Freelance General

  • Not another stuffy LinkedIn group…Homeworkers UK: Freelancers

    Linked In groups are a bit…well, stuffy really aren’t they? Full of cocky hardcore sales types promoting their businesses and trying to persuade you to buy their product or service right now. Not all groups obviously, but a lot of the ones I’ve tried have been filled with those types.

    (Y’know, the type of people you avoid in real life networking events because they have a tendency to ram their business card down your throat? And the types that call Twitter ‘Twatter’ and laugh heartily at their ‘original’ joke.)

    This is pretty much why I’m awful at spending time on the groups networking (even if it’s on my list of things I Should Be Doing).

    Anyway, not to get all ‘my group is better than your group’, but the Homeworkers UK group is a lovely group full of friendly people who are quite happy to just chat. No sales script here. For homeworkers, it’s like Twitter but without the character limit. And if you work from home, it’s a pretty great place for sharing problems and ideas and getting feedback. So far, we’ve chatted about our favourite bits about working from home, how to juggle freelancing and family and why we chose to go freelancing.

    Off the back of the success of this group, a few sub groups have been formed – and I’ll be moderating the ‘Freelancers’ subgroup. So, if you want to go somewhere other than Twitter to chat about freelancing and the joys and perils of working for yourself, come join!

    Do you get involved with LinkedIn? Or only log in when someone has requested to be a contact?

  • Getting to know your local community: Gossip Girls

    Just a quick post today to let you know about a project I got involved in recently (well, last night to be precise). Across the UK are a string of Facebook groups called ‘Gossip Girls’ groups, which bring together the women in each area to discuss everything from builder recommendations to how to deal with an issue within their community. I’ve been a member of the Wokingham Gossip Girls for a while, which is run by Rachel Bradley. Rachel has helped several other groups start up in the area, and has just finished kindly helping me launch the Bracknell Gossip Girls (feel free to join if you live in the local area).

    The benefit of groups like this for a freelancer, and I think for a lot of mums too, is that they have a really supportive, friendly community feeling – something that a lot of areas are sadly lacking. If you’re freelance, it’s nice to know you can pop in there and either search the discussion or post “I am in desperate need of rentable office space/a plumber/vast quantities of wine” and receive recommendations from your local fairy godmothers.

    Think of it as a lady-filled Twitter especially for your area.

    The other benefit of the Gossip Girls group, is that you can promote your own business on the 1st of each month (and ONLY the 1st of each month to avoid spam). On the last day of the month, you can also promote any sales you might be having.

    So to sum up, it’s a great way to get to know others in the area, get recommendations, keep up with local news AND promote your own services.

    If you want to start up your own group in your local area, drop me an email and I’ll point you in the right direction. It takes literally minutes to set up, although you will have to admin it.

    Are you part of a Gossip Girl group near you?

  • Branding: It’s not just for the big guys

    How do you feel about branding? Just something the big guys do, right? With their fancy logos, huge budgets and whole teams of marketing types?

    Well no, not really. I’ve been reading up on this quite a bit recently, and had a few conversations with other freelancers about it. See, we’re not very good at creating a personal brand for our small businesses here in the UK. Especially if we’re freelancers. While our contemporaries in America are more than happy to promote themselves as a brand (see fabulous women like Marie Forleo and Amy from SexySavvySmart), we’re all about the self-depreciating remarks. I absolutely include myself in this group. I’m guilty of saying “Oh, I write about bags and gadgets for a living” when asked what I do for a living. It’s true, but not a particularly good representation of the big picture.

    How many times have people introduced themselves to you with phrases like:

    “Hi, I’m Julie and I’m a solicitor. I know, it’s as boring as it sounds! *Nervous laugh*”

    “I’m an accountant. Well, it pays the bills”

    Not exactly inspiring, is it?

    We’re all a little bit shy of promoting ourselves as a brand. But you wouldn’t find a big company like Apple saying” Oh, we just make these phones and laptops.” They shout their achievements from the rooftops and tell everyone how great their products are.

    I’m not saying we should all go that far. If someone came up to me at a networking event and said “Hi, I’m Bob and I’m awesome. Really awesome. I’m one of the best IT recruiters you’ve ever met. Bask in my brilliance”, I’d think they were a bit of a prat. But if someone said “Hi, I’m Bob, I love my job helping talented people find great jobs in the IT industry”, I’d be interested to hear more – and more likely to mention their name to others.

    If you think of yourself as a product or service, rather than just a person, you should find it easier to promote yourself as such. It’s something I’m certainly trying to do more (even if I have to fight the urge to throw in a self-depreciating joke or two).

    Social Media is one of the biggest forces behind personal branding now. Companies are no longer faceless masses, and people are getting to know the people behind the ideas. Therefore one of the best ways to create a personal brand now is by blogging, tweeting, YouTubing and creating a Facebook page for your company. By doing this, you create a ‘voice’ which contributes to your brand. Oddly enough, especially on Twitter, it’s far easier and more acceptable to promote your freelancing or small business.

    Want to know more about Personal Branding? Check out Dan Schawbel’s website Personal Branding Blog.

    How easy do you find it to confidently promote your business and your brand? Or are you, like me, guilty of a few too many self-depreciating jokes?

  • I wrote a book! The 30 Day Freelancing Challenge

    Well, it’s been a long time coming, but my 30 Day Freelancing Challenge is now available as an eBook thanks to Nikki Pilkington. And until Monday, it’s only £4! (It’ll go up to £8 then). It’s aimed at helping anyone who wants to escape the rat race set themselves up as freelance – and, as the name would suggest, it takes place over 30 days.

    Nikki has a wide range of 30 day challenges for all sorts of online services, including, Facebook, Google+ and blogging. You can find all her challenges here, and my freelancing challenges here.

    With rather excellent timing, this infographic landed in my inbox from PolicyBee. If you’re curious about freelancing, this gives a pretty good overview.

    Freelancers on freelancing – Policy Bee
    Infographic by PolicyBee Insurance

    Oh, and if you enjoyed the 30 Day Challenge, I might be working on another one in the future…

  • Working from home: An infographic

    If you’re a regular reader, you probably aware of how enthusiastic I am about the benefits of home working. My personal experience is that working from home makes me more productive, less stressed and I’m more confident about taking on new skills and responsibilities.

    So when I came across the infographic below, I was pleased to see more businesses embracing the virtual workforce approach. In fact, 56% of senior leaders and hiring managers from Fortune 500 companies with over 5,000 employees believe virtual work will increase in their company.

    Asia is currently leading this move in working styles, with 76% of Asia-based businesses planning to increase telecommuting and teleconferencing in their company, compared to 53% in the USA.

    It makes sense really for businesses to consider increasing their virtual workforce. A reduction in office costs, increase in productivity and potentially an increase in job satisfaction is undoubtedly a good thing for any business. Additionally, it also widens the recruiting net, when an employer isn’t restricted to looking for people in the local area. Obviously it’s not an option for all companies, like retail, but for office-based employees it’s definitely a consideration.

    That said, companies do need to be aware of employees feeling disconnected, so it’s worth organising face-to-face meetings occasionally too, along with regular appraisals.

    (Source: Mashable)

    If you had the option of working from home, would you take it?

    If you already work from home, how do you find it affects your work?

    Let me know in the comments below.

    Did you know you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+?

  • An unusual ‘mobile office’….

    Usually, when people say they’ve got a ‘mobile office’, I assume they’re talking about their laptop, phone or tablet. Y’know, something you can actually fit in your bag without giving yourself a hernia.

    And then I spotted this office on wheels on Fancy (click on the image to enlarge).

    It’s quite…compact. I’m not entirely sure those seats would be particularly comfortable. But if you’re tight for space and working from home, it could be the solution.

  • Why Become A Freelancer? (Infographic)

    If you’ve ever pondered whether to quit the rat race and become a freelancer, some of the statistics in the infographic above offer a compelling argument. It was particularly interesting to see that 93% of freelancers are happier since branching out on their own, and 62% have seen an increase in their income.  Source: Mashable

    Click on the image above to see the whole infographic.

    Are you tempted to go freelance?