New Freelancer

  • 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.

  • Can freelancing help you break through the glass ceiling?

    glass ceiling freelanceAccording to Wikipedia *cough*, the glass ceiling is “the unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.”

    [su_pullquote align=”right”]”The UK median employed wage is £22,044 for all workers, full-time and part-time. Men in full-time work earn on average £29,441 and women in full-time jobs earn £23,889.”[/su_pullquote]

    Pretty sucky, right? But increasingly, I’m coming to the conclusion that this glass ceiling is being smashed through by freelancers and the self-employed, who aren’t restricted by the traditional workplaces and career options. While the pay gap in the British workplace may be shrinking, it’s still a big problem that a lot of women and minorities suffer with. But the flexibility and variety of freelance life means that women in particular are able to overcome these income and work barriers.

    So, how can freelancing help women in particular break through the glass ceiling?

    • Freelancers, in general, are hired based on their talent, qualifications and skillset. Also, on recommendation. That said, a large part of the success of many entrepreneurial women is down to their personal brand – and women are currently leading the boom in post-recession start ups. According to a recent PeoplePerHour survey, “Women are winning 58% of online work advertised, with an average hourly rate of £22.43 when freelancing. In comparison, men earn an average of £21.57, almost a pound less than women per hour.”[su_pullquote align=”right”]”Women are winning 58% of online work advertised, with an average hourly rate of £22.43 when freelancing. In comparison, men earn an average of £21.57, almost a pound less than women per hour.”[/su_pullquote]
    • Lifestyle businesses, and particularly those aimed at women, are huge right now (just look at women like Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield Thomas and Jo Gifford). Once that brand is established, you can grow your business by working with other freelancers and entrepreneurs. Being a freelancer is a wonderful way to begin a career as a future business owner.
    • Freelancing and flexibility go hand in hand, and this is particularly the case when it comes to hours. Rather than having to conform to fixed work hours, freelancers can work around their other commitments, such as childcare or sleeping patterns (some people just work best early in the day or late into the night). This means you can run a business around your life, rather than the other way round.
    • The internet has given us far more opportunities than we’ve ever had before. Now freelancers can reach out to a wide variety of clients, rather than being restricted to those nearby. We can also offer a number of different services, so we’re not just limited to one job or one client. Which kind of ruins all those theories that being employed is more secure than being self-employed.
    • We can set our own prices. Freelancers, and female freelancers in particular, are now able to set their own prices and raise them. You can charge what you’re worth, as an individual offering a customised service, rather than simply what others in the same job get paid.
    • We now have far more success stories to look towards for inspiration. As well as the women I’ve already mentioned, women like Arianna Huffington and Susan Cain continue to inspire women in particular to realise that the sky really is the limit when it comes to earnings and growth.

    The time has never been better to go freelance, and it’s the perfect opportunity to achieve the goals and dreams that are limited in an employed role.

    [su_box title=”Want to break through the glass ceiling and go freelance?” style=”glass” box_color=”#0f734e”]FLCThe Freelance Lifestyle e-course gives you everything you need to get the ball rolling to become a successful freelancer. The 30 day course is aimed at anyone thinking of starting their own business, but not sure how to do it. Click here to find out more! [/su_box]

  • 15 things you need to know before becoming a freelance blogger/writer

     

    Hello! This blog post all about becoming a freelance blogger is an oldie, from back in 2010. You can find more up to date info at the following links. 

    freelance blogger

    Blogging has grown in leaps and bounds in the last ten years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of the industry for the last 18 months. I’ve blogged for sites covering topics like fashion, beauty, slow life, opinions, gadgets and social media, and I’ve never loved a job more.

    But it’s not for everyone. So, if you’re considering starting the new year off as a freelance blogger or writer, there’s a few things you should take into consideration. I’m not an expert by any means, so this is purely taken from my own experiences.

    Normal hours go out the window…

    Full time blogging is rarely a 9-5 job, at least not when you’re starting out. Be prepared to work evenings and weekends to hit your deadlines. The fantastic thing about blogging is that you can fit it in around your own schedule. If you’ve got kids or prefer to work lates and enjoy lie ins, you can arrange your blogging around that.

    ….But setting hours is good practice

    It’s taken me quite a while to fully understand and implement this. Aim to stop working after a certain time, give yourself at least a weekend off a month and set time limits to get work done keeps you focussed, and stops you getting blogging overload.

    Working in your PJs is not productive….

    Personally, my most productive days are the ones where I get dressed and work at my desk. I don’t do it every day (Friday is my day working in my PJs on the sofa) but keeping some form of routine does help.

    Plus the postie stops making sarkie remarks when you greet him in your oldest PJs.

    ….Nor is working in front of the TV

    Again, it’s a personal thing, but working in front of the TV makes me less productive. I’ve tried to convince myself otherwise, but my work output confirms it: I work better with silence or just the radio on.

    Saying that, I like to think watching the Gilmore Girls provides me with the odd witty put down.

    British moneyImage by sirqitous via FlickrYou’ll need to gain experience. Possible for free

    I got my lucky break into blogging by writing my own blog, and doing unpaid (aside from travel costs) internship for a couple of lovely startups. That experience, the referrals I gained from it and the knowledge I built from them led to me starting a role with Miramus as a part-time editorial assistant, and starting several other blogging jobs.

    It’s not ideal, but there are companies out there who let you do your internship from home, meaning you can take on other paid evening or weekend work to support yourself. Otherwise, work like mad for several months, save up several months living costs, then fit in as many internships as possible.

    …But know when to charge

    You might get a few people emailing you with “We can’t pay you, but it’s a great opportunity to get a byline and get promotion.” Some of these are genuine and a good opportunity. In fact I write for free for a couple of blogs, like Dork Adore, out of love for the content. But don’t do too much free work, or you’ll devalue your own product.

    No one else in the creative industry would give away their services so freely, so try not to get into the habit of doing it.

    Get a contract and prepare to chase up the odd outstanding invoice….
    Hopefully it won’t happen too often to you, but there may be instances where a client can’t or won’t pay on time, or refuses to pay at all. Get a contract before you start to make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong.

    …Invoice systems will make your life, and your accountants, a whole lot easier.

    Freeagent makes my life roughly 47% easier. Probably. Creating an invoice is really easily and it can then be printed or emailed to your client. Then at the end of the year, when it’s tax time, you just need to hit print all and you’ve got all your invoices, payments and total income for the year. It’ll also import your bank statements, and fill in most of your self-assessment return for you. You can sign up using my FreeAgent referral link.

    Planning is key

    If you’re writing for quite a few blogs, a spreadsheet with planned posts and previous posts will help you keep ahead. Using sites like Evernote or Trello let you save images, files, links and videos, which can come in handy when you’re juggling several different topics.

    But blogging is fast moving, so be prepared to be flexible

    Blogging gives you the edge over the printed press as you can respond to something newsworthy straight away. So although you might have a top 10 posts planned, you’ll need to be prepared to drop it for the more urgent post.


    Social media and blogging go hand in hand

    I picked up a lot of my blogging work through recommendations and Twitter. If you’re a blogger, you almost certainly need to be on Twitter. It allows you to share your work, chat with other bloggers and build up a network. Plus it’s a great place to bounce potential blog post ideas of people.

    ...But don’t spam your followers

    Just don’t. Constantly spamming your followers with links to your blogs will only succeed in reducing your numbers and annoying people. A couple of links will do.

    You don’t need a journalism degree…

    Controversial perhaps, but I don’t believe all great bloggers have a journalism background. It’s a bit tougher, as I found with my business degree, but the other skills you’ve learned can be applied to this industry.

    …but it definitely gives you a headstart.

    When I started working at Miramus, I had a huge amount to learn regarding grammar and wording. And I’m still learning. I had some insecurities about my lack of journalism and writing knowledge. But I think if you’re determined enough, you can catch up with everyone else.

    Finally: If you want to be a blogger, create a blog!

    It’s the best experience you can get, and your blog is your portfolio. When you apply for blogging or editorial roles, you’ll often be asked to provide your blog URL. Get writing now and you’ll find your niche and discover whether it’s for you.

    Bloggers! What advice would you give to someone looking to become a freelance blogger or writer?

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