Daily routine and how it can help your freelance career

Read on to find out the benefits of having a daily routine, rather than winging it.

I’m not a morning person. Every day I have to coax, persuade or downright trick myself out of bed to start the day. Whether it’s good coffee, bacon or an hour of gaming before I start work I sometimes have to get creative to escape the duvet. Once I’m out of bed, it takes a couple of hours to warm up enough that I can work effectively. Trying to start too quickly results in mistakes and frustration.

A good routine is vital to my productivity, as is setting a focus for the day and working towards medium term goals like the website redesign projects I often do. We get tired and distracted as the day goes on, so working on important things first makes it more likely they get done. Getting my thoughts in order is vital before I start work so I can focus.

After some experimenting and some mentoring, I settled on the following for my freelance life:

8am – Alarm, quick walk, breakfast, shower, get dressed in proper clothes
9am – Meditate and journal, set priorities for the day
10am – Begin focused, scheduled work
11.15 – Short break, move around
1pm – Lunch
2pm – Check emails and phone messages, admin, meetings, smaller tasks
4pm – Short break, move around
5-6pm – Finish work, log time and go to gym/run/socialise
10pm – Stop using screens
11pm – Sleep

Weekends off

This routine ensures enough sleep, gets everything done and has space for exercise and socialising. Sitting down all day means I need to make sure I move around during the day and get runs or workouts in regularly to keep some kind of fitness. Working from home a lot of the time can be lonely, so planning social things in is vital. It also focuses me on paid, priority work instead of opening my emails first thing and getting waylaid with bitty tasks (more on email management here).

Some of us might tend towards being night owls. I’m curious if that could work – it’s tempting but there are definite benefits to sleeping when it’s dark and being awake when everyone else is too.

We all have fluctuating energy and focus levels during the day, so being freelance can be a great chance to work at our best times rather than when our boss says so. Being able to enjoy the sun/daylight in the UK (especially during winter) could result in a different routine that allow you to be outside during the short day and get your work done around that. If you’re an early riser, you could have a few hours racked up before us night people are even out of bed!

What does your daily routine look like? Let me know in the comments below…

Nick

Freelancer interview: Rachael van Oudheusden, Big Old House

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Rachael van Oudheusden, from Big Old House [www.bigoldhouse.com]. I’m a freelance Marketing and PR Consultant and Copywriter. I help businesses talk to existing and potential customers through B2B marketing, PR and copywriting.

It’s pretty varied. It can involve creating marketing plans, coordinating advertising, writing brochures, websites, editorials, planning and creating social media campaigns or connecting clients with their target media to raise brand awareness.

What led you to start freelancing?

Having spent almost 20 years in marketing communications roles, covering PR, project management, campaign planning and messaging for mainly B2B clients and owner managed businesses, I realised I wanted a bit more freedom and flexibility.

I had a senior role in an agency, which was becoming more operational than creative. My days were more HR than PR. I realised that I couldn’t remember the last time I had written something, or even had the headspace to think about writing something.

I felt that I wasn’t delivering for my team or my existing clients well enough. It was time to redress the balance. It was time to look after myself, enjoy work again and choose the types of work I wanted to do and be proud of.

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  • Accountancy is more complicated than anyone tells you, especially when you become limited or VAT registered. Pay for help if this is not your strength. 
  • It is very lonely, unless you make sure it isn’t. Spending too much time on your own is bad for you. Turns out I quite like being around people. Find a co-working space that is right for you, such as Works Social [https://www.workssocial.co]
  • You will waste your time and money going to soul destroying networking events until you figure what is right for you. And you will. Then it will be worthwhile. 

What three issues have you had since starting up?

Not really issues, more things I didn’t factor in or found harder than expected. 

  • Saying no to business that is not true my original core focus (ideally building, construction property and industrial sectors). When you first start, you daren’t say no to any work in case nothing ever comes along again…it will. 
  • Taking on too much at once and not allowing for ‘thinking time’. Having too many projects and deadlines on at once means that everyone loses – you get stressed, your clients don’t get the best of you and your business suffers longer term (not to mention your sleep). 
  • Business developing faster than expected and not knowing how to manage it all. Delegating to just yourself is a tough prospect when your to do list is longer than a roll of wallpaper. Finding a network of other suppliers and co-freelancers has helped take the pressure off at times. Being freelance means I can give clients the flexibility they need and if I can’t help them, I have built a network of super talented people who can.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

So many good things – variety, opportunities, fun, creativity, sense of achievement. Definitely being your own boss has to top the lot. 

Being freelance means I can give people the flexibility they need and if I can’t help them, I have built a network of super talented people who can.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

Three years in I am at a fork in the road. Do I want to remain ‘just a freelancer’ or do I want to be ‘Managing Director of Big Old House’? I don’t know yet. I’ve given myself five years to decide and I’m in no rush. I’ve proved what I needed to to myself and the rest is down to the opportunities that might present themselves and if they feel like the right thing to do at the time. 

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

  • Decide what is most important to you – family, money, time, ethics, work-life balance, flexibility, growth, industry sector, personal development and let that lead your decisions.
  • Reassess where you are every six months and make sure you the things you are doing are either what you set out to do, or even better than that. If not, readjust. 
  • Grow your networks and be generous with your contacts. Be helpful, connect people. It’s nice to be nice. 
  • Track your time. (Harvest [https://www.getharvest.com] is great) What are you doing all day? Helps with assessing profitability, understanding how to manage your time and with quoting new projects. 
  • Have a plan and some key goals, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. One of mine was to visit Japan for a month when I had enough steady work, good enough cash flow and could still pay my mortgage without working for a few weeks. I’m going soon (and not taking my lap top). #proudofmyself
  • Your gut instinct is more important than anything in coming to the right decisions. Ignore it at your peril.
  • Work hard (but smart) and be kind.

Freelancer interview: Christian Lowery – social media manager & copywriter

This week’s interview is with NYC based social media manager, copywriter and SEO specialist Christian Lowery

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Christian Lowery, based in NYC, and I am a freelance digital marketing professional specializing in social media marketing, paid advertising and SEO copywriting

What led you to start freelancing?

I started freelancing somewhat by choice, and somewhat by necessity. I was in my mid-20s, not sure what career I really wanted to have, with a lot of uncertainty around me. I studied music at NYU, then got into real estate on a whim, and really got lost in the process of it all. Real estate wasn’t giving me a steady income, so I decided to start freelancing as a way to make money on the side.

Plus, I had always wanted a job that didn’t look like your traditional 9 to 5. One project led to another, which led to another, and I eventually got to a place where I didn’t need to do real estate anymore. I started as a freelance copywriter because I did a lot of copywriting for real estate marketing materials, and it led to this incredible digital marketing career I wouldn’t trade for the world. More on my story: https://christianlowery.com/career-change-advice/

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. That you have to be STELLAR at self-motivation and time management. No one tells you to get up in the morning and get your work done. Similarly, no one tells you how much time to spend on each client and how much time to spend growing your own business.
  2. That you will pay the self-employment tax all on your own (nearly 15% on top of your income tax)
  3. That some days get lonely and you may miss an office setting every once and a while

What three issues have you had since starting up?

One was charging higher rates than many low-cost freelancers on platforms like Fiverr, another was finding the time to generate leads and write for my blog while still completing client work… but the biggest was getting people to see me as a professional in my new freelance career, after multiple career changes.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

You get more time in your day to do the things you love. I don’t commute or waste time talking to friends around an office. I get time to make breakfast for myself every morning, catch up on the news, shower, mentally prepare for a productive day, and all by 9:00am. Then, I get to go straight to work without wasting time to get there.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

I am building my personal brand to generate revenue from my website, eGuides, consultation classes and more. For me, it’s important to generate streams of revenue that have nothing to do with client work.

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

They should take my freelance quiz to see if freelancing is really the best choice for them. The quiz is simply a list of 11 questions that will help them know if they have what it takes to be a successful freelancer. Also, I would tell them, above all else, to be extremely patient with themselves. You may start by making $10/hour on a very insignificant project, but make $50/hour less than a year later – that’s what happened to me.

Freelancer Interview: Jonathan Talks, Photographer

Our interview this week is with Nottingham based photographer, Jonathan Talks. He did my recent headshots and gets a thumbs up from me for putting me at ease during the shoot!

Who are you and what do you do?

I am Jonathan and I am a commercial photographer specialising in headshots, products and press photography.

What led you into freelancing?

With photography being very much an individual pursuit and working in the provinces one has to lend themselves to many avenues.

What three things do you wish you’d known before starting out?

  1. Work on your skills if you provide a service or trade. There is a real joy and pride in being “good” at what you do. Upskilling yourself in my opinion is “non negotiable” in importance in my opinion. If you have skills this will help you get work and get recommendations. If you are lucky enough you can hire specialists to do marketing, admin etc.
  2. Its a big learning curve but one that can give you a lot of development as a person in work and life. Maybe they can make a degree in freelancing! (Now there’s an idea… Nick)
  3. Don’t waste your money, get as much as you can for free and only spend when you can.

What three issues have you had since starting up?

  1. You are very much on your own, of course you can forge alliances and contacts but the truth is nobody cares about your practice or in my case my photography, they really don’t, so from this you have to work on your trade and your networking.
  2. Obtaining finance takes real skill in this era. Lots of organisations promise a lot but unless you are already established or have a business degree then obtaining finance for your business or practice is a challenge.
  3. Prioritising has been tricky, as a freelancer you have to wear many hats and being organised has been a learning curve for me as a creative. I’ve had to learn to be an all-rounder.

What’s the best thing about freelancing?

The challenge of delivering work beyond what you previously thought capable of. Working on new projects and delivering is a joy, one of the best parts of work.

How would you like to develop your freelance career in the future?

For me, the next steps is to gain new clients, develop skills and eventually have a top notch photography studio in Nottingham. In fact I am hell bent on this..

Anything else you’d like to tell anyone thinking of or currently freelancing? 

I’m cautious on giving advice as it is such an individual decision, however I would say think carefully and then give it your all…

Jonathan Talks

jonathantalksphotography.com 

@jonathantalksphotography

New Co-working hub soon to be unveiled in Nottingham’s Lace Market

Contemporary co-working, shared office and event space, Works Social, is set to open in Nottingham soon. Click To Tweet

A brand new co-working hub in Nottingham’s historic Lace Market is almost ready to be unveiled. Situated in a completely refurbished four-storey, Grade II listed building in Commerce Square, Works Social is a contemporary co-working, shared office and event concept aimed at independent workers and small businesses.

Bringing a new, fresh and inspiring environment to co-working and collaboration, Works Social will facilitate connections, build communities of interest and act as a hub for sharing resources, ideas and talent. With potential for 40 dedicated desks and a range of virtual membership and hot-desking options, it will offer cost effective office and meeting facilities to suit remote workers, sole traders, micro businesses and small teams.
The local collective of entrepreneurs behind Works Social have been busy renovating for over 12 months and have transformed the former Lace Works to bring their vision to life.

Virtual assistant and Works Social co-founder Lise Garner Morgan, understands that it can sometimes be isolated and lonely as a freelancer. It was this experience that fuelled the team’s passion to set up a space for businesses to thrive and develop. Lise said:

“Community spirit underpins Works Social’s core ethos. Our manifesto is about promoting ideas, enterprise and exchange – working amidst a variety of skills, ventures and projects can inspire far more ideas than working in isolation. Works Social aims to provide a fresh and stimulating space, cultivating a vibrant coworking community which encourages and supports innovation among our members.”

Fellow co-founder and freelancer, Han van Oudheusden brings 10 years experience in running international membership organisations to Works Social, as well as working solo as a digital designer. She adds:

“Like every community, we understand that the needs of our members are going to be diverse. That’s why we offer a variety of membership packages from a simple virtual address through to 24/7 dedicated office space.”

“As flexible and remote working becomes more of the norm rather than the exception, Works Social aims to offer a place for independent workers, micro business and home workers to take a tentative step towards a place of their own. It also offers an ideal way to bridge the gap for expanding teams waiting to move into their own premises.”

The entrepreneurial team strongly believe that communal working helps forge connections and opens up opportunities for mutual and meaningful collaborations.

One of the first members to sign up is marketing and PR freelancer, Rachael van Oudheusden from Big Old House. She commented:

“Having worked from a home office and in coffee shops for three years, it is time to get somewhere a bit more permanent. It is exciting that Works Social has come along to meet the need for businesses on the cusp of scaling up, but not quite ready to invest in a full scale office of their own. With a dedicated desk at Works Social you get the best of both worlds – freelance flexibility and a collaborative community, all at a reasonable price.”

With three floors dedicated to communal desk space, hot-desking areas, shared facilities and personal lockers, the ground floor offers a bookable meeting room space, chillout areas, a cosy outdoor terrace and an honesty bar. Members can use the ground floor space for their own staff party once a year as part of their membership or it can be booked for external events, training courses and networking.

A range of membership options are available from annual virtual office arrangements to monthly membership packages for independent workers, teams and pairs of freelancers.

For more information about Works Social or to book a tour visit: https://www.workssocial.co.

#workspacerevolution #futureofwork #Coworking #Nottingham