Freelance Personal Development

  • The tools I used to run my virtual summit

    A few weeks ago, I ran my very first freelance virtual summit.

    I. Was. Crapping. It.

    As someone who isn’t naturally organised, organising a summit seemed like a really overwhelming, scary project. But I also wanted to do something exciting for National Freelancers Day, with brilliant speakers who could really share something special with this lovely freelance community. In the end, I had over 120 people sign up!

    Want to see how I did it? Here’s a step-by-step guide to how I did it (and it’s surprisingly simple, thanks to a few online tools)

    Prefer to listen? Catch it on The Freelancer’s Teabreak podcast! You can hear it on iTunes, Spotify, Libsyn, Podbean and Stitcher.

    How to run a virtual summit in ten steps

    1. Choose a date. This was easy, as I knew I was going to hold it on National Freelancers Day. I started organising it a month before!
    2. Reach out to the speakers you want. I had eight, which was perfect for a one-day summit, but if you have more, you can make it a two-day event (or maybe even three!)
    3. Create a Facebook pop up group. There are plenty of platforms you can use for the talks, but FB was the easiest to set up for me, and it was free!
    4. Create a sales page. I used a WordPress page, using the Elementor page editor, and created a sign up page in ConvertKit. I included details of all the speakers, what attendees would get out of it, and added details of what would be available free. Attendees got free access for 24 hours. After that, all the recordings were made available in my Freelance Lifestash (via Teachable), which was available on special offer.
    5. As I use Teachable, I was also able to give all the speakers an affiliate link for the Lifestash, so if they shared it they could make a percentage of the sale.
    6. Promotion! I promoted it to my email list, social media channels and the speakers also shared on all their channels. The day before, I released the schedule for the day, along with the social links for all of the speakers so people could get to know them better.
    7. I also sent reminder emails to those who had signed up, the day before and the day of, with a reminder about the Lifestash offer.
    8. The big day! It all took part in the Facebook group, in Lives. I jumped on initially with a welcome video and coaching task. Then the speakers all took it in turns during their slots. The majority of these Lives were solo, so it was all relatively simple. Several of the speakers also gave away prizes during their sessions, which was a great way to encourage live attendance.
    9. Now the coolest tool of all. I set Repurpose.io (affil link) up to take all the Lives, upload to YouTube as unlisted videos, so I could download them or embed them in Teachable later. One of the videos didn’t upload, but there is a hack if you don’t want to automate it. I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to know they were all uploading in the background.
    10. Finally, I closed out the day, reminded everyone of the offer if they wanted forever access, and left it up until midnight the final day. An email went out the following day with the offer. I then closed the group (removing all members).

    That’s it! The majority of it took place in Facebook, making it easy for people to access. There are some things I’d like to try next year. Facebook Ads for one, and a longer lead up time. Podia also looks amazing. And I totally forgot to post about it on my blog! But for a first go, and with relatively low costs, I’m pretty happy with that!

    Have you ever fancied running a summit?

    p.s If you missed it, you can still catch all the recordings here

  • Getting that ‘the grass is greener on the employed side’ feeling?

    Ever had that “oh god this is so hard, maybe I should pack it all in and apply for a 9-5 job” feeling as a freelancer?

    Every freelancer has at some point. Several points actually. Its a topic that comes up often in my FB group.

    But why, when you otherwise enjoy being freelance? It’s your flight or fight response kicking in, when facing a challenge.

    You have two options:

    ✈️ Flight, where you leave the freelance life

    🥊 Fight, where you push through, do something that scares you a little or up your pitching game.

    Don’t feel like a failure if that flight feeling kicks in. You’re not! It’s just the body’s natural reaction to a slightly scary situation (like the end of a contract, a challenging client or business growth). But if you know logically that freelancing IS for you, it’s time to start choosing fight!

    Here are five ways to ‘fight’:

    • Write down all the reasons you love freelancing. Put that list somewhere you can refer to later. It’s easy to get stuck into the details and overwhelm, but there’s a good chance there are plenty of reasons why the freelance life is for you – whether it’s flexibility, being able to control what you do, work around your family or work from home.
    • Work out what about your current situation is triggering this fear reaction. Then write down one thing you can do right now to improve that situation
    • Do something a little scary and outside your comfort zone, to show The Fear who’s boss! Get visible on a Facebook Live, email your old clients for testimonials or email a fellow freelancer to meet up for a coffee.
    • Get outside. If the weather is good, get outside for a walk. It can make a world of difference to your mood, and being out and walking nearly always gives my brain a chance to put forward a better solution.
    • Get coached! Coaching can really help you see the big picture, create a strategy, set manageable goals to get the momentum and confidence going again, and gives you tools to help with overwhelm. A coaching session can get you out of a funk, and get you feeling excited about freelancing again! You can find out more about my coaching for freelancers here, and book in a free 15 minute discover call.

  • The truth about pricing, peer pressure and parenthood

    This originally went out in my newsletter this week, but I had so many lovely messages from subscribers who felt relieved that they weren’t alone when it comes to freelancing peer pressure and perfection, that I thought it was worth a share here too. 

    I’ve been feeling the peer pressure recently.

    Every time I log onto Facebook, I’m (super-enthusiastically) told:

    • You’re just one Facebook ad away from a six figure business (just as long as you’re OK with paying five figures in FB ads to launch that six figure launch)
    • Make SEVEN figures from your online course! Here’s a 15 step plan to do it! Only £4k.
    • Raise your prices! Constantly! Even if it makes you really, really uncomfortable.
    • You can have a baby, have a million dollar business and have a pristine house and office. To not do so is terribly un-feminist. Pushing yourself to a breakdown is so 2016, darling.
    • Everything I’m doing is wrong and everyone else is right, and get with the programme Emma (OK, that one might just be that mean little voice in my head)

    How utterly exhausting.

    Honestly? I don’t give a damn about having a six figure business right now. If that’s your goal, more power to you! I have nothing against having a chunky bank balance, but right now my goals have to be life-based. I mean, I want to be able to pay the bills, treat myself and my little family and have a semi-comfortable life. But the reason I love being freelance is the flexibility it gives me, the ability to be able to work with people I actually like, and to work from home. I’ve been so focused on ‘proving myself’ financially (partly from guilt that I’m not setting a good example here as a freelancer), that I got a big lost along the way. Which actually limited my income.

    I’m also tired of cookie cutter sales language. Big claims without the evidence. I feel like I’m back at school, with the popular girls boasting about how many boys they’ve pulled and the rest of us feeling a bit inadequate in comparison. Except, now they’re charging thousands to teach you how to replicate their success. In general, I’m just a bit tired of the overwhelm and the enthusiastic quick fixes to a big business. My introvert brain needs a break from all that noise!

    So, I’m making some changes.

    • I’ve lowered my coaching prices. It’s not really the done thing to lower your prices, but I want to help more freelancers (new and established), and lowering my prices makes coaching more accessible. I really believe coaching can make a big difference, and it’s had a huge impact on my life. In fact, as hard on myself as I can be, I think without it I’d have caved in and thrown in the towel by now, instead of relaunching my business and growing it.
    • I’m going to get over this peer pressure block that’s stopped me blogging and podcasting until I’m ‘perfect’. I’ve actually achieved quite a bit over the last year, something I want to blog about more.
    • Here’s a controversial one – accept that it’s ok for the next couple of years to not be where my business was pre-baby. I have a third of the time I had before to work (and that’s throwing working nap times into the mix). It’s ok not to have a baby and a bazillion pounds in the bank, as long as you’re achieving what you want to (for me, that’s time with my son while affording to pay the bills and helping more people to go freelance or improve their freelance life). On that note…
    • *deep breath* Share an income report. This one is risky and very scary, because I don’t have a six figure income (or anywhere close). But there are two benefits: a) it shows you what I actually earn, so I don’t feed into the number bending bullsh*t b) it keeps me accountable with some goal setting for the following month. Because I do want to increase my income, but not by adding to the bullsh*t.

    What does success mean to you? I’d love to hear your personal definition of success in the comments.

  • How to deal with freelance envy

    freelancenevyPicture the scene: your morning alarm goes off and you roll over to pick up your phone (everyone does that seconds after they wake up, right? RIGHT?). Squinting your eyes and opening your inbox, you find a tastefully-designed newsletter from a freelance friend you did a course with a couple of years ago, who has launched a brand new ecourse. Isn’t that fab? They’ve basically turned into Marie Forleo overnight, and you’re totally chuffed for them. Really. You are.

    Oh, hang on, what’s that uncomfortable feeling in your tummy? Maybe it’s just last night’s Dominos…

    You flick open the Twitter app.  A funky lifestyle blogger you know, who appears to have achieved overnight success with her quirky but totally adorable way of combining food and fashion in one post (let’s call it fooshion), happily tweets about a new collaboration with a brand you’re dying to work with. That feeling in your gut grows. It could be hunger, but you’re pretty sure you’re still full from last night’s Dominos. What kind of human being says no to their Chicken Kickers? (Possibly your blogger friend. They’re all about the vegan diet. A clean diet for you involves not eating that slice of pizza that fell on the floor for 4 seconds after a few beers which were definitely not organic).

    Bad news, freelancer. That feeling in your tummy? It’s envy.

    It’s not that you’re not happy for them or feel they deserve it. You are and you do! But there are times when every freelancer looks at another freelancer, and compares their success to their own experience and success record. And it’s easy to feel like you fall short. Especially if that person started freelancing around the same time as you, or worse *gulp* after you.

    But freelance envy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When I quizzed my freelance friends about it, Cathryn Clarke said the following:

    “I see what they’re doing and how they’re living their lives and am jealous because I want that. I want to be making more money, be more confident and being able to mix client work with my own seamlessly. It makes me push harder and focus on what I want to achieve so it’s really good to see other freelancers being successful. I just wish more freelancers would share their successes and tips so that those of us who still feel relatively new to it wouldn’t feel so lost and alone. ”

    Couldn’t agree more.

    I think freelance envy exists for a number of reasons.

    1. We perceive others as being perfect, forgetting they edit their life online just as much as we do. Notice how a lot of people don’t actually mention income? Maybe they’re working with amazing brands or travelling the world while blogging, but there’s a good chance they’re having to weigh up whether buying a ticket to that swanky business conference in town is worth living on pasta alone for the next two weeks.
    2. We don’t give them enough credit. The inconvenient truth is, most people get to that point because they worked their arses off.
    3. We underestimate our own situation, or lack confidence in our own skills.
    4. We work on our own, which means it’s harder to see the realities of how others are doing. .We also don’t get that workmate who says ‘That freelancer? PLEASE! She totally got to do that project because her boyfriend works with the boss’, which is totally bitchy but also really comforting.
    5. We don’t know how they’ve become this mega successful person. Where was I when the ‘how to be totally rich and successful and a size 12 on a diet of chocolate alone in three easy steps’ rulebook was given out?
    6. We’re never happy with what we’ve got. Seriously, name a time when you were like ‘I’m 100% happy’ for more than a day. Sober happy.

    But one of the points Cathryn made, is that it makes her ‘push harder and focus on what I want to achieve’. With that in mind, here are three things you can do to turn that envy to your advantage.

    Swap competition for collaboration

    Instead of quietly kicking yourself for not being as awesome as the fortunate freelancer you see (which, fyi, is bullcrap), why not see if there’s anything you can work together on? For example, my blog series A Day In The Life Of A Freelancer came about because I was having a crisis of confidence, and wanted to learn from other freelancers. You could turn that ‘competitor’ into a collaborator, by interviewing them, offering to work with them on a project or even approaching them to be a mentor.

    You might even realise, when speaking to them face to face, that they feel the exact same way you do!

    Repeat the mantra

    Every time you find yourself looking at a friend’s blog or latest newsletter and feel that flutter of envy, I want you to repeat after me – NO ONE IS PERFECT! Sure, they might have landed a mega amazing client, but they probably have a bundle of other problems going on that you don’t know about. Maybe they yearn for more time with their families, dream of a regular paycheck or miss working with small companies and charities.

    Compete….with yourself

    The only person you need to worry about competing with, is yourself. Revisit your goals and objectives. Do you even want the same things as others? How are you doing compared with how you did last year. As long as you’re doing the best you can in the circumstances, you’re succeeding.

    I’d also recommend mindfulness (who doesn’t at the moment, eh?) Every day, make a list of the things you’re grateful for. I love the app My Wonderful Day for this. It’s a good reminder when you flick back, that life is actually pretty good.

    So, how do you deal with freelance envy?

    P.S Emma-Louise sent me these two perfect posters for this post. How perfect are they?

    freelanceenvy2

  • Freelancing, contracts and part time jobs

    employment

    A quick personal post today, reflecting both on decisions I’ve made recently, and decisions available to you (and an explanation as to why I haven’t been updating this site as much).

    For nearly five years now, I’ve been mainly freelancing from home. I’ve had one part-time digital media job during that time and several in-house contracts (usually 4-6 weeks long), but my general preference has been for working from home.

    But back in September, I started an employed contract role three days a week with Quest, training graduates and young people in careers skills and social media. It’s a bit of a departure from my previous work in digital media, but that’s part of the joy of this way of life – you can explore lots of different roles, environments and sectors without someone rolling their eyes at your CV. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to work with grads, and I can draw on my experience both as a freelancer working with lots of different companies, and as a recruitment consultant (my first role after university). Plus one of my goals has been to improve my training and public speaking skills – and nothing does that better than standing in front of a bunch of 20 year olds!

    I still freelance two days a week from home (oh, who am I kidding, the occasional weekend might be a freelancing zone too). For me, this will be an interesting look into how a part-time job can impact on my freelancing schedule – so far I’ve found, and been told the same by my colleague Jenn, that having less time to freelance means that the days I do get to work from home are far more efficient.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m still hugely passionate about freelancing, and I couldn’t take on a full-time employed role for that reason. In fact, had this role been a freelance contract, it would be even more perfect (it’s far simpler from a tax point of view for one). But I think it’s important for me to honest about what I’m doing.

    So, that’s what I’m doing at the moment. In a year’s time, I might be back to freelancing full time, or try out a series of contracts. Who knows? I have a feeling training will become a really strong part of my career future though – it’s a huge buzz being able to help and shape the progress of others.

    Do you mix up freelancing, contracts and part time jobs? Let me know how you find it in the comments.

     

  • What do YOU want to see on The Freelance Lifestyle?

    A little update post today!weddingdayimages

    It’s been a fairly hectic few months, mainly thanks to planning a wedding (details will be over The High Tea Cast over the next couple of weeks). It was a truly wonderful day, but I’m excited to get back to spending more time on this site.

    New Beginnings…

    I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve, some of which will start appearing on the site from next week. Keep an eye out for a whole new interactive format for the Weekly Freelance Challenge, some new features and some new tools to make your freelance life a little easier.

    But I want this to be a real community for freelancers – whether you’re thinking of taking the leap or you’re a seasoned freelancer.

    So, what would you like to see on the site?

    p.s Are you using Bloglovin’ now? Click on the button on the right to follow The Freelance Lifestyle on there too!