As freelancers we have to sell ourselves and our services to potential clients. Possibly due to shady tactics and high pressure sales from other people and companies (looking at you, car dealers), it’s easy to feel bad about ‘selling’. There’s no need however as it’s possible to sell yourself without any need to mislead or pressure people.
When thinking about ‘selling’ yourself or your services, it can be more useful to think about how you can clearly let people know what you can offer. It’s not hard selling but rather giving them the information and letting them make up their own minds.
Selling Yourself As A Freelancer
When speaking to potential clients, ask yourself can you do the job, and do you want to do the job? You can (probably) choose your jobs now you’re freelance. If it’s a good fit, then let them know and explain how you can help. Stating that you’re a ‘consultant’ or using other vague terms can turn a lot of people off as it sound expensive and it’s not clear what you offer.
I make websites, so if I’m talking to someone and can help, I let them know that I can design and build them a fast, easy to use and mobile friendly website that will help them promote their business. I don’t need to tell them I use Sketch, code in PHP or jQuery and use SASS. They don’t care about that bit – they want the end product.
I believe that confidence and clarity will get you more jobs. If people trust you can do the job, you’re enthusiastic and are clear about the end result it’s an easy choice for them.
Selling your Products and Services
When selling your products and services you can ask yourself is it a good fit and is this what they need right now? Selling people things you know are not fit for purpose or that they don’t need is pretty shady – leave that to telesales drones and used car salespeople. Chances are you went freelance to avoid the shady end of business and do good work, so these questions will help you stick to that.
Ask for the sale
After discussing things with a potential client and providing a quote, ask if that is within their budget and if they’d like to go ahead. There’s no need for months of back and forth or work up front – they either want it or they don’t. It’s up to you whether you negotiate, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to pay your bills and continue to do good work for people.
There are people out there who will try and waste your time either by being confused, or more rarely, because they enjoy it. Don’t let them steal your time – move on to better prospects.
I’ve covered some selling tips for freelancers including asking if the job is a good fit and if you can deliver, as well as being clear about what you can offer and asking for the sale.
While working remotely from Thailand, Bali, Gran Canaria and Lisbon I have seen a worrying lack of security awareness in fellow nomads. We’re responsible for not only our own data and passwords but also client related files and passwords so a security breach would be more significant than a tourist losing their phone. This is even more important in light of the recent GDPR laws in the UK and the consequences of breaking them. Here are a few simple tech security tips for any freelancers or digital nomads working on the road.
Some websites are blocked in other countries and a VPN gets around this. I was using Tunnelbear (love their branding) but found that FTP connections to our server were not reliable via this VPN so I switched to Private Internet Access which has worked great. It runs on my laptop, tablet and iOS/Android phones.
Another benefit of a VPN is that it secures your traffic which is
peace of mind when working from busy coworking spaces and cafes.
With sites and services constantly getting attacked and compromised, it’s vital to have hard to crack, unique passwords. This makes remembering them hard though and that’s where a password manager comes in handy. I use 1Password as it works on my Mac, tablet and phones.
I also use the team version so my tech support guy can access client passwords without me having to provide them manually. Different password vaults allow granular access to various logins and passwords.
The worst case scenario is losing the laptop and my data through theft or hardware failure. To get back up and running as fast as possible, I keep all my important data in cloud drive systems. I use (paid) Dropbox and (free) Google Drive.
I also keep filling my iCloud up with pictures of sunsets so can back files up to Dropbox or Google Photos to free up space and not have to pay for a larger iCloud account.
To prepare for the worst, I encrypted my hard drive before leaving
the UK. This way even if the laptop is stolen the data cannot be read
without my login details.
Lock screen passcodes
I work from home most of the time in the UK so don’t have lock screen codes as they annoy me. I enable these on all devices while traveling though to reduce the chances of someone accessing my personal and business stuff.
These were some quick and easy security tips to help keep your data safe while working remotely as a freelancer or digital nomad.
The owner of Freelance Freedom, Nick Hayward, spoke about his remote working experiences at Creatives’ Club this week. The event is organised by The Big House, an organisation that offers business support, events, grants and professional advice for creative and digital businesses in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.
The event was expertly organised by Tamily Cookson events (Facebook) with informal networking time and awesome food afterwards.
Nick spoke alongside fellow remote worker and copywriter Kerry Needs to a crowd of around 70 freelancers. It was great to see Matt and Victoria there and also meet some interesting new people. They discussed the future of work, how this offers the chance to travel and work, how to make money online and how to make the most of work and socialising while travelling in Thailand, Bali, Gran Canaria and Portugal. Much of their advice also applies to freelancers working in their home towns too.
Ross from Dispace also presented (despite a bout of man flu) and told the crowd about how Dispace is offering access to hundreds of co-working venues around the UK. Working from home or a home office comes with a number of cons so being able to work from safe, comfortable spaces with fast internet connections can really help many freelancers and small businesses.
I spent a month in Portugal in July 2017, here are my Lisbon digital
nomad tips including travel, accommodation, cafes and co-working spaces.
TAP were great – good price, fresh looking plane and a free inflight snack. Sketchy landing at Lisbon due to crosswinds!
The Metro is cheap and easy, the red line runs from airport all the
way into the city centre for around €1.50. Ticket machine sells you a
Viva Viagem card that you can recharge and then use on Metro, buses,
trains, trams and boats.
Lisbon is fairly walkable with the option to get the Metro or a tram
if you’ve got bags or it’s too hot. Electric TukTuks and a variety of
other strange vehicles are available too.
Uber is a thing here and air conditioned cars are a good alternative
to walking or the Metro when it’s hot. Trips around the city were around
Buses and modern trams were regular and easy to use with the same Viva Viagem card (around €1.50 a trip).
I took the train to Porto after my stay here and it was amazing. Fare
was around €25 booked in advance for first class and it took around
2.5hrs. The tilting train got up to 240km/h and had free (terrible) wifi
and a table to work from.
Lisbon is apparently very safe to walk around, even in the narrow
alleyways and dark streets. Tourist spots feature annoying and
persistent ‘drug dealers’ selling herbs. No I don’t want any candle wax
or Rosemary, but thanks for asking every five minutes.
Vodafone looks like €15 for 15 days with unlimited data, I just used my UK GiffGaff one though as since July 2017 free roaming has been available throughout Europe on all networks.
Digital Nomads in Lisbon
As of July 2017 there was a huge digital nomad scene here, with many coworking spaces and a very active Lisbon Digital Nomads Meetup group with meals, coworking and drinking events throughout the week. There are also the Digital Nomads Portugal and Lisbon Digital Nomads Facebook groups (that are mostly people spamming and looking for places to live..)
Coworking spaces in Lisbon
Looks incredible and they use hundreds of plants instead of air
conditioning. No trial day or day passes and I was informed that they
only accept people longer term who will be part of the community. Fine.
Lots of plants, new bean to cup coffee machine, aircon, great light
and views over the river. 90/90 internet. Slack channel with jobs,
events & chat. I loved it here, the internet is ridiculously fast
and I ended up coming back a few times. The guys invited me out for
pizza and they do surf trips. Reservation is recommended as it fills up
Drinks and snacks: Free tea, coffee (bean to cup machine) and water
Amazing facilities, peace and quiet and great value. Looks more like a business centre than a co-working place – felt a bit of a scruff in my shorts! Air conditioning, free fruit, coffee machine and sun terrace.
The only reason I didn’t sign up was the lack of community and the
Internet was playing silly fuckers for me the day I went. I couldn’t log
in to various websites I need to run my business. Not sure if this is
the way it is or just a temporary problem.
Drinks and snacks: Free tea, coffee (bean to cup machine) and water
More of a startup incubator and coding school than co-working, but we
had a coworking day organised by Lisbon Digital Nomads. Unfortunately
the stools on the coworking day were terrible for posture, but I think
they offer proper desks for paid coworkers.
I went to a couple of coding events at Beta-i including an intro to
here, which covered UX, landing page build, Git version control and
They also have a TGIF social meet on a Friday (obvs) with beers on the terrace.
Drinks and snacks: Coffee pod machines (bring your own pods) and water
I found this place a bit visually chaotic but they had solid
internet, good kitchen facilities and it was busy. It’s off to the West
of the city with lots of trams and buses available. Internet download
speed was decent but upload speed was slow. Good chairs.
Drinks and snacks: Free coffee (didn’t try it as I had one from the excellent Wish cafe across the street) and free chilled water.
Bare looking industrial unit that needs some soft furnishings. It’s a
work in progress and the finished version looks amazing. Chairs were
pretty bad for posture. Internet was very slow and hampered my
productivity here. No aircon.
Drinks and snacks: Bean to cup coffee at 50c a cup, tap water but no water cooler.
Costs: €100-€130 a month depending on whether you
want office hours or 24/7 access. I went here for free as part of the
Lisbon Digital Nomads meetup so not sure about free trial day or day
I didn’t find many nomad friendly cafes in the tourist areas. Popping
out a laptop and mooching their wifi for half a day doesn’t fit with
the crowds and I found them too hectic to concentrate.
One of the highest rated coffee shops on Google Maps, I thought the
coffee was average. Amazing cheese toastie though. OK internet and some
other laptop folks around so working from here looks fine.
Retro place with amazing salads. Laptop friendly, so-so internet that
came and went. Worked from there for an afternoon and got stuff done.
Pois Cafe, Alfama
Great brunch and coffee, lovely mismatched decor and artwork but
terrible internet. Also too busy with tourists to stay here and work.
Famous for their freshly made croissants, people were queuing out of the door at weekends. Would be good off peak. Great coffee.
Fabrica Coffee Roasters
Incredible coffee and pastries, no wifi but looks like it’s OK to work from here too.
Wish Slow Coffee House, LX Factory
Amazing coffee (some of the best I found in Lisbon) and good range of
food. Didn’t work from here but it looks like they would be OK with it.
Expensive (or shitty) AirBnbs aimed at tourists, with short term
flats seemingly hard to find. I got lucky as a nomad chum had a room
free in her flat for a few weeks. Erasmus flats look basic and terrible,
plus they sell the package as being a massive piss up which isn’t ideal
for a 40yr old with a business to run.
There are some companies offering accommodation and coworking packages aimed at digital nomads, with the associated high costs.
Check out the digital nomad groups and international accommodation
Facebook groups but be ready for a struggle. Mentioning budget and being
flexible with location will help.
Things to see
There are a ton of things to see in Lisbon, many of which you’ll see
while walking around. There are free walking tours around the city as
well as the We Hate Tourism tours. Buildings are beautiful and the old trams are cute. Trying to get on a number 28 tram in July was futile.
There’s a Meetup group called Lisbon Explorers
who do beach trips and hikes in the areas surrounding Lisbon. I did
this every weekend to get some nature and went to a few places around
Sintra and Cascais and a trip to Cabo Da Roca, the westernmost point of
I spent an afternoon at MAAT and found the buildings more interesting than most of the exhibitions.
I hope you’ve found these Lisbon digital nomad tips useful. I had a
great time in Lisbon as there’s lots to see and do as well as good
coworking scene and tons of tech and social Meetups. I’ll be back for
This week’s freelancer interview is with photographer Ben Lumley. Ben makes some great points about providing value and working from home – read on to find out more.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ben and I’m a Commercial Sports Photographer. That basically means I work with brands and athletes to capture powerful images usually at live events like the London Marathon and World Triathlon Series races.
What led you to start freelancing?
I’d always wanted to be a full time photographer from the first week I ever had my first camera but had never really had that ‘thing’ that made me stand out in a busy marketplace. It wasn’t until I coupled my love of running with photography that I saw an opportunity for my work and it went from then.
What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?
It always takes way longer than you think it should. You need patience and to play the long game or it’ll not work out.
That you can speed up to the process by doing great work and bringing more value to your clients than you offer.
There’s more monetary value to what you create than you give yourself credit for so put up those prices but don’t be afraid to work for free if the opportunity is great and could lead to lots more. It’s a risk and gamble game and you have to play smart.
What three issues have you had since starting up?
Admin paperwork and the boring stuff. Can’t stand it and it takes me away from the creative process that gives me the buzz. Outsourcing those parts of the business when I can has really helped.
Dealing with the feeling of not doing work. It’s ok to not work 27 hours a day. If you’ve put in a ton of work you need to let the universe catch up with all the pressure you’re putting on it. I often find the days I’m not ‘working’ (although I’m working everyday technically) are usually the days when projects get the green light or clients get in touch.
Working from home. It’s full of distractions and it’s easy to get pulled away from the work. It takes a lot of discipline.
What’s the best thing about freelancing?
The best thing for me is being about to work with some of the best athletes in the world and build friendships I could of never of imagined in the industry. I love being able to create work from all over the country and take people’s breathe away!
How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?
For me, the next steps is world wide domination lol seriously though I do want to move out of Europe and start working on events around the globe with my favourite sports. That would be cool.
Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing?
If you don’t love it, don’t do it. It’s not worth it. If you can’t love it even if it’s a hard day, even if clients are being difficult, even when no one’s coming back to you and you’re running out of money then you’ll not stick it out. You got to want to do it regardless of all of that, for the love of it.