This review features the Varidesk ProPlus30, which was kindly gifted to me. I’ve been curious about standing desks for a while. I’ve heard about some
As a freelancer, you do all of the roles in your business that would traditionally be allocated to different employees. You are your own finance, marketing, admin, sales and client management departments. This means you build up a bundle of freelance skills which makes you very valuable to clients. Oh, and we tend to have a real thirst for learning and knowledge (where was that when I was at school?) so we’re constantly developing and growing our freelance skills. This basically makes us the ideal employee (but, y’know, freeeeeeee).
Anyway, here are ten of the skills you develop as a freelancer, and a few bonus skills that come with them. Can you think of any more?
- Negotiation skills. Especially when discussing prices. Bonus: learning to be assertive and say no when it’s not right).
- Networking skills. We’ve had to overcome those nerves and rock up to a networking event to talk about what we do. Bonus: confidence talking to strangers, public speaking and developing the perfect pitch
- Project management. Working with multiple clients makes us excellent project managers. We know how to plan out, budget for and execute a project to the best of our abilities. Bonus: even the most disorganised of us becomes more organised, with better time management skills.
- Basic accounts. Even if you hire an accountant, you’ll still have to get your head around the basics of your accounts. Bonus: developing a better eye for detail, and a stronger awareness of budgeting.
- Marketing. Nobody knows about your business until you get marketing it, so freelancers become pros when it comes to promoting it using a variety of methods. Bonus: We’re also open to trying lots of new methods and tools, and tend to be more pro-active as a result.
- Social Media. Work from home, on your own? Social media not only allows you to promote your business online, but also to build up an online support network. As a result, you probably know a lot about social media. Bonus: With your fingers on the pulse, you’re often with the trailblazers when it comes to trying out new social media technology
- Tech Support: Whether your e-mail has crashed, your website is having a wobble or you want to find a tool to schedule your meetings more effectively, you’ve learned how to work out basic tech problems – or at least delve into the support forums. Bonus: You also develop a LOT of patience when dealing with tech, and learn how to have back up options.
- Copywriting: Even if you’re outsourcing your copy, there’s a good chance you’re still doing a little of your own copy – whether it’s your tweets or About page. Chances are, you’ve also done quite a bit of research on how to get the most out of your copy too. Bonus: That improved grasp of the English language isn’t just limited to your business. E-mails to your friends and family are about to get interesting.
- Design: Thanks to tools like Canva.com, creating your own graphics has never been easier. Which means that we can design our own blog post images, infographics and even logos. Bonus: You’ll also develop a better awareness of complimentary colours etc. Expect your house to benefit from that too!
- Sales. Ick. That word makes me feel icky. But inevitably freelancing makes you a better salesperson, even if it’s not in the traditional way. Bonus: Salespeople are very good at spotting opportunities, so don’t be surprised if you become more open to opportunities in general, whether chatting to someone at a party who potentially could be a client, or offering your social media services in a local shop when you realise they don’t have Facebook. Hell, you could even find yourself jumping at opportunities outside work.
What freelance skills do you think you’ve developed since going it alone??
Affirmations. Dream boards. Meditating for an hour over a visualisation of diving into a pool of money, Scrooge McDuck-style. A quick browse through any of my social media feeds will have half a dozen mentions of these things. It can feel like an attractive notion – imagine a rich, successful future as a businesswomen and pow!, it will happen. Especially if you’re charging people £1k to learn how to create the more effective dream boards…
All of the above are methods suggested to (mainly female) business owners or aspiring entrepreneurs for business growth. It’s starting to feel like old methods are being repackaged to appeal to the female market, similar to how tool companies create pink screwdrivers to match our delicate manicures. Because we can’t quite cope with Big Scary Business otherwise. Dream boards are essentially goal setting exercises, affirmations are based on confidence boosting psychology and meditation simply harks back to a time when we weren’t logged on all the time.
Here’s the problem – all of these methods are good and have use, but you still have to put the work in. And if you want it to be successful, you’re going to have to work damn hard. Pinning an image of your ideal car to your Pinterest board isn’t going to magically make it turn up in your drive. In the words of Ru Paul, you better work girl!
Why are businesswomen being targetted?
I understand why there’s an industry targeting women (in fact, the majority of readers of this blog are female). Working for yourself as a woman is a pretty fantastic way to gain flexibility and smash through that glass ceiling. But the current industry for female businesswomen feels a lot like the diet industry – everyone peddling quick fixes to create an easy result. And the crappy part now is that it’s WOMEN pushing this movement. Much like the diet industry, there’s a lot of pressure to be a big success too. On top of all this, there’s also a pressure now to be glamorous and a superwoman. If you’re a woman running your own business, you should also be storming into meetings rocking a pair of designer heels, a £200 Filofax, a fresh blow dry and a pumpkin spice Starbucks latte to hand. And Instagramming every second of it.
(I’m writing this while still in my pyjamas, with baby dribble on my shoulder, so I think I’ve missed the boat on the glamour).
Essentially what I’m saying is that it’s absolutely fine to do these things (in fact, I do some of them daily), but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re quick fixes, a replacement for long hours or will perform miracles. You have to work hard too. And I mean hard! In your first year as a freelancer, you’ll probably work harder than every year previously (which isn’t to say it won’t be fun). Later on, you may be able to do less hours, for higher fees, but not without some groundwork.
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.
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.
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?
Just a quick post today (well, it is a Saturday).
Last week, I resurrected the Twitter chat #FreelanceUK, and we discussed work/life balance and juggling freelancing and family during the summer holidays. This Sunday at 8pm, we’ll be discussing something that came up in the last chat but there seems to be a lot of confusion over – maternity, paternity and pension pay when you’re a freelancer. We’re going to delve into the topics and make some sense of this confusing area!
Got a suggestion for a future chat? Let me know in the comments below!
p.s You might see a few things changing around here, I’m having a little summer update. Would love to know what else you’d like to see on the blog.
Time for another Day In The Life Of A Freelance interview! This week, it’s beauty guru and tweetaholic Jayne Robinson, who gives us a peek into her daily life.
Tell us a bit about you!
I’m Jayne, I’ve lived in London for the past four years but recently relocated to Brighton. I’m a freelance social media consultant and offer my services as a copywriter and blogger relations consultant with a speciality in the beauty industry.
How long have you been freelancing, and why did you start?
I started freelancing about six months ago. I’ve always wanted to be flexible with my workload so that I could pursue personal projects in my spare time and manage health problems that made it difficult for me to work a normal 9-5 job. After four years working in-house and agency side in digital, it was a scary move but so far it’s been the best thing for me for sure.
Let’s talk about the start of your day – Are you an early riser, or a night owl?
I’m very flexible, because of my health it really depends how I’m feeling as to how I work. I don’t work everyday either. Most of the time I prefer working in the afternoon or evening and find I work best with a film or TV show on the background. Weird I know, but it helps me concentrate and keeps me smiling.
Do you work from home?
Yes, I mostly work from home, which is my preference. I like being able to be flexible with my time and if the weather is nice I know I can pop out for a walk at any point without being restricted to an office environment. I’ve done freelance contracts in an office too, which works well when you need an income boost or some new experience, but in the long-term, I’d prefer to work from home.
What’s your working routine before you start work?
Again, it really varies depending on what else is going on in life for me and that’s what I love about freelancing, I like being my own boss and working to my own schedule. I don’t like routine, so it suits me that I don’t really have one, everyday is different.
Do you take a lunch break?
Yes, I’m fortunate that I don’t work normal office hours, so always make time to enjoy some time to myself and time to share with my boyfriend everyday. I work my freelance work around my personal life and personal projects instead of the other way around. Pretty amazing right?
How do you stay motivated? Do you have any particular techniques?
To do lists are my saviour! It’s a tiny thing but I find it extremely satisfying to be able to cross things off a list. Also, it gives me a simple way to see how much there is to do by a certain deadline. Simple but effective. I also set goals, like I’ll go for a walk after I’ve finished this content plan.
Tell us – what’s your favourite thing about freelancing?
I adore the flexibility, I don’t have to work any set hours most of the time and I can fit it around what I want to do. It’s how life should be in my opinion, more focus on what makes you happy instead of what makes you money. I also love that I’ve been fortunate enough to specialise in beauty, which I’m incredibly passionate about, doing work that I’m enthusiastic about doesn’t feel like work.
And your least favourite thing about freelancing?
The risk is not fun. A lot of freelance work is unpredictable and doesn’t have the safety nets that full-time work gives. So to get around that I’ve got a part-time retail job which is my safety money, it means that whatever happens I know that I’ll have the money to pay my bills which lifts a massive weight off my mind.
What tools/apps/gadgets/things could you not live without as a freelancer?
The only things that are essential to my freelancing life is my phone, GoogleDocs and Hootsuite. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 which has superb battery life and holds all the apps I need for managing social media. Google Docs makes sharing documents super fast and simple and Hootsuite keeps all my social media platforms in one place.
EVERYWHERE! Social media is on my mind 24/7 since it’s my career and my passion, on most networks I’m @JayneKitsch and you can find my fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, where all of this stemmed from my blog.
The Big Question – What’s the secret to your success?
Passion. I think that’s the only key to success in anything, if you love something enough it shows and that passes on to everyone you work with making you a great person to work with and memorable. I don’t think enough people have a passion in their work lives.
Thanks for your time Jayne!
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I’m so excited to say that the 30 Day Freelance Lifestyle E-Course is back, kicking off on the 1st of July! It’s an ecourse designed for anyone who is thinking about going freelance, but isn’t sure where to start. The interactive ecourse, Facebook group and support system will take you through each step of launching yourself as a freelancer. The Freelance Lifestyle community will be there for you every step of the way, with advice or simply support when you’re not sure what direction to take next.
Want to find out what it’s included, and how you can sign up?
*Hint* This time, you have THREE options of how to follow the 30 day E-Course, PLUS exclusive special offers with Elizabeth from the Big Blogging Bootcamp and Rosie from One Man Band Accounting. But you’ve only got until the 30th June to sign up!
Want to see what other people are saying about it? Check out some of the testimonials below…Here’s what a few people have said about The 30 Day Freelance Lifestyle Ecourse…
I genuinely loved this ecourse, and would recommend it to all freelancers, whether you’ve been working for yourself for a while, are a complete newbie or are still thinking about making the leap. There are brilliant resources, links and discussions about pretty much every freelancing topic under the sun – from structuring your working day to creating and growing your own little brand. To be honest, Emma is a bit of a freelancing superhero: full of creative ideas, awesome suggestions and can answer any question you throw at her (no matter how random!) … she is fab. The course has increased my confidence and provided me with some really valuable practical advice about running my own little freelance business. I found it very inspiring!
I would recommend The Freelance Lifestyle eCourse to anyone wanting to set up their own freelance business. The course covers everything from setting up, registering self employed to how to pitch ideas and setting up your rates.
As a new freelancer I thought the Freelance Lifestyle e-course was really really useful – just what I needed to get myself organised and work out my priorities. Emma’s friendly and helpful approach guided us through each of the tasks and gave us pointers when we had questions. It was also great to interact with other freelancers on the Facebook group to share knowledge and tips. I’d definitely recommend the Premium version of the course, as the 1:1 with Emma helped clarify the thinking I’d done during the course, plus the Tax Return Toolkit is a great tool for making the finances less scary!
Nina Lenton (Freelance marketing and communications)
As a complete novice into the freelancing world, I found Emma Cossey’s 20 ways to be a better freelancer such a massive help. This isn’t just your average ‘how to’ book, this actually gives you achievable targets and goals and explains everything in a way that doesn’t blow your mind with mumble jumble – clear, concise and practical, I finally feel like I have the right direction for when I finally go freelance full-time
April has been both my favourite month of the year so far, and the most expensive. Thanks to celebrating my birthday, a weekend away up North and Peter whisking me away to Edinburgh for our first wedding anniversary, my bank account is crying out for payday.
Now I’ve got a quiet couple of weeks coming up, at least on the socialising front, my attention has returned to adopting a healthier balance – both in my bank account and my diet. To help get me back on track, I’m going to be doing Penny Golightly’s Tenner Week, which acts as a sort of financial detox. For one week, you have to live on £10. Penny is running it on her blog this week, but I’d recommend giving the Kindle ebook a download too (Amazon link here – only £2.54 at the moment) – I tend to try and do one of these tenner weeks a couple of times a year so it’s handy to refer back to.
As part of tenner week, I’m planning to do a couple of things:
- Sell some bits and prices at a car boot sale on Sunday
- Meal planning to help me a) stay on track with the diet and b) avoid the temptation of takeaways
- Eat my way through the food lurking at the bottom of the freezer
The biggest challenge is going to be Thursday – payday. This usually leads to an uncontrollable urge to ‘treat’ myself, which I’m going to have to counteract with something fun and free.
Fancy doing the challenge too? Here’s the schedule!
(This is NOT a sponsored post. I just think Penny’s challenge is rather excellent.)