• Freelance Poll: Will you be taking a break this Christmas?

    With Christmas just around the corner, many freelancers are planning to wind down work in a few weeks to enjoy some well-deserved time off. Obviously not everyone celebrates Christmas, however the majority of companies ‘power down’ around this period too, so for many freelancers this is a great opportunity for a break from work – to celebrate or just to relax.

    How many of you do take a proper break from work though? In the past, I’ve been known to panic work up until Christmas Eve in order to get a few days off. Which is why I set the challenge earlier this month to get prepared for taking a freelance holiday in order to avoid that panic.

    Let me know your plans in the poll below:

    [poll id=”16″]

  • Freelance Poll: What would you like to chat about on Twitter?

    It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally got round to creating a Twitter account for Freelance Lifestyle (it’s not like I use social media for a living or anything…)

    I’m keen to do a few things with the account, including a Twitter hashtag chat about freelancing. I’d love to hear more about other’s experiences and opinions on freelancing.

    But what would you like to talk about? There’s a little poll below for you to let me know, but feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below. If all goes well, I’d like to make it a regular thing so all of these topics eventually get covered.

    Also, if you have any good ideas for a hashtag, pop that in the comments too!

    [poll id=”15″]


  • Poll: How did you know you were ready for freelancing?

    A few people have asked me recently how I knew I was ready for freelancing. The honest truth is, I fell into it. I left my job in HR with the idea of getting into the hotel industry, picked up some digital media internships after joining Twitter (more by chance than any kind of strategy), and ended up freelancing.

    So, I’m probably not the best person to ask on how to know you’re ready for freelancing. I don’t necessarily think every freelance makes a planned jump into it. Some take it up after being made redundant, others after starting a family and I know several people who have moved abroad and started a freelancing career as they can work remotely.

    But I also know a lot of people at the moment who don’t want to be an employee for the rest of their lives, and are considering freelancing or starting their own business. It’s a big step, so how do most people know when they’re ready for it?

    In a moment, I’m going to ask those of you who have made the jump from full time employment to freelance to vote on how you knew you were ready. First though, are a few things to make sure you have before you make the jump:

    • Savings. Ideally enough for three months of rent/mortgage payments (six months is even better)
    • Potential clients. The best way to secure potential clients, is to take on some freelance work in the evenings and weekends. Yes, it’ll be hard doing a full time job and freelancing in your spare time. But you’ll be glad you did when you go freelance full time and already have contacts!
    • Find your local networking events, and book them into your diary
    • Make sure you’ve got a good support structure around you of friends and family. Not everyone will understand your move (I’d say at least 40% of my family and friends don’t understand why I’d choose to be freelance) but the good ones will support you.
    • A plan. Just as you’d create a strategy for starting a business, you need a strategy for starting a freelance career.

    So, over to you! How did you know you were ready for freelancing?

    [poll id=”14″]

  • Poll: Do you request part payment before starting a project?

    I’ve been chatting to some freelancers recently about requesting payment for freelance projects before commencing with the job. Not the full amount necessarily, but a decent enough percentage. I have to admit, this isn’t something I’ve practiced. Perhaps because my clients in the past have mainly been long-term, social media or blogging clients where asking for part-payment first wasn’t necessarily required. But now I’m working with more short-term clients and projects, it’s something to consider. We’ve all had to deal with clients who don’t pay or pay late, so this could be a great solution, plus it proves they’re serious about the project.

    In fact Samantha Sparrow, who deals with many freelancers and contractors in her role, explained that not only do many companies understand freelancers asking for a part-payment up front, but they expect it.

    So, I’d like to ask two small things of you today. First, to vote in the poll below to let me know if you ask for part-payment before commencing. Secondly, to let me know in the comments what your approach is. Any advice really would be welcome, as this is an area I’m really not experienced in.

    I personally would love to know what the general consensus is, and I’m sure plenty of other newer freelancers would too!

    So, vote here:

    [poll id=”13″]

    Then comment below…

  • Poll: How do you maintain a work life balance?

    This week’s poll addresses a problem a lot of freelancers have: maintaining a work life balance. Funny really, considering how many people go freelance in order to work around their family or friends. But emails, flexible deadlines and varying workloads mean that it can be hard to tell where and when work ends and life begins.

    I’ve talked in the past about how to improve work life balance. Whether it be outsourcing parts of your life, dealing with freelance fatigue or making sure you fit exercise into your freelance life. I suspect that very few of us manage to get that work life balance perfect, all the time.

    But now it’s over to you! Let me know how you make sure you get work life balance  (you can choose multiple answers)- and if the option isn’t below, leave a comment below and share your balancing secrets.

    [poll id=”10″]

    None of these? Let me know how you do it below!

    (Image via Flickr user kowitz)

  • Poll: How do you deal with difficult clients?

    Difficult clients. Eurgh.

    At one point or other, all freelancers have to deal with The Difficult Client. Every difficult client is different – there’s the fussy clients (you will literally never please them), the ‘always one last thing to do that’s not part of the original contract’ clients, the never-reply-to-email clients or, my least favourite, the never-pay-on-time clients.

    In an ideal world, we’d all love to avoid difficult clients. It’s great to have some clients that push us to constantly improve, but those ones that drain us and take up more time than they should are only worth going for if you’re passionate about the cause – or, to be realistic, they pay the bills.

    How do you deal with difficult clients? Strict no-go policy, or work on a case-by-case basis? Vote in the poll below, then let me know your experiences with difficult clients!

    [poll id=”9″]

    What’s your worst client experience?

    Image: Flickr user  eamoncurry123

  • Poll: Where do you find most of your clients?

    One of the things I get asked most often about freelancing is how to find new clients. The truth is, it’s a real mix of things. Originally most of my clients came from Twitter and word of mouth. Now, I tend to get more from networking events like Ladies Who Latte and through my blog/website thanks to a bit of SEO. I don’t really believe you can rely on one type of client attraction method, unless your market or industry is really niche. The more you put yourself out there, the more client enquiries you should get!

    I’d love to know how you’ve all built up your client base. How do you find most of your clients? Are you all about the offline networking, or do most of your clients find you thanks to Google and Twitter? Leave your vote below, then let me know what your favourite way is to find new clients.

    [poll id=”8″]

  • Poll: How healthy is your freelance lifestyle?

    “When I go freelance, I’ll go to the gym three times a week at off peak times! And I’ll have time to make healthy meals and take long lunch breaks away from my desk, walking in the park….”

    Hands up, who’s said something along those lines to themselves before going freelance (or if they’re considering going freelance)? Most of us go into freelancing with healthy intentions.

    But then..well, some of us like to enjoy those little lie ins we gain from avoiding the morning commute.

    And sometimes we don’t have time to nip to the shop for healthy food when we’re on a deadline, so we end up creating something from the fridge that mainly involves cheese and carbs. Or a vat of chocolate.

    And a lot of the time, we’re a bit rubbish at taking those breaks from our desks.

    Being healthy when you’re freelance is harder than you may think, when you lose the daily structure and movement that you might have in an office job. I don’t think I’m alone with noticing a little (ok, a lot) of freelance fat creeping on. It’s not impossible, but you really need to MAKE the time to be healthy. Especially as being unhealthy can make you less productive.

    With wedding dress shopping coming up, I’ve actually taken desperate measure and got a personal trainer and healthy eating plan. But up until now, my exercise routine has been sporadic at best. My eating routine has been even worse – hello pasta at lunch. Oops, was that packet of Rich Teas full this morning?

    For those that juggle freelancing and a family and STILL manage to fit in fitness, I take my hat off to you.

    So, I’d love to know – is it just me? What’s your freelancing lifestyle like? Healthy? Unhealthy? Yo-yoing? Let me know in the poll below:

    [poll id=”7″]