in at the start, then the money rolls in – so ebooks, ecourses and the like. This stuff is going to keep the money coming in and keep you sane If you’re planning to fall pregnant, I highly recommend you look at your passive income and create some projects before you go forward
    4. Stick to your deadlines. This one is tricky, but make sure you stick to your deadlines, even if it means getting help from your VAs and allowing yourself more time. Even if you’re sat at home in yesterday’s pyjamas, eating ice cream for lunch, you still need to give your client’s the impression that you’re professional.
    5. Embrace the Boffice. The bed office has been my sanctuary, and I feel so much more comfortable working there. I’m not saying spend your whole pregnancy there, but work somewhere you’re comfortable.
    6. Work out your rights and have a vague plan in place before you proceed. For example, I’ve just discovered that I had to be a Limited Company for around 11 weeks before I conceived. I’m pretty much sure I’ve managed it, but literally by the skin of my teeth – 11 weeks to the exact day.
    7. Give yourself a break! Seriously. It’s hard during the first three months when no one knows, but after that don’t be afraid to be open with your clients – the good ones will understand.

    And a few practical tips:

    • Baby on Board Badge. They’re free to get, and if you spend any time at all on public transport they’re a lifesaver. Not On The High Street sponsor them now, so you get some bonus benefits.
    • Similarly if you take public transport, make sure you always keep a plastic bag with you, for gross obvious reasons. Aldi are great because…well, they don’t have holes in the bottom. Amazon also have a bunch of subtle sick bags. Have a look at seasickness bands too, which I’ve heard good things about
    • Buy lots of bottles of water. I get this on the food delivery (I adore Aldi but I’ve been getting deliveries from ASDA and Tesco because I can’t deal with the supermarket smells right now), and being able to quickly grab a bottle of water whenever is a real help. Yes, I’m aware it’s a recycling nightmare. Shhh.
    • Avoid pregnancy forums like the plague, pick the brains of your favourite parent types and don’t get a doppler.

    I’ve got a post planned about the financials very soon, including how I plan to take maternity leave and what I’m doing about maternity pay.

    Have you combined pregnancy and freelancing? What were your biggest challenges?