New Freelancer

  • My freelance favourites for growing my business in 2015

    grow my freelance businessEvery few months or so, I like to share which tools, courses and books I rate as a freelancer. The ones that help me grow my freelance business. Below are a few of my current favourites. A few of them are affiliate links, which I’ve marked. I only recommend things that I have used and loved myself.

    Tools I use to grow my freelance business

    Freeagent for my accounting and invoicing (affil link). I’ve been using Freeagent for over a year now. I love that I can quickly and easily import my bank activity, send invoices in minutes (or automate them), input my expenses straight from my iPhone and even submit your Self-Assessment to HMRC.

    Opinion for recording and editing podcasts (read my guide for how to record, edit, upload and blog about your podcast in minutes from your iPhone here)

    Buffer for social media scheduling. I’ve tried so many of the social media management tools out there, and while I still use Hootsuite’s basic (free) package for monitoring my accounts, I love Buffer for scheduling up large amounts of content in one go then analysis what does best. You can also now schedule to Pinterest, something very few other services offer.

    Flipboard, Feedly and Bloglovin’. When it comes to keeping up with my favourite blogs, social networks and RSS feeds, these three are my favourites. They’re mobile-friendly, making them great for using with Buffer to schedule up content when you can’t get to your laptop.

    Get It Done. I adore this app for creating long-term, short-term and daily goals, as well as reflecting on my day.

    Evernote. I use Evernote every day to save documents, draft blog posts, record audio, scan any important documents and share content with team collaborators. The best advice anyone gave me about Evernote is that you have to go ‘all in’.

    IFTTT. Ever since becoming a mum, I’ve been relying on IFTTT more and more to get more done through automating certain processes. IFTTT does this brilliantly. Whether it be saving emails with ‘receipt’ in the subject to a spreadsheet for me to save for my expenses or saving my favourites tweets to Pocket.

    Courses I love

    Kerri Walker’s DIY PR club (affil link). I’ve known Kerri for a while now, and she has been a huge inspiration to me when it comes to running a business with a baby. Kerri is also a fantastic source of information and ideas for getting your business out there and doing your own PR. Her DIY PR club is perfect for anyone who wants to know how to grow awareness of their business.

    Denise Duffield Thomas bootcamp (affil link). Denise Duffield Thomas’s bootcamp is one of the most valuable money bootcamps I’ve ever taken. She tackles the kind of money blocks business women often face – whether it be a lack of confidence in their pricing, the belief that they’re not good enough to actually sell their product/service or that it’s greedy to want more. If you feel like there’s a mental block holding you back from working out how to grow your business further, or you’ve ever wobbled about charging someone for a service or product you offer, Denise’s course is a must-have. She’s got a bundle of freebies on her site too.

    Psst! Have you checked out The Freelance Lifestyle School of courses? It’s on the excellent Teachable platform, which you can find out more about here. 

    Books

    Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. If you want to read more about the psychology of habits, Gretchin Rubin’s book (and podcast) is a must. This is probably one of the key things I’ve read and implemented which has helped grow my freelance business.

    Jump Start Your Money Confidence: Personal finance confidence in 30 days for the overwhelmed and anyone who thinks they’re useless with money. Penny Golightly was one of the first few people I followed on Twitter back in 2009. Her blog posts, books and courses on money are realistic and practical. Her Jump Start Your Money Confidence book is the latest in her series and will make a significant difference to your money outlook.

    The Jump Start Journal: One small action every day to improve your personal finances and quality of life. Another book by Penny, perfect for kicking off 2016 with.

    ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever. If you’re looking for a book that challenges the traditional ideas of how offices, businesses and the modern working world should run, this is the book for you.
    `
    Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. If you suspect you might be introverted, this book really is an essential read. It made me feel like I could have control and power as an introvert – and that’s a very empowering thing indeed.

    Those are my 2015 favourites to grow my freelance business. What’s yours?

  • 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!

  • 7 Ways To Earn Passive Income As A Freelancer

    how to earn passive income as a freelancer

    Earlier this week, I was listening to one of Claire Mitchell’s excellent bitesize The Girls Mean Business podcasts about passive income. I can’t find the exact quote now, but essentially she mentioned at one point how growing her business and boosting income was often as simple as introducing a new e-product or passive income service. It was perfectly timed, as this week in the Four Weeks Of Freelance Habits (Edit: You can now access the four week course for free here), we’re talking about how to give your money situation a little spring clean. One of the three challenges is to investigate how you can use passive income to boost your income streams.

    Not sure what passive income is? Pat Flynn, who runs The Smart Passive Income blog, describes it as:

    Building online businesses that take advantage of systems of automation that allow transactions, cash flow, and growth to happen without requiring a real-time presence.

    These are income streams that sit alongside your regular services, quietly earning you extra money. It’s very, VERY important to understand that you still need to run some of your business as a real-time presence. For example, a freelance blogger could earn extra money from advertising and affiliate links, but would still need to regularly update their content and write new blog posts. A graphic designer may have some free templates sold through Etsy that brings in some income, but they’ll probably need to be taking on ‘live’ graphic design products at the same time.

    Anyway, the list you’re here for – a few ideas of how you could add some extra moola to your freelancing income.

    One other note before we proceed – EUVAT. You need to be careful that you don’t get caught out and end up with a delightful VAT bill. Have a good read of Clare Josa’s guide here.

    E-courses

    E-courses can take a while to set up initially, but they’re a great way to create regular content. By adding a Facebook group for support, you should be able to get around the EUVAT issue too (plus it’s lovely to have a central place for everyone to compare notes). I use Teachable for my e-courses, but you can also use sites like Udemy. The great thing about e-courses is that you can create them using content you’ve already put together.

    E-courses range from being free to earning you £100s. If you add in some 1-2-1 consultations, it could be even higher. 

    E-books

    Again, e-books are a great way to recycle content or come up with something new and interesting to pop into the Kindle store. They don’t have to be long or particularly expensive, plus you get to plop ‘author’ next to your name on your Twitter bio…

    E-books range from as little as 79p to the £9.99 mark in some cases (or perhaps even more) 

    If you like the idea of e-products, there are lots of other things you could produce too – worksheets, cheat sheets, templates, your own photography to buy etc.

    Affiliate links

    There are certain products I always recommend because I love them – and I initially felt a bit icky about using affiliate links when mentioning them. Affiliate links are links where I’ll get a small fee or % back if the clicker decides to buy. But as long as you’re ethical about what you’re using affiliate links for (for example, only using them for product and services you’ve actually used and liked), I think they’re a great way to earn a little extra for something you’d recommend anyway. You can also use plugins embedded into your site, like Skimlinks, which will automatically change any of your product links into an affiliate link.

    If I use an affiliate link, I pop (affil) next to the link so you know what’s happening. If you want to know more about affiliating, I found this course (affil) really interesting, with lots of extra tips around increasing your affiliate rate, using prettier links and how to increase click throughs. It’s from Michelle at Making Sense of Cents, and she makes over $100,000 a MONTH from all sorts of affiliate income, so it’s worth checking out her income reports to see how.

    Affiliate links can earn you anywhere from a few pence to £100s for the big courses.

    Webinars

    Webinars are short presentations, often done through tools like GoToMeeting and Google+ Hangouts, with a Q&A session at the end. These webinars are often used as a sales tool, giving away lots of free information in exchange for a promotion at the end of the webinar about a new e-course or service the webinar host is offering. I’ve seen a lot of people using recorded webinars in bundles, as an incentive to sign up to their newsletter, or as a small product to buy. Is there a topic you could talk about on a webinar, then package up to resell after?

    You can charge a small amount for the initial webinar (say £10-20), but the income can come from adding it to a bundle of other content, or selling it as a mini product for anywhere between £10-99. 

    Sponsored posts

    For bloggers, sponsored posts are a great way to make a quick buck (or pound). I have no problem seeing the odd sponsored post on my favourite blogs, especially when the sponsored post is still entertaining and works well with the rest of their content. Girl Tweets World did a great piece earlier this week on how she earns money as a travel blogger, which is worth a read as she gives actual numbers for how much she often charges for everything from blog trips to Twitter takeovers.

    How much you earn depends a lot on your blog audience, but anything from £100 upwards to £1000 is fairly normal.

    Cashback

    Cashback is where you use a website or tool to click through to a retailer, earning a small amount of cashback every time you buy something. You may have also heard of cashback credit or debit cards, where you’ll earn as you shop. Essentially, you’ll earn for stuff you’d have bought anyway. Penny Golightly has a great guide to this. I use Quidco, on everything from Amazon purchases to hotel rooms. If you sign up with this link, you get a £5 credit.

    Personally I probably earn £50-200 a year from cashback sites, but I know friends who use it when travelling, eating out, making big purchases and more who have earned £100s a year back.

    Advertising

    Are you making the most of your advertising space? There are lots of different ways you could add advertising to things you already offer. Below are some examples

    1. Blog – Google Adwords is the biggest player in this market, but you could sell space in your sidebar direct to advertisers, or use a tool like Passionfruit Ads. Bonjour Blogger has a great guide to blog advertising. 
    2. Podcast – Have you got a podcast? Why not see if there are any brands who could add a quick advert to your audio (Ru Paul does a pretty amazing job of promoting his advertisers in a fun way, as does Gretchin Rubin)
    3. Newsletter – You’ve got two options with your newsletter. Get someone to add an advert to it as you would on your blog, or (my preferred method), add in an affiliate to your newsletter. The affiliate has a more personal, recommended feel and means you could earn a nice extra income from your weekly newsletter.

    Do you earn passive income? What are your favourite methods? I’d love to hear your suggestions below!

  • How to be a happier freelancer

    happierfreelancer

    Hey lovely freelancers! I’ve got a slightly longer podcast for you this week (don’t worry, it’s still just under 10 minutes.) You can also find a transcribed version below, if you prefer to read your words rather than listen to them.

    This week, it’s all about how to get back in the happy zone when you’re suffering from a freelance slump.

    This week I wanted to talk about something that’s very close to my heart, and that’s about being a happier freelancer. Now this week’s been a bit of a tricky week for me: I’ve had to do my accounts which, I have to admit I have put off a little bit this month, and therefore there’s a lot to get on with*.

    *Ok when I say this month, I mean this year.

    I have not been organised on the accounts front and it’s not something I would recommend, especially when you then discover the ink in your printer has dried up and you then have to rush off to the supermarket to buy more ink cartridges.

    But it made me think about all the things that make me a happier freelancer. Because it’s not always amazing days spent on the sofa, working with dream clients, everything going perfectly, and getting paid on time.

    There are times when we need to make a real effort to make ourselves happier as a freelancer, and make our whole freelance lifestyle a more positive experience.

    So, there are a few things that I wanted to share with you – both a mix of my own tips and some of the tips from my Freelance Lifestylers Facebook community (which you can access simply by signing up to FREE my newsletter) to see what they find helps them come out of a bit of a slump.

    H-app-ier

    First of all kicking off with some apps (because you know I love some apps). The first app I love is Happier. It’s an app where you are encouraged to record three happy moments every day. And it’s all about the whole mindfulness movement of making sure that you’re constantly remembering all the positives in life rather than constantly dwelling on the bad things. So you might have a day where you’re chasing clients for payments or you’re dealing with a particularly difficult client. Or you just don’t have the motivation to really get going that day (because we do all have days like that). On those days I like to make sure that I always record the three small moments that have made me happy. There’s very rarely a day where there aren’t at least three small moments that make you happy, whether it’s the nice blue skies we’re enjoying at the moment, having a really nice conversation with someone on Twitter or a compliment on email.

    Second one is an app I’ve been using a bit more recently called Happify (yes there is a running theme with the names here). Happify is all about encouraging a happier mood through different activities on the app. They’ve got an app where balloons pop up with positive words on them and you have to pop the ones with positive words, which sounds very simple but it actually does have a really good effect of putting you in a more positive mindset. There are bundle of other activities and articles on there too. It’s a free app but there is a subscription if you want to use the more advanced bits. But to be honest so far I’ve found that the free bits have all been really great. So that’s Happify.

    Pinspiration

    If I am really struggling to get in a good mood I find a little bit of Pinterest helps, there’s usually something on there that inspires me. I’m either going to go down the route of looking at ways to improve my processes as a business, ways to be happier or I just indulge in the chocolate cake section of Pinterest which, you know, always brings happy thoughts. Pinterest is always somewhere I go, and I have created boards in the past (private boards) which are boards of happy things, of things that I love about freelancing or things that I want to achieve. I might add something to my goals board. Things like that can really help you refocus.

    Pimp your working space

    The fourth thing is pimping up your working area. If you find that you’re in a bit of a bad mood, you’re struggling to focus, you can’t get the jobs done or you just don’t seem to be attracting the right kind of work, have a look at your working space. And if your office is cluttered, and a bit dusty and rubbish, and there’s nothing there that’s particularly inspiring you, now might be the time to pimp up that working area. You can pop down to places like some of the supermarkets or WHSmiths (if you’ve still got one) or even eBay have loads of really nice stuff, even if it’s just new stationery, that will keep you feeling happier and inspired in your working life.

    Pimp your playlist

    Number five: podcasts. You know I love podcasts, and hopefully you do too. And there are lots of podcasts I’m loving at the moment. I’m especially loving Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcasts – all about building habits and how to live a happier life around those habits. Each week she sets a new goal that you can do, and one of them last week was the Power Hour. This is where you set an hour to do all those little tasks that you’ve been putting off – they’re not necessarily urgent but they’re niggling at the back of your head. This Power Hour is designed to get all those done. So it might be changing light bulbs, it might be finally using an IFTTT recipe to get things organised, it might be even dropping someone an email about doing your accounts for you. Her podcast is really great, but there are loads of fantastic ones. I also love Ru Paul’s podcast for something a bit more light and fun, and the High Tea Cast girls – you know I’m a big fan of those girls so their podcasts always on my playlist every Monday morning.

    Spotify is also your friend here: get yourself a playlist of those songs that never fail to put you in a good mood. They can be as cheesy as you like because nobody else has to listen to them, but just get yourself some really chearful tunes in a ‘happy’ playlist, and I guarantee you will feel better.

    I popped over to the Facebook group and I asked what they did to get themselves out of a bit of a funk. Walking pops up a lot for people – and a lot of people find that going for a walk, especially at this time of year, can make a huge difference to their happiness and their stress levels.

    Jen Thorne (who writes one of my favourite beauty blogs – A Beauty Junkie In London) takes herself off to Pho for working noodles or she takes the dog for a walk. She’s also one of the people in the group who highly rate a walk in the fresh air. Nina Lenton said she solved many problems through taking a walking break. I’ve personally found it really helps as well – it gives you a bit more perspective and it makes you feel a bit healthier as well because sometimes when you’re slumped at your desk and you’ve been living off coffee all day, and you haven’t been particularly healthy, you can start to feel a bit, well, rank. Going out and taking a walk can really help.

    Human contact is essential. Jo Shock said that contact with other humans, online or offline, is really helpful for her, even if it means just going to a coffee shop. That’s one of the reasons I created the Facebook group – The Freelance Lifestylers – (which is absolutely free for you guys to join), because I felt like we needed a place where freelancers could chat about things and just connect with other freelancers really.

    Kerri Walker – she does something that a lot freelancers, myself included, do but we don’t necessarily always admit to: ring our mums! I always ring my mum if I’ve got a problem. She is a business woman herself, so she gets where I’m coming from quite often and it’s great to have someone to sound off. But I also talk to other friends and freelancers if I have any kind of problems with that.

    Pascale Recher is all about the Earl Grey, a good podcast and a nice easy task to start the day.

    And finally Tracey Marsh goes for yoga and a dog walk. Now you might have noticed that dogs are a big theme here. It definitely seems like, although cats are my personal preference out of cats and dogs, dogs seem to be a freelancer’s best friend in terms of getting us out of the house and feeling a bit happier.

    So those are just a few tips for how I, and the members of the Facebook community, prefer to make our freelance lives happier but I would love to know what you do.

    If you’re having a bit of a difficult week as a freelancer, what do you do to keep things fresh and happy?

  • What to do when you fall ill as a freelancer

    HNCK4555-1300x867
    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?

  • Three ways to find new work in April

    finding new work in april

    Happy Pitch Slap Wednesday (not sure what the hell I’m talking about? You’ll need this post then). Welcome to a new series of monthly posts identifying ways to find new business and find new business.

    Pitching for work can feel like an endless, tedious task at times, so these tasks should help keep #PitchSlapWednesday fresh!

    Online: Facebook adverts. Have you tried Facebook advertising yet? If you’ve got a page, there’s a good chance you might have given the Boost function a try. At just £3 a post, it’s worth a try eh? But have you tried using the PowerEditor function? It gives you far more freedom to pick and choose your audience – so a post about your services can reach exactly who you want it to. There’s a great guide here if you’re looking to try it out.

    Offline: Flyers. In the world of digital media, it’s easy to forget about offline old school marketing. But depending on your services, a well placed flyer or poster can be really effective. Say you’re selling a service that requires face-to-face interaction locally. It’s important to reach them in the places they’re visiting. So if you offering a service where mothers are your primary target, make sure your posters are up in community halls, nurseries if possible and kids play areas. You can create a quick and easy poster using Canva.com.

    In a communityGuest posts. When was the last time you wrote a guest post? I know, I know, sometimes it’s enough of an effort writing your own blog. But a well placed guest post can make a huge difference to your viability – and help you reach new potential clients and customers. Perhaps even consider a post swap to get a bit of accountability with another blogger?

    What will you be doing for #PitchSlapWednesday this week?

    [su_service title=”Need more help with pitching?” icon=”icon: users” class=”a:link {http://thefreelancelifestyleecourse.usefedora.com/courses/freelancepitching }”]Take the How To Pitch e-course for just £29! Learn how to format your pitch, how to use LinkedIn to win clients, how to win on bidding sites and much more!a:link { }[/su_service]

  • 10 Ways To Be A Productive Freelancer

    shareasimage (17)

    “God, I could never work from home. I’d just watch daytime TV and sleep in all the time! I’d find it so boring.”

    As all home-based freelancers know, freelancing requires a sh*tload of self-motivation, discipline and drive. When you work on a daily or hourly rate, you really can’t afford to coast. And boredom? HA. I haven’t been bored in nearly seven years – there’s always something to do.*

    *Although sometimes that thing to do is done in front of a catch up episode of Made In Chelsea. Well, no one’s perfect are they?

    Getting into your productivity groove isn’t always easy though, and some days it’s downright impossible. Especially when you have other things to worry about too, like childcare, finding new clients and doing your accounts. So, how can you become a more productive freelancer?

    Try some of these ten tips:

    1. Write a To Do list 
      Every evening, I write a To Do list for the next day in my Wunderlist app. Often it’s a brain dump of everything I’m worried about – and sometimes those are things carried over from the previous day. But brain dumping everything makes it easier to work out what to tackle the next day – plus I can do it in bed so I sleep better that night.
    2. Choose your frog
      I’m a big fan of the Eat That Frog theory. Essentially, if you had to eat a big, ugly, warty frog at some point today, when is the best time to do it? First thing – otherwise you’re dreading it all day. Once you’ve got your To Do list, choose your frog and get it over with.
    3. Choose three priorities
      After choosing my frog, I choose three priorities for things to do that day. These are things that will benefit my business, so things like pitching for new work, doing my accounts or finishing that report so I can invoice a client.
    4. Split your days into chunks
      I’m a big fan of splitting my day into workable chunks. At the moment, with the delights of pregnancy and a nice dose of SPD (that’s a pelvis that’s loosened up early thanks to some over-eager hormones), I’m finding that mornings are great for any physical jobs like face-to-face coaching or meetings. By the afternoon my body is out of order but my brain is still going, so I use this time for writing and emails. If you’re in the peak of health, you may find that there are certain times when you work best – perhaps early in the morning or late at night. Sometimes splitting your day into chunks – two hours for writing, two hours for pitching, two hours for admin, one hour for email etc, keeps you focused and on target.
    5. Work when you’re most effective
      As I mentioned in point 4, some people work best at different times. I’m all about the early mornings. 6am-2pm is my zone, with a couple of hours in the evening if needs be. Other people find eight hours after lunch is their perfect time. Unless your clients expect you to work at specific times, the best thing to do is to see what time you naturally wake up – and work with that.
    6. Eat right!
      You know as well as I do that you are what you eat – and if your main meals centre around sugar and refined carbs, you’re probably not going to be firing on all cylinders. Have a peek at Wholeheartedly Healthy for some much better ideas of fun, delicious and easy food you can have at home.
    7. Take time away
      Now, I’m not the best at taking time off. In fact, I have a week off coming up – and there’s a good chance I’ll be doing some blogging and mind mapping. Time off is essential though. If you find time off a struggle, make sure you get some accountability – book lunch with a friend, sign yourself up for a workout, or visit someone a few miles away. You’re more likely to take time off if you have to physically leave the house – and more often than not it will lead to you coming back to your business better than ever.
    8. Take time to evaluate
      Constantly powering through is fine, but you need to take time away to see the big picture. One great way to do this is through speaking to a mentor or a coach who can help you spot any issues that you’re too close to see.
    9. Outsource
      This should be way further up on the list. Outsourcing is a really, really good way to be more productive. It’s easy to get stuck on certain details as a freelancer, which can end up blocking you from really achieving your goals. Outsourcing certain tasks to a VA or on sites like Fiverr.com may be a small initial cost, but the benefits you’ll reap far exceed it.
    10. Finally, choose your projects wisely
      Don’t waste your energy on projects or clients that drain you. Life really is too short, and it will reduce your productivity levels. Choose your projects wisely, learn when to say no to the wrong project and when to listen to your gut.

    How do you stay productive?

  • 10 ways to boost your biz on a budget

    10 Ways to boost your biz on a budget

     

    Building and growing your business as a freelancer is pretty exciting, right? But many freelancers I know are nervous about growing their business as they envision huge upscaling costs. Not true! There are plenty of ways you can grow your business, with a few free or low cost tools.

    • Get your social media organised: Buffer – [su_highlight]FREE-£10 a month[/su_highlight]. If there’s one tool that’s made the biggest difference to my business in the last six months, it’s Buffer. I use it to schedule all my content in for the week, find suggested content and add in links from my favourite feeds. Not only does this save me lots of time, but it’s also boosted my Twitter followers and helped me focus on relationship building. As a bonus, they’ve just added a tool to create great social images for blog posts and social media (if you’re signed up to the £10 a month subscription).
    • Get networking and building a tribe online: Facebook groups – [su_highlight]FREE[/su_highlight](unless private subscription). One of the easiest and cheap ways to build or join a community now is on Facebook, through the groups. Pages are becoming trickier thanks to that naughty algorithm that keeps us on our toes and keeps us spending money to reach our fans, but groups are free to use and posts can read everyone (depending on their notification settings). I’ve build some fantastic new business relationships through both my own group (more of that in a couple of bullet points) and through others. Here are a few of my favourite groups for freelancers.
    • Outsource the small stuff: Fiverr. [su_highlight]$5[/su_highlight] Fiverr is a freelance marketplace for small tasks you want to outsource. I recently used it to get a voiceover for my podcast, a tweak to my theme and a quick banner. I wouldn’t use it for anything extensive (ethically I don’t agree with paying tiny amounts for lengthly jobs – you get what you pay for and freelancers deserve better), but for quick little jobs that would take me hours and others 5-15 minutes, I outsource.
    • Upgrade your imagery: Canva.com. [su_highlight]FREE[/su_highlight] Hello game changing app! This website and iPad app is the best way to create good visuals – and good visuals can lead to a higher click through rate, more shares on Pinterest and a better brand.
    • Expand your reading for less: Buck Books. [su_highlight]$1[/su_highlight] I’ve been subscribed to Buck Books for a while now, a newsletter where you get daily deals for $1 Kindle books by newsletter. There’s a mix of fiction, food and business books – and the latter is usually new but promising titles. I believe there is also a UK version.
    • Get the best software and services for lessApp Sumo (affil link). [su_highlight]A huge chunk off the price of great services.[/su_highlight] This newsletter offers a new discounted offer on a digital service or products every week or so. Products recently range from YNAB to three months of Audible membership for $2.95 a month. The discounts are huge and it’s a great way to find out about new and emerging startups. They also do a great free email course on doubling your mailing list.
    • Keep your finance costs down: Banks. [su_highlight]FREE[/su_highlight] If you’re a sole trader you can often make do with a standard free account (you do need a business account for when you go Limited Company though)
    • Meeting people face-to-face: Networking events. [su_highlight]The price of a cup of coffee[/su_highlight] There are plenty of membership networking groups around which charge large fees for you to join based on the idea that you’ll get lots of referrals. I’m sure some of these work. But often there are a limited number of people in these groups. Personally, I prefer the coffee morning style ones where you pop a few quid in a pot for your drinks and meet lots of people. I also wouldn’t just stick to one networking event. Try lots!
    • Get your business organised: Project management software. [su_highlight]FREE[/su_highlight] I recently started using free tool Asana and I love it – it’s the perfect way to see where you are with all your projects, set deadlines, provide structure and have somewhere to brain dump ideas.
    • Get socially savvy: Social Lite Support. [su_highlight]£20 a month[/su_highlight] While I highly recommend speaking to a social media consultant when your ute starting out to help develop your social media strategy, I know that hiring a consultant on a monthly basis isn’t an option available to some smaller businesses. That’s why I created The Social Lite Support group, a private Facebook group where you your questions can be asked, inspiration can be found, ideas can be shaped and strategies formed. It’s micro-social media consulting – for just £20 a month.
    So, what should you splurge on?
    • Coaching/mentoring – investing in a great coach can have a huge impact on your business, and that 1-2-1 help means you get customised advice and can cut to the chase. Work out how much work you need to get back to pay the price of a coach, then make that your goal for the first couple of weeks after. If you’re looking to up your freelance game, I do offer 1-2-1 coaching for freelancers for just £99.
    • VA. Hiring a VA (or two!) has been one of the best moves I’ve made in my business this year, and you’ll be surprised how affordable they are – especially when they get the work done faster than you (and in some cases, bigger). If you’re looking to grow your business, I’d highly recommend looking at getting a VA as your first step. I’m not a naturally organised person, but having Joanna Shock on board has been like getting a brain cleaner in – suddenly I have structure and time to focus on the important stuff.
    • Accountant. This is not an area where you want to go cheap and cheerful. You get what you pay for, and often you’ll find that you’ll make back the money you’ve invested in tax savings if they’re great at their job.
    • Great PR skills. Being freelance means you need to do all of your own PR, which can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. Kerri Walker has recently launched a great 30 Day PR course to get you going with your PR (and the first 50 people get a £20 discount off the £49 price, so it’s actually a bargain!). Kerri also runs The DIY PR Club, which will take your business to the next level using clever PR techniques.
    • Good equipment. Tapping away on a crappy laptop which freezes all the time is soul destroying and adds a lot of stress to your day. Laptops don’t have to be super expensive (for example, for on the go work I have a brilliant Dell Chromebook which appears to only be £125 <http://www.dell.com/uk/business/p/chromebook-11/pd&gt; at the moment). But you shouldn’t have to make do with something which is slowing the productivity of your business.

    What did you splurge and save on when growing your business?