Podcasts & Interviews

  • A Day In The Life Of A Freelance Designer, Illustrator and Blogger: Cat Neligan

    Cat NeliganTell us a bit about you!

    My name is Cat Neligan, and I’m based in London. I work as a freelance designer (print and digital) by day, and an illustrator/blogger by night.

    How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?

    I’m fairly new to the freelance game – I left my last job as a web designer in a small company in March 2013, and since then have been grabbing odd design jobs here and there, blogging, and pursuing my illustrator dreams. My main reason for going the freelance route was to escape the repetition. As much as I enjoyed the work I was doing for my last company, I wanted to experience more variation, and have more time for personal projects.

    Let’s talk about the start of your day – are you an early riser, or a night owl?

    I’m an early bird all the way! A typical day starts at 6am, with a little yoga and a lot of coffee. I’m most productive in the hours up until 3/4pm, so I get the majority of my ‘important’ jobs out of the way. I’m usually stuck at the screen basically! On days where I’m contracting I’ll be at a client’s office. It is nice to be in someone else’s office rather than my study for a change! At around 6pm I turn on my artistic brain, and get to work on illustration projects, and blogging. These are the things I do for passion, not to pay the bills, so they have to take a backseat for now!

    What time do you start work?

    I’m usually working away by 7. I  like to spend the first hour of my day as calmly as possible – yoga, a walk – it’s great to get some sun in the summer months first thing. I try not to check emails until 9am, and tackle my most important tasks before this, a la Tim Ferris. Sometimes I’ll get a quick workout in, if my day isn’t looking too hectic.

    [themify_quote]I  like to spend the first hour of my day as calmly as possible – yoga, a walk – it’s great to get some sun in the summer months first thing.”[/themify_quote]

    Do you work from home?

    I do work mostly from home, and that suits me very well. Sometimes I get cabin fever and will take my laptop to a coffee shop to use their free wi-fi and see some human faces!

    What’s your morning routine before you start work?

    First thing is practising some gentle yoga for around 20 minutes. Next up is a cocktail of warm water, fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. I’m a bit of a health nut and obsessed with this stuff! Once I settle down to work, I’ll enjoy some coffee (bulletproof style – black coffee blended with butter and MCT oil – trust me it’s like rocket fuel!)

    Do you take a lunch break?

    Oh yes. If I’m at home, I like to spend some extra time preparing lunch – it breaks up the day and chills me out. If I’m at a client’s office, I always get out of the office for lunch – I can’t stand sitting at the desk over a sandwich! A little walk around in this time also seems to perk me up.

    How do you tend to spend your afternoons?

    I start to wind down in the afternoon, so I turn to tea breaks and try my best to stay focussed. Sometimes I’ll get non-work related chores done in this time, or take my work to a coffee shop.

    How do you keep motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?

    Luckily I love what I do – most of the time! So I don’t struggle with motivation. One thing I do to keep me focussed though is using a task manager, like Kanbanflow. This lets me plan my day/week/month really easily and I can set a timer on the task at hand. Every 25 minutes it goes off, and reminds me to stand up/move about/get some water (I have 5 minutes to do this in) and get back to work.

    [themify_quote]Kanbanflow lets me plan my day/week/month really easily and I can set a timer on the task at hand.” [/themify_quote]

    What time do you tend to sign off for the day?

    Hmm this is one I struggle on! I try to shut down the laptop between 8-9pm, and give my eyes (and brain!) some rest. I might get to work with a pen and paper (old school!) or just chill out with a book.

    Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?

    The excitement! I love that every day is different. I love being in charge of my schedule. I love having direct contact with clients, and feeling like I’m responsible for the projects I’m working on. I also love being able to work in my pjs if I fancy it!

    And your least favourite thing about freelancing?

    The instability. It is scary not knowing where the next job is going to come from, and how sustainable that is. Also, being a bit of a workaholic, I tend to take on more work than I should, which is sometimes a bit stressful and I often need talking down!

    What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?

    Kanbanflow for time management, Redbooth for projects, Google drive for storing and sharing documents, F.Lux (turns down the blue light on my laptop when the sun goes down), my Wacom tablet for drawing digitally.

    Where can we find you online?

    My illustration portfolio: http://www.catillest.com
    My design portfolio: http://www.catneligan.com
    My blog: http://www.catfoodisgoodforyou.com
    Twitter: @catfoodisgood4u / @catillest
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/catfoodisgood4u / http://www.facebook.com/catillest

    I’m currently free to take on new clients for blog or website re-design. If you want anything from a logo refresh to a total overhaul, I’m available to chat. Email me at: hello@catillest.com

    The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?

    Passion! Wanting something enough and making sure I pull out all the stops to achieve my goals.

    Want to take part in the Day In The Life Of A Freelancer series? Simply fill in this form

  • A Day In The Life Of A Freelance Illustrator: Estelle Morris

    Estelle MorrisTell us a bit about you!

    Hi! I’m Estelle (or Stell to most people). I’m a freelance illustrator living in East London, but am originally from the West Midlands.

    How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?

    I’ve been freelancing for about 15 months now, prior to which I worked full time for a luxury packaging company in Cambridge. I’ve wanted to go freelance since graduating from my illustration degree in 2010, finally taking the plunge in October 2013.

    I quit my job and moved to London with friends, using a small bit of savings to start me off. Since then I’ve been lucky to have regular work and managed to pay London-rate rent…

    I started freelancing as I was bored of working for someone else and had a constant itch to create and sell my own work.

    [themify_quote]I often stay up into the early hours when I really get stuck into a project.”[/themify_quote]

    Let’s talk about the start of your day – are you an early riser, or a night owl?

    Funnily enough I actually wake up earlier now that I don’t have a workplace to go to… but I’ve always hated getting up early and unless I have a meeting or need to work on a big project, I start working when I feel comfortable and have had a big breakfast!

    I’m definitely a night owl when it comes to working though, often staying up into the early hours when I really get stuck into a project.

    What time do you start work?

    Usually about an hour after I wake up, after a sufficient dosage of caffeine and pancakes.

    Do you work from home?

    Yes, at the moment I’ve commandeered our dining table as my work space, but I’m hoping to be able to rent a desk space or studio in the near future.

    What’s your morning routine before you start work?

    Eat, drink a black coffee and go through my emails and social media channels, replying to messages and updating things if I need to.

    Do you take a lunch break?

    If I’m stuck into a project I lose track of time and sometimes forget it’s lunch! However I will eventually stop and make myself something; it’s lovely to be able to cook lunch from scratch and really take my time over it, as opposed to grabbing a sandwich like I used to in an office.

    [themify_quote]It’s lovely to be able to cook lunch from scratch and really take my time over it, as opposed to grabbing a sandwich like I used to in an office.” [/themify_quote]

    How do you tend to spend your afternoons?

    After lunch I carry on working into the evening, unless I’m out at a meeting, hanging out with other freelance friends or visiting a gallery/museum. I like to get out for a while or take my housemate’s chihuahua for a walk to break up the day.

    How do you keep motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?

    I think I’ve always been quite naturally motivated, but as I’m lucky enough to be able to do something I love for a living, I remind myself of that everyday which spurs me on a lot.

    Also, the fear of not making rent generally gets me working!

    What time do you tend to sign off for the day?

    Sometimes when my housemates come home from work at around 6/7pm I’ll switch off and hang out with them, but usually I’ll just carry on until I go to bed.

    [themify_quote]I get to draw all day and it’s wonderful.” [/themify_quote]

    Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?

    The freedom. I can do what I want, when I want and I don’t have to answer to anyone else. I don’t have to be somewhere at 9am everyday or work for someone else. I get to draw all day and it’s wonderful.

    And your least favourite thing about freelancing?

    Difficult clients and low pay (sometimes). I’ve had a lot of let downs with jobs and had to deal with difficult people who don’t seem to understand how commissioning a freelancer works. Also a lot of jobs have a very low budget. I used to work for free/low pay when I started but I refuse now – you have to stand up for yourself and know your worth as an artist.

    What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?

    HB pencils, black Indian ink and my scanner. I generally work freehand, scanning everything in afterwards and tinkering about on Photoshop or Illustrator. I also pay monthly for Adobe Suite 6 which is a godsend!

    Where can we find you online?

    Website: http://www.estellemorris.co.uk
    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/estellemorrisillustration
    Twitter: @estelle_morris
    Blog: estellemorris.blogspot.com

    The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?

    I still have a long way to go success-wise… but for me I’ve just always wanted to be an artist and nothing else would do.

    Want to take part in the Day In The Life Of A Freelancer series? Simply fill in this form

  • A Day In The Life Of A Freelance Graphic Designer: Amy Purdie

    Amy PurdieTell us a bit about you!

    I’m Amy Purdie, a graphic designer based in South East Northumberland – but I work with clients anywhere in the world.

    I help businesses to stand out, look good all the time and help business owners feel confident about their business image.

    How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?

    I started in February 2010 following redundancy whilst on maternity leave. I wanted the flexibility to work around my daughter and because I was made redundant about a fortnight before I was due back at work I needed a job pronto! So I grabbed the opportunity and haven’t looked back 🙂

    Let’s talk about the start of your day – are you an early riser, or a night owl?

    I try to get my daughter to nursery for 8.45 – I usually fail – it’ll be interesting how this works when she starts school! I’m definitely naturally a night owl, but I need to fit in around her schedule so I normally get up around 7 (or later once I’ve hit snooze more times than I should have!), eat toast and yoghurt while trying to wake her up (she’s not a morning person) and then we manage to fling everything together and rush out the house by about 9.

    What time do you start work?

    I work in my parents’ house which is about 15/20 minutes drive away so it’s usually around 9.30.

    Do you work from home?

    No. I work in a spare room at my parents’ house which is fantastic. I have an office that isn’t in my house, I don’t pay rent or any other bills, I get to see my parents either before they start work or when they come home most days and I get to eat Mam’s homemade cake! It’s perfect. Sometimes they leave me notes saying lovely things like “crumble in the fridge” or “you’d like this book” and during the school holidays when Mam is home she makes me lunch. I love it, and it means I can leave everything behind me when I go home – although I can always open up my laptop and be back at work on the dining table in the evening… I try not to do that though and I’m getting so much better!

    [themify_quote]I find the drive really helpful – I write blog posts in my head, I make lists, I draft emails, I have ideas.” [/themify_quote]

    What’s your working routine before you start work?

    Once I get up and have breakfast I get my daughter and I ready – sometimes my husband helps – drop her at nursery and drive to work. I find the drive really helpful. I write blog posts in my head, I make lists, I draft emails, I have ideas – driving is really useful, it’s the same on the way home! Then when I get to work I’m already in work mode so I just need a drink and off I go.

    Do you take a lunch break?

    Sometimes I do – and I definitely do when Mam’s at home – but most of the time I’ll use the time to watch a TED talk or read a newsletter or check Twitter or just to make a list. I love a good list!

    How do you tend to spend your afternoons?

    Much as I spend the mornings – on a current project. So I could be designing a logo or a website or putting some brand guidelines together. I try to arrange meetings for the mornings as I’m much more productive in the afternoons so I’m usually in the office working on something – and loving it.

    How do you keep motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?

    If I lose my oomph then I’ll hop onto Facebook and look at pictures of my daughter for a bit and then it comes back! Or I’ll take a look at my vision board or just change the project I’m working on. I work on more than one thing at once so it’s easy to chop and change for a bit.

    What time do you tend to sign off for the day?

    I pick my daughter up from nursery at 6 so at 5.40 I’m usually rushing out the door to make sure I’m not late. If I need to go shopping I might leave a bit earlier so I can tackle the supermarket on my own – on a Friday it’s Daddy day so there’s not such a big rush to leave but I try to make it about the same time.

    [themify_quote] There’s always something new to learn or something challenging to try and I love hearing about what other people do and how their businesses work.” [/themify_quote]

    Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?

    The people. I have met so many interesting people in real life and online – who have really helped me since I started. There’s always something new to learn or something challenging to try and I love hearing about what other people do and how their businesses work.

    And your least favourite thing about freelancing?

    Not switching off. Sometimes I feel that all I talk about is work – but it’s always on my mind! I’ll think of things I need to do, or ideas for a project or something I should blog about at really inconvenient times and then I’ll disappear into my phone or my laptop and that’s not great for my family. Although I think they mind more than me! Sometimes my husband goes out for a child-free coffee while I “should” be working and I find it really hard because I feel like I should be back at the office, even though I set my own timetable!

    What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?

    My diary. I have a paper diary, I can’t get away with popping things in my phone. I love it.

    Notebooks – I scribble a lot, I write tons of notes, I’m always referring to my notebooks, tearing pages out of them to go in the client files and doodling ideas and making lists. I’d be lost if I didn’t have a notebook. Or a pen for that matter!

    Social media – this has been a huge help for my business ever since I started. Tweeting and breastfeeding worked really well together in the first year and now I find that Facebook is more successful for me.

    Also my iPhone and my iMac. Essential!

    Where can we find you online?

    Website: http://www.whiteacresdesign.co.uk
    http://www.Facebook.com/WhiteacresDesign
    http://www.Twitter.com/amypurdie
    https://plus.google.com/+AmyPurdie/posts
    http://www.Linkedin.com/in/amypurdie
    http://www.youtube.com/user/whiteacresdesign
    http://www.Pinterest.com/Whiteacres/
    http://www.Instagram.com/amypurdie

    To achieve Design Success you can get my free Design Success Toolkit packed full of checklists, tips, questions and ideas to make your business image work.

    The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?

    Ooo… I think it’s Very Hard Work and being open to learn and implement those changes.

    Want to take part in the Day In The Life Of A Freelancer series? Simply fill in this form

  • A Day In The Life Of A Freelance Copywriter: Jamie Thomson

    Jamie Thomson CopywriterTell us a bit about you!

    My name’s Jamie Thomson and I’m a freelance copywriter based in Aberdeen.

    How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?

    I’ve been freelancing full time since June 2014. I decided to go freelance first and foremost because I love writing. And I wanted to have control over my own career and finances. I wanted to get away from the stresses of working in offices and give myself some breathing space to pursue one of my passions and make a living from it.

    [themify_quote]I’m most productive first thing in the morning and most creative late at night.” [/themify_quote]

    Let’s talk about the start of your day – are you an early riser, or a night owl?

    I’m definitely a night owl. In fact it’s 05.57 at the moment and I haven’t been to bed yet! I’m at my most creative at night time and that’s when I get my best ideas. I’d love to be able to summon my creativity at 9am every morning but unfortunately I don’t seem to be built like that.

    What time do you start work?

    Normally I start at around 10am and finish at 6pm but if I have a project that requires ‘outside the box’ thinking then my night owl tendencies usually hinder me from getting up as early.

    Do you work from home?

    Yes. And at local coffee shops or at client offices if they’re local and they want me around.

    What’s your working routine before you start work?

    The first thing I do is have breakfast then check my emails. I check my work phone and my Twitter feed then I jump in the shower and get down to business.

    Do you take a lunch break?

    I always try to.

    How do you tend to spend your afternoons?

    Well, I’m most productive first thing in the morning and most creative late at night so the afternoons can vary quite a bit for me. Normally, they’re spent working on client projects or attending face-to-face or Skype meetings. Depending on my workload, I’ll also spend time in the afternoon looking for marketing opportunities, whether it’s initiating conversations on Twitter or looking for guest posting opportunities to increase my online presence.

    [themify_quote]I’ll spend time in the afternoon looking for marketing opportunities, whether it’s initiating conversations on Twitter or looking for guest posting opportunities to increase my online presence.”[/themify_quote]

    How do you keep motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?

    I do. I’m a big fan of guided hypnosis recordings and whenever I feel my concentration lagging, I like to lie down for 20 minutes with some headphones and let myself relax. I’ll also sometimes go for a walk or have a change of scenery and if it’s a lost cause, I’ll grab my surfboard and hit the beach for an hour. Sometimes distractions can be good things.

    What time do you tend to sign off for the day?

    Normally I finish around 6pm when my girlfriend gets home.

    Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?

    Being able to choose my own working hours and being in control of my own career. Although I work harder and longer hours freelancing, I enjoy being able to see the results of my efforts more obviously than when I worked for other companies. I also like having the opportunity to go surfing during the day in the winter, something I was never able to do when I worked 9 – 5.

    And your least favourite thing about freelancing?

    Although I don’t mind it as much as others, I do sometimes miss having colleagues to talk to and bounce ideas off. I don’t think I realised just how isolating it can be sometimes working freelance without having an office space. I’ve actually been toying with the idea of renting a co-working space somewhere local so that I have the option of being around other people if I want.

    What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?

    Well I’ve recently bought a new laptop with Windows 8.1 on it and I have to say I’d be lost without my virtual post-it notes. It certainly beats sticking luminous bits of paper to your screen.

    Where can we find you online?

    My own website at http://www.brandnewcopy.com and on Twitter @BrandNewCopy.

    The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?

    I think it would have to be good old fashioned hard work. I spent a lot of time researching, building my portfolio and getting my finances in order before I took the plunge and went full time and I’ve stuck by that approach.

    Actually, one of the best pieces of advice I received before I went full time was from a fellow freelancer who said ‘be nice to people, nice people get more work.’

    It’s worked for me so far.

    Want to take part in the Day In The Life Of A Freelancer series? Simply fill in this form

  • A Day In The Life Of A Consultant Solicitor: Ben Hammond

    Ben HammondTell us a bit about you!

    My name is Ben Hammond. I’m a Consultant Solicitor based in Newbury. I buy and sell houses and apartments in London and properties all across all of the counties of England and Wales.

    How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?

    I went freelance at the beginning of September 2014. I have had my own practice before so it wasn’t a total shock but I was coming away from the comfort of a salary and a good-sized law firm.

    [themify_quote]I like to be in the office at 8.00 a.m.  I feel that it gives me a head start on the day.” [/themify_quote]

    Let’s talk about the start of your day – are you an early riser, or a night owl?

    Sometimes as a lawyer you have to be both. It’s about being available to your clients when they need you. Fortunately in my area of practice I’m unlikely to get a call in the middle of the night.

    What time do you start work?

    I like to be in the office at 8.00 a.m.  I feel that it gives me a head start on the day.

    Do you work from home?

    Yes when I need to, but I deliberately chose to work from an office. I live in a very remote and rural location and the broadband connection is too slow as most of the things I do now as a lawyer are internet-based. I also like to have the differentiation between home and work life.

    What’s your working routine before you start work?

    Generally I’m up and out from home. The only pause is to try to start the ancient Land Rover that takes me into work.

    How do you tend to spend your afternoons?

    I used to have a colleague who used to keep back all of his plan-drawing until a Friday afternoon. He’d finish his lunch, take out his pencil crayons and spend a happy afternoon drawing coloured lines all over maps. I’d love to be able to think that I could do that, but generally I keep report-writing for the afternoon as e-mail traffic tends to die down a little.

    How do you stay motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?

    Fortunately I’ve hit the ground running so there’s no time to have to worry about keeping motivated!

    What time do you tend to sign off for the day?

    I tend to leave for home between 6.00 p.m. and 7.00 p.m.  As the nights draw in I miss the sunset over one particular part in the Downs on the drive home.

    Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?

    The freedom and the increased financial rewards. Although I’ve enjoyed managing teams in the past, when you work on your own you realise how much time you used to spend on managing others.

    [themify_quote]When you work on your own you realise how much time you used to spend on managing others.”[/themify_quote]

    What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?

    I use Kashflow for my accounts. It’s simple to understand and use.

    Where can we find you online?

    You can find me on LinkedIn or http://www.setfords.co.uk.

    The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?

    I think that many people coming into the workplace think that there’s some magic formula but I find that it’s always down to hard work and putting in the time.

    Want to take part in the Day In The Life Of A Freelancer series? Simply fill in this form

  • Freelancer’s Teabreak Podcast #12: Pen or tap? Paper or app?

    shareasimage (3)

    What do you do when you’re struggling to get productive? Turn to an app, an online tool or some other form of tech? That’s my default method. I’m horribly addicted to my phone.

    Remember last week when I mentioned how many hours I’d racked up on my phone? But this week, I’ve shaken things up a bit and returned to an old school method – pen and paper. As if I needed another excuse to stock up on supplies from Paperchase. It’s not just me either – several members of the Freelance Lifestylers Facebook group are also huge fans of pen and paper.

    While I figured getting things down with pen and paper might help me clear my head a bit, I didn’t realise the impact it would have on my productivity. Or how passionate other people were about the benefits of using pen and paper.


    Pssst! Pen and paper enthusiasts – have you heard about the bullet journal method? It’s a great way to keep track of your To Do lists and more (and aside from the cost of a notebook, it’s free)

     

  • Freelancer’s Teabreak Podcast #11: Three essential freelance apps

    Freelance apps

    Last week, I did a little test on my iPhone using an app called Moment. It tells you how many minutes you spend actively using your phone, and how many times you pick it up and swipe it open.

    The results weren’t flattering. I spent almost SIX HOURS on my iPhone in one day. And 72 pick ups. A day where I was training for six hours, away from my phone. That’s almost half of my waking hours spent staring at a tiny, bright screen.

    I should be deeply, deeply ashamed of that, right?

    Um, no. Because if it wasn’t for my handheld treasure trove of apps, I’m not sure how the hell I’d manage to run my business.

    Pop the kettle on and listen to this week’s Freelance Teabreak podcast to find out exactly which three apps I couldn’t freelance without – then tell me in the comments which ones rock your freelance socks off!

    (Bonus points if you confess to what your results were using the Mention app!)

  • The Freelancer’s Teabreak Podcast: Struggling to market your biz?

    download

    What happens when you offer your clients an amazing marketing service…but fail at tooting your own horn?

    For over six years now, I’ve been offering social media marketing and online content services to my clients. I feel pretty damn good about the services I offer – and the results I’ve achieved. Especially when I’m working with clients who have the kind of products or services that I can’t wait to tell people about. I LOVE helping people make their great stuff more widely recognised.

    But when it comes to my own? Nuh uh. I fail at tooting my own horn. 

    Y’see, when you pour your heart and soul into a product or service, it becomes a really personal, emotional thing. I definitely feel very protective over the ecourses and ebooks I’ve done. To the point of being scared to put it out there for fear of rejection or negativity. Essentially, I’ve become an overprotective mother when it comes to my products.

    Well, that won’t do. 

    In 2015, I’ve decided to make a change. Instead of trying to promote something I’m too emotionally attached to, I’m doing something I’ve been meaning to do for a while…