Guest Posts

  • Guest Post: A day in the life of a newbie freelancer

    I’m on a spa break! Which means that somehow, I’ve been surgically detached from my laptop and I’m hopefully floating in a pool of bliss. Thankfully, some of my fellow freelancers have kindly stepped in to write a guest post. Today, the talented Fran Swaine shares her experience of beginning the freelance life. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    6.45am: Alarm goes off and the boyfriend dives in the shower. Now I work from home I get a lie in. I used to get up at 6.20am. Hells yes – I love that extra time in bed!

    8am: After showering and making breakfast I head upstairs to my office. I turn on my computer and tune in to BBC 6music. Good tunes are essential for a productive day and a mid-morning bum wiggle.

    My first tasks include checking emails, Twitter and my Google Reader. Digital marketing moves so fast, I need to ensure my knowledge and understanding are kept current. Twitter is the best way of doing that. I run through my feed and find interesting links to either schedule through Tweetdeck or load up on Buffer.
    8.30am: I’m annoyed I haven’t started work yet but admin has got in the way. You’d be surprised how much admin there is as a freelancer!

    9am: Finally, I can start some paid work! It’s crucial at this point I open up my time sheet. I record exactly how much time I spend on any projects I’m working on. I work on a day rate, but realistically you end up switching between projects so this is the best way of keeping track.

    Today I’m working on some copywriting for a client’s new events website. Luckily I’ve already set the tone of voice for this website, so it should just be a case of applying this to the new text.

    9.20am: I’ve had to turn the radio off as I can’t concentrate (mainly because I keep singing along). I really should turn my email off too – it’s the most productive way to work! I used to happily email friends throughout the day – but these days I only do that if I have a quiet day. I’m a pretty strict boss!

    10.30am: Copy finished. Phew! Took longer than expected but I’m happy with the results.

    10.45am: After a cuppa and a snack, it’s time to face my next project. I’m working on a marketing strategy for one of my retained clients. I’ve already done the initial analysis for their website, so today I’ll be looking at their PPC campaigns and starting to look at their social strategy.

    The morning is also littered with calls and emails from clients – I’m a good multi-tasker so I like working this way.

    12.30pm – It’s been quite a busy morning – but a productive one. I also managed to get tickets for an awesome free digital event happening in Brighton in September. I head downstairs to make lunch. It also means I can take a bit of time out to read my book and sit in the garden.

    1pm: I only usually take 20 minutes for lunch, unless it’s a beautiful day and then I try and make the most of sitting outside or going for a bit of a walk. Today – it’s grey out, so I head back up to my office and prepare for a meeting at 3pm.

    2pm: Just finished up a blog post for my website that I started yesterday. I try to blog at least once aweek. The topic of this post is on Facebook pages and how to avoid getting Facebook fatigue.

    2.30pm: I head in to town for a meeting with a potential new client. I’m about a 30 minute walk into town, and I try to walk it rather than jumping on the bus. Working from home means you are much less active. I’ve recently got into hula hooping which I can do at home. I can currently do 124 in a row. Needless to say if anyone could see me they’d be in fits of laughter.

    My meeting is at one of my favourite cafes in Brighton. Must resist the temptation of cake!

    4.15pm: The meeting went really well and it’s a client I really want to work with. Fingers crossed they want to work with me too!

    4.45pm: Get home – fuss Rocky and grab a snack. Having a cat makes such a difference to me when I work from home. Yes I am a crazy cat lady! Afternoons are always sound tracked by my Spotify playlists – today it’s time for my summer sizzlers playlist (because it’s raining and horrible outside and I need to get motivated – plus I know my neighbours love hearing me sing Summer of 69 at the top of my lungs!)


    5pm: This is the time I used to finish work – but most days I work 8am – 6.30pm now. It’s funny – I always used to be straight out the door at 5pm but I no longer feel the need to stop bang on 5pm. Today I’m going to spend the last hour or so of the day putting together the proposal for the meeting I just had. The proposal is for setting up a marketing strategy for their business and being hands on in the implementation.

    6.15pm: Proposal finished! I’m pretty happy with it but will sit on it overnight and re-read in themorning. I often do this for work I’ve done in the afternoon if possible – best to look through stuff with fresh eyes!

    6.30pm: Time to switch off my computer! Today there are no looming deadlines, so I won’t be working late. Some days can be 12 hours long. It’s a hard graft but I love it. Before I shut down – I take a look at my diary and write a list of things I need to do tomorrow. Now it’s time to put my feet up!

    Thanks for your guest post Fran! I love the timesheet idea, may have to start doing the same.

    How does your daily freelance life compare to Fran’s? Share your thoughts in the comments!

    [custom_author=Fran Swaine]


  • Guest Post: Working back at the ranch

    I’m on a spa break! Which means that somehow, I’ve been surgically detached from my laptop and I’m hopefully floating in a pool of bliss. Thankfully, some of my fellow freelancers have kindly stepped in to write a guest post. Today, Betty Bee shares her experiences of working from home…

    Once upon a time working from home was shorthand for waiting in for a washing machine to be delivered. Fine for a one-off but impossible to do full-time. Now with broadband, laptops, Skype and robots (ok I made that last one up) having a home office is fast becoming the smart way to eliminate time-wasting travel and work in a more flexible way. It’s practical, it’s cheap and for working mums it’s often an ideal way to continue a career in-between the tyranny of the school run.

    Working from home may seem like the answer to all your prayers and swapping the inane chat of work colleagues for Woman’s hour is in itself a thing of joy but it’s worth remembering that the pros of working at home are also the cons.

    Not having to leave the house may mean less time wasted on the dreaded commute (no more listening to the tinny beats of an overloud iPod on the train or scraping ice off your windscreen at 7am on winter mornings), but it will mean you have to discipline yourself to ignore household obligations and get down to the task in hand. Procrastination in the form of the ironing pile is not unheard of and daytime telly has to become a no no. Watching the Wright Stuff is not “research” it’s skiving.

    So how do you change your mindset from duvet dayer to office worker?

    One of the easiest ways is to create a workspace that screams productivity.  If you are lucky enough to have an entire room to devote to your office this is an easier task-keep all family life out as much as possible (no Lakeland catalogues nestling next to the report you need to read) and once the door is shut behind you consider yourself at work. Give yourself scheduled breaks and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by what next door is doing in the garden or by poking people on facebook.

    If you are having to work from the kitchen table or in the space under the stairs  (like Harry Potter with a laptop) try and ensure your working area is free of any other household clutter and invest in some file boxes so all paperwork can be neatly stored away. This will be your saving grace once the family come home and your “hot desk” becomes unrecognisable under that particular brand of debris, which can only be created by children. Like space junk, but stickier.

    Educating others that being at home is not the same as being available is possibly one of the greatest hurdles to overcome. You may find at first that friends think its fine to drop over for coffee it’s not. You are not Starbucks despite what the squashy sofa and magazines strewn everywhere might suggest. Keep that kettle switched off.

    Working from home does allow a certain sense of personal freedom and this can be harnessed to great effect-if you are having trouble with a particular problem or need to formulate a plan of action being able to step outside into the garden for a few minutes to clear your head can make all the difference and with no outside distractions you will be amazed how more efficient you will become. Try and remember to get dressed occasionally though-padding around in your dressing gown may be liberating to begin with but meeting clients wearing reindeer slippers may not give the right impression.

    Copyright Betty Bee  2011

    [custom_author=Betty Bee]

  • The 5 Rules for Working from Home (the clue is in the verb)

    Time for a guest post! I love hearing from other freelancers, especially when they share working from home tips I’ve never heard of before . Today, Fiona from The Beauty Shortlist shares hers (this post made me do an actual LOL. I never actually LOL.)

    Those were the days. Swimming in five star hotel pools in Santorini… baking Glamour Puds with Eric Lanlard (that’s me on the sofa, Eric on TV)… and surfing without getting wet (for the just the right shade of tinted moisturiser).

    Reality alert!  It’s called “working” from home. If you’re self-employed, Googling luxury escapes and baking (unless you’re Eric Lanlard) do not pay the bills.

    I’m a workaholic. But when I first swapped a basement office for a makeshift desk-with-a-view at home, the demon in my day was Distraction. Distraction dangled undone laundry and Digestives in front of me and tempted me with cups of tea and magazines. Distraction found endless ways to lure me away from the laptop.

    After two astoundingly unproductive weeks when I started working from home, it was high time to knock Distraction on the head.  So I read the Riot Act (to myself) and wrote out The Five Rules for Working from Home:

    1. Do the most important thing (that can be done today) first. Humans are ‘pain avoiders’. Beeline for the biscuit tin, run from the dentist. But get the important (aka difficult?) stuff out of the way and you’ve eased your burden already.
    2. Write a list and stick to it. Jot things down every evening/early morning. And it’s better to get three things done than have a longer list of not-quites or not dones (which makes you feel you’re not getting anywhere).
    3. Tame the email dragon.  Thank you simplicity coach Simon Tyler for this one.  Check emails only 2-3 times daily if you can. Deal with them in batches, avoid back-and-forth “loop” emailing. Be brutal. Unsubscribe from newsletters. Keep emails short and sweet (I’m still trying to master that one). Simon’s new book, The Simple Way, is out now on Amazon and I’ve just ordered it.
    4. Find your “sweet spots”.  Morning person? Yes/no/sometimes? Tailor your tasks to your energy rhythms. Flag at tea time? Do simpler stuff, a bit of admin, emails. Keep the harder tasks for the times of day when you have most energy if possible.
    5. Stick to a schedule. Creatives might disagree, but I keep office hours at home and stick to them (with a vengeance).  I may still be in my PJ’s at 8.30am on the occasional winter morning, or knock off early at four on a July Friday but I put in a pretty hefty day – every day. I now work longer hours than in that basement office and earn less, but the clincher is ‘no commute’.  And no slacking, no surfing, no dancing with Distraction. That’s for Friday nights.