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.

 

Half-term adventures 👨‍👩‍👧

Happy Monday! I’ve been a bit slack on here for the past week. What with juggling work and half-term, it meant that something had to be sacrificed and it was this! Hopefully you’ve kept up with me on Instagram instead.

Leicestershire have their half-term a week before most of the other counties I think and we took advantage of this and headed to Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest for a Monday – Friday break. Its just a little cheaper on off-school holiday weeks. We’ve been visiting the holiday park since Amy was tiny as its close by, there are lots of activities to try and it still feels like a ‘proper holiday.’

Before that, we headed down to London to visit family and took advantage of the National Rail 2 for 1

We used the 2 for 1 offer with our National Rail train tickets

offers to gain cheaper entrance to The Globe. This is a great place to visit – really easy to get to and the tour/exhibition is fascinating. Top marks for being ready for children – they have a children’s audio guide and exhibition trail which meant Amy was able to take the tour at her own speed.

We visited The Globe in London

We definitely want to head back there when she’s older to watch a play.

On Monday, we packed the car and headed to Centre Parcs. We were going with my parents and had booked a 3 bedroom lodge. We opted for a lodge that was close to the main central area (near the pool and playgrounds) but one that hadn’t been refurbished so it was still a bit cheaper but the edges let’s say on the lodge were slightly frayed.

Here are my tips for getting the best from Centre Parcs:

We stayed at Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest
  1. Take your own food. They have a great supermarket but it is expensive – £3.98 for a carton of Tropicana. I plan with my mum the meals before we go and split who is bringing what.
  2. If you do want to eat out in the evening, then book ahead. Lunches (expect on change over days) are normally less busy and this year we had a great breakfast at Cafe Rouge where we didn’t book at all. We were then given a 25% discount off our next meal – which we used on the Friday before heading home.
  3. Take your own bikes for riding round the park.

    Take your own bikes or at least a bike/wheels for the children. I’ve rented bikes in the past when we didn’t have a bike carrier which is fine but bringing your own wheels is more economical. Also bring portable bike locks and carrier bags as seat covers if it rains. No soggy bottoms here!

  4. If you want to play a sport then take your own racquets. We booked to play badminton and it was an extra £1 per racquet and then a take home shuttlecock for another £1. Its not a massive extra spend but you could use that saved money for something else.
  5. Don’t rely on the online booking system as there are plenty of deals to be had during your week there. I popped to their brilliant spa – Aqua Sana when we arrived to see what on the day and weekly specials they had running. I was able to book a last minute Twilight Spa session for my husband and I which was cheaper than online due to cancellations. (Take your own flip flops to wear during your session!)
  6. We stayed at 489 Lodge in the Oak area.

    You can gain access to the park from 12pm on your day of arrival. We got there a little after 1pm, parked the car outside our lodge (this is rare – normally you park in car park and then drive round later) and went straight away to explore. You don’t feel like you are wasting your first day there. Likewise on the Friday morning, we packed the car up and then went onto activities. We eventually left just after 2pm. I do know families that stay for the whole of Friday but we needed to pick up our dog!

  7. Bring a bag that is dedicated to the pool – swimsuits, towels, entertainment etc… as you can spend your entire day in there. Keep it separate from the rest of your stuff. I saw a family bring their cooler box with a picnic! (note to self – do this!) £1 coins are required for the lockers.
  8. Explore the whole park – there is so much to see away from the central village – birdwatching dens, golf-putting, a nature reserve – lots to see and do. Easy to do by bike! You don’t have to pay extra for the playgrounds or the walks. Plus there is so much going on, that it makes great entertainment too – horse-drawn carriages clip clop by and the beach by the lake is great.
  9. For the evenings, I took a selection of dvds to watch (you get a dvd player in the lodge) and each family member got to choose one each night. You are allowed to take Crackle logs with you (or purchase them at CP) and we were very cosy with a fire and a film each evening.
  10. Sounds silly but enjoy it! We saw a few families there that were booked on an activity or two every day. I enjoy a slower break – a mix of scheduled activities, messing around in the pool and pottering around the park.

To sum it up, I love Centre Parcs! It is expensive to visit but again you can make it work for you – decide what your priorities are before you go and then just enjoy every single minute. It is always super clean, kind staff and they are brilliant at fixing anything that doesn’t work. Brave CP!

My Friday Favourites (12/10/18)

Where has this week gone? I’m on countdown for half-term. Amy finishes school today so I’m rapidly trying to squeeze in as much work as I can before 3.15pm. Fun times!

So these are my very quick Friday Favourites…

I’m going to start with a product that has literally made me very happy! I

Silver Serum. This has changed my skin so much. Worth a go if you get spots!

discovered this serum (Silver Serum) via my Mum as she knew that I was getting large spots (sorry TMI) on my neck and chin when I was feeling quite hormonal. I ordered this stuff due to the rapturous reviews on the website and after about a week of using it twice a day, my spots were smaller and I now have less every month. How do I know it works? This summer I ran out and didn’t order more due to holidays and being disorganised. The spots returned! Argh… I ordered more and they’ve disappeared. It has really changed how I feel about my face.

 

Another game changer for me is the Free Prints app. You get 45 free 6×4 printed photos every month and you just pay postage.

Perfect for printing your photos out.

It is brilliant getting photos printed from your phone. I use it for Amy’s school/Beaver/craft projects and also to refresh photos in my “Hall of Fame” as I call it!

 

 

Lastly I am a huge fan of The Pool – created by the ex-editor of Red magazine Sam Baker and journalist Lauren Laverne. It has numerous articles that appeal to me (37 year old mum, working from home) and they let you know

A great website with considered, curated articles.

how long they think it will take to read each piece. It is perfect for just having a small break from work and catching up with the what is going on beyond the school gates. It has also tamed my addiction to the “sidebar of shame” at the dailymail.co.uk (I’m not proud).

 

 

That’s it for today! Short but hopefully sweet. Have a lovely weekend!

 

How I handle half-term

Hello! How are you? Week going okay? We are based in Leicestershire and the school holidays here are always slightly out of sync with the rest of the country! Which is great in terms of going to visit tourist attractions when it isn’t so busy but can be tricky when being on holiday a week before everyone else. It normally means that it can take longer for me to finish tasks as when I’m away, everyone is at work and when I’m back, well you get the picture!

As a freelancer, I am hugely lucky that I can pick and choose when I work. But it also means that I do not get any holiday pay whatsoever. Therefore during school holidays, I tend to take a hit on my income because I do not have set childcare in place. The bonus is that I’m around for my daughter and we do fun things but I also could potentially lose money too.

Here’s what I do:

I look to see if there are any extra projects I can work on before or after the break.

Take on an extra project:  I look at my schedule and see if I can fit in another project before or after a planned holiday. This does mean extending the 9 to 3 to working in the evenings after my daughter has gone to bed but I find that it is worth the pain.  I have a friend who takes on a few extra baskets of ironing and walks a few more dogs in the run up to a holiday so that she has a little more cash in her pocket.

Tell my clients: I have a couple of clients that I work for daily and I let them know that I’ll be making up the time either the week before or after, plus I’ll be answering emails during certain hours. These tend to be 7-9am and 7-9pm. I find that you end up doing more work (which is unpaid) to make up the week you took off. Or is that just me?

Forget the admin: A lot of my time is spent organising my company’s admin – accounts and follow ups. During the holiday, I leave it to one side and then pick it up afterwards.

Hootsuite
I use Hootsuite to plan my social media

Schedule all Social Media in advance: I know lots of people that do this already but I really enjoy the conversation flow of posting in real time however during the holidays, I’ll use Hootsuite to schedule a few posts and then I’ll pop as well when the timing is right.

Childcare:  Yes, if there is an opportunity that cannot be missed, I’ll ask my Mum or a friend to look after Amy for me. This can be for a few hours or a whole day. To be honest, this happens more in the summer holidays. With half-term I can juggle a bit more but I endeavour to let me clients know that I’m not around but will make up the time.

Breathe:  The holidays are always quite stressful when trying to combine children with work but once I made the decision to not take on as much and

Live in the moment and try to forget about work.

then step up before and after the break then it made me really determined to enjoy the break.

Have a great day!