freelancing

  • Five essential freelance and blogging reads this week

    This week’s been an interesting one for news. Facebook have finally got their butts in gear with scheduled posts for pages (although as Hootsuite has offered this for a while along with multiple accounts, I’m not entirely sure they haven’t left it too late). They’ve also added multiple levels of admin permissions, which could be handy if you want to give others the ability to see your stats or admin notifications but don’t want others to post.

    Editorial Calendar planning

    There’s a great post over on Savvy Sexy Social all about editorial calendar planning to make sure you’re posting regularly. Check out Amy’s long list of blog post suggestion too, which is great if you need a little inspiration.

    Google+ goes local

    Great news if you’re a local business. Google has launched Google+ Local, for users to find local businesses easily. Google+ Local takes it’s info from a range of other Google products like Maps, Places and Plus, so it’s even more reason to get your business on those pages and maximise your traffic.

    What should your day rate be?

    Judy alerted me to this great post on freelance day rates and what the right price generally is. It’s not easy to find decent guides for how much you should charge, and this gives a fairly realistic idea.

    Save 2% when you get paid: Don’t end up in the workhouse when you retire

    If you’re freelance, it’s easy to forget about pensions. Especially as you don’t have a boss paying into it. But Rosie from One Man Band Bookkeeping makes the valid point that you should put 2% of your income away to make sure you’re ok for the future.

    What have you been reading this week?

  • Poll: What are the worst bits of freelancing?

    Last week, I ran a poll asking what your favourite bits of freelancing are. The two winning reasons were “Working on projects I’m passionate about” and “Working hours that suit me – whether they’re 9-5 or 5-1”, followed by  “Working from home” and “Trying lots of new and different projects and working with different people”. So it seems that working hours and project passion are the two reasons people become, and stay, freelance.

    This week, to balance things out and show that it’s not all rosy, we’re going to look at the things in freelancing that irk us. It’s not all waking up when you want, taking long lunches and afternoon naps (in fact, if we did that every day we’d never get anything done!). Sometimes it can get lonely, sometimes it’s hard to concentrate and sometimes (usually around January when we have to pay our tax bills), it can get very, very stressful.

    So, fess up: What do you find tricky about freelancing?

    [poll id=”5″]

  • Five ways to deal with freelance fatigue

    At one time or another, every freelancer goes through ‘freelance fatigue’. You’ll feel knackered, uninspired by your workload and feel like you’ve lost your focus. When you work for yourself, days like these can be frustrating as everything relies on you being productive. There’s no one else there to shoulder the workload for you, which can feel like a lot of pressure.

    I had a day like this last week, due to a combination of workload and being unwell, when I struggled to concentrate and maintain the energy I need to get through my workload.

    So, how do you deal with freelance fatigue?

    Take a break
    Freelancers are notoriously bad at taking breaks or holidays. After all, we don’t get the benefits of holiday pay, so any time we’re not working is time we’re not earning.

    Sometimes though, you need to take that break in order to be able to continue earning money. Whether it be a weekend where you switch off and don’t work or a week or two away.

    Go on! Block out a weekend, get enough food and entertainment to last you a weekend, turn off the phone and RELAX. Or book a night out with the girls (or boys) with plenty of cocktails with silly little umbrellas (or just beer. Lots of it). If you’re tight for money, have your friends round for cocktails instead.

    If you’ve worked really hard and earned enough, treat yourself to an all-inclusive holiday where you don’t need to do ANYTHING. Check out Groupon for some of their cheapy getaway deals.

    A break can also help you see the big picture, so you can do the next bit…

    Look at your workload

    It’s easy to get into the mindset of saying yes to all well-paid work. But sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and looking at your workload. Are there certain clients or projects that cause you more grief than they’re worth? Have you outgrown some of your long-standing clients? Are you under charging others?

    It’s easier to stay motivated and energetic about clients and projects that you’re passionate about, so try to remember this when you’re deciding whether to agree to a project. If you can do, finish your contract with those clients that don’t float your boat. It’ll give you room to take on a client that’s worth your time.

    Look at your workplace
    Have a look around your desk or workplace. Is it messy? Do you have a pile of receipts that haven’t been touched since 2010? Are the coffee cups piling up? Odd as it may seem, a messy desk can make you feel drained. A clean and organised workspace can give you a temporary boost of energy and inspiration.

    Re-evaluate your goals and objectives

    If you’re feeling a bit like you’ve lost your way, it’s worth sitting down and re-assessing your goals and objectives (or setting some if you don’t already have any). There are a couple of great posts here about setting goals – five-step plan to setting goals and the importance of setting goals and objectives.

    For example you might find that you want to increase your income, in which case you could reassess your fee structure or look at other revenue streams.

    You might find that you want to spend more time with your family or adopt a better work/life balance, in which case you might want to look at adopting more high value/low volume work.

    You might feel the need to do something that makes a real difference to society, in which case volunteer work might be worth looking at.

    Whatever you choose to do, refreshing your goals and objectives can help reignite that excitement you felt before.

    Exercise

    Yeah, I know. You either love it or hate it. And when you’re feeling drained of energy and just want to sleep all the time, the last thing you want to do is drag your ass down to the gym. But, it really does help boost your energy (not just on the day, but for a few days after), and you can get all those freelance frustrations out of your system with a good workout.

    What do you do to deal with freelance fatigue? Any tips? Let me know in the comments!

    p.s If you’re really struggling and it feels like more than exhaustion, there is a chance you may be suffering from depression. Don’t suffer in silence. It’s more common than you think. Speak to your doctor, and read this article from Mind about the symptoms of depression.

  • Five freelance articles to read this week

    Pinterest CV

    Looking for some reading material for the weekend? Here are five posts that might be of interest:

    Making the Leap From Full-Time to Freelance – Freelance Switch

    I love reading about how people get into freelancing, so this post looking at the experiences of a photographer and an editor  is worth a nosy if you’re the same. A big lesson from these case studies is that you can’t just jump into freelancing without building some form of base first – whether it be a portfolio of experience or committing to a client or two first.

    110 ideas to get more freelance work and generate new client leads – Freelance Switch

    Does exactly what it says on the tin. A lot of it is common sense with some great suggestions for new freelancers, but also a few more unusual ideas for those who are more experienced. Especially like the sections on ‘Be an Industry Expert’ and the ‘Industry Specific Ideas’.

    Job Seeker turns Pinterest board into CV – Simply Zesty

    One for freelancers and job seekers – and an interesting take on how Pinterest can be used in new and creative ways. The image above shows how Jeanne has laid her boards out to showcase her skills and experience. Smart!

    Rantbot : Freelancers end long payment periods now! – Freelance Advisor

    Great post by Rantbot about long payment periods. This is a big bugbear for me, as I spend quite a bit of time chasing payments. I never commit to anything longer than a 30 day payment period, but 60-90 day payment periods are common – especially for magazines or newspapers (understandable for some where they’re working a few issues ahead). I do find it an odd practice in general though – why is it ok to delay payments to freelancers but not employees?

    How do you feel about long payment periods?

    Death by Desk Job: How to Fight It [INFOGRAPHIC]

    Sitting behind a desk all day isn’t the greatest thing for your health. Print out this infographic and stick it on your wall to remind you to take regular breaks and do these desk exercises.

    Get fit at your desk

     What links have grabbed your interest this week?

  • Five bad health habits of freelancers

    1) Snacking/bad diet

    A lot of freelancers I know, myself included, have put some weight (freelance fat) on since starting to work from home . You’re right near the kitchen, it’s tempting to comfort eat when things get tough and lunch portions can gradually increase with access to an oven.

    Freelance Health Tip: Meal plan, so you know what you’re cooking for the week (or download the Freelance Planner I created last week to make a note of what you’re going to eat that day). I’m also a big fan of Weight Watchers if you want to lose some weight (you can see my weight loss updates on my other blog).

    The other problem with weight as a freelancer is…

    2) Not exercising

    You know that annoying commute to work you had to do before freelancing? And all that running up and down stairs and popping out for lunch? That was all a little bit of exercise that you’re not getting now. In theory, it should be easier to fit in exercise – you could pop to the gym mid-morning or mid-afternoon when things are quieter. But when you’re freelancing time can run away with you a bit, and you don’t have the structure of a 9-5er.

    Freelance Health Tip: Try booking fitness classes in and paying ahead, so you HAVE to go.

    3) Not taking enough breaks

    This isn’t just a problem for freelancers. All office workers who work at a computer should take a break away from their screen each hour. But how many of us actually do that? And how many bosses would be realistically happy with you leaving your desk every hour (even though it’s a health and safety requirement)?

    I know a lot of freelancers take their lunch in front of their computer and rarely take breaks.

    Freelance Health Tip: Set a timer to remind you to take breaks every hour. Alternatively, download Fitbolt which will give you reminders every 20 minutes to take a break from your screen and adjust your posture/doing a 30 second exercise/eat healthy. Make sure you take your lunch away from your desk.

    4) Not sitting at a desk

    Where do you work? At a desk? On the sofa? I’ve been seduced by the comfort of the sofa recently – and surprise surprise, my back has been hurting. Sitting at a desk means you’re more likely to have good posture, which will help your back, ease headaches from hunched shoulders and stressed necks and stop you from being too close to your screen.

    Freelance Health Tip: Got a desk? Use it. Not only will it improve your posture, but it’ll help you stick to better work hours too. I’m going to try and do that all this week.

    5) Not discussing work with others

    When you’re freelance, it’s easy to store up all your worries and not have somewhere vent, which can be emotionally unhealthy. Twitter now gives us somewhere to discuss things (to a limit) and there are plenty of forums on Facebook and LinkedIn for chatting to other freelancers.

    Freelance Health Tip: Get to know fellow freelancers, who you can chat to about any worries you might have. And if you have a partner, don’t be afraid to talk to them about work. That exercise malarky can also be good for working out stress.

    Have you discovered any unhealthy habits since going freelance?

  • Free Printable: The Freelance Daily Planner

    For a while now, I’ve been on the hunt for a decent To Do list printable to juggle all areas of daily life. A freelance daily planner. But I couldn’t find exactly what I needed.

    So I created my own.

    I’m not a natural at design, so this is something simple I’ve put together with PicMonkey (which, FYI, is brilliant for those who miss Picnik and don’t really want to use Photoshop).

    If you like it, just right click on it and save it to your computer – then print! Mac users, just drag it to your desktop.

    How do you stay organised?

  • Five myths people believe about freelancers

    1

    Freelancers come across a lot of myths about their profession. In the same way that non-tweeters say Twitter is “a bunch of people tweeting about their breakfasts”, people who don’t freelance have a lot of ideas about what we get up to.

    Here are a few of my favourites:

    “Freelancers? They’re just people that work at home in their pyjamas, right?”

    Of course we don’t*. Just look at Poppy from What I Wore Today – glam and freelance. Plus a lot of freelancers work in coffee shops etc. Turns out, wearing your oldest Winnie the Pooh pjs to Starbucks is a no-no.

    “Ooh, I’ve got a day off. Bob must have some free time, I’ll drop by unannounced for lunch.”

    Please don’t. We’re either busy trying to hit a deadline, or rocking bed hair and no make up. Probably both. Either way, it’s gonna get awkward.

    “Freelancers can take a holiday whenever they want, right?”

    Sure. As long as we don’t mind going unpaid for a couple of weeks. Or, more likely, doing all the work in the weeks before (and therefore spending the holiday recovering). We are however, masters of the weekend away.

    2“Freelancing isn’t a stable job”

    At the moment, I’m going through the process of mortgages and house hunting with the boyfriend. Despite the fact that:

    a) I’ve worked with a number of my clients for a couple of years, and they’re happy to confirm that this will continue into the future.

    B) I earn 50% more in my freelancing than I do in my part time job.

    Our mortgage advisor will only take my part time job into account, as the rest isn’t stable enough.

    Personally, if you have a wide variety of long-term clients, I don’t see why it’s any less stable than working in a company where redundancies are possible. In fact, some companies are turning to outsourcing to us freelancers, rather than taking on a full time staff.

    “Freelancers are unsociable, preferring to work from home rather than in an office”

    Bollocks. I’ve met more people, and made more friends, through freelancing than I ever did through working in an office. We work from home for a multitude of reasons, but personally I prefer working for myself, I’m more productive when I work from home and I have more freedom with my career direction.

    * I’m lying. I’ve been known to slip down the slippery slope of slobville. You start off in smart jeans and a top, downgrade to a pair of more comfortable jogging bottoms….and before you know it you’re wearing a onesie, and the postman asks if you’re off sick today….

    What myths have you come across about freelancing?