How I work: Lizzie Woodman

Lizzie Woodman – blogger and freelance writer

I first came across Lizzie Woodman from another Instagram account and was immediately taken by her effortless style, wit and calm nature. Based in the Cambridge area with two boys, she works from home and juggles life/work like the rest of us. I was delighted when she agreed to feature on my little blog! She takes gorgeous images and shares her thoughts on matters of the day with articulated thought. She works with numerous brands on her blog and never fails to inspire me. Please do have a read and go visit her blog and Instagram. You won’t be disappointed.

  1. Name : Lizzie Woodman

2. Name of Business:

3. What do you do?

I’m a blogger and freelance writer. I also help businesses with their marketing and social media – taking photographs, writing captions and press releases. 

Lizzie works from home and her gorgeous cats are featured on her account

4. Where do you work?

I work from home. I have a big desk in our open plan kitchen space, but usually prefer to perch in an armchair with my laptop. My two tabby cats are usually close by!

5. How did you get to this point in your career?

I fell into freelance writing after starting a blog in 2014. I’d been a stay at home mother since 2009 and craved some creativity that didn’t involve glitter and PVA glue. Blogging taught me to be a better writer and photographer – plus it helped me believe in myself. My first paid work was for sponsored posts commissioned by brands for my blog. Over the last couple of years this has blossomed into writing for other people too – from ghost-written blog posts for big brands to writing product descriptions and helping at influencer events.

6. The best part of my job is?

The flexibility. I do all the school runs and can take time off to be with my children during the holidays. I also love meeting new people. I’ve met and interviewed so many people over the last couple of years and it’s been fascinating.

Her clients include brands such as Fat Face and Joy where she creates content for her blog and Instagram account.

7. The worst part of my job is? 

Getting lonely. I miss chatting to colleagues – which is probably why I spend too much time on social media. I also find it tough to motivate myself. When you’re a freelancer you have to be your own best cheerleader all the time. Picking yourself up after a disappointment can be tough and it’s not for everyone.

8. Favourite time-saving trick?

Ignoring the housework until the children get home. I don’t like wasting my work day putting on loads of washing and cleaning the shower. I tend to get my chores done when the boys are busy with their Lego after school. 

Lizzie’s Instagram is well worth a look!

9. Best advice for anyone working 9 to 3?

Don’t try and do it all. It’s easy to think you can move mountains while your kids are at school, but in reality, it’s a very short day. Prioritise the things you really need to get done and try not to feel guilty about everything else!

10. Favourite social media accounts/blogs?

I’m addicted to Instagram and it also forms a big part of my work. Creating a beautifully curated feed is like my shop window and helps put me in touch with people. I try and write about three posts a week for my own blog, Lizzie Woodman. I find Hannah Gale’s blog very inspiring. 

Other posts you may like to read:

How I work: Jenna Bissell from That Mum Moment

My Freelance Story: Lizzie Woodman

The joy of freelance: How to be Freelance

My new work from home computer system

How this set up has made me happier

My Apple Air laptop lasted me around 8 years of solid use. When it started beeping at me and refusing to start, I rang the Apple Helpdesk to be told that there wasn’t an option for fixing it and I should upgrade. I then started using my husband’s MacBook as my main computer – it was really heavy but the screen was a decent size and this has worked brilliantly for me in the last two years. The downside was it was set up for my husband – so I had to use memory sticks and email a lot of things from my phone to be able to use them on the computer. No linked iCloud for me. It was also too heavy for travel which meant I would use my iPad instead but if I’m being honest, I couldn’t get nearly as much work done on my iPad than I could with my laptop. Adding a bluetooth keyboard did help but it was something extra to lug around.

How I used to travel and work with an iPad and bluetooth keyboard
How I used to travel and work with an iPad and bluetooth keyboard

So I decided to bite the bullet and visit John Lewis on Oxford Street when I was last in London. I knew they would have a good range of computers for me to look at and wouldn’t be intimidating. I really do not get excited about tech – it is the end to a means and I find the Apple store too daunting.

I was looking for a new laptop that had a decent sized screen (anything small really does give me a headache and sore eyes) that I could use at home and whilst travelling. I’m also an Apple devotee – simply because I have always had a good experience with them and a lot of people in publishing use Macs. I’m programmed to use them!

My previous way of working - with a huge MacBook that belonged to my husband.
My previous way of working – with a huge MacBook that belonged to my husband.

My heart sank a little when I saw what was on offer – small screens only for laptops or I would need a desktop one. Neither appealed because as mentioned previously, I like to work in my kitchen during the day. I don’t have an office because although technically I could set one up in a spare room, I like being in the kitchen. It really is the heart of our home. Its warm in the winter (hello Aga!) and weirdly cool in the summer. It also has viewing points to the front and the back of the house so I can see any deliveries arriving.

So I need tech that I can put out in the morning and put away at night – my husband’s laptop was brilliant but still not right for travel. After a long conversation with the chap at John Lewis, he suggested an Apple Air laptop but also a monitor that I could plug into the laptop. A bit cumbersome in the morning but really the best of both worlds. I’d still be flexible with my workspace but I would have a screen that wouldn’t give me a headache. Monitors are very slim and lightweight nowadays and I could stow one away each night without much bother.

I went away and thought about it for a long time. The extra incentive was that John Lewis was running a 0% interest loan on Apple products with a small deposit. It wouldn’t be a huge outlay of cash instantly – which defiantly appealed to me. Plus they could deliver for free. No lugging of expensive equipment for me!

My new set up with Apple Air laptop and a Dell monitor.
My new set up with Apple Air laptop and a Dell monitor.

So that was what I did – I visited my local John Lewis in Nottingham and bought an Apple Air (the new one but in grey – I wasn’t about to spend an extra £100 for Rose Gold!), an adaptor to plug the charger, monitor and memory stick into and a Dell monitor. Why Dell? I went round the displays and lifted them up until I found the lightest. They all seemed the same to me and that was the best way to differentiate them.

Oh my I do love my new system! I’ve been able to take my laptop out with me but when at home, its plugged into the monitor quite happily. I’ve had zero headaches. Result!

This system means that I can have a mouse and a keyboard.
This system means that I can have a mouse and a keyboard.

Extra exciting is my husband has now linked up my bluetooth keyboard and mouse as well! This means that when at home, I can use the keyboard and mouse and not really use my laptop. Its just a hard drive powering everything else.

So my advice when looking for new technology when working from home:

  1. Write a list of all the things you need to be able to do
  2. Go and see an expert – find somewhere that you feel comfortable. I didn’t get any joy from just looking online.
  3. Don’t buy instantly, go home and have a think.
  4. Measure everything – lift everything so that you know that it all works.
  5. Find a spot in the house that you can put it all away each evening so that you can switch off from work each evening.

And that’s it! This isn’t sponsored at all by Apple or John Lewis but I hope it might be useful if you are looking at tech solutions. What do you currently use?

Here is what I now use:

Looking to know more about how I work? I wrote a blog post last year that explains my work! Please click here.

World Book Day – why reading is my joy

Why I love to read…plus a book review or two…

I thought that as it is World Book Day I would pop down a few thoughts about why I love to read and also share my latest reviews on a couple of books that I’ve read. I should also point out that I work as a freelance book publicist – I work with books on a daily basis! I’ve worked with fiction and non-fiction authors and I’m in awe of anyone that can write a book. I struggle with writing a blog post, let alone an 80,000 word manuscript!

Books on the windowsill
Nothing beats a good read…

My favourite reads have changed as I have got older and I’m noticing that I’m really enjoying autobiographies at the moment (Michelle Obama’s Becoming and Craig Brown’s Ma’am Darling are two of my recent favourites) because I think I’m a) really nosy and love hearing about other people and their lives b) looking for inspiration within my own life – who can I learn from and where will that take me. One of my reasons for loving to read is that you never know where you’ll end up. I like to read for inspiration and motivation.

However I will always love Jane Austen (Persuasion is my favourite) as I can remember reading her books as a teenager and wondering when my Captain Wentworth or Mr Darcy will arrive. I’d literally go walking round the fields near our home hoping to bump into a wonderful man! (it never happened…) Her books are definitely the ones that I reach for when I’m seeking comfort.

There really is something amazing about starting a book and then not wanting to stop reading it. It is really magical and doesn’t happen all the time. It happened for me with Harry Potter, His Dark Materials and a lot of the JoJo Moyes and Maeve Binchy books. I’m a huge chick lit fan – nothing wrong with an Aga saga from Joanna Trollope either! Or those one tales that take you to a different era like William Boyd’s Any Human Heart (I also really enjoyed Restless) or allow you to walk the streets of Edinburgh in Ian Rankin’s detective novels.

I really enjoyed Still Me - a triumphant return since the disappointment of After You
I really enjoyed Still Me – a triumphant return since the disappointment of After You

Which nicely segues into my first review: Still Me by Jojo Moyes (Penguin Books)! This is the last of the Lou Clark trilogy (the first was Me After You followed by After You) and I have to admit that I was so disappointed with After You that I wasn’t interested in reading this book. However I kept hearing people around me discussing it and when I saw a copy in my local library I decided to give it a go. I’m so pleased that I did.

The book starts with its heroine Lou Clark embarking on a new career in New York as a personal assistant to the new wife of a very wealthy man. Here Moyes really excels with a glimpse into the super rich life and I’m a sucker for anything based in New York. As a reader you get to attend these affluent and over the top galas/events alongside the characters and learn about working as a companion where you have to wear a uniform! I loved these bits, especially the complicated wife, Agnes. As always nothing is what it seems and Lou is struggling: finding her feet, juggling a long distance relationship and the continual grieving she feels for Will Traynor – her first real love. (see Me After You) I really enjoyed the book, in fact I’d recommend that you skip After You and go from the first book to the third. You could also happily read this without reading the other two. As you would expect with a classy writer like Moyes, there are moments of hilarity, heartbreak and escape. I loved it.

This is a brilliant concept novel.

The next book I wanted to mention was Vox by Christina Dalcher (HQ Publishing). This isn’t a novel that I would normally read but my husband gave it to me as he had heard good things. He was right. It is really good and very addictive. It is written in present day America except that women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day. That applies to girls too. (Yup, even 5 year olds) They wear a bracelet/counter that gives them an electric shock every time they go over the limit. The shocks get more painful with every utterance. Women are no longer allowed a passport, a job and must learn to obey their husbands. Homosexuality and infidelity is a sin, as is sex outside of marriage. Punishments involve televised public shaming and labour camps/prison. The idea being that society was happier when women ‘knew their place’. It is completely fascinating because there are times when I thought that it could happen today. Scary!

I would recommend both books

As a concept, the book is brilliant and very well written. You are on the edge of your seat the entire time however I was really disappointed in the ending – it felt rushed as if the author had run out of steam or had reached their word limit.

Other books that may be of interest:

Lastly, for me World Book Day is about celebrating books and encouraging people to read more. It doesn’t have to be about the costumes or who reads the most but instead about starting the conversation. I love asking people what they are currently reading – the answer is always surprising! So…what are YOU reading at the moment?

World Book Day is about celebrating books!

Why I reject work potential projects

Be a voice not an echo
As soon as I saw this quote, I realised that saying ‘No’ is very important. It might not be what others want to hear though.

This has to be one of the hardest lessons I have learnt, and one that still makes me cringe and feel terrible. Why? Because as a freelancer, I am reliant on clients asking me to work for them and saying ‘No’ to them feels as if I am turning down cash that quite frankly, I need.

It stays with me as well – that ‘No’; it lingers for at least a couple of days because I am a people pleaser – I want to say ‘Yes’ to everything but I am learning that it is best for my business (and sanity) if I work on projects where:

  1. I like the clients. This is really important. Are they polite? Will working for them make my day go better? I’ve spent too long working with people that are rude, demanding and ungrateful which always ends with me hating my work and sometimes myself.
  2. Does the project excite me? I work in PR and although I’d like to think that I can promote everything, if I get excited about the book, author, artist, gallery or publisher then that really helps me.
  3. Do I have the time? Yes I mainly work 9am – 3pm but also how long is the project? Does it fit into my schedule? I tend to like having a 4 week and a 2 week project running simultaneously as it means that I’m speaking with contacts about more than one topic.
  4. Will I be paid on time? Last year was the first time that I wasn’t paid for a project for almost 8 months. It was stressful and I felt embarrassed chasing my fee which was foolish (that is a blog post I should write!). I had done a great job but wasn’t a payment priority. I now ask for at least part payment upfront.

If any of these questions is a ‘No’ then I can’t take on the work. I have spent time working on projects that didn’t excite me but I found the client really inspiring and I learnt a lot. Great! When I work where time is an issue then that flows into my family life and it can get tricky…

Photo of Laura@the9to3
I have worked hard to learn to say no to potential projects that won’t make me smile!

How I work around this guilt is I spend time looking for work that is a big YES to all of those requirements and more often then not, it comes through eventually. I’m always on the look out for new clients and by pushing me out of my comfort zone by attending say a new networking group or cold calling an author whose book I love, then that NO gives me that extra push I needed.

How do you deal with saying “No’ to potential work?

My Friday Favourites: (01/03/19)

My Friday Favourites!

Just thought I would share a few things that are making my life sweeter at the moment! Quite like the BBC, the things that are either entertaining, informing or educating me!

First up has to be The Homeworker magazine. I downloaded the first issue last week while I was in London during half term and have been slowly reading it on my iPad. I wouldn’t recommend you read it on your phone. There are lots of thought provoking articles, it is beautifully designed and I love the mix of insight and whimsy.

This is such a good find!

During my London trip, I spent time working in the cafe at M&S on Oxford Street! (hello free wifi!) I was feeling VERY tired at the time and looked it too. You know when you are so tired but cannot be bothered to even put make up on that will make you look better but still you are cba? Well I shamelessly snuck into the beauty department and slavered on the Emma Hardie Midas Touch Revitalising Eye Serum which was amazing and really perked me up. (it is however out of my price league) However, while I was doing this, a lovely M&S lady came up to me and offered me a few samples to try at home and the standout was Pixi Vitamin-C Cavier Balm which is brilliant! I wear it at night and I wake up looking alive – not the half zombie. The closest to the dreamy Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum I have tried. And it is a lot cheaper at £24 from M&S.

A bunch of Daffodils make me happy!

Having flowers in a vase near my laptop as I work is definitely a luxury that never fails to boost my mood and normally I view this as a treat but I am loving having Daffodils available to me at the moment. 99p a bunch normally and they do last a good week. Bringing sunshine to my working day! (although this crazy warm weather is also a real mood lifter)

I’m also mainlining podcasts as I work too – I’m working on a few projects that need an extra boost of creativity on my part and I find listening to inspiring people really helpful. I recommend Hashtag Authentic with Sara Tasker – and also any podcast that has her on as a guest. She has a book out too now. She speaks with honesty and clarity on running a business whilst also suffering from chronic illness. My friends think I’m bonkers but I’ve always had a soft spot for David Tennant (he just seems like a really nice man who is VERY good at his job), so when I saw he had a podcast, I was there. I loved his interview with Olivia Coleman and Jodie Whitacker.

What are your favourite things at the moment? I love hearing about great books, podcasts, clothes or anything really that brings happiness!

You can see my other Friday Favourites by clicking on the links below.

8th February 2019

2nd November 2018

12th October 2018