• What is a retainer and why should you offer them? Fran Swaine explains!

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a few people ask me about retainers. Usually along the lines of ‘what the hell are they and should I be offering them?’

    *Insert dad joke about braces*

    Fran Swaine, a freelance friend of mine that some of you might know from the Team Red Hangouts, is a bit of a pro when it comes to retainers and she kindly agreed to do a hangout with me to go over the basics. Tune in to see us chat about the pros, cons and opportunities for freelancers to use retainers – and why it could be one of the best financial moves you could make.

    Regular income, a better relationship with my clients and a more long-term agreement? What’s not to love? I haven’t actually done a lot when it comes to retainers – but after chatting to Fran it’s certainly something I’ll try to do more.

    What do you think about retainers? Do you currently use them? What are your experiences?

  • 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.

  • Catch up on The Freelance Lifestyle Q&A

    The Google Hangout.jpg

    Last night, I had my first big Q&A for The Freelance Lifestyle, answering questions like:

    • How do I get into being freelance?
    • How to find time for learning new things in your industry when keeping on top of your work load?
    • What to do in a freelance slump (either mentally or from a lack of work situation)
    • How to maintain confidence when being a freelancer
    • I’ve pitched an article idea. Ed said may use in future mag edition. How do I follow up without seeming pushy
    • How do I deal with filming a Hangout in a boiling hot room where ventilation is limited due to the extra loud wildlife outside (Spoiler! Not well)

    My good friend Sally from Flourish PR joined me, and shared some of her insights too. Particularly worth checking out her thoughts on how to follow up on a pitched idea, and how to deal with a freelance slump. Sally has done stupendously well in the last couple of years,

    If you want to catch up, I’ve popped the hangout below. Potentially if enough of you are interested, I might just make it a monthly 30 min thing with a theme (finance, finding clients, family/friends), and grab some other lovely freelancers to jump on too. There are some kinks to iron out, like where to film (I may or may not have run around the house in a bit of a tizz in the 5-10 minutes before trying to find somewhere with good lighting. I failed). No one ever started doing something perfectly though, did they? I’m a big fan of jumping in and planning as I go. Clearly.

    That’s enough chattering. Tune in below to see….well, more of me chattering.

    p.s Who’s coming to Blognix tomorrow? Looking forward to seeing all your faces! 

    p.p.s The next few weeks are likely to be a little unusual on the blog as I’m off on honeymoon on Thursday (finally). If you fancy guest posting about your freelancing experiences (freelancers only please, no businesses who want to argue the basics of nofollow policies and sponsored posts) drop me an email!

  • The Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge – Meet other local people

    freelance lifestyle weekly challenge


    It’s time for the Freelance Lifestyle Tea Break Challenge!

    (Can we all pretend I’m not actually late posting this challenge? Yes? Wonderful!)

    So, this week, it’s all about community. Working from home or freelancing definitely has perks, but sometimes you just want to talk to someone other than the cat. Getting to know your local community means you can meet new contacts, friends, potential clients and discover lots of new things about the area.

    Check out the animation of five steps to get to know your community better, then let me know how YOU’RE going to get to know your community a little better this week.

  • The Digital Q&A Google+ Hangout

    Last night, I took part in my first Google+ Hangout with the lovely Jennifer Begg and Fran Swaine (regular readers may remember Fran’s great post on being a newbie freelancer.) To add to the pressure, we recorded it on Jennifer’s YouTube channel, and answered questions from our online followers around the subject of digital media.

    Here are the results…

    We had a dozen or so questions to get through, but as you can see we had a lot to say so only got through a few! The plan is to make this a monthly activity though, with a more focussed topic each time.

    Doing this hangout has made me realise that I’d like to get involved with Google+ more. This is where I need your help! I’d love to hear your recommendations for people to follow, how to get more out of it, and what you use it for.

    Feel free to leave comments, good or bad, in the comments section below.

  • VEDA – Vlog Every Day August

    It’s been a great week on the blog, with three brilliant guest posts from Fran, Fi and Betty Bee. Go have a read if you haven’t already. Big thank you to them, I hope you all found their posts as interesting as I did!

    Instead of my usual podcast this week, I’m doing something a little different. Yesterday, I started the Savvy Sexy Social VEDA challenge. For those that haven’t come across it before, VEDA is the Vlog Every Day August (it also takes place in April). Video blogging is something I’ve been looking to do for a while, because I have a feeling blogs are going to have to embrace other multimedia methods as well as writing in order to continue to succeed. Putting your face out there is scary, but I fully believe in doing something every day that scares you a bit. How else are you going to keep learning?

    Plus it means I brush my hair and slap some make up on each day. Which is no bad thing. I can’t promise I won’t occasionally rock the smart above the table/pj bottoms below the table look for videos though…

    So, here’s my channel. Feedback is welcome but remember that I’m very new to this so please be kind!

    It’s only day two and I’ve got a lot to learn, but if you’re tempted to do the same you can still join in. Pop on over to Savvy Sexy Social and pop your name down on the list and get vlogging. Amy from Savvy Sexy Social has kindly put together a calendar of topics to cover for the month, so you shouldn’t be stuck for ideas.

    If you’re already a vlogger, do you have any tips? Lighting suggestions? Camera recommendations? YouTube no nos? Let me know in the comments! Feel free to leave your link to your YouTube channel below too, I’m always interested in watching other videos.