Category: freelancing

Lessons I have Learned in my First Year of Freelancing

Posted December 16, 2015 by Hillary in freelancing / 0 Comments

lessonsaaaa

I know many people think they can just start calling themselves a freelancer and the clients will come. I will admit I thought the same way also. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. You got to take risks and really put yourself out there for people to find you. If you are hiding in the depths of the internet then you, most likely will not have any clients. You got to get courage any way you can. I will admit to downing some liquid courage before sending an email introducing myself. I got knocked down many times, but I have also made some really good friends and clients along the way.

One of the hardest lessons I learned last year is you gotta keep your finances in order. Just because you have no idea how much you made don’t mean that Uncle Sam is too dumb to know. Trust me the IRS will catch up to you. If you don’t keep everything separate then it will come back to bite you in the ass. Trust me I found out the hard way. I had all my personal stuff mixed in with my business stuff and it took me and an accountant a month to get it all straightened out. Another lesson is to keep all of your receipts. I use Expensify for this. I can just upload stuff and it creates fancy looking reports for my accountant. All in all, this was a VERY expensive mistake that I made cause I failed to research self-employment very carefully. Don’t let it happen to you.

I never realized just how alone I would be. Hours spent on blog posts and promoting and connecting on social media. When friends wanted to go out I would stay in and do more work. Don’t get me wrong I loved almost every minute of it, but there were times when I would just get so lonely and wondered if I was cut out for the freelance lifestyle. I am still in the stages of trying to gain traction so I still pour my heart and soul into this, but I will be the first one to say that it is a long and hard road to the top. Those ultra-successful people you see in the blogging world have worked their asses off to get where they are and they deserve everything that they have. I just keep telling myself that it is all worth it in the end.

Another mistake that I made is that I neglected self-care and I paid heavily for it. I ate junk, did not work out and spent hours and hours tied to my computer. I got back that cramps up and I got sick the last part of the year. I finally realized that I had to take care of ME if I was going to succeed. I do best on a paleo diet and if I was going to be able to move I needed to work out and throw in some yoga to stretch my muscles.
My creativity also came to a standstill. In the Artist Way, the author talks about how you have to continually refill the creative well or it will go dry. When I first read that I thought it was a bunch of crap but now I can tell you it is very true. As a creative professional, you have to engage in activities that exercise your creative muscles or you will find yourself staring at a blank screen with no idea of what to write.

I learned quite by accident that if I am working on a piece of writing and it is just not coming together if I jump in the shower and just forget about it for a few minutes then my brain will come up with something brilliant. I have used this trick more times than I care to admit. Let’s just say I am REALLY clean these days.

I am so glad that I managed to build a network of other freelancers that get where I am coming from when I talk about blog stats and traffic and all of that. My friends in more traditional jobs think I am insane to be worried about how many repins I got on Pinterest but my freelancer friends know exactly what I mean when I get all excited that I got 300 visitors FINALLY after spending days building up my network on Pinterest.

To help build your creative well engage in more creative pursuits. Don’t try and make money off of it just do it for fun. I like to take pictures. I know they will never end up in a magazine, but it helps me exercise all my creative muscles and I find that the ideas flow more when I do this.

I also had to restrain myself when I first started out. I wanted ALL the programs and technology. I realized later that half I did not even need. This was another expensive mistake. I quickly realized I only needed a few programs to get started and to maintain the business.

I also learned not to be afraid to invest in your business. Like many people would think that paying 17hats is expensive but having everything in one program is so much easier than having 6 different programs. There are times when you have to put in money such as for a website in order to move your business forward.

The ONE thing I wished I had done was to make a business plan. I really had no roadmap of where I wanted to go. I thought as long as I was getting clients that were good enough. I later realized that doing business without any kind of plan was not the best idea. It is beneficial if you have a roadmap of where you want to go. Like do you want to live the laptop lifestyle? Would you rather be in a cabin in the mountains and commune with nature? Once you know where you want to end up, you can reverse engineer it so you can take the appropriate steps to make your dream come true.

It has almost been a year since I started freelancing. This year has brought many surprises and rewards. I never thought that I would be making a living as a writer, but here I am. While the rewards have been many there were still plenty of hard lessons that I learned last year.

My Top Productive Tip

Posted December 9, 2015 by Hillary in blog, freelancing / 0 Comments

my-top-productive-tip

I used to be ADD and jump from one thing to the next and at the end of the day I always felt like I did not get anything done. This was affecting my business, so I sat down and put everything that I had to do in todoist then picked the top 3 things for the next day that HAD to get done. I then scheduled out 90 min blocks with a 20 min break between them.
I followed this for the last several weeks, and I was surprised at how much I accomplished. I found that if I forced myself to focus ONLY one one thing at a time then at the end of the day, I had done more than if I had jumped around from task to task.
For example, I want to write blog posts three days a week for this blog, and I am doing The Nectar Collective Pinterest course. I used to write a couple of sentences then pin a few things. Back and forth I went. At the end of the day, I saw I hadn’t pinned that much and what I wrote was crap. I saw that I could not multitask and still turn out good work. I even found research on this to back me up. However, if I focused on writing for 90 mins then took a break AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER then came back and pinned for 90 mins and so on I turned out better work, and I got all my pins in AND my work was written well enough to go on the blog. This was a revelation for me. I had always felt that I was a good multitasker until I started my own business then I found that I sucked at it. I think most people will find this true for themselves also.
Then I ran into the problem of wanting to check my Twitter and Facebook and Instagram while working. I found that Rescue Time has a feature that allows you to block distracting websites on the computer. I tried this but again I always just went to my phone, so I went on the hunt for something that blocked everything. I found Freedom. I had to laugh when I saw the name, but it has a computer app and an iPhone app. It blocks the whole internet. You set up how long you want it to block the internet, and you can’t get on the internet at ALL until the time is up. Even if you restart the phone or the computer, it still stays blocked. I ended up getting a lot of writing done just to stave off boredom. I think that it is well worth the price. They have also have a free option but if you choose that you have to go on their website to start the program. If you pay you can start the program from your computers, start menu.
So with picking three things the night before them scheduling time blocks (you should time yourself so you know how long each task takes you then that way it will be easy to plan things)and when I HAVE to get writing done activate Freedom, and I can say that now I am productive. That is the best feeling ever!

My Fall Freelancing Goals

Posted November 3, 2015 by Hillary in blog, freelancing / 0 Comments

my fall freelancing goals

It is officially the fall season! I know there are only a couple of months left in the year but I really want this year to go out with a bang so I set up some goals that will help me accomplish this.

Attain five more Clients
I have gained ground this year with attaining clients. I have a good idea of how long a blog post will take me so that I won’t overcommit. I have room for five more clients for the remainder of the year.

Post on the blog every day Monday – Friday
I haven’t had a regular schedule of posting on this website, and that is hurting me. I know that if I have more posts that I will gain more visibility and that will lead to more clients. I will commit to posting every day for the rest of the year Monday through Friday.

Continue to practice photoshop skills
I have FINALLY got the hang of photoshop. I am always one for adding new skills to my repertoire. It pays to be a well-rounded blogger. I will commit to practicing 10 hours a week so that I can make all my pictures fit my brand.

Brainstorm ideas for Ebook for next year
I want to write an ebook and sell it next year. I need to come up with a marketable idea. I will commit to doing 10 hours of research a week to come up with an idea then I will start working on it at the beginning of next year.

Build a buffer of posts
I have to admit. I am really bad at writing posts the night before. This causes trouble when one day I get sick, and can’t write that day’s posts. I want to build a buffer for my sick days. I will commit to spending 30 hours a week writing new posts for the blog.
Market my services more
I am REALLY bad about marketing my services. I know if I put myself out there I can gain more clients and more website visitors. I have committed 20 hours a week to marketing alone. I have someone helping me with this since I am new at marketing. I realized I needed help, so I researched and found someone. I recommend that if you need help with something don’t be afraid to ask. There is always a way to get the help that you need.
Be more active on Facebook
I looked on google analytics and found that most of my traffic comes from Facebook. I don’t really have the time or patience to deal with a lot of social media, so I am focusing on where the traffic is.
Be More Active on Pinterest
I read that Pinterest is a really hot social media traffic source, so I am trying it out. I bought a subscription to Tailwind, and I see some positive results from it.

Pitch to five different websites to write for
I will pitch to five different websites to write an article for. I want to write so to do that I need to get over my fear of rejection and just go for it.

Tools I use to run a Successful Freelance Writing Bussiness

Posted June 9, 2015 by Hillary in blog, blogging, freelancing, Writing / 2 Comments

 

 

 

toolsScrivner

This is the best thing ever! I waited a long time before purchasing this. I am still not sure how I managed to go so long without this tool. It allows me to do so much. For example. I like to look at my notes while I write and this enables me to do that. I can also keep everything separated into its own project. No more mixing up client files on Microsoft word!

Freemind

I use this to make mind maps when I need. Or as a brain dump to gather my ideas for a project

Evernote

I would be lost without Evernote. I use this to write down writing ideas and to keep all my notes in one place. I have it on all of my devices so if an idea or inspiration strikes all I have to do it type it in. Plus I can start blog posts with it and have them on all the devices I own.

Microsoft Office

I tried all the free alternatives, but none of them really stuck with me. I broke down and bought a subscription. It is worth the six dollars every month.

iPhone 6 Plus

I had an iPhone 4 for the longest time. I was due for an upgrade so I thought I would treat myself to an iPhone 6 plus. It is one of the best investments I have made this year. I am not sure why I thought every successful blogger should have this phone, but I did. One of the biggest advantages is that I can use my P3 Video relay with it. With is a big screen and 4 G capbitlies I can use it anywhere. Also when I call people I prefer to use my own voice and I can with this program and it does not sound like it is through a bad speakerphone like it does on the computer. At least that is what my family tells me. They better not be lying!

17hats

I discovered this, this year. It is a lifesaver. It has EVERYTHING into one program. The only thing I don’t like is the banking program it has, but that is probably cause I don’t know how to use it very well. I will have to spend some more time trying to figure it out.

Feedly

I use this to keep up with blogs. I have a shit ton of blogs I read so this really helps. Reading blogs is primarily how I get ideas for my own blogs. I love how Feedly works so well I pay for the pro version.

Lastpass

I have a lot of passwords to remember plus I suck at coming up with passwords as it became evident after a creepy ex hacked into some of my accounts. I use this to generate passwords and to store them. I also love their form filler out thingie. No more typing my information in hundreds of times just to leave a comment on a blog.

Remember the Milk

I know an LOT of people swear by Asana and Trello and the like, but I am old school here and swear by Remember the Milk. I love that it ties into Siri on my Iphone so I can just say remind me to blah blah and it will AND it shows up everywhere I have the app installed. MAGIC

Grammarly

As a freelance content writer, it is important that I make everything look perfect. I really dislike the program that comes with Microsoft Word. I feel this is a thousand times better.

Google Apps

I prefer to have all my information in the cloud so I can access it anywhere. I use it to store client files my own files and to use google hangouts and all of that.

 

What are some tools that you cant live without? Share in the comments!

 

10 Ways To Not Go Insane When Working as a Freelancer

Posted May 20, 2015 by Hillary in blog, freelancing / 0 Comments

10 ways to not go insane when working as a freelancer

 

Earlier this year I started freelancing. I had visions of waking up when I wanted and working in my pajamas and all that stuff. While much of it has been true a lot of it was just fantasies that quickly fell by the way side.
The one thing that I did not predict is the isolation that I would feel. At a more traditional workplace, you are surrounded by people and have adult interactions every day. As a freelancer, you do not have that, and you can quickly become isolated and let stuff such as hygiene and sleep and healthy eating go.
It came to a point about a couple of weeks ago when I had to admit that I felt genuinely isolated, lonely even. At first it was strange because I had never felt that way before. Once I realised what it was I decided that I had to do something about it and came up with these ten ways to feel like I am part of humanity once again.

Get Out of the house
When I began freelancing, I had the habit of staying in the house in my PJ’s. That soon got old so I started looking for ways to get out of the house. I have a paperless office so I would go work at a coffee shop or the library. This prevented me from going crazy like that dude from “The Shining” did.

Keep in contact with friends
Granted most friends complain that after a hard days work at a “real” job they are too tired to talk. This is where other friends that are freelancers come in. Still I try and keep contact with friends in more traditional jobs. You never know where your next job will come from, so it is important that you remain in touch with as many people as possible.
Have hobbies that let you interact with real, live, people
I am a sucker for anything online, but at the end of the day it is still you, alone behind a computer typing away. I have joined book clubs and the like just to have face to face time with real, live humans.

Keep regular “office” hours
I admit this one is hard to keep in the beginning. You are really excited and spend all your waking hours to move your business forward. I am guilty of this. A wise friend told me that this is the recipie for burn out so I have tried to take a couple of hours at least, everyday to do non-work things.
meet other freelancers and network
like I have said above, people in tradinal jobs are often tired at the end of the day and just want to veg out in front of the TV. Other freelancers won’t mind hitting the bar or something else with you. Also, other freelancers can be an abundant support of jobs. It pays to keep your network as wide as possible.

get active on social media
I know, I know what I said above. Still if you are in a small town like me, then social media can be a saving grace. It has allowed me to meet a lot of people, many of whom I communicte with every day.

take a class at the local community college
This is a another way of meeting people and getting out of the house. I haven’t done this myself yet, but I will someday.

join a meet-up
I have joined meet-up before. I have met some people that evolved into a life long friendship. There are thousands of meet-ups (check ). If there is not one in your area, you can start one.

Try a co-working space
I have heard good things about this, but I haven’t tried it myself yet. I live in a small town where there is not any (that I know of). If you reside in a big city it may be worth looking into. These are areas that have conference rooms, desks and telephones and most importanly real live humans you can interact with.

Volunteer
If there is a cause that you feel passionately about, you can look for volunteer oppertunies to help that cause. You could work to feed the homeless, take care of pets at a shelter, the possibilities are endless

I admit that I need to get out more. Recently I have been feeling like the four wallas are closing in and that I am in danger of recreating the murder scene from The Shining. There are a couple on this list that I have not tried so I will look into them soon. How do you keep from going stir crazy working alone?