How I Work: Jo O’Sullivan from Ta doodle dah

 

I love these blog posts! Finding out about the different ways we all cope with our 9 to 3 fascinates me. Like the lady I’m about to feature, I have a job that I love but needed a creative outlet to complete my happiness – hence this blog. Jo is an amazing, talented self-taught designer who runs her own company as well as being a teacher. I certainly feel exceedingly humble when looking at her achievements.

I came across Jo through my favourite social media platform, Instagram. Her designs are like a breath of fresh air that ping out from my phone.

Name of Business: Ta doodle dah (I create eye-catching eye-catching paper goods for children.)

Photo of Jo Sullivan of Tadoodledah
Jo O’Sullivan is a teacher and runs her own design paper product business.

What do you do?

I’m a part-time teacher in an Independent School and work on Ta doodle dah around my job and three children.

Where do you work?

I usually work with the laptop on my lap sitting on the sofa (great for my posture!) or at the kitchen table. I keep all my stock in boxes in a room in the dining room and pack orders on the table in there; not very glamorous at all!

How did you get to this point in your career?

I’ve been teaching for over 10 years and have only just launched Ta doodle dah this year. I’ve always been quite creative, but never really discovered my creative outlet until I started graphic designing at home for fun; I downloaded Adobe Creative as a trial and was instantly hooked! I’m completely self-taught, I love the freedom it gives me and I’m excited to see where this little business takes me.

The best part of my job is…

…Creating designs that people like and receiving lovely messages from them.

Just a hint of some of the designs from Ta doodle dah

The worst part is…

…Trying to find the time to do everything! I try not to be sitting with a laptop out when the kids are around, but it is really really hard.

Favourite time-saving trick?

I wish I had one! I think living near my parents helps me a lot as they do the odd school run for me and cook them dinner once a week; this is a lifesaver!

Best advice for anyone working the 9 to 3?

Working 9-3 feels like the shortest day sometimes but I always try and do the jobs that I really can’t do when the kids are around. For example, if the dishwasher needs emptying, I know I can do that when the kids are home, so I’ll leave it until later on. I try and prioritise the most urgent jobs that I really can’t do when the children are around. I can always think of a reason not to do the cleaning! Oh and I try not to fall down an Instagram rabbit hole and give myself a time limit on scrolling!

Favourite social media accounts/blogs?

Just a peek from the Instagram account of Ta doodle Dah!
Just a peek from the Instagram account of Ta doodle dah!

I love so many accounts and small businesses on Instagram but my favourites are probably @meandorla, @velveteenbabies, @wonderandrah, @little_jagger_, @emilybrooksuk and @susiejverrill.

Follow Jo on Instagram @tadoodledah

Please do visit her website: https://tadoodledah.com

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 I Work: Niki Walker (aka Mrs Niki Stylist)

 

Introducing… Mrs Niki Stylist!

Hello!

After yesterday’s post regarding Stella & Dot, I thought it would be an idea to feature a stylist! Niki has a thriving personal styling business which she incorporates Stella & Dot into – another tip – have a side gig that works perfectly alongside your main venture. She does this as well as having 4 children who are very close in age. Wonder woman! I love sharing these profiles because I’m in awe of every single one.

  1. Niki works as a personal stylist
    Niki works as a personal stylist

    Name:   Niki Walker

  2. Name of Business:   Mrs Niki Stylist
  3. What do you do: I am a self employed personal stylist
  4. Where do you work: I’m at the kitchen table with my laptop, sometimes I venture out to a nearby garden centre cafe. I work in my dressing room, kitchen table, cafes, coffee shops and at clients’ homes.
  5. How did you get to this point in your career: I had a long career in retail fashion buying and merchandising, took a career break, had 4 children in 4 years, and here I am, making the dream work!
  6. The best part of my job is: Fashion is my passion and it is so rewarding when the women I work with feel amazing about their look.
  7. She's also a Shining Star with Stella & Dot!
    She’s also a Shining Star with Stella & Dot!

    The worst part of my job is: Missing bedtime with the kids sometimes as I do work some evenings.

  8. Favourite time-saving trick:   It’s all in the organisation. Plan, plan, plan!
  9. Best advice for anyone working 9 to 3:   Set your own agenda and stick to it. Set yourself mini goals.
  10. Instagram post!
    Niki has several favourite Instagram accounts!

    Favourite social media accounts/blogs:  Stella & Dot, Elsie’s Attic and ElleBelle Attire

To contact Niki about styling requests or hosting a Stella & Dot party, please visit her Facebook page here.

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