Freelance A-Z

  • The A-Z of Freelancing – Expenses

    AZoffreelancing

    A quick post today, about expenses. Yup, the bane of every freelancer’s life. I don’t want to particularly dwell on this because it’s utterly boring, but it’s also essential.

    If you’re new to freelancing, you might be getting your head around the idea of expenses. I’m not going to go into what counts as expenses in this post (that’s a whole other post, and one that I may get an expert in for). There’s a great guide over on the HMRC site though.

    So, here are a few tips for storing and tracking your expenses.

    • Get snappy. I use tools like the Freshbooks app to take a snap of any quick expenses, like train tickets or shop receipts. This is then added to my online accounts, and I pop the expense in my purse to transfer to a box I keep at home, at the end of each week.
    • Create a folder in your email, and transfer any emails with business expenses to that folder. Print them out each month.
    • Don’t go paper-free. Yes, I’m fully aware of the environmental impact. But the reality is, I’m going to be printing a huge number of accounts/phone bills etc at the end of each month, so I may as well get them sent to me for free by the banks.
    • Create a folder with sections for each month. Grab some of those clear pockets, then pop a piece of paper in each one. Once a month or so, I then staple each of the expense docs (tickets, receipts etc) with a quick description of what it was for. Pop the email in there too if relevant, giving each part a number to match them up.
    • Set time each month to deal with them. An hour should do, unless you do a lot of spending.

    What are your top tips for dealing with expenses?

    p.s Still confused? Give Rosie from OneManBandAccounting a shout. She has plenty of packages for advising and helping you with your expenses and accounting.

    p.p.s There’s a serious lack of attractive accounting software. Get on that, stationery-making types. Not everyone wants to use a dull office binder.

     

  • The A-Z of Freelancing – Dealing with doubts

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    Freelancers, unless blessed with sky-high confidence and self-esteem, will have a moment of self-doubt during their work day. In fact, I’ve had doubts about whether freelancing is for me during the following times:

    • In the run up to Christmas or a holiday, when ALL OF THE WORK needs doing beforehand. 
    • When dealing with a tricky client, and having no one to talk to face-to-face about it
    • When I’ve taken on too many clients, and I’m doing all of the hours
    • When times are quiet, and I’m scrambling to pay the bills
    • When chasing a client for a very overdue payment
    • When taking on a project that seems far too big and complicated for my skills

    But y’know what? Doubts are normal. No one coasts along feeling 100% sure about anything. The key is how you feel the rest of the time. When I feel those doubts creeping in, I remember that 90% of the time I LOVE being a freelancer. When I was a full-time employee, it was closer to 30-40%.

    Most of all though, go with your gut. If you have doubts but your gut says go for it, you’re doing the right thing. If you have doubts and your gut agrees, consider other options. Your gut is rarely wrong (unless you’ve had a curry the night before.)

    Do you ever have doubts about freelancing?

  • The A-Z of Freelancing – Admin

    AZoffreelancing

    Welcome to The Freelance Lifestyle’s A-Z of Freelancing. Each week, I’ll be looking at a new topic linked to freelancing – from Admin to dealing with having Zero clients.

    This week’s topic, as I’ve just mentioned, is the dreaded admin.

    Admin is one of the inevitable but uninteresting parts of freelancing. For every successful meeting, interesting social media interaction and happy pay day, there’s a pile of paperwork, expenses to file, emails to send and clients to chase.

    Somehow, it’s easy to find time for all the fun and interesting stuff – but we’re ‘too busy’ to do the boring admin.

    So if you’re struggling to find time for admin, try this four step strategy.

    The Admin Attack Strategy

    Schedule time

    Friday mornings are my serious admin time. I block it out to catch up on expenses, filing, clearing the remaining backlog of emails and catching up with clients. Then I either treat myself to a Friday afternoon off, or a really tasty lunch. Once a week might work for you, or half an hour each morning might work better. Try both, and see what works best for you.

    Do it in bite size chunks

    Recently, I’ve been using the 30/30 app to schedule in all my work for the day (thanks for the recommendation Michelle Jackson Rowe!) I’ve been scheduling in email time several times a day – then I ignore it the rest of the time. This has really improved my productivity, because I’m focusing on reading and replying rather than juggling it with other work. Breaking big jobs into bite size tasks make them less intimidating, and easier to slot into your daily schedule.

    Make an admin sandwich

    When I really don’t want to do a task, I make an admin sandwich. Find two tasks you love to do, then slot the admin task in-between. For example, I hate making phone calls, so I slot them in after social media and before blogging.

    Outsource it!

    Really hate dealing with your accounts? Can’t keep on top of your emails? If you’re constantly fighting an uphill battle, and you have the budget, consider hiring a virtual assistant. It might be an added expense, but the time it could free up means you can concentrate on other areas of your business – potentially leading to a higher income.

    How do you deal with your admin? What’s your biggest admin bugbear?