As a freelancer, what’s your biggest challenge?

Posted on: March 10th, 2014

In the 23 years since I started freelancing (I know, I know, that’s a really long time…), I’ve faced many challenges along the way. In no particular order, they have included:

  • Clients are REALLY slow to pay, seriously impacting my cashflow.
  • Clients reschedule projects that clash with others already in my diary.
  • The cycle of feast and famine (linked to above). One month I may have very little work on and the next I don’t know how to cope with all the projects that are being thrown at me.
  • Clients don’t keep to their side of the schedule but the end deadline can’t move.
  • Clients decide to bring the project in-house in order to ‘save money’.
  • Clients go bust, owing me money.
  • I turn work down because I am fully booked, only to find that a project from another client is then put on the back burner or cancelled completely. (Seriously annoying, that one!)
  • A senior person on the client side decides to get involved when the project is well underway and completely moves the goalposts.
  • Technology fails on the day when there is an urgent deadline (never happens on a Saturday morning).
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My ten tips for freelancers

Posted on: March 2nd, 2014

When I wrote the first post for this blog back in 2010, it was top ten tips for people thinking about going freelance.

Here are ten more tips, for those of you who have already taken the plunge:

  1. Always take time to work ON your business to help ensure you have a pipeline of projects
  2. Be active on social media – it’s a great way of raising your profile
  3. Invest money and time in keeping your skills up to date
  4. Choose a networking group that’s right for you and make it work hard for you
  5. Always meet your clients’ deadlines
  6. Don’t discount your rates
  7. Be prepared to say ‘no’ to a job
  8. Get to know other freelancers in your niche: they are a good source of leads and they can help you out when times get busy
  9. Be efficient at sending out your invoices: the faster you send them out, the faster you will be paid
  10. Always include your terms and conditions when you send out a quote to a potential client.
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Five reasons freelancers need more than one income stream

Posted on: February 23rd, 2014

If you are freelance, there are a number of reasons why your bank account can end up with nothing in it:

  1. Your clients are slow to pay you
  2. You experience the classic feast and famine syndrome
  3. A client has gone bust, owing you money
  4. A client paid your invoice into someone else’s bank account
  5. You just lost a couple of regular, well-paying jobs

All this has happened to me over the years.

An overdraft can help tide you over when cashflow is tricky but they can be expensive. And your bank might not offer you a sufficiently large overdraft.

An alternative is to find more than one income stream.  Here are some ideas:

- Sign up to online affiliate schemes
- Launch and sell an online course/information product
- Write an e-book and sell it on Amazon
- Sell advertising on your blog/website (if you have lots of traffic)
- Run face-to-face workshops
- Run paid-for webinars
- Get a part time job (eg: pet sitting, working in a bar etc)
- Join a direct selling scheme/network marketing company
- Find ways to monetize your hobby (eg: if you are a crafter)
- Become a coach or tutor
- Sell goods on eBay

Five ways to beat the dreaded freelance isolation zone

Posted on: February 9th, 2014

Welcome to guest writer, Marina Gask.

When I tell people I’m a freelance journalist and press consultant their response is either ‘You lucky thing, is it brilliant being your own boss?’ or “Don’t you find it a bit – well – lonely?”. To be honest, it’s yes to both.

The freedom to choose your own projects and not have to answer to anybody is a joy indeed. But there are times when you can feel isolated and find yourself climbing the walls. Here are a few ways to make sure you enjoy the freedom without wasting your day pining for human company and talking to the TV.

1. Know yourself
If you’ve previously spent years working in a busy office and thriving on human interaction, you’ll need to make sure you build some into your day. Take your laptop to the nearest friendly coffee bar and spend the morning there, or arrange to meet a friend for lunch, or schedule something fun for after a work meeting, or join local networking groups like Meetup (www.meetup.com) to find out about gatherings of likeminded people. Or have a work-free day every week to go out and do something fun – all day. Just because you can.

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Pocket – the great way to curate content and read on the go

Posted on: January 27th, 2014

If you’re like me, you find a really interesting article or video online but don’t have the time to look at it there and then. You keep the web page open in your browser but then your browser crashes a couple of days later and your article has gone for ever.

Thanks to Alicia Cowan, I have discovered a brilliant Internet curating tool called Pocket.  You can add articles, videos, images and just about anything you want into Pocket and it is saved neatly for later – when you DO have time to read stuff.

One click to save to Pocket

There’s a little red pocket bookmarklet you add to your browser. Just click on that when you are on a web page that interests you and it will be saved to Pocket. You can also save it your your Pocket list by emailing the link to add@pocket.com.

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Three ways to ramp up your social media presence in 2014

Posted on: January 12th, 2014

As freelancers, it’s important to keep our skills up to date and, last year, my training investment was in social media. I have been pretty active on some social media platforms for about two or three years but things changes so rapidly that I wanted to invest time and money in 2013 on making sure I was up to speed with what’s going on.

I was very impressed with the three training courses I went on, so I thought I’d share them with you.

1. Pinterest

I took Melanie Duncan’s course, The Power of Pinning. This is a video-based course you take in your own time that shows you how to use Pinterest for your business. Apart from explaining everything you need to know about how Pinterest works, it shows you how to drive traffic from Pinterest to your website – and thus drive sales. Here are my boards on Pinterest.