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: Lizziewoodman.co.uk

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!
@lizzie_woodman

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 favourite meeting places within Kings Cross/St Pancras Station

 

Image of St Pancras and Kings Cross
St.Pancras and Kings Cross stations are brilliant places to base yourself for a day of client meetings.

This is quite a specific post! I was sent a few emails from my last post asking me where I like to meet clients in the Kings Cross/St Pancras area and can I make any recommendations. Sure thing! As I mentioned, some days I literally spend the entire day in this area as a lot of my clients either go through the stations on their commutes or have offices close by.

There is of course the usual coffee shops and chains that you see everywhere so I’ve tried not to highlight them (except Leon) and instead offered up a few other places that you might like to try. Personally I prefer a location that I feel might help the meeting along and I don’t always get that vibe from a Starbucks or Pret. (both are plentiful in the area)

Formal breakfast

Granger & Co – I absolutely love this restaurant! It is fairly expensive but they cater for all allergy issues with style and their food is delicious. My

Image of Granger & Co
One of my favourite restaurants in the area. I’d stay all day if I could.

favourite is the Avocado on sourdough with a side of chorizo. Their Almond milk Chia seed pudding is wonderful whether it is for breakfast or as a dessert. They sell out of that one quickly though so I always have it for breakfast. You can feel quite hemmed in there as the tables are packed together so I wouldn’t recommend it if you have highly confidential stuff to discuss. Booking in advance is essential.

I also sometimes stay here after my Breakfast meeting has left and have a Coffee meeting with another client. You can sit up at the bar if you wish. It is more informal and a great way to check in with your client. I’d do this for a client that I know really well.

WARNING – their loos are the darkest place on earth. Not the place for touching up your make up.

Relaxed breakfast

Sourced Market (St Pancras Station) – order and pay at the counter service. They have the biggest pain au chocolats that you have ever seen. Plus Monmouth Coffee (which is my favourite coffee) and really interesting fruit salads, porridges and pastries. Grab a stool on one of the benches and away you go. It is a nice place to meet for a quick catch up.

Eleveneses

Yumchaa  (1 Granary Square)- this is up the road from Kings Cross at Granary Square and is housed in the same building as Central St Martins. You definitely get a strong hint of cool from this place and the people watching is superb. I like to meet new quirky clients here – often authors and artists. The tea selection is impressive and I can wholly recommend the Almond milk chai tea.

Drink, Shop & Do (9 Caledonian Road) –

Drink, Shop & Do – A fantastic awe-inspiring place to visit!

this is a fun spot for a catch up. Lots to look at and can provide inspiration for a creative meeting.

Formal Lunch

Caravan (1 Granary Square). This offers a range of lunch options and is another great spot for associating yourself with a bit of cool! You see journalists from The Guardian here occasionally and lots of media types. That may make you want to avoid it! The food is good, and booking is necessary.

Dishoom (5 Stable Street) I’ve not been here yet but my friend has and fully recommends it. The food is delicious and set very stylishly. Booking is preferred. You can literally stay here all day – they cater for all meals. Apparently their Chai Tea is not to be missed.

Informal Lunch

Leon (St Pancras Square) – you can’t go wrong with Leon. Okay the service

Visit Leon in St Pancras Square
I like to go to this Leon – not the one in Kings Cross.

is a little rushed and there is always a massive queue but I like to go to the one on St Pancras Square. Less hectic then the one in Kings Cross station by the platform entrances.

Yo Sushi (St Pancras Station) – noisy but you can either sit at a booth or by the conveyor belt. Fun, simple and never disappoints. You can have a great catch up here without fuss or waiting in a queue.

Afternoon Tea

Le Pain Quotidien (St Pancras Station) – admittedly another chain but its a

Le Pain Equotedien is a great catch up place.

small one and I like their long tables! Within the central hub of the station, it is always busy and humming with life. I get travel envy as I see people grabbing food before they head to the Eurostar. I love their jam and the simplicity of the menu. Great cake too.

AMT Coffee (Upper Level St Pancras station) – great for grabbing a coffee and finding a place to sit on the station concourse. It tends to be quieter up there in the afternoon before the commuters start turning up.

Evening Drink 

George’s Bar at The Gilbert Scott

George’s Bar – The Gilbert Scott (St Pancras Station) – a beautiful bar with amazing, classy cocktails! I wouldn’t advise you to have more than the one though. They are dangerous. This is a lovely setting and perfect for a quick ‘thank you’ drink with a client.

Searcys Champagne Bar  (Upper Level, St Pancras Station)- well I had to mention it! This is another ‘treat’ place for me but it is great and far less noisy than George’s. You can soak up the atmosphere of the station and network.

The Parcel Yard (Upper Level, Kings Cross) – this can be a little rough around the edges at times

The Parcel Yard is always busy but great when you have a seat!

but that’s simply because it is so busy. They can serve a mean Gin & Tonic though and I’ve had a few after work drinks here before catching the train home.

In general there are loads of places within this area that you can use but these are just a few of my favourites or ones that I have been recommended. Let me know if I’ve missed somewhere superb!

ps This is a great link to Central St Martins website that recommends places too.

How to look your best on LinkedIn

Linked In

Hello!

After my previous blog (how to be freelance), I thought I would just run through a few hints and tips that I have picked up along the way regarding LinkedIn. People who aren’t looking for a job should still put time and effort into their profile because you never know who is looking at it.

In my line of work, a lot of clients come through on a personal recommendation and although I have a business website, the majority of my new business comes from looking at my LinkedIn profile. I’m the first one to say that my profile isn’t perfect and does need a bit of work BUT it does have the following things that somehow enables me to get me client referrals:

  1. Complete the whole profile: Make sure that you have answered every single prompt – no need to waffle but add concise notes when required. Make sure to list any prestigious events, awards or voluntary work that you do/have done in the past. It all matters.
  2. Profile photo possibility
    Here is a profile photo that I could use but I feel it is too informal for LinkedIn

    A decent profile photo: This shouldn’t be the one that you use on Facebook or Instagram (unless both are business related accounts) but should show you looking professional and approachable. There are photographers that specialise in profile headshot – personally I like a colour image but I know a lot of people use black and white.

    Profile head shot alternative
    This is a more formal profile headshot

    You can use ‘action shots’ of yourself as well – such as giving a presentation or accepting an award. Personally I like to keep it simple and just show who I am.

  3. Background image: I like to use something that reflects my work and also my personality. Currently I have a beautiful vivid painting by one of the artists that I promote.

    Cutaway of a painting by Lucy Ash
    This is one of my preferred backgrounds
  4. A concise headline: That bit of text under your photo should be used to explain what you do. For me, I’m: Publicity and Marketing specialising in Arts and Publishing.  You can add in details – award winning sales director etc… instead. This is what future clients will be looking at.
  5. Examples of your work: I like to feature coverage of books or artists on my profile (although I’ve just noticed that these need refreshing!) or a project that you are particularly proud of that you think others may find interesting.
  6. LinkedIn recommendations
    Always ask for a Recommendation

    Recommendations: So important. Ask your clients or people that you have worked with in the past to endorse you in skills but also give a testimonial. You can give one back to them. This does help to solidify your profile.

  7. Add in the occasional update: I know people who use LinkedIn every day and add in a status update. This isn’t really my thing but I do comment on other people’s news or published articles. That way your name is seen by others and you are being supportive to your contacts.
  8. Contacts:  I believe in quality not quantity when it comes to contacts. I do know that in jobs such as Sales then being connected with as many people as possible is important but to me, I like to know my contacts or at least have someone/thing in common. I tend to have industry contacts only – not friends or neighbours unless it is really warranted. I do LinkIn with colleagues from the past a lot – they are my best referrals. They know how I work and my results. You never know when one of them might need a publicist…
  9. Get your personal LinkedIn URL
    Get your personal LinkedIn URL

    Get a custom URL: Really easy to do – just go through the prompts on your edit page. You can click here for help. That way you can use the link to direct clients straight away, on your emails and also it helps with Google. Everyone “googles” everyone before they meet or sometimes even talk so showing up on the first page is vital.

  10. Treat LinkedIn as your CV : Focus mostly on the work stuff. People are able to discover if you love running or cycling through their internet search of you. I would just use this platform to highlight your career.

Extra reading?

There are LOTS of articles out there that can help you with your LinkedIn profile. Videos and Instagram accounts that will show you how to add attachments, check the language you use and all sorts of things. I have found this article useful and this one has even more tips on getting your profile just right!

How to be freelance

 

Freelance life

Hello! I’ve had a few messages asking me about how to become freelance whilst working limited hours. (I love how 9 to 3 is consider ‘limited’ btw…) So if you are thinking of taking the leap into freelancing, then here are a few practical thoughts:

Photo of Laura working from homeKnow yourself – are you a highly motivated person? Can you work to self-imposed deadlines? Working freelance often means working by yourself with little company most days. You need to be able to motivate yourself to open that laptop every day and not get distracted by daytime television or my achilles heel – social media. My… that is a wormhole I often find myself in! If you can, great – that is half the battle. Sticking to regular working hours and putting in good practice measures straight away is vital.

Can you afford it – get financially savvy. Do you know what your outgoings are each month? My husband has a basic spreadsheet budget that he has used for decades and this tells him how much is due to go out each month. We know how much we need every month plus the extras such as car insurance, holidays and Christmas. Before I went fully freelance, I worked 3 days a week for a company to really find my feet – I used my other days to network and gradually build up potential new clients.

Laptop ready
Are you tech ready?

Location and tech – are you planning on working from home? Is your wifi up to it? When we moved, we didn’t have super-fast broadband (it wasn’t available) so it meant that I had to visit my parents every time I needed to send a large file. This wasn’t ideal but it made me more organised and I started working at their house 1 day a week.

Lifestyle – being freelance can mean working odd hours and juggling your normal ‘life’ as you get the business going. Do you have help with childcare? Are you able to attend meetings after school? Make sure that you have plans set up just in case. An example would be that I tend to visit clients in London every month – I choose a day that Amy doesn’t have any after school activities and my neighbour is happy to have her until I get back. Or I ask my parents. I’m lucky but I have this in place in case I suddenly have to attend an urgent appointment.

Choose your sector – are you planning on continuing within the same area as your current job? I have always working in PR and this is a sector that is very friendly to freelancers. I would make sure that you can still work as a freelancer before you take the leap. Chat to others who have already made the change to double check that it is a possibility.

Linked In
Is your LinkedIn profile updated?

Network and LinkedIn – keep in contact with people and companies that you would like to work with. The occasional coffee and quick email is a great way to keep in touch.  Highlight a product or a project that you loved. One of my best sources of income is through LinkedIn – I have had referrals from colleagues that I worked with over 12 years ago (that makes me feel old) via the site. Keep your profile fresh and remember to add an update each time you finish or win a new project. I’ll be running a separate blog post on LinkedIn soon.

Accounts – do you know how to keep up with your taxes? I’ll admit that this area terrifies me and I had a meeting with an accountant who guided me through everything. Now I do my own books but she processes my tax return. I also save at least 25% of my income to put into savings, National Insurance and my taxes. To read more about taxes when freelancing, I’d recommend this article.

Honesty – be honest with yourself AND your clients. Tell them the hours that you work and the reasons why. Since having Amy I know that I’m more motivated and efficient with my time – mainly because I have no choice. This, in my opinion makes me a better worker as I’m focused, deadline ready and prepared.

Get yourself a contract
Have a few draft contracts ready

Contracts – get something in place that suits you and your client. There are lots of templates available online that you can amend. This can help with payment processes and also defines the time you will spend on the project.

 

Love what you do! This is the most important aspect  – love what you do and it will never feel like work! I’m passionate about brilliant books and beautiful art. This makes me want to work with artists and authors – I’m enthused by their art. Everyday is different and this is what I love about freelancing.

Still not sure? I really like The Crunch for their articles on self-employment. Have a look here for other articles that may help you.

 

How to look your best on Skype

Hi! I realise that this may not be for everyone that reads this blog but in my line of work (Publicity), I do an awful lot of Skype calls and visual conferencing. Especially when I am starting with a new client.

SkypeWithin my client base are authors that live in South East Asia and Australia which leans towards using Skype for initial chats before I start working for them. I like to show that I am professional, knowledgable at my job and am generally ‘with it.’ First impressions really do count and therefore I thought I would share my method which can be applied to Skype job interviews as well.

  1. Your username – make it professional and somehow linked to your business or an easy composite of your name. No @cutefluffybunnys as it doesn’t really give the best impression.
  2. Check your wifi – make sure that your bandwidth is up to it, especially if you are calling at peak usage – 9pm at night. Also perhaps ask everyone not to stream or download at the moment you are using Skype. I think it really does make a difference.
  3. I use the room with the largest window in for my Skype calls. Not my everyday desk.
    I use the room with the largest window in for my Skype calls. Not my everyday desk.

    Find a room that doesn’t have any distractions and that the door can be shut. Lots of natural light helps as well. I use our back room (or the Library as my husband calls it – we have a lot of books in our house as we both work in publishing) where there is a large window in-front of the desk, a desk lamp and I can shut the door. (keeps the dog out!)

  4. Think about what the camera sees – check you aren’t showing clothes, kitchen stuff or a bathroom behind you. Try and find a blank wall or something relevant to your

    This is where I usually work - the camera would show the kitchen detritus behind me. And it is dark. Not good!
    This is where I usually work – the camera would show the kitchen detritus behind me. And it is dark. Not good!

    work. (I have the book shelves in my background)

  5. Have your computer camera at eye level or a little higher. You look better when you are talking up – it helps with your posture as well.

    I use an old box to raise my laptop to eye level. And a cushion to help with my posture!
    I use an old box to raise my laptop to eye level. And a cushion to help with my posture!

    Nobody likes to be talked down to. I initially use a box on my desk to lift the camera on my laptop and I also use a cushion on my seat. It does work!

  6. Think about your appearance – I’m not a daily make up wearer but if I have a Skype call scheduled then I defiantly stick a bit on. I find adding lipstick, darkening my eyebrows and tying my hair back helps me stand out more on screen.

    This is my usual look! Not great for a Skype call.
    This is my usual look! Not great for a Skype call.

    I also add a scarf (nothing too fussy) or a good statement necklace (mine are from Stella & Dot) as well to a plain top. I wear a lot of blue and that seems to work with the screen.

    I added a scarf, tied my hair back and popped on a bit of lipstick. Much better!
    What the camera sees: I added a scarf, tied my hair back and popped on a bit of lipstick. Much better! You can also see the books in the background.
  7. Silence all other mobiles, iPads and lock the door so that you don’t have any neighbours popping in. I have been known to pop a note on my front door saying I’m in a meeting and to leave a package by the door. It has worked!
  8. Be ready at least 5 minutes before the call and make sure your Skype account says that you are online. It always gives a good impression that you are prepared.

 

Lastly, I do have those moments when a client suddenly decides to call me and in those circumstances, I usually whip a scarf on (my house is cold anyway so I’m usually wearing one) and take my laptop into the other room. Then I’ll answer. Sometimes I’ll request an audio call or ask to call them back in 5 minutes.

All ready for my Skype call

Skype is a great business tool when you work from home and are not close to a big city. Living in the countryside means that my trips to London tend to be once or twice a month but using Skype enables me to keep contact with my clients. And I’m a huge believer in face to face contact. Even if it is from behind a screen.

 

 

INSTAGRAM POST ALERT!

New Instagram post!
New Instagram post!

I’ve also posted a series of videos onto my account showing you my behind the scenes set up for Skype! So you can see the method in my madness.

@Laura_the_9_to_3