outsourcing

  • 5 Ways To Treat Yourself As A Freelancer

    One of the perks of being a freelancer is that you have more flexibility to add in little treats to your day. Often though, we run ourselves ragged when self-employed, and forget to pamper ourselves (which, in the long term, isn’t great for you or your business). In fact, I have a reminder that pops up on the first of the month with the question ‘what will you do this month that’s fun?’ to remind myself to book in something.

    Here are just five ways you can add some treats into your freelance life:

    afternoonteabus

    Meet a client for afternoon tea

    I’m shamelessly stealing this idea from Rosie from One Man Band Accounting, but if you offer a premium consulting service, you could arrange to meet your client for afternoon tea.

    Afternoontea.co.uk has some great deals on, including some for the Afternoon Tea Bus (which I reviewed over on The High Tea Cast last year).

    In fact, try to think outside the box with all your meetings. Meet at a fun cafe you’ve been dying to try or even go for a walk if it’s a nice day.

    Go for a spa day

    Spa days are brilliant on two levels – they’re fantastic at winding down and refreshing your body and mind. But more importantly, YOU CAN’T TAKE YOUR MOBILE PHONE/TABLET/LAPTOP WITH YOU. Enforced technology turn off. Bliss.

    Have a look on Wahanda for some great spa deals (my personal favourite spas are Nirvana Spa in Wokingham and, for a real treat, Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire)

    Invest in really, really good tea and biscuits

    If you’re working from home, don’t settle for own brand tea bags and basic biscuits. Your teabreak deserves better. I’ve just discovered you can sign up for a gourmet tea subscription too – marvellous.

    Splurge on your freelancing uniform

    When I’m working from home, I tend to wear a form of ‘freelancing uniform’ – often a comfy top I can smarten up with a necklace or funky jacket (for when I have to jump on a conference call) and usually a pair of lounge trousers or harem pants. So far, a lot of the items have been from Primark, but I’m starting to upgrade them to higher quality fabrics. I’m a huge fan of Next’s harem pants and have them in several colours, and Oasis has some beautiful kimono jackets which are great for throwing on over a vest top.

    Essentially, invest in your wardrobe like you would if you worked in an office.

    Outsource

    If you read the blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a big fan of outsourcing stuff in your life. From your accounts to your cleaning, outsourcing the areas you don’t excel at is just good business sense. Often these luxuries aren’t as expensive as you’d think too – a cleaner can be from just £10 an hour, and a virtual assistant to offload some of the areas you’re not great in can start from £15-25 an hour (and they’ll usually get the job done much faster than you will). I’ve talked a little more about outsourcing in a previous podcast, but the best way to get started is to write down everything you have to do, then highlight the things you hate doing and put off. Those are the things to outsource so you can focus on the things that you rock at.

    How do you treat yourself as a freelancer?

  • Battle of the VA companies: Fancy Hands vs. TimeEtc vs. SuperTasker

    Virtual Assistant companies

    Virtual Assistants are not a new concept. But I’ve noticed a crop of services recently that have popped up, offering admin services from a number of handpicked VAs. I suspect this has occurred as a backlash against the rise of very low price, (often, but not always) low quality VAs. Freelance marketplaces are waking up to the concept that paying a freelance VA a good hourly rate often leads to a good outcome for both the client and contractor.

    Three companies in particular have popped up recently to help businesses with their admin and general tasks: Fancy Hands, TimeEtc and Supertasker. Read on to find out what each of them offers.

    Fancy Hands

    Fancy Hands was the first site like this that I discovered, thanks to Jo Gifford. For a monthly plan ranging from $25 (5 tasks) to $65 (25 tasks), Fancy Hands gives you access to personal assistants who can do tasks for you like book appointments, book a table at a restaurant, source a product online, research something for a blog post or find a cleaner. They’re the most affordable of the three services, but the tasks in general appear to be smaller.

    Although I love the idea of Fancy Hands, but most of those are tasks I’d happily do myself. When it comes to hiring a VA, I’d usually do it because a) I can’t do the task myself (at least not well), or b) it’s time consuming and I’d rather spend that time bringing on new business.

    TimeEtc

    TimeEtc is the site that I’ve had some experience using. They offer $25 of free credit to give it a try (little warning though, if you don’t sign up and top up your credit at the end of your trial, get ready for a LOT of emails). The basic concept with TimeEtc is that you send them a task, and they assign one of their (UK-based, very talented) VAs to do the task. When I gave it a try, my task was to create a comparison report of other blogs in the UK. Not only did the service, and my assigned VA, produce a report in just a couple of days (my deadline was relaxed), but she also gave me a few suggestions of what I could do going forward. Very impressive!

    TimeEtc’s pricing is more than Fancy Hands,  but it’s easy to get your head around – a flat rate of £26 an hour. The tasks are definitely more advanced than what Fancy Hands would do too (have a look at some of them here). While I can’t afford it this month, I’ll definitely consider topping up my credit and using it in the future.

    SuperTasker

    Finally, we come to PeoplePerHour’s latest product. SuperTasker was launched earlier this month, offering services at a one-off price. For example, you can buy an infographic for $150, a blog post for $45 (delivered in 3 hours, up to 400words) or $5 for image resizing/cropping delivered in an hour. Like TimeEtc and Fancy Hands, the freelancers providing these services are vetted, and it’s super-easy to use. I’d definitely consider using SuperTasker for a a few one-off tasks (especially as it doesn’t require a membership like TimeEtc and Fancy Hands).

    Have you experienced Fancy Hands, TimeEtc or SuperTasker? Know of any other similar services? Let me know in the comments!