Freelance Personal Development

  • Stop waiting for perfect

    Public speaking? I need to be a more confident talker first

    Proper professional photos? Nah, I need to lose at least a stone first

    Record a podcast or video? I hate the sound of my voice! I’ll need to work on that first

    These are all thoughts I’ve had in the past. I’ve waited for the perfect circumstances. And the perfect body. And the silky voice of a Radio Four presenter.

    But y’know what? It’s bollocks. Perfection is bollocks. And, to be frank, terribly boring. Perfection is just a way to procrasinate about doing things that scare you a little bit.

    Perfect is impossible. However, self-improvement is always a Very Good Thing. And you’ll only get better at it if you do the thing before you’re ready. In fact, this little quote from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman rings true for a lot of things you put off:

    If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

    Stop putting things off until the perfect circumstances turn up. The perfect time to do something is NOW.

    What do you want to do, but have held off until the ‘perfect time’? Let me know in the comments below.

    Untitled design(1)

    Want to break out of the corporate cycle, and enjoy the freedom of being a freelancer? Check out the Freelancer Lifestyle E-Course!

  • How three hours and a mistake helped me find my freelance focus

    Recently, I made a mistake. A mistake that cost me £550, an entire day I could have been working on something else and delivered a serious hit to my self-esteem and confidence.  I felt deflated and a bit useless for three days after. I was a Debbie Downer to live with. This was something I was supposed to be good at (and have had plenty of very positive feedback on before).  It was a costly mistake indeed.

    That mistake, was saying yes to a business opportunity that I should have said no to.

    In truth, I’ve spent the last couple of months in a state of confusion with my freelancing career. I’ve been focused on turning a profit and growing my business, with little focus on why or how.  So I said yes to a work gig that didn’t go to plan, and left me feeling like a failure. A feeling that anyone who has ever felt imposter syndrome will fear the most – of not being enough and people knowing it. Of being completely mortified.

    On reflection, I can now see some silver linings to that failure. And that’s thanks to Sile Walsh.

    I’d pre-arranged a coaching session with Sile for this morning, and it really couldn’t have been better timed. Perhaps going in feeling low enabled me to be more honest and vulnerable about what I want,  but I’ve come away feeling like I’m ready to take a fresh, more focused approach to my work. The key thing I’ve learnt, along with lots of other things (which I’ll be sure to blog about soon), is that I didn’t know what my values were before. I didn’t really have a fixed idea of what made me tick and drove me as a freelancer. Or rather, I didn’t conciously know. Sile prompted me to talk about why I love freelancing, and three words kept popping up:

    Freedom, Choice and Passion

    Essentially, I love freelancing because it gives me the freedom to choose to do what I’m passionate about – and I work best when I’m working with those that share those values. I also work best when I work in a way that adopts those values. I’m working on a client checklist, which I’ll share on the blog soon, which I hope will help me with this, and I’m also working on a little Canva poster to pop on my wall and remind me of those three little words.

    On a practical front, I now know what my weaknesses are and where I need to do a little more learning. I also know that I need to give myself a break. Everyone makes mistakes. EVERYONE. Yes, even Beyonce. I chatted to Sally Todd about it, and she told me this: “Every job or project you take on takes you one step closer to understanding what you want out of a career or job and ultimately it is an essential process in fine tuning your offering.” If going through that situation has led me to clarify what I’m doing now….maybe that’s ok.

    Your challenge (if you choose to accept it etc, etc)

    Here’s my challenge for you: Write down why you love freelancing. Write a blurb as if you were explaining it to someone else. Which words crop up the most? Those are your values.

    When I talked to Sile, I didn’t mention money once in this task, despite it being the main purpose of me inititally booking the session. Instead, I talked about how passionate I was about helping people, educating people about freelancing, giving people the option of being self-employed (choice) and having the freedom to pursure a career I truly love. Those are the things that drive me. What drives you?

    Oh, look….it’s me with no make up on camera

    p.s Like the photo? I had a little taster of a headshot photoshoot recently and, for a photo phobic person, loved the results (ALL THE FLATTERING LIGHTING). It’s by Jon Bradley Photography.

    [themify_hr color=”green” ]

    Untitled design(1)

    Want to break out of the corporate cycle, and enjoy the freedom of being a freelancer? Check out the Freelance Lifestyle E-Course!

  • How one week can boost your finances


    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.)

  • Who’s coming to Blognix on the 14th June? *Raises hand*


    What are you doing on the 14th June? Fancy coming along to an event that combines talks on blogging, photography, communities with a bake off, picnic and the nicest bunch of people you could ask to meet?

    You’ll need to get a ticket for Blognix then.

    The Birmingham-based blogger event (in the trendy Custard Factory – are you sensing a food theme here?) is designed to provide new and experienced bloggers with an opportunity to learn more, meet other bloggers and have fun. Last year’s event offered a great mix of content, with even the more seasoned bloggers learning something new (my particular favourites were the photography sessions and Kim’s blog design session). It has a really relaxed, friendly environment – partly because it’s organised by lifestyle blogger Elizabeth Sellars (one of the nicest people you could probably meet).

    So, why am I telling you about this? Partly because I know a good chunk of my readers blog too so this should be right up your street! But also to let you know that I’ll be on the speaking line up (talking about freelancing, obvs), along with some Freelance Lifestyle favourites including Rosie from One Man Band Accounting, Sam and Lea from The High Tea Cast, Hayley from Bonjour Blogger, Hayley from LBQBlog and Kim Lawler. So to see a few friendly freelance faces would be lovely.

    Why come to Blognix 2014?

    * Talks from inspiring, successful expert bloggers (check out the speakers page for details)

    * In-depth workshops

    * Plenty of networking opportunities

    * A fun-packed day with like-minded individuals (seriously, I now work regularly with two of the bloggers I met at Blognix, and chat to many others on a regular basis)

    * Free tasty lunch

    * Free tea and coffee station

    * Photobooth fun (the line starts behind me)

    * Chance to take part in this year’s Blognix Bake-Off

  • The problem with bookmarking to read later…

    Over the last couple of days, I’ve been chatting to a couple of freelance/digital media types about social bookmarking. We all do it – pin recipes to check out later, bookmark an article in your browser or save it to Pocket. The general thought process is “Ooh that looks interesting, I’ll save it to read/watch later today/this week”

    The big articles never get read.

    They sit at the bottom of our To Do list, nagging at us to read them. Sure, some of them we will read. I tend to sit down each morning and catch up on the latest items in my apps, and YouTube feed. But there are still those articles that you never get round to – and they play on your conscious. I asked my group of Freelance Lifestyle ecoursers what percentage of articles they save to read later, and then never read. Answers range from 25% to 50%.

    Why don’t we read those articles? Personally, the main reason I won’t go back and read an article is because it’s either too long or it’s something I feel I should read, but don’t actually want to. Short, snappy articles tend to get read in the moment, rather than put off. Ali-Camden-Smith from Over A Cuppa made a great point:

    “Layout for me, if it is loads of text and no breaks my brain say’s save it till later and I don’t usually go back! So yes concentration wise it has to grab me straight away and look easily digestible too!  Video’s more than 4 mins I rarely get to the end unless it is really good!”

    Recently, I’ve been going through my Pocket account and clearing out anything I haven’t bothered to read. Some of the articles in there were 1-2 years old! I’ve set myself a new rule. If I don’t read it within a week, the article goes in the (virtual) bin.  

    The Freelance Lifestyle going forward

    Time is one of the things we’re all limited on – but more so for freelancers and anyone who works online. Which has got me to thinking about the kind of content I’m creating here. I don’t want it to be the kind that clogs up your bookmarks or reading app. Short, snappy and helpful is the goal. So more ‘How To…’ posts, list posts and A-Zs of Freelancing. A new feature is coming soon to Fridays – A Day In The Life Of A Freelancer, interviews with a lovely bunch of creatives so you can have a peek into what other people do. There may be the odd long-form article, but only very occasionally. To be brutally honest, brevity is one of my strengths anyway (I was always the student at school who wrote articles based on hitting the lowest word count requirement, rather than squeezing it under the top word count limit)

    I’ve also got a couple of plans up my sleeve for videos – three minute long videos (just enough to watch while you’re making a cup of tea).

    One more thing….VEDA

    Talking of videos – I’m going to be taking part in VEDA (Vlog Every Day In April). I can’t promise I’ll do every day, but it’s a great way to boost your experience of vlogging. Fancy joining me? I’m going to be joining Savvy Sexy Social’s VEDA, with an editorial calendar packed full of ideas for what to vlog about.

  • Freelance Lifestyle picks for February – Bloggers, vloggers and books


    As it’s February, the month of love, I figured it would be good to throw some love stuff out there. There have been a few things I’ve been loving recently, so rather than write a few short posts, I’ve lumped them all in together.

    I’m efficient/lazy like that…


    Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish – I’ve fallen desperately behind on my Bloglovin’ subscriptions, and now tend to rely on Facebook for keeping up to date with my favourite blogs. Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish is one of the few blogs that I *always* click through to. Laura’s blog is all about healthy, clean eating, and she shares a day in her life each week. As a freelancer, it’s great to see how healthy living can fit in to a busy working day, plus I love having a nosy at other people’s meals.

    One Man Band Accounting – Regular readers will probably know about Rosie from One Man Band Accounting. She offers a variety of accounting services and ebooks to help people like us, freelancers and small businesses, to get on top of our finances. I’m not particularly amazing at keeping on top of money matters, but Rosie’s blog posts give me the nudge I often need. This post on Tax & Money Essentials for Freelancers was particularly handy.

    Plus, she sends clients cake.


    Marie Forleo – Marie’s videos have been on my subscription list for a few years now, but a couple of her more recent ones have been particularly interesting. I loved this one about how to get the most out of your To Do list.

    Emily and Elizabeth – I’m off to see Emily Jayne and Elizabeth Sellars this weekend for a catch up and an assortment of blogger cliches (cake, tea and Instagram). In the meantime, I’ve been catching up with a few of the videos they’ve been recording together, like the Valentine’s Day tag below.


    The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness – I have a soft spot for psychology books, and I loved The Chimp Paradox. It’s based on the principle that your brain is split into different personas, and the ‘chimp’ part has a tendency to rule – even though it’s the less intelligent, more emotional part. If you tend to find yourself struggling to focus, maintain self discipline or just get stuff done, I’d highly recommend getting this.

    As They Slept – As They Slept is a series of non-fiction books that prove that a lot can be achieved in a commute to and from work. Andy Leeks writes a new chapter every day during his train commute, in a bid to prove a friend wrong. If Andy can write several ebooks during his commutes, what’s stopping you from making plans for your freelance business during yours?

    What things are you loving in February? 

  • Freelancing, contracts and part time jobs


    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 happened when I spilled water on my MacBook

    macbook enemy

    This week got off to a shaky start. On Monday morning, I was putting together a video for a future newsletter, when my cat tipped a glass of water all over my MacBook. (Yes, I know I shouldn’t be drinking water near my laptop. Amazing the number of people who are keen to state the obvious after an event.)

    A trip to the Apple store (thanks to @teenytinyleanne) revealed that the keyboard and potentially the battery are done. Hello £233 bill.

    It’s not a total disaster though. I had an old Dell laptop (plus my trusty iPad and iPhone.) And thanks to the following, I’ve been able to pick up where I left off while my MacBook is in for repair:

    • The majority of my documents are on Google Drive or Dropbox, so it’s easy to login and continue.
    •  The iCloud has all my music sorted (although I mainly use Spotify these days)
    • I’m a Chrome user, so all I needed to do was login in again on my Dell, and like magic all my bookmarks, plugins and extensions appeared.
    • I use LastPass, a plugin/extension that remembers all your password for you, so I didn’t have to faff around remembering the login details for various sites.

    I’m not great at remembering to back up into a portable hard disc, so I’ve set a reminder to do this in this future – there are always a few things that don’t end up on Dropbox or Google Drive.

    Overall, it’s made me realise how much I really do rely on various ‘clouds’, which is reassuring in situations like this but also a little scary – what if anything happens to those clouds?

    How would you cope if anything happened to your laptop? Do you have a back up plan? Let me know your thoughts below!